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Meet Mr Herve Droin of Dao Siam who creates and sells beautiful, natural hair and body products from his unique laboratory and shop in Chong Mon.
Good afternoon Herve, thank you very much for giving The Samui Times your time. May I start by asking what brought you to Koh Samui?
I have been visiting Thailand for vacations for around twelve years. I had been enjoying life in France, running my own restaurant and managing a large company but unexpectedly ran into some personal problems and decided that I wanted to get away from it all. I came to Koh Samui, where I already had a lot of friends and let my hair down and party for ten days before returning to France. On my return I found that I could not settle down and after a few months I returned to the island and on that visit decided that I wanted to live here. I then spent a year winding up my affairs in France and when the last of my assets was sold I boarded a plane bound for Samui to start my new life.
Your company Dao Siam Cosmetics makes some amazing body and skin care products here on the island. How did that come about?
When I returned to Koh Samui I started to think about what sort of business I could make here. A lot of French people on the island had established restaurants and Bars. I wanted to do something different. When I first moved to Koh Samui I took six months off and during that time I met the wife of a French doctor who had a cosmetics company. Although this lady has some incredible recipes for natural products and a great deal of experience in making them, she lacked the capital to get her company off the ground. That is where I stepped in. I started off doing a lot of research about cosmetics here in Thailand and in France to find out what the market required. I visited hotels and spas where I noticed that the products used were very expensive. I wanted to create products that exactly matched the needs of the market such as products created using green tea, chocolate, natural herbs and coconut. I found that a lot of resorts had special requirements for unique signature products as well as more unusual requests such as childrens’ massage oil that smell of bubblegum. The doctor’s wife was only able to produce her limited range so I set out to find someone who could help me develop the products I wanted and put an exotic, Thai, touch to the existing range. As luck had it I found a man online called Rick from Belgium. He lived in Bangkok and was looking for a job. He had worked for L’Oreal in the past and had a great deal of experience but only with a small part of the production of their products. I wanted him to develop new products from start to finish. This was something he was very excited about. Rick rose to the challenge and developed my current range. Rick is not with us full time now, but he does work for us as a consultant when we need to create new products or an exclusive signature range for a hotel or resort.
You make your products here on the island, do you use local ingredients?
I wish we could but sadly, this is not possible. Our aim is to make very natural products that are as close to organic as possible. There are many products that are advertised as 100% natural or organic, but if truth be known this is not the case. A 100% organic product it will have a shelf life of less than a week, so in reality every product needs some kind of preservative. Our products are a minimum of 97% natural. We only select the most natural ingredients and do not use white oil, or SLS or paraffin. Because of the purity we require we are forced to get around 90% of the ingredients from overseas. I have searched for ingredients here that are pure enough and sterile enough for our products but sadly have come up empty handed. I once found a supplier of organic tea from Chiang Mai. He assured me his product met the standards I required and yet, a week later it was covered in mushrooms. I cannot allow this type of ingredients into my products.
What sort of products are you currently making?
We make shampoos and conditioners, body scrubs, body massage oils, moisturizers, cleansers, shower gel, foot scrubs and foot massage oils. Basically our range covers your whole body. Our ingredients include coconut, chocolate, aloe vera, coffee, lavender, lemon grass, fruits and herbs.
And of these which is the most popular?
Our coconut body scrub is the most popular product. Other body scrubs in our range include the three rice body scrub that contains red, black and Jasmine rice, as well as chocolate cream, coffee cream, lychee & mango, mangosteen, pineapple & mango. Thai flowers and Thai herbs body scrubs are also very popular. We also stock essential oils of Bergamot, eucalyptus, ginger, kaffir lime, lavender, lemon, lemon grass, orange sweet, peppermint, rosemary, sweet basil, tangerine and tea tree.
Is it possible to see your products being made?
Yes, our laboratory has a glass front and we do occasional demonstrations. In the future we plan to offer three daily demonstrations of our most popular product, the coconut body scrub, being made from start to finish. Of course the demonstrations will be condensed. There would be nothing more boring than waiting twenty minutes for a product to cool down, so that part will be pre-organised to save time. After the demonstration we will give away free samples. My long term plan is to have workshops were our visitors can actually make our products themselves.
What are your opening hours and can visitors try your products?
Our shop can be found just before the gasoline station on the right hand side heading from Big Buddha to Choeng Mon. The shop is open from 9-30 until 5-30 from Monday to Saturday. We have testers for all of our products and anybody is welcome to come and try them. From our shop you an order in bulk for your hotel or spa, or just buy one item.