“Our philosophy remains the same as in those early pharmacy days…”
Here at Bio-Based World News, we are often focussed on potential – those amazing ideas and emerging start-ups with technologies that work but commercially are still in their infancy. Our industry is still starting out, and thats what makes it so exciting. But today we bring you a special feature on a company celebrating its 20th birthday this year, Greek skincare brand Korres Natural Products, and gain exclusive insights into their philosophy, latest developments and much more from their Scientific Affairs Manager,Marianna Ralli.
Established by George Korres, who began mixing his first preparations at his parents pharmacy aged just seven, the brands simple philosophy is rooted in the use of natural and / or certified organic ingredients of the highest quality. All products are developed based on four groups of natural ingredients: herbs with pharmaceutical properties, Greek flora herbs, food ingredients and high-efficacy natural ingredients.
The first Korres product was an aromatic herbal syrup with honey and aniseed, a recipe inspired by ‘rakomelon’, a spirit-with-honey concoction, which Georges grandfather used to develop in his hometown on the island of Naxos. George would soon be joined in the business by his wife, Chemical Engineer Lena Korres and their first ever skincare product the Wild Rose 24-hour cream was launched and remains a best-seller.
Today the Korres ( @Korres_Official ) portfolio includes over 400 natural and certified organic products, featuring a skin & hair care range, a make-up line as well as sun care products and herbal preparations. The use of specific synthetic compounds such as petroleum derivatives, silicones, propylene glycol, ethanolamines and ammonia amongst others, is avoided and replaced with equally effective, beneficial and skin-friendly natural ingredients.
The company today counts23 stores in cities around the world plus in department stores in many mores plus over 6000 pharmacies in Greece. To learn more,our Editor, Luke Uptonhas spoken to Marianna Ralli, Scientific Affairs Manager at Korres Natural Productsabout her work, Korres current projects, the importance of the manufacturing process and much, much more.
Luke Upton (LU): Many thanks for taking time out of a busy week! As a PhD in Molecular Biology, what has been you path to your current role with Korres?
Marianna Ralli (MR): No problem Luke. While I was a PhD student in Edinburgh University I was very focused on laboratory-based work, although research in the lab wasnt enough for me. I felt there must be another world out there for scientists. It was then that I attended a presentation by Procter & Gamble and my interest became focused on how my skills and qualifications might be used in the industry, even if apparently this Industry has very little to do with my academic expertise! I joined P&G in Germany for a while, and then worked in research for a few more years in Scotland, before moving to Athens to join Korres.
Korres is a very interesting place for someone like me: the company invests in research and values a scientists point of view in their business, although it is also very aware of the brand and the market. Also although it is still a relatively small company, it has major collaborations worldwide making it a unique place to work and constantly learn. Although my formal training as a molecular biologist may not be the number one skill I need in my daily life in the company, the skills I developed while I gained my PhD in molecular biology, such as the ability to solve problems, retrieve relevant information and work in diverse teams, have been invaluable.
LU: Korres is a market leader in this area, that has been producing products with an ethical focus long before it became fashionable! What are you working on the moment?
MR (pictured below right) : Our philosophy remains the same as in those early pharmacy days; natural, certified organic ingredients of the highest quality; skin- and environmentally-friendly products with clinically tested efficacy; products that are affordable for everyday use yet of interesting aesthetics that can inspire &make us happy.
In Korres it is in our heart to promote organic farming, having an extended network of ethical cooperation around Greece based on fair trade principles, including micro-farmers, agricultural unions, social and educational institutions. Our team of scientists works towards sustaining plant populations and protecting endangered species. Also we use natural solvents instead of chemical ones despite the fact that the natural content of our products would remain the same; this is a conscious decision we have made, part of our ongoing effort to protect the environment. Since the beginning of the brand, we have been avoiding the use of specific synthetic ingredients while 98% of our packaging is recyclable and whenever possible recycled. Our obsession with environmentally sound materials also spans promotional materials, while our state-of-art production unit and Herb extraction unit are environment-friendly; these are just to name a few parameters of our sustainable profile.
Because we know that nature is an endless source of beauty ingredients with unique properties research in natural ingredients in relation to skin biochemistry is our key focus. Through an established international network of scientific co-operations with high profile academic and research institutes in the fields of Biochemistry, Pharmacognosy (Editor – the study of medicinal drugs derived from plants or other natural sources) and Clinical Dermatology, we study the clinical benefits of natural ingredients, participating in European research projects of major significance to the natural beauty industry. Korres Research & Development Lab develops our formulas, based on the research findings and the brands objective to deliver innovative products with the highest possible natural content and clinically tested efficacy.
In March you will see our new product launch, based on a research project called AGROCOS which lasted for four years, in collaboration with 7 academic partners and industry leaders. The project was very successful; having analyzed more than 3500 extracts produced by plants collected from global biodiversity paradises. Korres will launch the Chestnut antiaging line, since chestnut extract was one of the top performing cosmetic extracts stemming from AGROCOS.
LU: How important is the manufacturing process and the ingredients to Korres customers?
MR: Quality is our number one priority. Developing, producing, packaging in a way that goes beyond basic compliance standards drives every decision we make. Despite being a cosmetics brand, we have developed production systems suitable for pharmaceutical products; our skincare formulations are produced based on extremely strict standards, often just as strict as the ones followed for pharmaceuticals. A principle that applies to material handling including movement, storage, control and protection of raw materials and final products throughout the process of producing and distributing. Our Green-certificate, NO WASTE plant has also been certified for Quality Management (ISO 9001:2008) COSMETICS GOOD MANUFACTURING PRACTICES (ISO 22716:2007) and ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (ISO 14001:2004).
When it comes to product development Korres products are based on four groups of ingredients; Greek flora, medicinal herbs, food ingredients and high efficacy actives. The starting point of it all is scientific research. Our objective is to deliver products with the highest possible natural content that are effective and at the same time safe to use. In what was considered an extremely brave step for a small cosmetic brand at the time, in 2008 we presented a FORMULA FACTS panel on our packaging communicating in a transparent, honest way the natural percentage of each formula alongside the ingredients that we avoid. We also simplified the names of those ingredients so that everyone could understand what has been included or left out of each formula. This was a decision recognized by the industry and helped us build a solid way of communicating with consumers.
Herbs, Cooperations, Extractions, Research; these are the four words that sum up everything the brand stands for. The depth and added value of this effort is what has built the solid relations of trust with consumers around 30 countries worldwide.
LU: Many thanks for this fascinating insight into one of our favourite companies.
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