It’s 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning and we’re heading to Ipanema to attend the launch of a new product line that is being presented by the cosmetics brand Phebo.
We’ve been invited by Nazish Munchenbach, the marketing and sales director at Granado, a well-established Brazilian cosmetics company.
“Hang on,” says Maarten, as we walk down Barao de Jaguaripe street. “I thought Nazish worked for Phebo. What’s the relation to Granado?”
“They’re basically sister brands,” I explain. “Granado is the main company that has existed since 1870 in Rio de Janeiro. It has a very solid, reliable reputation as an official supplier to the Brazilian Imperial Family – it’s used a lot by mothers. The younger sister, Phebo, was established in the early 20th century in Belem, in the Amazon, with lovely soaps, deodorant, talcum powder… And from today, make-up!”
“Ok, I see,” says Maarten. “So both brands have the same owner?”
“Yes, the company was bought years ago by Mr. Christopher Freeman, a Brit,” I say as we enter the beauty parlour in Ipanema where the launch is being held.
Nazish spots us immediately and comes over to greet us. “I’m so glad you could make it!” she says. “Please come further.”
As we wander through the collection, Nazish tells us a bit about her background: born to Indian parents, lived in Pakistan, the States, Germany and France. “And then I landed in Rio thirteen years ago,” she says with a smile.“You know, until I came here I always felt different, I never felt I belonged. But then I came to Brazil and here everyone is different, and so it meant I finally felt at home.” Nazish now lives here with her French husband and two children and has been working at Granado for 9 years.
“I still love it,” she says as she looks around. “And I love what we have built – what we are still building.”
“Tell us more about that,” Anouk says. “Granado was a well-established brand since the 19th century wasn’t it? What did you build?”
Nazish smiles. “Well, you’re right that it existed since 1870, but over time, it had become just a product, a talcum powder, not a brand. That was the challenge: building a brand out of a product that was perceived as good, but old-fashioned.”
“I see, so the quality was already there, you just had to improve the image?” I ask. “Upgrading the brand as it were…”
“Exactly,” says Nazish. “And I took on that challenge; I had a background in cosmetics, working with top brands like L’Oreal, Shiseido and SC Johnson, but this was different because it was a family business.”
“That must have been quite a change after working for transnational corporations!” says Anouk.
“It really was, but I immediately loved it and today I feel part of the family. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but we worked hard. I teamed up with Mr. Freeman’s daughter, Sissi, who also had a background in marketing to build a strong basis and generate continuity for the brand.”
“Kind of like bridging the generational gap?” I ask. “Building on the original values and strengthening them, but then also rejuvenating the brand to meet the expectations of today’s customers,” I say as I pick up one of the samples.
“That’s exactly right,” says Nazish. “That was one aspect. But we also expanded Phebo, with a new ‘all Brazilian’ make-up product line: no fragrance, no faces, but the Brazilian flower, bromelia, for brand recognition.”
“Okay,” says Anouk. “And how did that strengthen the brand?”
“By building the Granado and Phebo brands, I believe we contributed to an important shift in people’s attitudes,” says Nazish. “Ten years ago, people here only wanted international brands. Those were the ones that represented quality, style and status. Of course the Brazilian products existed, but no one cared about them. People bought them, but not with pride.
“Today, that has changed. Brazil is a state of mind, people want to be here, they are proud to be Brazilian,” she says as she looks around the store. “This is something we are very proud of. And we believe Granado and Phebo contributed to it as well.”
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Tags: Meeting Nazish Munchenbach, Nazish Munchenbach, Nazish, Phebo, Granado, marketing and sales director at Granado