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Across the generations

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16/11/2021
Even as a teenager, Alicia Lindner experimented in the laboratory and stirred creams - following the example of her grandmother, natural cosmetics pioneer Annemarie Lindner, who founded Börlind GmbH in the Black Forest in 1959.

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Today, together with her brother Nicolas, she represents the third generation of the family business. Last year, they took over the management of the Annemarie Börlind Natural Beauty and Dado Sens Dermacosmetics brands.

The road to the headquarters of the natural cosmetics brand Annemarie Börlind leads us up a steep hill in the Black Forest: In serpentines, people have conquered the mountains here, made them farmable and habitable. At the top, in a village street on the outskirts of town, stand the light-filled building and factory building of the family business that advertises with the slogan: “Made in the Black Forest. The reference to the Black Forest, “where the cuckoo clocks come from”, is particularly appealing to customers in Asia and the USA, explains boss Alicia Lindner: “Everyone thinks directly of nature, forests, streams,” says the 30-year-old and laughs.

Alicia Lindner sees Börlind “kissed by the spirit of the times

She shares her office and the management of the company with her brother Nicolas, who is five years older, so she welcomes us into the bright conference room. First she fills our glasses with water from a bottle labeled “Annemarie Börlind. The water comes from a deep spring beneath the company’s premises and is a clear commitment to nature, the region, and quality. It is used in the production of Börlind’s skin and hair care products and cosmetics – just as natural, regional and often organically produced ingredients and sustainable processes are used. The company was already focusing on this when natural cosmetics were far from being a label that corresponded to the zeitgeist. The company was founded in 1959 by Alicia Lindner’s grandparents Annemarie and Walter, who had previously been expropriated in the GDR and had fled, and their business partner Hermann Börner, who already had experience in the trade with nature-identical medicines. The brand name was created from their names. Since 2003, the company has been solely owned by the Lindner family, which is now handing over to the third generation: Founder son Michael, who among other things expanded the portfolio to include the dermatological brand series Dado Sens, has handed over the operational business to two of his four children at the beginning of 2020 – and at what appears to be an ideal time. “We are kissed by the spirit of the times,” says Alicia Lindner, who actively joined the company in 2014 after studying and taking her first career steps in consulting. While she gradually took over responsibility for sales, the Dado Sens brand, financial accounting, and controlling, among other things, climate change became the global megatopic: customers are demanding vegan ingredients, sustainable business practices – the entire beauty industry is tinkering with sustainable products and processes.

Alicia Lindner stands for values and challenges at Börlind

But while giants such as Beiersdorf or L’Oréal are struggling mightily to turn things around and are buying up natural cosmetics start-ups, the grandchildren of the Börlind founder are building on their idealistic and entrepreneurial legacy. The Annemarie Börlind brand has positioned itself extremely well in the highly competitive selective cosmetics market. While the market is stagnating, Börlind is scoring points in the growing natural cosmetics segment. The siblings are carefully expanding the product range, reacting to trends with innovations, and have, for example, launched an award-winning facial oil that is supposed to combat skin aging caused by radiation from computer screens. The family-owned company has also had itself certified with the stringent international sustainability label CSE since 2012. “For this, we have ourselves screened from A to Z. You don’t achieve climate targets with fig leaf actions – but only if everyone does their bit,” says Alicia Lindner.

High quality raw materials from the region

And high-quality raw materials can sometimes be found around the corner: the positive properties of the stem cells of the Black Forest rose for the skin were discovered by the company’s own researchers when the Federal Garden Show was taking place around the corner. And for ingredients grown far away, such as jojoba oil or shea butter, the company promotes socially responsible cultivation projects, such as in Namibia or Nepal. These also have an empowering effect on the women there, who thus secure their own income – an affair close to the boss’s heart, which she talks about enthusiastically.

Family entrepreneurship in action

Even the Corona pandemic has not harmed Börlind so far, says the boss. “In times of Corona, people spend more time with themselves and ask how healthy and sustainable what their body touches and absorbs is – after all, the skin is our largest organ. We’re clearly feeling that in demand.”

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