Founded in 2011, Marie-Stella-Maris began life by selling mineral water. Since then, the brand has been taken to new heights by an eagerness to break boundaries. The Amsterdam-based label is now famed for producing premium skincare that focuses heavily on sustainability as well as funding initiatives that provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene to areas of Africa and Asia. While the skincare market is a saturated one, dominated by the big names, Marie-Stella-Maris has succeeded in paving its own way to success. At OPUMO, we love to see a brand break the mould, so we managed to find a few minutes in founder Carel Neuberg's busy schedule to discover what drives him, what distinguishes his products, and how he keeps the company's ideas fresh.

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No.73 Poivre Noir Frais Hand & Body Wash

Where did the idea of Marie-Stella-Maris originate?

We were inspired by the UN resolution in 2010 which declared clean drinking water and hygiene as a human right, and there was a request for companies to support this declaration. We decided to start our own social enterprise and brand with a purpose to support this resolution.

What inspired you to expand from water into other natural care products? 

The inspiration came from our clean drinking water projects in Africa and Bangladesh where we also help out with WASH projects. WASH stands for water, sanitation and hygiene. Hygiene plays an important role in our projects and we decided to translate this hygiene component into selling natural care products. 

Can you tell us more about how the Marie-Stella-Maris foundation works?

We jointly developed a vision and strategy with Aqua For All which included clear criteria for sustainable clean drinking water projects in rural communities mainly situated in Africa. The selected projects are implemented by local NGOs.

What are the core values of the Marie-Stella-Maris brand? 

Quality, design, sustainability, entrepreneurship, transparency.

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No.73 Poivre Noir Frais Hand & Body Wash

When did things really kick into gear for Marie-Stella-Maris?

There isn’t just one moment, for a long time we’ve been in a continuous process of improvement. Whether that means products, design, sustainability, constructing a stable organisation or building our customer and fan base.  

What are the most important things you’ve learned along the way?

keep your focus and adapt your strategy if necessary, but do not forget your long term mission. You must understand how to implement changes step by step and make sure to learn from each step.

What do you do to keep your ideas fresh and in line with the sustainable focus of the brand?

Visiting our projects in Africa is always sure to give me new energy and focus my efforts. 

What makes Marie-Stella-Maris’ natural skincare products so special? How hard is it hard to find and develop your own lane in the world of skincare? 

Our care products protect and nurture the body. They are made with natural ingredients; free from parabens, silicones and synthetic colouring agents and are not tested on animals. While keeping the body hydrated and groomed, our products also provide a sensory-rich experience through their luxurious fragrances and texture – take our unisex products for example, while we were developing the range, we created distinctive fragrance families that correspond with different emotions. Finally, it comes down to your base ingredients: we carefully select our ingredients to make sure that they are of the highest quality in order to reflect our core values and product philosophy. With everything manufactured in the Netherlands, we strive for sustainable production and distribution. Also, initiatives like donating 5% of our care category turnover to projects that enable clean water set us apart from the crowd.

 

What should we all be looking for when it comes to buying natural skincare?

In general I think it’s important to look for products that have refill solutions. We started with refilling in the hotel world and we are currently translating this into the consumer market. We just launched our first consumer refill product, the 600ml hand and body wash. Our refill pouch makes it easy to refill your empty but well-designed and still completely functioning soap bottle, the refill is friendly to your wallet and to the planet. Refilling means less packaging material and therefore less waste. We know we haven’t reached the end goal yet, starting with just one product, but we see this as a step in the right direction.

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No.73 Poivre Noir Frais Hand & Body Wash
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No.74 Lemon Notes Hand & Body Wash
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No. 92 Objets D'Amsterdam Hand & Body Wash

Do you have any self-imposed rules that you live by which reflect onto Marie-Stella-Maris? 

Not really, the most important thing is just to be yourself.

What drives you? 

Of course our ethical mission, but I also love working with a young, energetic and motivated team to get the results.

Shop all Marie-Stella-Maris products at OPUMO.

If you want to find out more about the brand itself, read our formal introduction.