Meet Marie Drago: Founder of Gallinée interview
Gallinée are the world’s first skin and haircare line dedicated to the health and wellbeing of Planet You. Your skin is made up of 1000s of good bacteria which form the protective layer called the microbiome. If the microbiome becomes unbalanced or stripped away, then your skin becomes inflamed and sensitive. Gallinée have the solution for you with their range of products to nourish and support the good bacteria that make your own personal ecosystem.
We chatted to Marie Drago about why she started Gallinée, her top tips to living more sustainably and her advice to anyone wanting to start their own company.
Tell us about you and your background. What was the journey that led you to starting Gallinée?
I am a French Pharmacist, but never really worked in France, or in Pharmacy. I moved to Dublin then London at the end of my studies, always working in beauty. I always wanted to create my brand one day. One day while looking at better treatment for my auto-immune disease, I started to learn about the microbiome and it blew my mind. So I went back to university, passed my thesis on the skin microbiome and used the science to create Gallinée.
How has the brand evolved over time?
I got so excited about the science that at the start we were communicating a lot about bacteria and the microbiome, and not so much about why it’s good for you and your skin. We’re getting better but I will still geek out from time to time. We have a Friday science training every week at Gallinée.
What inspires you and motivates you?
The microbiome is a very new area in Science, and even newer in Beauty. It means we discover things every day, and I absolutely love it. That’s what I prefer about having your own company: the things you learn (sometimes about yourself) and the people you meet.
What have you worked on or achieved with Gallinée (or in general) that you are most proud of?
Putting the team together. I absolutely adore working with the Gallinée team, and seeing people grow and get confidence is the best thing ever.
The Gallinée website is packed full of information on the science behind the products and ingredients. The Microbiome Académie has everything we need to understand our bodies, tell us about why it was an important resource to build and expand.
I think it’s just a nerd thing: I get passionate about a subject and I want everyone to know. That’s great when you have a brand, because it gives you a platform. I think science is amazing, and we try to make it more approachable, so that everyone can find it as cool as us.
What does sustainability mean to you as a brand?
For small brands, sustainability is hard because it’s often restricted by budgets. So it’s very step by step, and we try to implement new things all the time. But for me the biggest sustainable step is in consuming less. We try to do this by having minimalist products and routines, and extending existing products for new usages (we reformulated our Cleansing Bar recently and tested it for intimate hygiene. Now one little soap can be used for your face, your body and… your private garden).
What would be your 3 top tips to help encourage others to live more sustainably?
- Buy only what you really want, or really need. It’s so easy being pushed into buying more than we really want
- Ask more from brands. The consumer is really king, so if you don’t like something about a brand, tell them, ask them. We listen a lot!
- My friend Flo is the queen of sustainability and once she told me the big step was putting different bins in your bathroom to be able to recycle. It’s great because it makes you think a lot about what you use.
What are you most excited to work on over the next few months?
We are growing very fast at the moment so it’s really scary and exciting at the same time. We are having a lot of work done in the shadows to prevent stock shortages and make sure products arrive on time.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to set up their own company?
Sometimes it’s a bit hard to take the decision to quit your day job. I was terrified as I had never been without a salary before. My friend Guillaume told me “Don’t worry, it’s either going to be the best line on your CV, or you’re never going to need a CV again”. I quit the same week.
What do you look for when finding the perfect gift?
I know that like everyone I tend to gift what I want for myself, so I always take a step back and think. But also I have absolutely no patience so I never wait for birthdays or Christmas. I just see something that make me think of someone, buy it and gift it right away.
What is your LITTLE FIND?
I am obsessed with the smell of grapefruit. You can find it in some of the Gallinée products, and everything I can, I buy grapefruit. So of course I love these Cleanse Bathing Salts by Westlab!
Let’s have a little fun and FIND out about you...
- Favourite TV series right now? Midnight Diner on Netflix, a Japanese series where it’s just people at a late night restaurant cooking and chatting. Food, friendships and Japan, what else could you ask for?
- Last thing you cooked? I was missing French galettes a bit, so I made my own buckwheat flour and had some proper galettes for lunch. It tastes like home.
- Favourite Instagram account to follow? I am a massive fan of The Eco Well @theecowell, a beauty formulator that talks about science and facts, trying to fight disinformation. Also for some totally unknown reason I am obsessed with Seth Rogen's Instagram @sethrogen. He's a famous actor but he only posts about his clay making. He makes a lot of vases…
- Best book recommendation? 'I Contain Multitudes' by Ed Yong. It’s a mind blowing book about the microbes and how we interact with them. It really makes you think from another perspective.
- Perfect way to spend your weekend? Food and friends, with a little culture in between.
- Best restaurant you’ve eaten at? I’m not really into fancy food, so I’d say my local Turkish restaurant. Usually I’m there twice a week, it’s also incredible for brunch. It’s super fresh, they take good care of you and never leave you hungry. They also make sure I eat my greens by bringing me free salads. They are called Istanbul on Kingsland Road in London.
- Country you’d love to visit? Mexico and Louisiana are big on my list at the moment. My travelling choices are often driven by food.