Minter Dialogue with Davide Bollati
Davide Bollati is the owner and chairman, since 2006, of Davines Group and Comfort Zone. Davide has steered Davines Group, which was founded in 1983, to be a worldwide recognised professional brand providing high-end haircare solutions for hairdressing salons and skincare (with Comfort Zone) for spas, that is known for its commitment to ethical sourcing and sustainability. In 2016, Davines became a certified B Corp. Present in some 90 counties and with about 800 employees, Davines Group is a tremendous success story. In this conversation, we discuss Davide’s career path, some of the critical choices he made, the route to and effects of becoming a B Corp, the use of La Carta Etica, the building of the Davines community, the use of a philosopher to help craft the direction of the brand, and much more. An enlightening story.
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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).
Full transcript via Otter.ai
SUMMARY KEYWORDS: beauty industry, company, community, industry, good, dominance, feel, beauty, packaging, people, purpose, davide, sustainability, business, innovation, journey, brand, talking, beginning, convinced
SPEAKERS: Davide Bollati, Minter Dial
Minter Dial 00:06
Hello, welcome to Minter Dialogue, episode number 547. My name is Minter Dial and I’m your host for this podcast, a most proud member of the Evergreen Podcast Network. For more information or to check out other shows on this network, go visit evergreenpodcasts.com. So, this week’s interview is with Davide Bollati. Davide’s the owner and Chairman since 2006, of Davines Group and Comfort Zone. Founded in 1983. Davide has steered Davines Group to be a worldwide recognized professional brand, providing high-end haircare solutions for hairdressing salons and skincare with Comfort Zone for spas that is known for its commitment to ethical sourcing and sustainability. In 2016, Davines became a certified B Corp. President in some 90 countries and with about 800 employees Davines group is a tremendous success story. In this conversation with Davide, we discuss his career path, some of the critical choices he made the route to and effects of becoming a B Corp. The use of La Carta Etica, the building of the Davines community, the use of a philosopher to help craft the direction of the brand, and much more. An enlightening story. You’ll find all the show notes on Minterdial.com. And if you have a moment, please go over and drop in a rating and review. And don’t forget to subscribe to catch all the future episodes. Now for the show. Davide, como se dice in italiano… Davide Bollati, I am so happy to have you on my show. We’ve known each other over many years. Of course, I had my time when I was at L’Oreal and in total disclosure, I had the chance to work for you. I really enjoyed discovering the brand so many years ago. And now let’s say in your words, Davide, who is Davide Bollati?
Davide Bollati 02:14
He is a son of two parents, they started by accident business in the beauty industry in the 60s, because they had some neighbors that were in the packaging industry that is an adjacent industry. And in growing up, I felt that my parents needed help. And I genuinely care about them. And they genuinely want me to really help them. So, I organize myself to see what I could do to help. And that was the main the main motivation for me to join, to study pharmacy at the University of Parma and then to move to the US and to France to finalize my education. Then when I’m when I felt that I could bring something back to this small little lab. That was the beginning of the 90s, for a while already, I did it and I started to turn the company of my parents, a small little artisanal lab, focusing on Contract Packaging manufacturer for third parties into a more of a brand company. So, now we have a couple of brands after all those years. So, yes, maybe when you ask me who is Davide Bollati. And I answered you through what I do, what I did in my profession. Maybe there is some truth in that. Because in my family, business, personal and professional, I have always been mixed, has always been juxtaposed. And I have to say that it’s not that bad, not to have a nine to five job when you like it, when you have love for it and dedication.
Minter Dial 04:21
It’s so important to have those type of passions that bring you energy because obviously running a business as you did and still is Chairman, it takes a lot of energy to get a company I mean really congratulations for that journey or wanted just to circle back to your education. You decided to go to the States to Farley Dickinson, why the choice of going to America?
