If someone had told us that we were going to make a beauty product together, we would have laughed,” says French entrepreneur Charles Rosier, thinking back to his first meeting with Professor Augustinus Bader more than ten years ago. He was involved in commercial ventures while the latter worked on stem cell biology and cell technology at the University of Leipzig in Germany.
Rosier’s interest in medicine – he was helping a French professor with spinal cord injuries – and a wound gel Bader used to treat a four-year-old with third-degree burns brought them together. He wondered if they could use the medical-grade hydrogel to create a skincare product and then use the profits to fund the scientist’s clinical trials and medical research.
It had been four years since they had met. Rosier took another two years to convince the professor to “take this idea seriously”. They co-founded Bader Group and launched two items, The Cream and The Rich Cream, in 2018.
Coming up with the brand name took another round of conviction.
“I told him it was important for the brand to have his name for transparency because there are so many labels out there. It’s important that people can google Augustinus Bader and see his posts and research. It would show that ours isn’t a fancy project; there’s real science behind it,” says Rosier, who combines two of his passions, biology — he almost studied medicine — and entrepreneurship, with this project.
The science and history behind the brand probably make women choose the following two creams and products, including The Body Cream, The Face Oil, and The Eyebrow and Lash Serum. The response from Hollywood stars and celebrities to influencers and beauty experts has been phenomenal, with most saying the skincare line is “special and different from anything they’ve tried before,” Rosier says.
Contrary to the rapid growth of the company, he and his partner took the time to warm up and understand how each other worked. Now the two say they respect each other and complement each other.
“I have no skill to replace Augustinus’ knowledge. I don’t have the ability to work on the scientific side of things. I would never interfere or comment on science and he would never be [do the same] with my business decisions.
Bader, who compares finance, knowledge of banking and strategic planning to “a different culture”, compliments his partner: “Charles is everything that I am not. I know what I can do. But I’m not good at fundraising.
What they had in common was that they were both facing major financial problems.
“My wife sold everything – our house, our car – to pay the patent filing fees because my salary was not enough. I used to have 100 patents,” Bader claims.
During the first year of their partnership, Rosier’s CFO resigned three times because “he was too stressed about the cash situation. I really put everything into financing the project. I sold my apartment in London and we found our external investor because I was selling another one in Paris”.
Then Lady Luck smiled at them. Last year, Augustinus Bader was voted the greatest skincare brand of all time by a jury of beauty industry professionals, organized by Women’s Wear Daily.
“When you’re an independent brand, even if you have a great product, you can go broke. We could have. Maybe we were lucky because of the energy we put into the project. I think we have won by being naive. If I was in the industry and understood how competitive it was, I might not have taken all those risks. So my ignorance was a blessing,” says Rosier.
Recognition came from different fronts. “We received an award from the 45 publishers of She magazine around the world. We have received awards from British and French vogue. In the history of skincare, I don’t think a new brand has achieved this in such a short time.
After learning about TFC8 technology from The Rich Cream and Bader, Bobbi Brown poured money into the company and recently joined as Chief Creative Advisor.
“She advises us on content creation. Before launching new formulas, we send him the prototype. She has worked in the industry for many, many years and knows a lot about texture. She is very frank. It’s very important to have people around you who give you clear opinions,” says Rosier.
“We benefit from this excellent product and this unique technology, but for other things to come, of course, you need hard work and luck. We were incredibly lucky because it’s not like we had a master plan. A lot of things happened very organically.
But when it comes to product content, nothing is left to chance. TFC8, a patented, formulated technology that Bader – “I grew up in a monastery school” – spent 30 years working on, is complemented by a very strict list of ingredients. Among them are natural amino acids, high quality vitamins and synthesized molecules naturally present in the skin, which support its innate potential for cell renewal. His research focuses on regenerative medicine and he believes that “the body is its own therapist”.
The hydrogel uses breakthrough stem cell science that eliminates the need for skin grafts and scar revision, and minimizes infections that plague burn victims. He noticed the lifelong suffering of children and the trauma of disfiguring burns while working at Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai, China, and formulated the gel to promote scar-free healing.
When asked about the brand’s expansion, Rosier says there will be 20-25 skin products and 8-10 hair products. “We try to bring solution-oriented products that differentiate us from what’s on the market.”
Augustinus Bader is available at Kens Apothecary stores. See more here.
This article was first published on October 31, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.