“Manufaktura is a matter of my heart, my dream job…” says Bára Čechová, Creative Director. We asked Bára about her way of life with Manufaktura, about what her job involves and how great cosmetics develop.
How did your career in Manufaktura start?
I started in Manufaktura during my studies of tourism at the position of a sales assistant in a beautiful shop in the centre of old Prague. I noticed the advertisement in the shop window of cute soapworks during a night walk in Nerudova street. A few days later I cheerfully discussed about corn husk dolls, wooden toys or sweet-smelling soap with tourists from all over the world and in the evenings I had a great time with amazing colleagues who I met at work, and with whom we have been friends and colleagues, to this day, in nearby Old Prague bars.
What happened next?
After finishing my studies I was offered to join the marketing department and to help with the project of Manufaktura cosmetics, which was looking for its way – I did not hesitate for a second. I fell in love with Manufaktura on the first day when I entered the shop. Many years have passed since then and the love has been lasting. Almost every morning on my way to work I think about how lucky I was.
It was you who came up with the idea of home spa. What made you think that?
At the turn of the Millennium competitors were catching us and natural ingredients started to be in. We were looking for a new direction of how to make us different. Since I grew up in Karlovy Vary, spa was close to me. The topic of my bachelor thesis, in which I focused on the approach to spa over time, made me think about the idea of home spa. It definitely showed that gone were the days when people commonly left for spa for three weeks. Now, we have time only for a long wellness weekend at the most. It´s a pity that people tend to forget to rest, which is so important for our health and mental well-being. So, it occurred to me to create for our customers instructions of how to make small spa at home, how to treat oneself to any alone time, because when we are fine, we are pleasant to people around us.
Why does Manufaktura prefer natural and Czech ingredients so much?
In Manufaktura we love and definitely prefer local ingredients. Using natural materials is an endless source of ideas for me. These are ingredients known from history and tried and tested for hundreds of years… Various world companies offer us miscellaneous super modern ingredients, which must be functional, however, we try to rely on Czech nature. The beer cosmetic range contains a high proportion of delicious Ferdinand beer from Benešov brewery, wine cosmetics include wine from Southern Moravian Pfeffer winery, Carslbad cosmetics are enriched in local beneficial thermal spring salt, daisies are collected in our beautiful meadows and gardens.
Do you test the products on yourself?
We all test them! The members of our families, sometimes also managers of our shops. We all love taking part in development. While testing we get valuable insights, which we incorporate in the development. Our employees have closer relationships with the products because they really know them.
How long time does it take for a product to be launched?
Its development can take even two years. I like the fact that we work with emotions and memories. For example for the topic of our limited editions we draw inspiration on holidays spent in the country – i.e. grandma´s strawberry juice, apricot cake, … When you say “cucumber”, many of us recall mum putting cucumber slices on her face to have softer skin. So, when the customers see our cosmetics with cucumber extract, its beneficial effects are immediately clear to them. They subconsciously know about the effects of many traditional Czech ingredients.
How are the products developed?
First of all, there is an idea, for sure. I draw inspiration mainly when being outdoors or in my garden. I have an idea, it messes in my head, so I grab a herbarium where I find out what properties a particular herb has and why it is unique. I consult everything with our developers and start getting ingredients.
Then our experts in the production, which is in the suburbs of Prague, take it over. Our developers exactly know how and what to blend, in what concentration, what to mix, how to combine it with vitamins, and so on...
It looks like a piece of cake. What is the most difficult?
The more sophisticated our products and ingredients are, the more laborious it is to compose a stable formula. Moreover, a high content of natural ingredients make things more difficult. We often get stuck in seeking perfume because fragrance is crucial for customers when making choice. Every woman who comes smells a particular product first. Even though it says that there is no perfume.
There is a relatively large competition in the field of cosmetics. How do you deal with it?
The only way how deal with competition is to be always one step ahead, not to rest on our laurels, to comply thoroughly with quality, which customers are used to, and to keep surprising them with news. This is what we have been successful at for many years particularly thanks to popular limited editions, which we launch twice a year – for spring-summer and autumn-winter seasons.
Besides cosmetics the assortment includes various teas, candle, boxes and mugs. Are they of Czech origin too?
From the very beginning we have been intensively supporting Czech craftsmen and manufacturers. Thus the assortment of our shops includes traditional Czech porcelain from Dubí, natural aromatic candles from Southern Moravia, beautiful gift boxes from the amazing KAZETO company, healthy and delicious natural syrups made by Kitl in Jizera mountains, wonderful jewels by Iwa Winterová, a jeweller, ceramic soap holders and aroma lamps from a small Prague Keramos workshop, original ceramic accessories by Petr Lada, an artist, toothbrushes by a traditional SPOKAR company from Pelhřimov, glass nail files made in the traditional glass region of Nový Bor, cotton shopping bags by Czech ROLSIT company and many more products created in local workshops, family firms and also larger companies we have been cooperating with with pleasure and enthusiasm for a long time.
Do you have a model, an icon, a source of inspiration?
My biggest model is history, however, I need to keep up with the current world of cosmetics too. We like to take part e.g. in a famous cosmetic trade fair in Bologna, which is still at a very high level.
Tell us in the end what do you like doing in your free time?
I do not need to pile stuff up in my life. I prefer experiences, so that is why I and my partner set off beyond the boundaries of everyday life several times a year. We love travelling. We prefer taking up local atmosphere over rush for sightseeing and natural phenomena. Well-being is the most important to me in my life as well as on journeys. Besides travelling I like books and another joy is my garden, which we have in the middle of Prague in a miniscule allotment garden. It is fine to leave home for a garden during the week and to relax while digging in the dirt. I am not a particularly handy cultivator, e.g. the way how I plant seed potatoes or garlic would make many people laugh, but I love it.