Cosmetic scientist Julia Mader has been accompanying BIRKENSTOCK NATURAL SKIN CARE right from the start. She helped to develop the product range and now heads the Product Education division. In this interview she tells us about everything that’s part of her workday in addition to trainings, what role effectiveness plays and why fragrance is a sensitive topic.
On board right from the start: Julia – you were already involved in developing the first ideas for products. How did you end up with Birkenstock? And how did it all start?
Julia Mader: I joined Birkenstock Cosmetics in October 2016 and had the opportunity to take part in the very first steps and development of ideas for products. At that time, Birkenstock was looking for a cosmetic scientist and asked me to join them for this very exciting new project. I was immediately enthusiastic about the idea of being part of a natural cosmetics product range “Made by Birkenstock” and to develop and market new products.
What are your responsibilities? Do you travel a lot?
Julia Mader: I primarily visit our customers and partners to conduct trainings. I developed the Product Education division and created the complete training concept and related materials. In January 2019, I was joined by a great new colleague, Kristina Bernhöft, who provides amazing support. We complement each other quite well as regards our personalities and professional knowledge. In addition to the trainings, issues such as product claims, that means the statements regarding the effectiveness of our new products, and their scientific confirmation by means of clinical and scientific studies are part of my responsibilities. It’s a very exciting process to be part of the development of the first ideas for products, then participate in their development and production process and finally conduct trainings regarding the product for customers. At the moment, I travel around 3-5 days per week. But sometimes I can also enjoy the luxury of working from home so I can concentrate on new ideas and work on new materials.
You mentioned trainings: can you tell us more about them? Is there a certain pattern or do you prepare each one individually? Which topics do you cover?
Julia Mader: Our training concept has a modular structure. This means that we adjust every training to the respective customer, the objective of the training, the prior knowledge on skin and BNSC natural cosmetics. Trainings conducted pursuant to a fixed pattern are not of any value for the customer and, to be honest, it’s not much fun to conduct them. In order to be able to talk about current products and topics and to avoid that the training team becomes bored we try to continue to develop our trainings all the time and to stay up to date. However, there are topics which we cover in every training, for example everything surrounding natural cosmetics and our core ingredient, the cork oak extract.
Raw materials, effectiveness and studies: what’s your decision process and how close do you cooperate with other departments?
Julia Mader: We use a product concept as a basis which is jointly created in close cooperation with the marketing and sales team. We then choose the raw materials with the specific effects. In addition to effectiveness, it is also very important to us that the raw materials correspond to our certification as well as our very high internal quality standards. We furthermore keep an eye open for innovative new active ingredients in natural cosmetics. Active ingredients with innovative effect mechanisms are always very exciting.
Which product has so far been your biggest challenge? And has there ever been a complicated feature which was difficult to implement or a complex fragrance for a certain product?
Julia Mader: It is generally a very big challenge to develop products in the field of high-quality natural cosmetics. We want to produce stable products which fulfill our quality requirements and which convince our customers and even make them addicted to our products ;-). Fragrance is always a very sensitive subject though. The perception of the fragrance of a cream varies from person to person. In a team of 15, we have 15 different opinions and tastes. This requires lots of professionalism and objectivity. After all, it’s the feedback from the customer that counts and not our individual taste.
What’s your favorite product at the moment? Is there anything you use on a daily basis and take everywhere?
Julia Mader: During these summer temperatures I just love the BIRKENSTOCK NATURAL SKIN CARE Cooling Foot Cream. Especially after a very long day my feet and calves really enjoy the cooling and nourishing care. In summer, I also simply can’t live without our BIRKENSTOCK NATURAL SKIN CARE Exfoliating Body Scrub. Due to the cranberry kernels and creamy texture my skin is not only free from dead skin cells but also velvety supple and intensively nourished.
If you were completely free to decide: which type of product would you love to add to the product range or develop?
Julia Mader: If I were able to freely choose, I would like to add an AHA exfoliator (fruit acid exfoliator) or a retinol serum to our product range. These are the products which constantly accompany me in my daily beauty routine.
Julia, thank you so much for the fascinating peek behind the scenes of BIRKENSTOCK NATURAL SKIN CARE!