‘Working with Nature makes me joyful’ says Armelle French
Image used for illustrative purposes only
Armelle French is the founder of Ceylan Vie – a nature-based cosmetics brand that swears to use natural ingredients and packaging to the maximum possible. Cosmetech spoke to her about her foray into the cosmetics business and the philosophy behind the brand.
- Give a little background about yourself and your reason to set up Ceylan Vie
I have been living in Sri Lanka for five years. I started making all-natural products for my family and friends because I was tired of finding skin care products that were loaded with chemicals and ingredients that I could hardly pronounce! I came across many brands that claimed to be natural, but a quick inspection of the ingredients showed otherwise. Unable to find what I was looking for, I started doing my own research and tried out a range of unique natural combinations to create my own soap, initially for my family and friends, but soon after I decided to release my products so that others could also have a natural, safe alternative to harsh soaps. Ready for a change, I decided to branch away from over twenty years in the medical field and try something new! I spent several years training and gaining experience in aromatherapy, natural remedies, and the manufacturing of cosmetics before I finally started the Ceylan Vie adventure!
- What is the philosophy behind your enterprise?
I am always on the lookout for local suppliers to purchase the natural, raw ingredients from for my products. Having said that, I am still very careful to choose only those with natural and organic certifications to ensure the quality of our products is not at all compromised. All formulations for Ceylan Vie soaps and natural products are based on intense scientific research to ensure the product is not only safe but effective too. We use flowers, leaves, plants, plant maceration, clay, natural dye (as ocher, clay, chlorophyll), natural preservatives for our natural range of products. Keeping with this, all Ceylan Vie’s products use eco-friendly, upcycled packaging which includes coconut rope and labels made with elephant dung paper- most of which are locally sourced from a supplier who sources from disadvantaged women in rural communities. While I do want to see Ceylan Vie grow significantly with the launch of new products and even exports to Europe, I have pledged to always keep it human-sized and to continue to respect the values on which it was first founded- respect for nature and human beings! Control Union certification (ISO 22716) and Ecocert are in process for Ceylan Vie.
Image for illustration purpose only.
- How did you come to this interesting name- Ceylan Vie and your lovely ‘Lotus’ Logo?
Very much a family company, Ceylan Vie became a fun project for the whole family with my daughter creating the unique logo for Ceylan Vie! The name “Ceylan Vie” originates from “Ceylon” ( Sri Lanka was called Ceylon before). Ceylon in French is “Ceylan” and “life” in French is “vie” – the basis of the name Ceylan Vie is that plants give us life and without plants, we wouldn’t be here. I specify that the logo is actually a triad and not a lotus flower. In Taoism, the number three is very important and the triad refers to a set of three strongly related units – the “Great Triad” refers to Heaven (Tien), Earth (Ti), and Man, the human being (Jen).
- Brief our readers about your range of products
Organic coconut oil as the main ingredient and a traditional method of cold saponification is used to make the entire Ceylan Vie artisanal soap range. Doing this ensures there is no altering of the vegetable glycerin in the soap making it an excellent moisturizer and just perfect for heavy use. The soap washes gently and is completely free of chemicals and harmful toxins like parabens, polyethylene glycol (PEG), synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, sodium laureth (SLES), preservatives, palm oil and much more. We manufacture spray deodorant, face cream, face serum, balm, mosquito repellent. We market aloe vera, turmeric, neem oil soaps. We make our own plant maceration for soap and for our final products as face cream, Magic balm, mosquito repellent. We use carrots, hibiscus flowers, holy basil leaves, neem oil, castor oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, essential oils, clay as ingredients. Preservatives that we use are natural. Development of Shampoo bar and organic makeup are in process.
Image used for illustrative purposes only
- How do you promote your products among your discerning audience?
We use Social Media platforms including Facebook, Instagram. We market through, local organic markets. We are a member of “Good Market” that helps farmers, producer groups, and social enterprises throughout Sri Lanka who have developed products that are good for our health, our communities, and our environment. We organize soap and cosmetic workshops. The Ceylan Vie channel will start soon, to promote natural products to care for the skin
- Consumers in Sri Lanka, like India, are price-conscious. How do you tackle this aspect?
It is natural to focus first on the price, before your health when choosing a product in Sri Lanka. But there has been a shift and consumers in Sri Lanka understand the importance of using chemical-free, toxin-free products for taking care of health and the planet too! All our products are reasonably priced, taking into account the purchase price of organic raw ingredients and packaging, the time spent for scientific research, creation of the formulation, manufacturing the finished product, testing. We support orphanages with “Sourire en orphelinats” association. We are developing a range of maintenance and grooming products based on natural ingredients at low prices for poor communities. Besides consumers in Sri Lanka are becoming aware of the dangers of the current capitalist production systems that ravage the environment, destroy and deprive people of their essential freedoms and livelihoods, and ultimately, their lives. It gives me great satisfaction to be able to provide people with the means to make better, more responsible choices when it comes to cosmetics and skincare at least.
- Sustainability seems to be important for you. Tell us about the measures you take in this regard?
Working with these noble products makes me joyful and sharing with our customers this happiness and benefits from sustainable living is very important. Ceylan Vie insists on respect for Nature, that is to say, that throughout the procedure, starting from the choice of formulation, the choice of natural and organic raw ingredients that we acquire in Sri Lanka for the most part (Fairtrade, Organic, to reduce our carbon footprint. We also pay attention to respect for the environment through the choice of containers and packaging, labels by using elephant poop paper, recycled cement sheets, coconut fibre rope, glass containers, food-grade plastic bottles. For us eco-friendly packaging, eco-friendly shopping bags, wood spatula for face cream are imperative. Coming back to my commitment to protecting nature and, we just launched a refilling system to reuse the Ceylan Vie containers in order to keep the brand as eco-friendly as possible and reduce waste.