Join us as we take a stroll down memory lane and delve into the history of the company. Meet Joséphine Mouranchon, the family, and the faces behind Lothantique today - where the past meets the presents, and nature meets luxury goods.
Looking across the rolling fields, rows upon rows of bright, purple flowers grow tall beneath the foot of the Lure mountain, and Joséphine Mouranchon imagines her future.
During the 1920s, Joséphine, the youngest of five children, lives on a farm in Châteauneuf-Val-Saint-Donat where her family has made a living growing lavender. Their home in Provence, largely insulated from the Great Depression by the region’s wealth of natural resources, is the picture of simple country living.
Though the family is not wealthy, she is a woman of vision even if the world is not made for her. Bright and unyielding, Joséphine is not interested in the societal trappings placed on a woman of the day.
Born in 1905, Joséphine is no stranger to a challenge. Her father passed shortly before her own birth, and as the lone sister in a house filled with brothers, she learns early on to carve her own path. Her grandson, Denis Vogade, in an interview for Mood of Living magazine describes her as, “an unbelievable and non-conformist woman.”
Joséphine along with one of her brothers, Nestor, set their sights on the growing perfume industry flourishing in Paris throughout the 1930s. Perfumery, the art of making perfumes, has a rich history in France from Madame de Pompadour to Napoleon’s notorious jasmine budget. To this day, Grasse remains the world’s perfume capitol where many ‘les nez’ are trained. Nestor is deemed the titular ‘nose’ for the Mouranchon family. As a chemist, he distills their family’s lavender flowers to create their own unique essential oils. The siblings set up a perfume distillery, Mouranchon Frères, in the nation’s capital, and gradually expand into canvas bags, soaps and colognes over the years.
However, tragedy strikes the Mouranchon family as France finds itself quickly entangled in yet another war. Sadly, Nestor dies during the Second World War, and Joséphine returns to Provence in the ensuing recession, which nearly bankrupts the company. But as Europe begins to recover, so too does Joséphine, and she creates one of the first cosmetic products based on lavender essential oils in the 1950s. This family recipe is still used for Lothantique’s Les Lavandes de Nestor line, recovered from one of Joséphine’s old grimoires.
By 1987, Denis and Dominique, a new generation of siblings, would further their family’s legacy. Fresh out of business school at twenty-three years old, Denis takes over the family business, renaming the company Lothantique, inspired by a work by Marcel Pagnol. Pagnol, a famed novelist, playwright and filmmaker from Southern France, writes of lothantique as a ‘plant that only grows from books.’ But Josephine's dreams continue to sprout in the minds of her grandchildren. Both her love of the farm and of nature thread into Lothantique's ever evolving line of bath and beauty products.
Lothantique enters into a new exciting chapter when Denis meets Gil Tani in 1995. The pair cross paths at a tradeshow in Paris, and according to Denis, “we immediately felt like brothers.” The sentiment is shared by Gil, who describes their relationship as an ‘instant friendship’ that has continued to this day. “We’ve never had a fight,” Gil announces with a grin.
Tani, a Canadian distributor, falls in love with the lifestyle of French country living, and he is inspired to bring the simple elegance and beauty from Provence to North America. It’s the perfect fit for the Vogades, and Lothantique Inc. is established in Canada by Tani in 1998.
Today, Lothantique continues to expand its distribution of luxury French products in North America while honouring a rich history that values heritage, sustainability, and quality. What began on a small family farm is now a family-run business with a global market nearly one hundred years later that Josephine would be proud of.
For Denis, talking with Gillian Russo, Josephine is a constant inspiration, “She is the company hero. My life would not be the same without her.”