Davide Bollati 04:47
We want to know the truth? Because you got that time in Italy, you have to do your military service. And for me to waste one year in military service I think was not an option. So, I don’t know. And actually now after all those years it is even more of a waste to go into military, to defend a flag or to defend something, even though there is more and more, it seems there is more and more need, I think we should man all the flags in the world, because under a flag, you know, you do a lot of things that you justify a lot, a lot of sins, let’s say. But anyway, that’s a different conversation, I had to go to serve the military in Italy… the alternative was to do an international cooperation, it was not so easy, because you have to be on time with your exam. So, you have to do your university exams, and then you had to stay out of Italy until 26 years old. So, I became a doctor in pharmacy at 23. Then I went to New Jersey to work on a raw material, a company that was doing raw materials for the beauty industry as a product development chemist. And then, when I turned 26, I moved back to the company, my parents, because at that time I was released from the military obligation.
Minter Dial 06:28
Well, I didn’t do any sort of military service. Although I, I was since I was a US citizen. And then I could have tried to get a Belgian passport at one point. But they said you need to do your military service in order to become Belgian. And so, I did not take up that opportunity there. So, something we share, Davide, at some level. So, what’s interesting about your background, as you were describing the beginning of Davines Group, which of course also includes Comfort Zone, and now is that you had the packaging background, then you have the chemistry background, and you have the raw materials background, is that right?
Davide Bollati 07:06
Yes, yes. It was. I also had the background of the very intrapreneurial spirit, and as a more of a very, very small artisanal lab. And this, I think, is something that made the difference. I was also very much into marketing into any fact, the first line that we launched, beginning of the 90s already had some special focus on specific packaging with extra since reality compared to the one that were actually happening at that time. So, yeah, it’s the beauty of the beauty of the beauty industry is that you can that you are requested to integrate different disciplines into an article and that you have to use as much as you can to for a specific manual.
Minter Dial 08:19
Indeed, I was just wondering or just thinking about how those the roots of your company informed the company that you have today. Because, of course, you are noted for the Davines Group of company, I know well for having been competitors for a while. But you always had a special type of packaging, which really stood out and made it feel like a different brand different presence online.
Davide Bollati 08:46
Yeah, the Group packaging. There are lots of matches a lot of messages that can be sent. And packaging is an expression of, you know, we tried to use packaging as an expression of, of who we are or who we want to be, or the value and the purpose of the company. And so, there is a lot behind, we have our own. It’s a curse, I think of packaging. We have different laws, of course, in these years, it changed a lot. But now packaging is one of the it’s probably after raw materials. This the second component for the footprint of the beauty industry. And so, you know, it’s a very important element that needs to be considered, but not only from opportunistic perspective, but I think also from a value based and for person, purpose driven perspective, or dominance for sure. We this is how we approach it. Indeed,
Minter Dial 10:00
well, so let’s just go back to the beginning quickly about the heaviness the, the name Davines. How did that come around? And you know, because I know I change, you know, coming up with brand names is always quite an interesting thing but the name of the company the heaviness.
Davide Bollati 10:16
It came out from my parents very simple thought process, very basic, the mix of the two names or the two songs, they did not have a budget for an advertising company, I guess. Therefore, they come up with this name, let’s say out of love for their kids. So, that my sister is fine. Yeah, me is that we just so they, they mix a little bit your name. And this is and it came out like that?
Minter Dial 10:45
Well, the good news when you have kind of like a mixed name like that is that Google likes it because it’s not common, and presumably be is easier to get the.com, then david.com, for example. For sure, so when you’re just now talking about the purpose. At what point do you think, let’s say if I put the context is purpose is something that is definitely trendy today. But you guys have become a big corporation, you’ve really taken to heart the notion of having a company with purpose. Can you tell us what is the purpose? And how did it come to be your purpose?
