Chantecaille's trip to Yellowstone - Neiman Marcus
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Chantecaille’s trip to Yellowstone

Alexandra Evjen

October 19, 2015

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In recognition of Wolf Awareness Week, the New York-based brand takes us behind their recent philanthropic research trip.

When you think of Chantecaille, three words likely come to mind. First: BOTANICALS. Their skincare formulas set a new standard with highly active, highly concentrated natural ingredients that deliver impressive results. (For example, their New Bio Lifting Cream +. It’s an antioxidant-charged update to their original cream that uses the power of plant stem cells to combat the signs of aging.)

Second, it’s all about COLOR. Known for products such as their skin-mimicking foundations and mascaras that make lashies look like falsies, they’ve cornered the market on that je ne sais quoi effortless French beauty. Finally, as a beauty brand that believes in both good products and good deeds, Chantecaille is synonymous with the word PHILANTHROPY.

From saving bees to restoring the coral reefs, the family-owned company has embarked on a series of charitable focuses. As Creative Director Olivia Chantecaille explains, it’s part of their holistic approach. “We want to create natural products that are good for you and give back to nature as a thank you for providing us with all these amazing ingredients,” she says.

To decide their seasonal philanthropic efforts, the family meets with contacts in science and conservation to discuss topical issues. This Fall, they’re drawing attention to wolves. An under-appreciated (and often misunderstood) part of the forest ecosystem, wolves play a critical role in maintaining balance in the environment.

To find out more, Olivia, along with her sister Alex (VP of Sales and Promotion), brother Philippe (Director of Media Productions) and father Olivier (founder/CFO), headed to Yellowstone National Park. “The Natural Resources Defense Council told us over dinner that this situation has become more and more urgent,” says Alex. “On this camping trip and tour, we were able to see it so clearly.”

Wolves, while widely seen as pests to ranchers, are actually a key predator. Olivia explains: “Without them, the elk population grows at an unmanageable rate, stripping the forest, depleting resources, and breaking down the entire ecosystem. Wolves actually help to preserve the forest, resulting in clearer streams and homes for all the other animals to live.”

While in Yellowstone, the Chantecaille team met with local ranchers who practice non-lethal herding methods, trackers, and other activists. Alex experienced her first sighting of wolves in a protected area of the park. “We got to observe the wolves in an open valley where they’ve acclimated to humans. It’s a total fallacy that they’re aggressive and dangerous when unprovoked.”

For Olivia, observing the wolves was much more of a challenge. “We’d been there for a few days and still I hadn’t seen any wolves,” she says. “The night before we left, we heard there was a tracker who had all of this equipment and is really in touch with nature. He came up and said that he’d heard there were wolves sighted and asked if we wanted to come along. We had to keep it a covert mission because we didn’t want the area’s anti-wolves ranchers to take notice.”

The night’s mission was a success and they were able to observe three young males in a hunting pack. That sighting, along with the scenic environment, became the point of inspiration for the Chantecaille Limited-Edition Protect the Wolves Eye Shade Trio. The color palette plays back to the flashes of silvery fur in a misty forest—a versatile combination for a soft or dramatic smokey eye. And the best part is that 5% of the proceeds will be donated to Conservation Northwest.

Like each of their previous causes, the wellbeing of the wolves will remain close to the brand’s heart long after the season is over. “We go back and revisit each of the focuses,” says Olivia. “It’s our way of making sustained, radical change.” Case in point: Kamok, the newborn elephant the family adopted. (Its name means “joy.”)

As for their next charitable focus? “We’re going back to our core,” says Alex. “We are thinking about the environment on a global scale.”

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