I was shopping in the Cherry Creek Mall Nordstrom last week and the saleswoman in the Cosmetic Department gave me some sample products.  One was a nicely done brochure and sample of L’Occitane En Provence hand cream.  When I got home, I removed the sample and while I was throwing away the packaging unread, a photo caught my eye.  The packaging for the sample was shaped like a cross with five panels.  The center panel held the sample and a photo of the hand cream product and its packaging.  The other panels described the main ingredients used in their hand cream and each of their “True Story”: Lavender, Almond, Verbena, and Shea Butter. L'Occitane Logo

 On the Shea Butter panel, there was a photo of two African women and a baby with a caption stating, ” Far from Provence, in Burkina Faso, Africa, grows the sacred Shea tree.  Only the local women are entrusted with the secrets of Shea Butter preparation, and only they benefit from its trade, which is why it is called “Women’s Gold.”  Since 1981, L’Occitane has been involved in a sustainable development program in Burkina faso.  Over 3,500 women gather the shea nuts, produce the butter in situ, and sell the fruit of their work to L’Occitane.”

So…I went to their website to learn more.  They write, “From the very beginning, L’Occitane has been a socially responsible company. The meaning and purpose of the brand are based on strong values: respect for both man and the environment, with an emphasis on exchange and sharing. In 1989, beyond the Mediterranean, L’Occitane initiated a sustainable development program in Burkina Faso around the production of shea butter. In 1997, it introduced Braille labeling on its packaging for the first time. And in 2006, it created the first large-scale organic immortelle plantation in Corsica, to protect the integrity of the Corsican maquis.

Since 2006, the L’Occitane Foundation has enabled us to go even further. It supports three causes in particular: ones that are dear to the brand and its history; literacy and support for women in developing countries; the fight against blindness and assistance for the visually impaired; and finally, the preservation of threatened traditional cultivations.”

I liked that L’Occitane gave details on the website and on their packaging about their codevelopment work with women in Burkina Faso from whom they they source the shea butter used in their products.  More companies should do that, if they are doing such things because consumers like myself care!  I have never given L’Occitane much of a second look, thinking it just one more beauty product company that uses the allure of France to sell their products.  However, now I will definitely pay more attention to them as a company and will try some of their other products, as well.  I want to support companies that are committed to operating in socially responsible ways including not only contributions to help communities but commerce models, as well.  “Trade not aid” is part of my personal perspective on how to alleviate poverty on the planet.

Nicely done, L’Occitane!