The Interview: Dr. BRANDT CEO Stephane Colleu
Stephane Colleu has been the driving force behind Dr. BRANDT skincare for over twenty years. Colleu worked in a variety of roles before joining Dr. BRANDT in 2002.
As a CEO, his international vision paired with decades of experience in the fast-moving US market have helped grow the company by 120%. The brand is now present in over 20 countries, making it a globally influential name in beauty.
Dr. BRANDT is an expert-led premium skincare brand that’s advancing wellbeing through innovative, dermatology-inspired products. Colleu is deeply committed to upholding and advancing the company’s legacy as a leader in safe, science-based skincare, and is a passionate advocate for mental health.
He witnessed the birth of the brand under the late Dr. Fredric Brandt, and was lucky to count the visionary doctor as both his mentor and close personal friend. As part of Dr. BRANDT’s founding team, Colleu was instrumental in bringing Dr. BRANDT’s state-of-the-art skincare innovations from Miami to the world – including overseeing the brand’s entry into Europe in 2005.
The brand was born out of a need to provide revolutionary skincare solutions without compromising on quality. From the moment Dr. Brandt introduced his first product, his passion never wavered. Brandt’s treatments were initially only available in his medical office, but he was determined to offer patients a comprehensive skincare regime. “He was determined to make a difference. He pushed the boundaries of traditional skincare and set a new standard for excellence,” Colleu said.
Brandt was able to use his extensive dermatological knowledge, combining it with the finest botanical ingredients to create a game-changing delivery system - the result being a powerful fusion of science and nature that promises to revolutionise skincare for all. Dr. Brandt launched his namesake brand at a time when few highly potent formulations existed.
“He emerged as a visionary and brought the power of his medical expertise directly to consumers. His mission was simple yet groundbreaking: to allow people to take the doctor home with them. With this in mind, he began crafting unique, highly concentrated products that set a new standard for effectiveness,” Colleu says.
Brandt was considered by many to be a trailblazer in the world of aesthetics. He was at the forefront of innovation in skincare and was one of the first in the industry to develop a ‘Botox-like’ product, cementing his reputation as the ‘Baron of Botox’. “He saw the potential of botox and fillers as aesthetic tools and tirelessly worked to perfect his techniques in order to set a new standard of excellence,” Colleu says.
Creativity and innovation are at the heart of Dr. BRANDT skincare as well as an extension of the skills that made Brandt a much sought-after dermatologist. Colleu describes the brand’s formulation process as ‘comprehensive’. “First, we establish our goals and mission and then we carefully choose manufacturers that can meet our extensive SOP guidelines,” he said.
“All our products must be clinically and dermatologically tested on all skin tones. We wanted to prioritise sustainability as part of our 2023 brand revamp,” he adds. The team at Dr. BRANDT carries over 25 years of expertise in formula development and innovation. The brand partners with the University of Miami and has a diverse group of dermatologists, psycho-dermatologists, nutritionists and aestheticians to push boundaries and stay relevant. They follow 120 steps from ideation to finished product to ensure safety and quality.
“Our philosophy is never to take shortcuts and prioritise innovation, customization and security over mass-produced products,” Colleu says.
To ensure the brand was ready for launch, it tested its products with data (due to advancements in technology) and got feedback from customers through social channels and its website. “This allows us to learn and evolve as we bring new and exciting products to the market,” Colleu says. In some cases, earlier products such as its water booster supplement food, were partially embraced by consumers. “The market needed more time to be ready,” Colleu says.
“Despite the unknowns and unexpected results, we embrace the ‘white space’ of innovation and are passionate about finding new values and benefits for our customers - this is what sets us apart and keeps us at the forefront of the beauty industry,” Colleu adds.
Dr. BRANDT prides itself on never compromising on customisation and differentiation. For this brand, following the path or trend means it’s too late and it's no longer innovative. To successfully continue Dr. Brandt’s legacy, Colleu wants the brand to remain creative and genuine to its DNA by challenging the status quo and developing products that extend its medical practice and effectively treat skin issues for their customers and patients.
When it comes to identifying a gap in the market, Colleu reveals that the brand doesn't believe in following trends or making decisions based on surveys and reports. “Instead, we strive to be relevant and customise our stories to fit new products. We aim to maintain our status as a premium visionary skincare brand in integrative dermatology. The brand’s main focus is finding out what is the next big thing in the dermatological field or in terms of delivery systems or ingredients. Its partnership with the University of Miami and their ‘Dr.B Experts’ allow them to push the boundaries in their research process.
After Dr. Brandt passed away in 2015, Colleu decided not to replace him with another doctor. “One of the most important lessons I learned from him was that it’s essential to challenge the status quo,” he said. In addition to their skincare products, Colleu founded the Dr. Brandt Foundation, a non profit dedicated to supporting mental health and wellbeing in diverse and underrepresented communities and raising awareness about mental health issues such as depression and suicide prevention.
