Flower Power in the blood

„I wear a t-shirt with an expiry date printed on it“, used to repeat jokingly over the last years Jean-Claude Richard, co-founder of farfalla, adding as an explanation: „We have given us ten years for the handover process, we stand now in the fifth year“. Now the time has come: the new generation is taking over – the farfalla founders are handing over. An adventure that started more than thirty years ago, when four school friends started with making music together, later then composing essential oils-based cosmetics - Gian Furrer, Paul Gisler, Jean-Claude and Marianne Richard now hand over their life’s work to godson, resp. son Malvin Richard.

Childhood in the founders community

How was it then to grow up in a community? Malvin laughs. „It was great. Up to twelve people were living there with their children. Some went to do some creative work to ensure the livelihood of the community. Some others would stay home, dedicating themselves to growing organic vegetables, herbs for the kitchen or preparations of medicinal plant extracts, or they were practicing yoga or tai chi. There was always something happening for us children. Sometimes, when we could not sleep, we were put in a stroller and driven on roller-skates through the streets until we would fall asleep.“

Malvin’s parents Jean-Claude and Marianne were living in the community together with the later co-founders Paul Gisler and Gian Furrer. That is where they experienced with things still considered as exotic in the 1980ies: they were practising yoga, mixed creams, produced tofu and kombucha. Malvin remembers: „It was all just normal for me. Kombucha and soy milk in our fridge were there just as meat and Rivella at other people’s. It was only later that I realized that not every family was producing tofu, let alone knew about it! And that they did not attach such an importance to a theme like the protection of nature conservation as we did“. The openness towards other cultures, alternative lifestyles and exotic healing methods lead them soon to experiencing with aromatherapeutic and natural cosmetic recipes. They were always focused on the search for balance and a life in harmony with nature. It brought them very early, even before Malvin birth, to travelling to places like India via Afghanistan in a VW-bus, where they would meet with people who bring body and soul in balance through aromatic plants. What they found was an aim in their life: to help people increasing their well-being through the power of plants.

The birth of Malvin in 1982 was also the birth of the farfalla project. „Their love for the power of plants and their enthusiasm for ethnobotanical fragrance trips have of course had an impact on me“, says Malvin. „But as a kid, I would also have appreciated to simply go to Italy and enjoy the beach. Instead, I would roam with my parents through Immortelle fields or sweat in antiquated distilleries.   

Parfume instead of Sturm & Drang

So it was not always clear that Malvin would be once working at farfalla and the now 36 years old never felt any pressure as to taking over the company from his parents. After his studies, he gathered experiences in the financial sector before starting with two friends a company specialized in natural perfumes: RichardLüscherBritos. Meanwhile, he acquired a valuable knowledge about natural cosmetics and essential oils and ended up finally falling in love with the world of the butterfly.

When the old farfalla generation retires definitively from the day-to-day business in 2019, Malvin will be the one and only operative owner. Does not such a change also carry a potential for conflict? „In my family, to be rebellious meant to be well-structured and organized. This is maybe the reason why I studied economics and worked at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. My father could not really make a sense of it!“

Malvin Richard: 

„Of course we have sometimes different views. But when it is about sustainability, social commitment or ecology, we always completely agree. Same with our mission to help people to feel well and simultaneously preserve nature.“

What stays is a strong management team, flat hierarchies and collaborators with a loving heart. Because farfalla would not be farfalla if the idea of the commonly created was not coming first, as well as that of friendship, as demonstrates the new team at the first glance. In the same spirit, young and old have developed together something that is new and different: a product concept that consists in supporting the personal and individual care needs with the help of the power of plants.