Davide Bollati 11:27
The purpose of dominance today is to do our best for the world, like creating good life for all through beauty ethics and sustainability. It’s quite high. The say, high targets are intense high target. But we refined it a few times during those years before it was it more specific. Now it’s a bit more higher target. And, but I think it’s a natural progression. In 2005, we started we added sustainable beauty under the brand name the brand of Davines. So, in fact, we already clarify our intent intentions, at least. And because it was it came out of a work that we’ve done on during the creation of the of the cafe pika, we appointed philosophical counselor that asked us that help us to figure out what we wanted to do in business, what was, you know why we were doing things that we were doing. And once we have clarified this, through a list of values, list of principles that we, we believe were important to follow. It was a work of, let’s say, 100 colleagues at that time. So, this Carta Etica was a wonderful journey, a wonderful exercise. I still remember those years old, they, let’s say, battles that we were doing among us, you know, defending this, this principle, that principle, no, but this principle goes against the other one. There is a conflict here, there’s a conflict there. And then at one point, we came out with, let’s say, a charter. They want to know a lot of principles and values, maybe around 12. Think that 14, and that was the base. Then, since then, it has been a journey. Then we met by accident or at a TED Talk. We met, we came across the B Corporation, that was 2015/2014. That was at the beginning. In Europe, these were companies that were not shareholder driven. So, a new breed of companies, a new breed of organization, that, as you know, you know, in these shareholder driven economies, has been and still is the majority of all the competition in the world, maybe 90-95% of all the companies that work there are shareholder driven. As Milton Friedman in the 50s (he even won the Nobel Prize now for that) the business of business is business. That’s it. The only beauty of a company is maximize profits for shareholders. And, of course, while you do this, you have to stay out of troubles, legal troubles, you know, as long as you follow the law, you’re fine. But then it seems that maybe 50 years ago, this model could have been a good model. But now the way the world is going the way the governments, intergovernmental organizations, the public sector and the private sector evolved. Now, I think the private sector has a duty or responsibility to adjust a trajectory that is clearly not sustainable. So, governments come in general a bit later, I think capitalism got away with a little bit too many murders. So, now it’s about, it’s about time to readjust the model. And so, now you have the growth, you have 1000s, I think, now we’re around 7000. B Corps. So, 1000s of companies around the world are across are considering transferring their purpose into a Benefit Corporation, and into a B Corp certified organization. And so, that, to give a little bit more weight, a little bit more measurement to these, ESG, that seems is the, dans l’air du temps, as we say, but ESG has been, okay, you have to do it, because reports are becoming more and more, more and more necessary, or by law, especially if you’re a public company. So, you know, you need to defend yourself by having, you know, ESG report. I’m not talking about that type of approach, I’m talking about an approach that is proactive, an approach that is genuine, on the intent. And that you really, really want to consider all your footprint, to measure yourself, and to consider all the stakeholders that have an impact through your company. So, if you want to call it in a different way, the supply chain. So, the supplier supply chain is also the environment. The suppliers, the colleagues, the clients, the communities that we impact. So, as you can see, when you start to really genuinely consider all these as your , let’s say, clients, you know, customercentricity, clientcentricity, okay, well, how do you define your client? Well, you know, all those, all the stakeholders are, in a way, different types of clients. So, once companies genuinely start to really consider this ecosystem, then some magic start to change start to happen. And it’s a magic that is more and more necessary, considering where humanity is going, you know, I think, I don’t know, for B Corps is quite natural to think, or to think interdependence. And to think that oh, many of the phenomenons that are happening in the world today, unfortunately, it’s quite clear to the origin of it. Okay, it’s okay. It’s greed, it is power, but behind that, there is behind that there is also energy. Energy is a big, big thing. You know, energy economy or raw materials, rare materials, that shows very clearly that we are getting too many in this planet. And we need to real reorganize our the way we dispose of the planet. So, I think that because of this clear situation, I would welcome more and more companies like big car companies that are stakeholders-driven more than shareholders.
Minter Dial 19:38
Davide, lovely stuff, a lot of things within what you just said. And I wanted to circle back on one thing, which really piqued my interest. You chose to have a philosopher to counsel you in the process of your purpose and your Carta Etica. I would love for you to tell us how — because I mean the French are really great at philosophy, they like they like their philosophy — but there are not very many business people in the world who would invite a philosopher in to help them. Tell me about the process. And was that something you sort of dictated? Or was it the team wanted to? And then how do you choose which philosopher?
