Crème De La Crème is French for best of the best, which makes it a fitting name for Maison Balzac’s latest venture, a luxurious cream, inspired by memories from the South of France. The brainchild of Elise Pioch Balzac, Maison Balzac started off as a exploration of scent through the medium of wax, with Elise creating a beautiful range of candles inspired by childhood memories. We caught up with Elise to find out how Maison Balzac started, and what exciting projects they have in the works.
Inspired by 19th century French novelist Honoré de Balzac and childhood memories of the South of France, Maison Balzac has quickly become one of Australia’s most popular candles. Can you tell us how you started the brand?
I’ve started Maison Balzac out of a desire to tell my happy French childhood. After being in Australia for 10 years I was starting to miss home and remembered the perfumes and places that made me who I am. I could have written a book (I got published in the past) but I chose the world of fragrances and captured them in wax.
With so many candles on the market, what makes Maison Balzac stand out?
There seems to be a new candle brand popping up every day… competition was strong 2 years ago and is still growing! However when someone tells a personal story and follows his/her heart through a collection of products, there is no chance to look like anybody else or even to be scared of others. When the buyer of Colette (in Paris) picked up Maison Balzac 6 months after it was launched, I asked why she chose us and she said that we weren’t trying to pretend we were 400 years old and that our branding looked fun, fresh, bold. Smelling each candle locked the deal: she thought they were different from the other 12 candle brands she had in her boutique. I guess this is what makes us stand out!
Where do you look for inspiration for your unique fragrances?
I close my eyes and travel back to my favorite places in the south of France. I try to remember the colors, the smells, the emotions. Then I describe this to my Sydney perfumer who comes back with a few options. She always gets it right, as if she was in my head. She is amazing.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced starting Maison Balzac?
There is nothing scarier than to start a business because no one can tell you how successful it is going to be. Despite this you have to throw all your heart and money into the project and once it’s started, you have to push it with all your energy. The second challenge for me was to use my mother’s maiden name in the brand’s name. I want to make sure my Balzac family is proud of what I am achieving under their name, it’s motivating and guiding me in the right direction, the one of quality and uniqueness.
You’ve just launched your new cream Crème De La Crème. Can you tell us more about this new product and the inspiration behind it?
La Creme de la Creme is a logical addition to the candle collection considering I wish to create products that makes you feel good at home. I remember, as a little girl, watching my mother opening tubes of moisturizing creams while reading magazine in the living room, it was a simple and elegant thing that definitely had an impression on me. I want our body range to be very concise, very limited this is why this first hand/body cream had to be powerful and universal. We have selected 18 of natures’ best ingredients and blended them to offer the top of the top, the creme de la creme product. No added fragrance, mainly organic, you don’t need anything else to protect and nourish your skin. This is it.
If you weren’t making candles, what would you be doing?
I would still be a fashion buyer, travelling the world to hunt down talents, new things and new ideas.
What exciting things can we expect from you this year?
There are so many new projects that my head is spinning but we are currently focusing on two new fragrances, made with 100% essential oils, that we will infuse in hand soap, hand creams and unusual products that have to remain secrets for the moment. Soon revealed!
Favourite thing to do in your spare time: Gardening or reading French Elle
Favourite song: La Ritournelle by Sebastien Tellier
Wardrobe essentials: Bassike tee, R13 denim, Dries Van Noten shoes and jacket, Lyn & Tony jewelry
Favourite scent: Shalimar by Guerlain
Must-have beauty product: a smile!
Favourite movie: Lost Highway by David Lynch
Style icon: Iris Apfel
Favourite food: french food or anything home made with love
Career highlight to date: working with Martin Margiela at Hermes and Maison Balzac being picked up by Colette 6 months after we started
Person you’d love to invite over for dinner: my Balzac grand parents (they passed away 12 years ago)
Shop Maison Balzac and find out more about the brand at the Maison Balzac website.