We’re big fans of the beauty line Caudalie, so we jumped at the chance to interview the founder of this family business, Mathilde, mother of three. Because we work in the magazine world and tend to be a bit jaded about a lot of the products we see and try, we (wrongly) assumed that because the line has that clinical it-must-really-work look, as opposed to that earthy-smells-great-but-doesn’t-work vibe, that we would have to ignore the ingredient list. How wrong we were! No parabens, no SLS, no mineral oils, no phthalates. We were very impressed. We also love that Mathilde, who recently moved her family to New York, runs the business with her husband.
How old are your children, and what are their names?
I have three children – Paul is 10, Louise is seven and Marion is three.
How did you get Caudalie started? Where did the idea come from?
It all started on my parent’s vineyard in Bordeaux. During the harvest celebration, my (now) husband Bertrand and I met Dr. Joseph Vercauteren – a brilliant man who also happens to an expert in grape and grapevine polyphenols (the amazing molecules that protects against ageing) – who explained that the excess being thrown away after the harvest were powerful ingredients. The grape seeds, skin, vine sap, vine stalks could all be used in skincare for incredible results. Together we started studying these raw materials and 15 years later we have a full skincare range with three patents and several more in the works.
By the way, in case you’re wondering…a Caudalie (koh-da-lee) is a unit of measurement which assesses the quality of wine by measuring the amount of time that the wine’s flavor lingers on the palette. For each second the flavor remains, this is a Caudalie and the more Caudalie’s the better the wine!
What’s the hardest part about running your own family business?
I think the hardest part of running a business is the same as being a working mom in any industry…it’s the challenge of balancing it all. You want to be a good mother, a good wife, a good friend and a good employer. For me that means working to adjust the balance slightly every day to make it all work.
Since it’s a business you run with your husband, do you have rules about when to stop talking about work?!
The good part about having three kids is that once Bertrand and I get home, there is literally no time to talk about work until the children are in bed. It’s a fun, busy, active household and once my husband and I get home the kids take up all of our time, which is just how we like it!
How was it moving your whole family to NY? Were your kids ok with the move?
Incredible! The kids were so excited about the move, but we had a big laugh because at one point they kept asking if we were taking the train to our new home. Bertrand and I realized that because we told them they would be speaking English they confused the US with the UK. When they realized they were flying all the way over to the United States, they were even more excited.
What’s been the hardest adjustment? And the easiest part?
The hardest part has simply been the adjustment to a new home and finding our favorite spots so that it really does feel like home. Since we’re French, food is a big part of our lives and we just didn’t feel settled until we had found our favorite place to buy breads, a great fish shop, meat shop, cheese shop…the good news is that we’re in New York so the options really are endless! The easiest part, surprisingly, was getting the children settled. There is so much to do and see in New York that they almost didn’t have time to miss Paris. It’s been one big exciting trip for them.
What’s the easiest dinner in your repertoire/or rather–whoever is cooking in the kitchen?
I have to say my favorite meals are not mine – they are our nanny’s! The meals are always simple and healthy, but cooked to perfection. Right now my favorite is this delicious winter pumpkin soup she makes along with a homemade quiche or fish with rice. We’re lucky that our kids are great eaters and great about trying new things. The pumpkin soup is definitely a household favorite right now.
How do you celebrate your kids’ birthdays?
We usually host birthdays at home with family and friends. All three kids are at an age where they have very specific opinions on how they want to celebrate their birthdays or at least the themes of the parties. For Paul it’s trains, Louise it’s horses and Marion it’s (what else?) princesses. Beyond that, as long as there are games, cake and decorations around their favorite things, they’re happy.
Any rules about TV/iPad, iPod, etc?
We have the “10 family rules” in our house and everyone knows that the “screens” (TV/iPad/iPod) are taken away for a day if any of the 10 rules are broken. Unfortunately last week was a tough week as a result the kids went for most of the week without these accessories. We’re all hoping this week will be better!
What websites inspire you and for which parts of your life?
What’s a typical weekend like?
If the weather’s nice we usually start the day in Central Park where my husband and I will jog while the children ride their bikes. Then we’ll usually head over to the Union Square Farmer’s Market to pick of some fresh items – the children love to run around and taste the various food samples. We’ll usually cook at home, try to get started on homework and then settle in to watch a movie. If we’re in the city on the weekend, we’ll try to pick a day to head out of Manhattan. This past weekend we went hiking up in Bear Mountain and it was beautiful.
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you?
I try to be active in my daily life, but would love to actually hire a trainer and work out more regularly, but so far there have simply not been enough hours in the day.
Top 3 favorite books—for your kids, top 3 for yourself?
Right now, Paul loves Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Louise adores Curious George (as do I) and Marion is completely taken with Angelina Ballerina. A few of my favorite books are Perfume by Patrick Suskind, Belle du Seigneur by Albert Cohen and books by Stefan Zweig. Right now I’m reading The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman and would definitely recommend it.
Do you have a fail-safe beauty product or routine?
Being in the beauty industry, I’m constantly trying new products and formula, but my must have product when I’m traveling is my Premier Cru face cream. As a mom, I look for products (and look to create products) that do multiple things at once. For example: my Premier Cru cream, while super moisturizing, contains ingredients to protect against free radicals, boosts firmness and enhances brightness – all which allow me to cut a few extra steps out of my beauty routine. When I have the time, though, I love to new products and take my time with my beauty rituals.
Best family trip?
We do family trips to Val d’Isere in France and always have the most incredible time. My parents join us and since they used to be Olympic skiers – that’s our main activity. My children have become quite taken with skiing and I love that it’s something that we can do together as a family.
Proudest moment in parenting?
I can’t necessarily pinpoint a specific moment, but watching my children adjust so easily and readily to a new country made me unbelievably proud. I love hearing them come home with new English words that they have discovered (some better than others!). I’m really proud to see them thriving in this new culture.
Taking getaways with my husband. Yes, we spend a lot of time together, but it always at work or with the children. There’s something special about sneaking away to get a couple days alone where it’s just the two of us.
Best parenting advice you ever got?
Never capitulate! Simply put: be firm and stand your ground. I’ve heard variations of this advice from some of the best parents I know. I’m not sure I’m applying it exactly, but I try to keep it in the back of my mind.