Davide Bollati 20:20
Well, this one, it comes with the first choice we made on HR. In HR, we hire a psychologist, not an HR manager, and this psychologist had a professional activity. It was from Ivrea, a little city in the centre of Italy, that was the city of Adrianna Olivetti. Olivetti was a very iconic intrapreneur in Italy, in the 60s, in the 70s. Actually, you know, all the way to you know, the writing machines, and then it turned into computers, and he was a real, let’s say, enlightened leader. He did for each community, for the employees are motivated that time, the purpose of the company was so unique, that Olivetti has been taken as an inspiration for us. We even went to visit the company in Ivrea, close to Turin, went to visit all the heritage of this company, that unfortunately, there has been you know, it has been purchased by you know, for a turn around. So, basically, it has almost disappeared. But at this period, this particular period in the history of Olivetti was extraordinary, then he also passed away, so and, of course, that did not help in the continuity of the company. But why a philosopher? I don’t know, it is a passion of mine. But sometimes, you know, I was always wondering if the goal of spending a life dedicated to beauty products was a life at work, to be spent. And also the beauty industry for me always, at least, you know, I came into the beauty industry with the conviction that the beauty was a bit shallow, a bit. Yeah, kind of like a shallow, kind of like a superficial industry. So, I knew I had the genuine intent of try to give some depth to this industry, beyond the economic value of it, and so that then, of course, you know, I got some help from Greek philosophy, you know, good and beautiful, you know, ethics and aesthetics, Aristotle. And through that, also, we went, as far as building a journey for a life worth living, that was very well expressing us very stronger Greek word called, Eudaimonia. Bring the demon out of you. But eudaimonia is, is kind of like a search of happiness, that is not let’s say, an Anglo Saxon type of happiness. Happiness in the Anglo Saxon term is something that is happening, is something that happens, you know, almost by chance. Eudaimonia is the type of happiness that you have to build. And that you have to build through. It’s a journey. It’s not a happening. And so, it has been a real journey that I found them and that’s why we pick we pick a type of growth that is organic and sustainable. So, these are solid philosophical roots shape the decision that we made up to today in Davines.
Minter Dial 24:43
I love that Eudaimonia. Yes, it is all about the journey, not the destination. Just go back to this B Corp. You talked about it, you use the word “magic.” I’m imagining you didn’t think it’d be Magical at the beginning. It is a lot of process. I’ve accompanied another company through the process, there are 7000 of them. So, maybe that sounds like a lot, but it’s not really that lot on the scale of the world. Where did the magic happen? How did that sort of it wasn’t something you imagined was going to be magical, I assume?
Davide Bollati 25:23
Well, the magic is to expand your scope, is to feel that you are entitled to work on communities, you’re entitled to work on this on a supply chain, that you can have a different point of view. And then, you know, if I go back to when we didn’t have that mentality, just launching new products, it’s not as exciting as that. You know, just coming out with a new product for the sake of marketing, innovation or trend of the period or I don’t know, new consumer demand, okay, you know, this is a, this is the majority of efforts are going into this direction. The new generation, the technology. Okay, all of this is happening, all of this is that, but I never been so driven by that problem, because I don’t think money brings happiness. That money brings you eudaimonia and in who is found, and then all the numbers are okay, we always find that that money is a consequence of our journey to eudaimonia.
Minter Dial 26:54
That’s lovely. Well, I certainly subscribe to that debate that’s so important to understand why we exist on this earth and to feel like you’re doing something bigger. When I looked at your carta etica, one of your value, principles is around innovation. And so, many companies tend to think of innovation as new products and new packaging, new this and that. But for you, I’m thinking, innovation was also innovating the way to run a company, why exist as a company? So, it was an application of innovation in a much broader sense.
Davide Bollati 27:31
Yeah, innovation, we, we listed at least at 10 different types of innovation, I think, what I think are relevant innovation for dominance, that we don’t consider myself a product company anymore. We consider ourselves a purpose driven company that uses products to achieve to achieve the purpose. And it’s, it’s exciting to do so for example, on the theme of sustainability, after all those years, we keep on, we keep on learning, we keep on changing idea of what we should do. And it’s one step after the other. And it’s so exciting because the more or less a company grows and become more capable economically, then there is more than we can afford to do. So, it’s, it’s a good, it’s a good crescendo for good. That. That is, I think, what worked to create these magic we were talking about before.
Minter Dial 28:45
So, I want to talk to you about the fact that you’re still a privately owned company. I don’t know to what extent you can release any figures. But how big you are. I know you have a presence worldwide. I mean, you’re really in literally 100 or more countries. And just you have the small little beginning, artisanal beginning in Parma. Now you are what I would call a multinational. I mean, you’re in many countries, you’re a big company, and you’ve stayed private. So, maybe if you can tell us about how big you are, however you’d like to frame that. And then how is it that you’ve stayed a private company as opposed to the temptation of going public or getting that huge payoff for all the hard work that you’ve put in?
