As Pure as the Mountain Sky
AN INTERVIEW WITH SUSANNA KAUFMANN
Natural beauty products may be on-trend at the moment, but Susanne Kaufmann is an industry leader harnessing centuries of botanical knowledge. She is respected worldwide for her commitment to sustainability, innovation, and creating skincare products that are both luxurious and effective. I caught up with Susanne to learn more about the Bregenzerwald region and how her natural environment has shaped the brand's ethos and production which is as pure as the mountain sky.
Were you attracted to plants from a young age – did you forage for plants and make your own potions?
Yes, I grew up in nature—we made healing tonics, marigold cream and arnica schnapps. It was a two-hour weekly ritual. I grew up with this culture of taking care of your skin, hair and body. I always loved it and carry on these traditions with my family to this day.
You grew up in the Bregenzerwald region, how did this upbringing affect your approach to building your brand? Is there anything particular about the ethics and lifestyle of your local community that is reflected in your production and spa?
I grew up in the Bregenzerwald region surrounded by a world of health and beauty, which formed my passion and curiosity for natural healing ingredients and powerful formulations. However, for me, my brand goes much further than the high-quality, natural, and effective ingredients. It should also encompass an environmentally friendly production, sustainable packaging innovation, manufacturing processes and a deep respect for nature and people. This has always been our philosophy. It's always been about the entire picture.
Did you help your parents at the hotel, if so, what tasks did you perform and what did you learn?
I first joined the family hotel in the 1990s and one of my initial projects was to develop a spa with an offering of signature beauty treatments. I quickly realised that I also needed to create my own in-house spa product line to support the service. One that adopted the same natural, regional, and sustainable values as the hotel itself, a line that looked and felt as premium as the results it delivers. In 2003 we launched SUSANNE KAUFMANN skincare.
Have you lived in the area your whole life? Have you travelled to gain inspiration from other cultures/natural locations?
The Bregenzerwald region, a valley in the Austrian Alps, is where I first began cultivating my approach to holistic beauty and harnessing the healing power of regional herbs and plants. Travelling is a great passion of mine. I love to experience new cultures and hope to continue to do so.
How do you source your botanicas? Do you forage, or do you grow crops specifically for your products?
We source many of our active ingredients for the SUSANNE KAUFMANN range in the rich environment of the Bregenzerwald around us, here in Austria. Unique, powerful plants such as arnica, chamomile, marigold, lavender and rosemary are found in abundance here. Sprigs found in the oil baths and room diffusers are hand-picked from the Austrian mountains and surrounding areas.
How has your local environment changed in your lifetime? Do you have any concerns for its future?
The regional production, the sourcing of local partners and the longstanding cooperation with our suppliers gives us a big lead when it comes to sustainability and the implementation of our principles. The producers and the suppliers have grown with us and we have developed together. Only in this way can we implement the latest scientific findings in the ingredients, make our production and packaging more ecological and withstand the legal challenges in a rapidly changing landscape; consumer demands for their skin are greater than ever, the number of consumers suffering from allergies is increasing, while new insights into sun exposure bring new challenges. We love to celebrate our home and community by supporting local events and festivals that bring people together and help promote local businesses. This year we sponsored the Bezau Beatz Festival, a fantastic event in the rolling hills of Austria, with live music and exciting activities for all to enjoy.
How did your community cope with lockdown? Has it changed the way you look at the world/do business?
Our local production and warehouse team have been lifelong partners of the brand and having them situated close by had its advantages. We were able to adapt quickly, responding to the needs of our customers. Most importantly, we were able to take care of each other from a distance as we entered what was such an unnerving and uncertain time. Having such strong relationships with your production partners is key and I will always be grateful for their dedication and hard work.
Do you have any secret beauty tips using natural ingredients from wild plants or the food cupboard?
A shot of ginger is the best cure to detox the body. Nothing helps fight a looming illness like a cold or flu, combat a lack of energy or brighten a dull complexion better than a shot of freshly pressed ginger with lemon juice.
If you could only perform one beauty routine, what would it be?
I swear by our Eye Rescue Stick and Eye Cream Line A, two of my favourite products. I always recommend applying an eye cream daily because for me, the first impression of a person is always reflected through their eyes. I like to apply our cooling Eye Rescue Stick and follow with the Eye Cream Line A. I put a thick layer around my eyes as a once-a-week treatment. It's a real hero product – my eyes still look fresh and well-rested the next day."
What's next? Do you have any new products/adventures in the pipeline?
"We recently launched our 100% recyclable refill bottles for three of our best-selling cleansing products: Cleansing Gel 250ml, Shower/Shampoo 250ml, and Hand Soap 250ml. Each recyclable refill, with its intelligent capless design, not only helps reduce waste to landfill, but it also cuts carbon emissions by 69%. Made from 75% post-consumer material, it is 60% lighter than standard plastic bottles making it our most environmentally friendly packaging ever. We believe that sustainability is a never-ending journey and promise to continue to explore opportunities to reduce our environmental impact throughout 2021 and beyond. We are committed to this philosophy and plan to expand our scope by adding more products to the refill system in the second half of 2021 and beyond.
While responding to the needs of the skin during the digital age, protection against pollution is key to preserving the health of the skin. Therefore, a multi-purpose product that protects against this is certainly a passion project for myself and our product development team – stay tuned!"
I'd like to thank Susanne Kaufmann for taking the time to share her unique and fascinating insights into natural beauty.
Writer Michelle Porter
The idyllic Austrian Alpine region of the Bregenzerwald
Susanne Kauffman eye cream and face serum