Chanel, Sephora, Fred, Prada and now Clarins… Natalie Bader’s specialty is making a brand ‘captivating’ once again. Her mission?  Bring a brand back into the spotlight and increase its desirability without taking them too far from their core values and history. President of Clarins for the past two years, she is doing this with a new communications’ theme that is, among other things, closer to women. It is based on authenticity, ‘joie de vivre’, kindness and developing a close relationship with clients. She told us more about this strategy and shared her own vision of beauty as well.

Clarins’ new (ad) campaign shakes up codes by placing women (in a rainbow of skin tones) in everyday situations that are the same age as those who would use the product. Why did you come up with this new approach?

Natalie Bader: We’ve been working on a new strategy for the past two years but it’s really becoming visible now. It focuses on being more ‘Clarins’ than ever and going back to our roots. We’re positioning ourselves around the brand’s core values which include skin care expertise, plant-based inspiration and goodwill. I feel that goodwill is important because Clarins has always considered beauty in an authentic, benevolent way.  You’ll never see a ‘superstar’ model-spokeswoman here because we don’t want you to look like Julia Roberts. We want to show ‘real’ women, not (skin care) ‘miracles’- that’s just not who we are.  Our catalogue is full of high-performing products that make it possible to create an array of personalized skin care routines. Our products help bring about a certain ‘acceptation’ of one’s self and one’s age.  Listening to women and understanding their needs and being close to the reality they live in- this is what we’ve always focused on.  “It’s all about you” (‘Vous avant tout’), is the new tagline and it’s been translated into several languages. It really does echo the brand’s core values. The campaign presents a happy woman who feels good about her age next to a large photo of the product because we are proud of it.  After all, we are the brand with the best ‘Net Promoter Scores’ or, consumer ratings.

You’ve built your career around making brands enticing again. What are you bringing to Clarins, whose success hasn’t seemed to wane over the past 60 years?
Natalie Bader: I love the idea of ‘enticing’. To do this, I always lean on a brand’s own history. Clarins’ success is undeniable, with best-selling products women are loyal to since we are the European leader in luxury skin care. Our target group is women around age 40 but we also need to recruit younger women. My goal: recruit the future for the brand and increase desirability. Even though Clarins is a well-known brand, I’m not sure it is enticing enough.  For example, starting in 2016, plants will be at the heart of a product with a drawing of the plant inside the packaging. Maybe it’s just a small detail, but one that will make the brand a little more likeable. But, we aren’t going to try to be more ‘luxurious’. We strive to have the best priced products without necessarily cutting back on product development budgets. We want our products to be ‘accessible’.

After Yves Rocher, Chanel Make-Up and Sephora, you spent a little time away from the skin care industry and worked for the jeweler Fred then for the fashion house Prada… Is your work at Clarins a little like returning to your first love?
Natalie Bader: Yes! It’s a creative universe that I love because it is rather ‘quick’ (compared to the jewelry industry) and very high-tech (compared to fashion). I love this ‘mix’. But, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t go back to the world of fashion one day…

Clarins is now on Instagram, are you pretty active on social media?
Natalie Bader: I’m on Facebook a little but I really love Instagram. I love to post photos and follow my friends to find out what they’re doing and to stay in touch. I’m not a ‘groupie’ and I don’t follow anyone ‘famous’, well, maybe Soledad, illustrator at ELLE; she always makes me smile.

What are your favorite apps on your smartphone?
Natalie Bader: all of my apps are linked to things I love, like cooking. I really like ‘Marché Malin’ because it highlights what’s in season. I use ‘Waze’ for getting around and when I travel, I like using ‘Time Out’ when I am in a city I don’t know.

In your opinion, how does Internet influence our approach to beauty?
Natalie Bader: The Internet has given us great ‘learning curves’ when it comes to beauty with video tutorials and application demos. They’ve made women beauty experts. For example, you can watch a video four times if needed, sometimes we hesitate asking a sales person for help. Client comments can lead to faster understanding and more transparency and honesty. We’re very attentive to what’s being said about our products online. Finally, beauty has become extremely accessible. We want products today that we never would have imagined before.  Contouring products come to mind. A few years ago, we never would have developed anything like that but thanks to online tutorials that show women how to do the technique many young women have adopted them today.  

How do you balance work and your personal life with two children, even if almost grown?
Natalie Bader: My daughter is 19 and my son is 17. They are both very independent. I try to spend quality time with them, like going to an exhibit or a movie and every night, we talk about how our day went.  However, it is true that the older kids get, the more we worry about them!  

How do you relieve stress?
Natalie Bader: I run a little and I get weekly massages. I also have a really good osteopath (doctor).  

Is there a time during the day or the week that you truly ‘disconnect’?
Natalie Bader: I’m not really addicted to work once I leave the office. I glance over my emails during the evening and the weekend just to make sure there are no ‘emergencies’. But, overall, once I get home, I really don’t get on my computer much.

What’s the best beauty advice you’ve ever received?
Natalie Bader: Don’t eat too much sugar and drink a lot of water… My beauty recommendations turned out to be dietary after all. Also, laugh and smile a lot. Enjoy what you do- that is also important.

What does ‘beauty’ mean today?
Natalie Bader: Accepting one’s age and flaws but spotlighting one’s qualities. It’s said ‘Healthy is the new sexy’. Being healthy, feeling good about yourself and accepting how you are, this is what makes a woman beautiful.   

Is there a skin care step you never skip?
Natalie Bader: I wash my face every night, even if I get home at 5am. I can’t even fathom going to bed with make-up on and smearing it all over my pillow!

What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Natalie Bader: I see I’ve lived a little! But, I’m pretty happy. I give myself a lot of grace all while being realistic.

Do you typically see a jar of cream as being half full or half empty?
Natalie Bader: Clearly, half full. I’m an optimistic person and it’s how I manage teams. I first look at what is going well instead of what’s not working. Life’s hard enough isn’t it?

In your opinion, what skin care product hasn’t been invented yet?
Natalie Bader: All my life, people have made comments about my eyes.  I’ve often thought that many women would love to change the color of their eyes, with just a few drops of a product instead of having to wear colored contact lenses that can sometimes look fake.

17 behind-the-scenes Oscars photos
How to become the president of a successful beauty brand