Frédéric Fekkai took the beauty world by storm in the late ’80s when he opened his first salon at the top of Bergdorf Goodman in NYC. Ever since, the Aix-en-Provence native has reigned as a celebrity stylist, entrepreneur and global icon—credited with founding the luxury hair care space—with six North American salons. He recently took back the reins of his namesake company, Fekkai Brands, and developed the clean, free-of-questionable-ingredients beauty brand, Bastide, with his wife, former fashion publicist Shirin Von Wulffen. Through all his success, the beauty guru remains fiercely dedicated to the client experience, and he’s just as passionate about the quality of his products as he was the day he started.
You recently reacquired Fekkai Brands. What was the impetus for that?
I desired to reconnect with the Fekkai salons and customers. It provides me with the
opportunity to reinfuse my passion for innovation, while reigniting its growth and guiding Fekkai Brands through its next chapter in a modern and exciting way. I also realized there was amazing potential within the clean beauty space with Bastide, which my wife Shirin and I launched in 2016.
How has your company changed since its inception?
The evolution of the industry in the digital space and social media has been incredible. Fekkai was built on the special tailored service for each client. We can now communicate in real time with our consumers and stylists, share news and inspiration and receive feedback that we can use as we work to develop future launches.
What’s the secret to building your brand? Is there something about it being personal when your name is on the bottle?
Absolutely, every experience people have with your brand is linked directly to your name and your character. What I’ve learned is not to second-guess myself when making decisions about the brand. I will ask
people I trust for advice or inspiration, but at the end of the day I always trust my gut when it comes to the final decision—that’s what makes the brand feel authentic.
You’ve been creating new products with Shirin for Bastide, and it’s much more than just hair care. Is that fun?
Bastide comes from and is based on life in my hometown of Aix-en-Provence, France. The philosophy of Bastide is about living a pure and relaxed life, being closer to nature and finding the simple things in life. Every product is inspired by this lifestyle—which we call ‘la douceur de vivre,’ meaning ‘the sweetness of life.’ With Bastide, Shirin and my kids always give me ideas for products and even test them for us. The products feel like a homecoming for me. Bastide is a
little piece of Provence in a bottle I can share with others.
Is it true that you test all your products at home?
We don’t launch a product unless it has been tested by as many people as possible. We have everyone in the office take home a sample and give us their honest feedback. If we don’t love it, then it goes back for revision. I think this attention to detail is what sets our products apart.
What kinds of beauty items are always in your shower or medicine cabinet?
Bastide Ambre Maquis body wash is always in my shower—it is my favorite scent. I also love the Aesop Parsley Seed [facial] cleanser. Melatonin is always in my medicine cabinet to help get over jet lag after a long trip.
What hair trends do you love right now?
I love a blunt bob with some texture—it’s a bit of a nostalgic nod to the ’90s, but also looks chic and on-trend. It’s easy to style for either a casual or more formal look, so it suits today’s modern woman who is always on the go.
Looking back on when you launched your brand, what do you wish you had known when you were starting out?
I wish I had known how important execution is. Having a great idea is one thing, but the hard work comes while realizing an idea. Also, no one tells you how easy it is to spend money! I would not do anything differently, because it all led to where we are today—and I’m very optimistic about the future for my brands.
What do you think it takes to be an effective leader?
Have a sound and passionate story. That’s something that will always be invaluable to your business and will inspire the people working for you. Surround yourself with great talent—people who are passionate, trustworthy and genuine.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
My greatest accomplishment to date is the creation of my brands and building a network of friends and employees that have supported me along the way. I am proud to say I started the luxury hair care category. It was inspired by luxury skincare. The industry has grown and transformed so much! I want to continue to grow and to bring innovation to the field.—M.C.
” Have a sound and
passionate story. That’s
something that will
always be invaluable
to your business
and will inspire the people working for you.”