Davide Bollati 29:31
Yeah, I feel like a minority here. Because it’s through is through that. If I look around the presentation of the financial world has been attracting many, many entrepreneurs, let’s say to exit, maybe 90% of them in this case, but Davines today pre-closing numbers of 2023, is a year that is almost coming to its end, are around 265 million euros. And, yes, we are still 100% privately owned. With my family, me, me and my sister and my mother. And I think that this choice is a powerful choice because it allows us to, at least to try to make the right decisions. It’s not that we always make the right decision, but when we make them, we think they are right. For your long-term longevity, for the long term sustainability, for the stakeholder-driven approach that we have. And this is something that, I’m sorry to say, but I met plenty of people from the financial and you know, I don’t want to be in their shoes, because it’s very hard for financial people to be able to adopt the right indicators. For sustainable growth, it’s extremely rare to find people that have been able to do this, it’s not impossible for example, I always cite Brunello Cucinelli, that is a company that is very much purpose driven as investors, minority investors port in the stock exchange, and as far as I know, he has not changed anything of his way of running the company. But I find this as an exception. And so, this reason, the reason of guaranteeing an organic growth of the company without shortcut without too much opportunism, allow our lead us to stay independent, also, the path that we set for growth, let’s say between 10 and 20% growth, so possibly never below 10%, because it’s not exciting is not enough good for growth, actually not enough growth for good and above 20% also is a bit scary, because plus 20% every year, then they are after you have to cope with it, when it comes to organic growth of everything, of industrial processes, the human resources, also the financial, but when you are between 10 and 20% of growth and EBIT-DA is a bit below market, because many leaders, many leading companies in the beauty industry are above 20% EBIT-DA, but we are not close to 15%. And then recently our general manager asked to reduce again, the EBIT-DA. And I said yes because if there is a good reason to, to reduce it, why not? Especially sustainability is expensive. And it’s not always understood at the market level at the consumer level. And we paid a price for it. So, it’s okay to not to stretch too much, the EBIT-DA in favor of more and more coherence with a purpose. I understand especially right now, with the potentials. Yes, I could make different choices. But that will mean the end of our specific business model the probably also the end of a company with a genuine purpose, like what I can proudly say Davines Group is today.
Minter Dial 34:33
And probably the end of a way of life as well. I mean, at some levels because yeah, with 15% EBIT-DA on $265M, that’s plenty of good profits. I mean, really, at the end of the day and how much more how many more BMWs or a quote unquote, whatever you want to get.
Davide Bollati 34:52
it’s Tesla!! Not BMW.
Minter Dial 34:57
There’s no doubt that is what using! All right, of course, I was already kidding. But there’s one thing I loved and maybe it was almost a slip of the tongue. But you said it’s good for growth. But it’s also “growth for good.” And that’s a really interesting combination between 10% and 20%.
Davide Bollati 35:14
Yeah. Again, you want to ever want to have an organic growth when you have when you grow to faster, culturally is painful, industrially is painful. And so, you know, we are, we experience what it takes to have a sustainable growth, and it’s painful since COVID. Now we are with Ron because now we still have, you know, these, the compounded average growth rate of nominees in the last 30 years has been 19%. And on the last decade, things are not going down much. Because usually when you grow more, now, you should have cargo that is lower, that’s not really the case at the moment. So, it means that the last two, three years that we hire Around 100 people per year, or let’s say 10 people per month. So, before we knew everybody, by name, now is not the case anymore. And that is a bit that’s a bit painful when it comes to when it comes to the community, I have to say that our headquarters dominance village is helping so much to keep the community tight because it’s built architecturally, with that intent in mind. But now even the village that we opened, we move into new in the new village headquarters in July 2018. Now we are running out of space. Again, before I even remember meeting when you came to the old ravenous factory, we didn’t have parking spot parking, parking was like in the middle of the street. And same thing for the desks. Because we always were in like in this growth crisis by now, okay, it’s smart work is helping for sure. So, that now you know, it’s really you can come and you can have, you can book with an app your desk. Because we don’t have a space for every single desk, we have like 350 desks with this village. Now we found an opportunity to purchase our neighbor. And so, next spring, we’ll have 50 more offices. So, it’s expanding, but again, the culture is and also investment in machine, actually in warehouses. It is not that, you know, we like to be responsible of things and again, you say that okay, Davines grows, but we are still 0.0. We are not even yet in the top 100 beauty companies in the world, maybe soon because we are close, you know, but we’re not there yet. So, we’re still super, super niche way of thinking, super niche in the big ocean of the beauty industry.
