How it all started
It all began in 1967 in a tatty two-room office in central Stockholm. We brothers and our then partner, Bengt Hellsten, sat and talked one day about our dream. We wanted to give people the opportunity to benefit from good skin care and attractive cosmetics, and we wanted our products to be inspired by the natural beauty that the world associates with Sweden.
Our concept was by no means an obvious contender for success. Not in the 1960s and especially not in Sweden, where the anti-Vietnam War movement, the greens and the student activists were at their height. “Care” was an important word at that time, but it was not particularly associated with one’s own body and wellbeing.
The office was plain and uninspiring. In the middle there was a rickety ping-pong table on which we packed our products for delivery to our sales consultants. They were an important part of our business concept. Rather than investing in a chain of shops, which would have taken time and been very costly, we decided to move our retail operations into the homes of Swedish consumers. We had sales consultants all over the country, and each and every one of them had the heart and ambition of an entrepreneur. They wanted to be part of a revolutionary new business and earn money from natural skin care. The products were distributed to their homes, and from day one they had a network of potential customers in their friends, colleagues and neighbours.
That, in a nutshell, was our concept. It is 40 years since we first formulated it and it remains unchanged to this day, with one big difference – our entrepreneurs are now found all over the world, from Moscow to Jakarta, Krakow to Lima.
And that, we believe, is where the secret of our success lies. Oriflame has remained true to its original concept of natural Swedish cosmetics and an entrepreneurial culture.
Being part of that revolution in cosmetics has been immensely rewarding to the af Jochnick family. Not merely in terms of financial compensation, but in the belief we have placed in our people and the belief they have held in us.
The people behind Oriflame are the reason for much of the company’s success. But how does one run a company with more than two million entrepreneurs all over the world who speak different languages and hold different values, religious beliefs and political convictions?
The secret here is – culture. A common culture is an invisible bond. It has the power to unite, enthuse and lead people over borders and boundaries that might otherwise separate them. The Oriflame culture gives each person the freedom to set their own targets, income and working hours. It is a culture that is based on respect for and belief in others. We have given millions of people the opportunity to change their lives for the better – an opportunity that many have taken to achieve their dreams. We have given people in Russia, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa the opportunity to start their own business, often in countries where the freedom to do business was discouraged or restricted to a self-appointed elite. In this way, Oriflame has helped tear down walls. We built the first cosmetics factory in Warsaw after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and we were one of the first companies to be given a direct sales licence in India and China.
We have come a long way from that tatty two-room office in Stockholm. We have no plans to change the formula of our success. On the contrary, current trends confirm that our 40-yearold business concept is even more appropriate now than it was then. We are active in those parts of the world with the fastest growth rates, and we are active in the market segment with the greatest growth of all – direct sales.
It is with a mixture of satisfaction and caution that we look forward to the years ahead. The goal is clear – Oriflame’s target is to become the world’s leading direct sales cosmetics company. That journey has begun!
In conclusion, we wish to thank all of you who have at one time or another supported us on our long journey – forwardlooking investors and our fantastic employees who develop, design, market and manufacture Oriflame products. But above all, we would like to thank the generations of sales consultants and leaders all over the world – our business partners – who, we are convinced, will still be with us when we achieve our goal of becoming the world’s leading direct sales cosmetics company.
Jonas and Robert af Jochnick