“Back in 2015, it wasn’t a much talked about topic, especially in the beauty industry. I’m glad we have been one of the first skincare lines to bring such a sensitive topic into the industry,” Colleu says.
So how can aspiring entrepreneurs identify a gap in the market? According to Colleu, it requires a combination of knowledge, an understanding of the market and competitions and also having an instinct or a ‘third sense’.
“Knowing your skills and expertise are essential but listening to your customers and getting their perspectives on your vision is equally crucial,” he explains. Colleu believes that the key to success is having perfect synergy between all of these factors as they enable aspiring entrepreneurs to see the ‘white space’ before anyone else.
Dr. BRANDT is now focused on integrative dermatology. The brand understands that skin is affected by internal and external factors. “Our Skin-Body-Mind philosophy summarises this approach and we’ve created the ‘Dr. B Experts’ to better understand the impact of lifestyle, biological and psychological factors on the skin,” Colleu says. Dr. Brandt’s mission is simple: to create products that treat skin issues while educating consumers about lifestyle and wellbeing. This is what allows them to find untapped markets that could be considered a ‘white space’.
When the brand first launched in 2000, it was targeting customers who loved skincare and wellbeing and were willing to take a holistic approach to their personal care. “We aim to cater to individuals who seek effective yet affordable solutions for their skincare needs. Our products are designed for those who want to achieve precise and fast results without having to invest in expensive visits to an aesthetician or dermatologist,” Colleu says. The brand’s products can also be used in conjunction with medical treatments. The first revolutionary product Dr. BRANDT introduced to the beauty market was the ‘microdermabrasion in a jar’.
Offering similar results to a microdermabrasion treatment at a medical office after a few weeks of use, its unique packaging which featured a black and white design, along with bold claims of ‘prescription strength, prescription-free’ made it a phenomenal success. Soon after it launched, Dr. BRANDT expanded its offerings with new, innovative products such as botox treatments that could be performed at home with similar results but without the downtime and needles of professional treatments.
The brand’s bestsellers are the Microdermabrasion ‘’Age Renewing Face Exfoliator’’, Needles No More, Wrinkle Smoothing Cream, No More Baggage and the Pores No More Refiner Primer. “Our timeless bestsellers have stood the test of time for 25 years, and for good reason. When a product works, customers keep coming back for me,” Colleu said.
Their latest launch is a revamp of best selling products (Microdermabrasion/Needles No More/Id Stress), which will be launched this year. In September, its DNA line will be replaced by a new advanced technology focusing on mature skin. The revamping considers the brand’s new consumer social responsibility called #daretocare.
“We are writing a new chapter for our brand. All our formulas have been re-formulated or upgraded plus they are vegan and cruelty-free. All of our packaging will be 80-100% recyclable. We are science-based skincare with a conscience,” Colleu says. It took the brand years to find the right technology and the right packaging. It also wanted to get to a stage where it felt comfortable enough to share stronger clinical results with their customers. The newly revamped products will launch in March 2023.
To make beauty effective and accessible for all, Dr. BRANDT is taking a new approach to their formulas. It is committed to ensuring that all of its products work for a wide range of skin tones, which it admits can be a more time-consuming and expensive process, however it believes that everyone deserves a solution. “This has always been a part of the philosophy at Dr. BRANDT. I have been using the brand for over 20 years and can attest to its effectiveness. We strive to showcase diversity in our marketing by using models that reflect a range of skin tones,” Colleu says.
The brand is adding value to consumers’ experiences through education, which is a top priority for them. It believes in informing their customers about the benefits of using their products and how they can help with various skin concerns like wrinkles and pigmentation.
“We have updated our ‘Dr B. Experts’ team to provide more relevant and educational information about skin and its behaviour. Our goal is not just to promote the brand but to educate and enlighten our customers. In the near future, we are exploring the possibility of giving our customers access to our ‘Dr. B’ experts for private consultations on various aspects of integrative dermatology.
For Colleu, the definition of beauty is simple. He believes that when you feel good, you radiate confidence and attractiveness and when you look good, you exude a sense of wellbeing.
“This balance is at the core of what we consider true beauty. I’m confident in our journey towards integrative dermatology, as modern science and technology provide us with new avenues to find more permanent solutions to skincare concerns. I’m eager to be a part of this exciting evolution in the world of beauty,” he says.
Dr. BRANDT has remained committed to providing consumers with high-quality products without taking shortcuts. As a doctor-led skincare line, their reputation is built on expertise and high-quality standards.
“Our protocols are stringent and our expectations are high. I am here to ensure that our team remains well-informed and that the culture and legacy of our company remain a cornerstone in maintaining our commitment to excellence,” Colleu says.
As for how the beauty industry will evolve over the next year, Colleu thinks the industry will continue to customise and personalise skincare, makeup and hair treatments due to advancing technology and increasing customer expectations over the years. His advice for anyone who wants to get into the beauty industry is to “embrace boldness, intelligence, wisdom and innovation to stand out in the contemporary beauty industry.”