Behind The Scenes at Davines
I had the privilege of visiting Davines main headquarters in Parma, while me and the fam were traveling around Italy last week.
I met the lovely Laura Luciani, who is one of there chemist. We had an expresso (so Italian!) and exchanged pleasantries before donning funny paper suits and rubber croc like shoes to tour the manufacturing plant and distribution area.
All of the chemist are women with the exception of one man, and I had the chance to meet them all.
It is such rare opportunity for us as hairdressers to meet the people that work behind the scenes in something as ambiguous as hair color and shampoo. One of the many things I love about this company is the marketing. I actually got to tell the people who design and chemically put this whole line together, how much I love what they are doing. It was a bit mind blowing!
To start, we go into the more social area where they have meetings and eat lunch. The people who work there can buy lunch that have been prepared with natural ingredients that are also found in the product line. It’s kind of like cross marketing in a way. It allows everyone to make the experience all encompassing. Its also important to note that they have two coffee breaks during the day. While they only last 10 minutes long, the whole entire company stops and has a little coffee. We happened to be in manufacturing area during a break and it was like a ghost town. I love that everyone takes a pause in their day. It is so refreshing in this type of environment. It’s a pretty elaborate production. It says a lot about the company and their philosophy.
We enter the lab, and all you have a lot of what you would expect with glass beakers and scales and formulas scrawled on white boards. But what I loved was that they had mannequin heads and hair samples sitting out, just like we do in our backroom at the shop. They create formulas and send them to a team of hairdressers up stairs to test out. They also have several different test salons across the globe who they send color to test. They give the full report and adjust from there. Naturally, I had a million questions! I would have loved to photograph everything, but it wasn’t possible.
Next we went into the manufacturing area where they have all of the raw materials sitting on pallets in big bags and plastic barrels. It was certainly not the glamorous side , but incredibly interesting to see the process from start to finish. Each little component so crucial in its balance to create each product. They take such great measures, as you can imagine, to protect the integrity of each batch they make.
Later we head out to the area where they make the hair color and put them in tubes. They fill, laser label the tubes, paper label the boxes, pack the boxes to ship, seal and pack 52 of these little guys in one minute. Out of 50,000 tubes produced in a day they may have 1 “bad” tube. We occasionally come across the said “bad” tube when we are mixing up color, but apparently they are still fine to use with no issue.
Davines also has another skin care and body line called Comfort Zone, which is made and packed by hand here. I desperately wanted to get my hands on some. Occasionally we get a little tube of something Comfort Zone in our orders. But this elusive line is only available in super high end spas. Le sigh...
After this little tour, we went back to the main offices and took off our paper suits and had more coffee and chatted. I honestly could have stayed all day. The environment is not what you would expect. The exterior of the building is concrete and modern. Cold and grey. They have planted herbs and flowers in the front garden that relate to the product line. It softens it’s edges. The people who work and create on the inside are warm, friendly and exude this laid back vibe.
In the spring they will unveil their new home not far away. The Davines Village will be quite something to see. Their production area will expand and be increasingly more efficient, and in the middle they will have a restaurant, that resembles a greenhouse, for those who work there. It will have the same concept as in the previous location- just a larger scale. On the periphery will be little offices that look like little houses. On the outside of the village there will be a garden. They will be growing and harvesting the various ingredients that they can use in the products as well as the restaurant. I got to see the little model of there village- but am hoping to the real deal on another visit!