Minter Dial 38:32
Well, and maybe you’re you think you’re small and niche, but I really feel you also stand out for being different. And it feels like that’s partly thanks to being privately held. It’s partly the vision that you’ve had and now that you’re a B Corp. You guys are chugging along. I’m wondering how and when, Davide, you have to think it’s no longer the Davines village but maybe it’s going to be the Davines city or town?
Davide Bollati 39:07
Well for sure you are invited to the opening of the Hotel. We have a regenerative hotel that we are putting together in the city of Parma, opening October 2025. We have two years from now, but for sure we have 1000s of visitors every year. So, we were interested in expanding the experience of visiting the dominance village also at the hospitality level. So, plenty of innovation on an industry hospitality that is I think not that innovative in terms of purpose driven. Very, very few B Corp hotels in the world. Very very few regenerative initiatives in our industry that is let’s say tourism and hospitality. That is huge. As you know, when it comes to real estate is bigger than the beauty industry. It’s such a huge industry with, you know, 1000s and 1000s of locations in the world. And so, we would like to make a statement also on this one. And so, the as you can see, maybe one of the things that makes Davines different is that we think, beyond the beauty industry. And also we take inspiration from the outside of the beauty industry mainly.
Minter Dial 40:41
I love it the Davines Hotel. Wow!
Davide Bollati 40:44
Not really, it’s not a Davines hotel, but it’s generated by Davines but also another company, a pharmaceutical company from Parma. So, the idea of building creating a community of Intrapreneurs, for the regeneration of the scale of the city is, I think, is a strong statement. And by the way, we also applied in the beauty in this principle, we also apply the beauty industry, because we’ve been one of the founders of the promoter of the B Corp Beauty Alliance that right now includes 72 B Corp, that are part of the beauty industry. For many billions of turnover, I think around 7 billion, if I calculate well. The 72 companies which is like maybe 2% of the world beauty market develop because it is to make the beauty industry more sustainable in general and cooperation, pre-competitive cooperation is the key. And that is the same principle of us investing in a hospitality project in the community of Parma, where we have a lot of a lot of people living.
Minter Dial 42:16
Phenomenal, well, I’ll be sure to put a little link into the beauty B core Alliance as well, in the show notes. So, I’m, in my book, I one of my books, I talk a lot about the importance of governance and the opportunities of private ownership. Another area that for me is very interesting is the notion of community. And there’s a sort of the trendy community piece, hey, let’s build a community of customers and, and make them talk about us. It feels like you guys have a much stronger and broader idea with regard to community. Specifically, obviously, you have the B Corp. And you’ve talked about just now the community of your employees in the Davines village. To what extent are you crafting community? Is that something like an explicit thing you’re trying to do? Or is it just a consequence of what you do?
Davide Bollati 43:16
No, it’s very explicit, we invest a lot in communities through events, through physical meetings, one thing is to create a community that talks they say a few words in social media about a product oriented that gives us some stars or appreciation or some likes of appreciation. One thing is to build a community where you know people by name where you know, their aspirations, you know, what they stand for, and in together, you become a stronger than one and you share and there is support. And then there is a listening. So, that is the type of community that I was talking about. In some parts where we do we were we should sit very well in some other air because we have different types, different types of communities. The biggest one is a community for example of a writers of darkness around the 50,000 silos in the world around at least 100,000 dressers probably more than that. So, this community of course, wherever a quarter of a few 1000 deaths every year. Gather during our events, and they become kind of like it’s a family style events of 3000 people. It’s borderline a bit but we prefer to make a smaller so that’s why now we go back to more regional events I was doing we did one in Cologne Yeah, two weeks ago with all our Latin America, community addresses and also distributors. And now we’re doing one in Hong Kong this month in November, gathering all the Asian community, this is super important, then we have other areas in the company where our community, we’re not able to gather enough strength, certain communities, then it means that maybe we don’t have we don’t we don’t get we don’t bring enough value to the community. And the I see a proportion, I see a correlation between the strength of the community and strength of the business and they see also correlation of strength of the business and strength of our educational activities. And their strength and strength of the community in the business. So, no, no, we do it deliberately. That not really out of calculation, but out of instinct. For example, in January, we will spend four or five days on together 500 People in Punta Cana, with all our let’s say internal people in North America, as our North American sub is our number one. Who today invest in high season — which was January 6, in Dominican Republic is high season — 500 people, a few days? You make the calculation. It is going to be an expensive exercise. But we can’t wait. We are looking forward to it. Because we think is the best way to start the year together.
