Beginning from humble roots, Provence Santé was originally founded by Monsieur and Madame Techer in the Provence region of southern France. As true local artisans, the Techer’s sold their homemade soaps and bottles of vinegar at village markets on the weekends. The small brand quickly grew in popularity, garnering the attention of the young, talented savonnier (soapmaker) Stéphane Lecaille.
Working in the same factory that produced the growing Provence Santé range, Stéphane became close friends with the Techers and developed an appreciation for the traditional manufacturing and heritage of the products. Coming from a strong soap manufacturing background, Stephane realized the tremendous potential of expanding the brand. At the same time, the increasing demand for Provence Santé soaps was becoming too much for the Techer family. Wanting to put their energy and focus into local market sales, Monsieur and Madame Techer decided to sell the soap business to an eager Stéphane.
The early 1990s ushered in a new era for Provence Santé as Stéphane and Joe Marks, Baudelaire’s founder, expanded the collection to discerning American customers. Bringing the highest quality product made with the finest raw material propelled the company to overnight success in the United States. Although the brand has gone through different phases and iterations over the years, the commitment to quality has never waned.
Recently the Baudelaire team sat down with Stéphane to talk about our shared history and what makes Provence Santé stand the test of time.
Baudelaire: What was the first product you made?
Stéphane: Bar soap has a long tradition and history, so that was a clear first choice. Secondly, the eau de toilette because it is through this product that Provence's deep, sensual aromas reveal themselves best.
Baudelaire: What is Provence Santé's most popular product?
Stéphane: It is not a product but a scent. When a scent captures a person's attention, all the products in that line become favored—and that scent is Linden or as the French say ‘tilleul’.
Baudelaire: Can you share a memorable story from the brand's early days?
Stéphane: It is less about a notable story but more about the close, like-minded relationship which transcends the purely professional aspect. It has become a story of people in the noblest sense of the word. I treasure my relationship with Baudelaire because, above all, I like the men and women who make the company what it is.
Baudelaire: What do you like most about being a soap maker? And has it changed over your 30-year career?
Stéphane: Few people truly understand it, but soap is what I call a "living product." You don't improvise as a soap maker; you become one with the product. It's a symbiotic relationship: you learn to understand it, sometimes catch yourself talking to it, and tame it. And through this, we get to know it, and the more we grow together with it, the more a mutual relationship develops.
Baudelaire: What part of the Provence Santé legacy are you most proud?
Stéphane: I must admit, at the start of Provence Santé, I did not imagine such significant development within the American market. Thanks to Baudelaire, the brand's awareness has grown tremendously to what it is today. We should be very proud of the work we have accomplished together.
And that we are! At Baudelaire, it has been a joy to share in the three-decade-long journey together with Provence Santé. With so many notable accomplishments over these years, we cannot wait to see what the future holds. Cheers to the next 30 years of friendship and partnership!
(LtoR: Benjamin Lecaille, Stéphane Lecaille Christina MacLeod, Chris Oberli, Joe Marks)