Minter Dial 46:59
Oh, I love that. Well, I’ll be in Cancun on those that date, so not too far away. And of course, I know Punta Cana. And I remember the time that you moved to New York, and the beginning of the Davines journey. That was good fun.
Davide Bollati 47:18
Yeah, that was incredible. It was in New York, and in France, I opened the two branches personally. So, I have very good pioneering memories on this one. And the strongest memory just to give an idea of the type of endeavor that we started, we started with a beautiful loft in New York with a bedroom in the back. And that was also when I was living in Paris and a beautiful loft in Saint Germain, like, close to facing Saint Germain des Pres. And a little bedroom in the back. So, that was really 24/7. But you know, and that was the energy the passion was incredible. I miss I miss those days.
Minter Dial 48:15
I have a feeling I think I visited you in both of those locations! So, yeah, those are good, good, warm souvenirs. The beauty industry, the one that I worked in the professional hairdresser industry, is still a large part of your business. You also have the spa business, of course. But how would you describe how the hair, or the hairdresser industry, has changed over these years? And where are we today? Is it a growing, exciting industry? How would you define the future for this industry?
Davide Bollati 48:50
The future of the professional beauty industry, I think, would be a good one. Even though there is there have been a lot of changes in the in this period, particularly high percentage of hairdressers going the independent route and in going especially in the Anglo Saxon word, going towards independency, freelancer and going to work in co working spaces thanks to the technology like social media, you can market yourself, you can position yourself, but I don’t know I have a feeling I’m also talking to some of my partners that I appreciate the most in when it comes to thinking about the future of the industry. I feel there is kind of like we are in a kind of a swing of a pendulum because many of those addresses that are becoming dependent at one point they realize that they are tangible only can They’ve on their own, the government forgets about them, they don’t have the discipline to really, you need in when you work, you cannot just work once in a while you become friend of your client. And you know, and then it’s become a bit it’s becoming a big messy, a bit messy. So, many of those independent directors as far as I know, they feel that they want to go back to belonging to a team belong in one group, and to support each other to have a common goal. So, this is a this is definitely an element then there is also the element of silos. Also talking to other people that inspire me in the industry, I feel that in the past, there were more there was more emphasis in beautiful salons and salons are like beauty spaces. Right now, it’s more rare to find beauty spaces that are an inspiration, that are even influencing your potential, your lifestyle. So, I think the beauty industry should not forget the importance of spaces, of beauty spaces, and they visited some incredible salons. I just went to visit a salon in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Mamma Mia is like so beautiful. Just a brand new one, with 200 hairdressers. Like this, these types of places, I think are. Okay, Brazil is a special case. I mean, salons that you find in Brazil, you don’t find them anywhere else in the world, not even in the US. But there should be an emphasis on spaces for beauty, let’s say healing spaces, caring spaces, you know, spaces where you feel like a home and because this is what is needed to go to a hairdresser, is not only about go to do your hair. I was quite impressed when I heard from in Italy during COVID, they did some market study and they asked people, what was the most important thing you missed during COVID? Guess what? Going to my hairdresser was number one for a majority of women. Number one is the power that goes beyond just you know, doing good hair on one ongoing.
Minter Dial 52:46
It’s amazing. I often I will I used to talk about this when I was running Redken. This idea that if you as a supplier can help a hairdresser to feel better about themselves, they will then in turn, touch 1200 people on average. And there’s a community around that hairdressing salon and this notion of loneliness, it’s very apparent that we’ve we feel like really connected on social media. But we’re really distorted.
Davide Bollati 53:14
Yeah, I’m sorry. Maybe I feel a little…..
Minter Dial 53:21
Rushed? You have to go?
Davide Bollati 53:22
No, no, no, no, no, it’s not. It’s not about the rush. I feel that. Okay, now we are in this artificial intelligence, social media, where answers and this and that. And I don’t know, I feel kind of traditional when I say this. There are two ways to look at it either in damage where we are becoming too traditional, or we’re getting old, or we think that’s still the fundamentals that we’ve stayed considering the amount of projects that we have. I would like to think that is the option to a lot of your work.
Minter Dial 54:08
Well, for sure you and I aren’t getting any younger, but I really liked the way you’re speaking about that. Davide, one last word for you. One last question. You guys have really done a stand-up job you you’re a beacon in the industry. And I’d love to find out for you, Davide, one last question, how do you define success?
Davide Bollati 54:32
Much obsessive is to be content of your journey to be. I think success is a combination of factors. It’s a holistic, you know, success. I think a holistic dimension. We all know that within our scope as human beings, we are so small, we are so fragile. We are extremely fragile as human beings and in our condition, our human condition we know our human condition very well. So, when it comes to when it comes to success I mean success is again the last day of your life to maybe think that you have lived a life worth living and that you don’t have too many regret and that that your conscience is in a good place.
Minter Dial 55:46
Davide Bollati It’s a lovely way to end it that your conscience is in a good place. I really it was great to reconnect with you. Thank you for sharing your intimate and true words behind your lovely journey sharing going for you to ammonia and helping the beauty industry come along. Was there any way any final words any links you’d like to let me know? Pimp, pimp some Davines or Comfort Zone?
Davide Bollati 56:15
No, they if you want to go more in depth, you can go to dominate group.com You can go to see our sustainability report and you can find hundreds, literally hundreds of projects that we make on our big pillars of sustainability, decarbonisation, circularity, biodiversity, and now even water. So, these are these are maybe the last, the last steps. You can go on diving and self-care or comfort or skincare to go more in depth. But thank you meter because we do it always. He’s always I feel always very comfortable. Because you’re human. You’re human touch. And so, thank you because of this hour was pleasurable to me. And this is thanks to your kindness and your expertise in the industry combined.
Minter Dial 57:10
Charlie, thank you for giving us an hour of your time stuck in between two airplanes in Dubai. You were totally present with me and us and I really appreciate it. We will stay in touch, Davide, I hope.
Davide Bollati 57:24
Okay, I mean, thanks so much.
Minter Dial 57:28
So a really heartfelt thanks for listening to this episode of The Minter Dialogue podcast. If you liked the show, please remember to subscribe on your favourite podcast service. As ever, rating and reviews are the real currency of podcasts. And if you’re really inspired, I’m accepting donations on www.patreon.com/Minterdial. You’ll find the show notes with over 2100 blog posts on minterdial.com on topics ranging from leadership to branding, tech and marketing tips. Check out my documentary film and books including my last one, the second edition of “Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence” that came out in April 2023. And to finish here’s a song I wrote with Stephanie Singer, “A Convinced Man.”
I like the feel of a stranger
Tucked around me
Precipitating the danger
To feel free
Trust is the reason
Still I won’t toe the line.
I sit here passively
Hope for your respect
Anticipating the thrill of your intellect
Maybe I tell myself
There’s no use in me lying.
I’m a convinced man,
Building an urge
A convinced man,
To live and die submerged.
A convinced man,
In the arms of a woman
I’m a convinced man
Challenge my fate
I’m a convinced man
A convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
And struggle to see
Live for the challenge
So life’s not incomplete
What’s wrong with challenge
I know soon we all die
I’m a convinced man
Practicing my lines
I’m a convinced man
Here in these confines
A convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
I’m a convinced man
Put me to the test
I’m a convinced man
I’m ready for an arrest
I’m a convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
I’m a convinced man… so convinced
You convince me, yeah baby,
I’m a convinced man
In the arms of a woman…
Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.
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