With heavy hearts, we mourn the passing of Leonor Greyl’s co-founder, Jean-Marie Greyl, on December 14, 2020. This visionary engineer with a passion for botanicals leaves behind a pioneering brand and a legacy of love, family, innovation, and environmental stewardship. Jean-Marie was inspired and inspirational, resolutely humanist, humble, considerate, and generous. As we say au revoir to the great Monsieur Greyl, we honor him with a look back at daughter Caroline Greyl’s recent tribute to her father and mentor. Please enjoy this heartfelt article published in June 2020.
Caroline Greyl’s Father’s Day Tribute to Her Nature-Loving Père.
Traveling and delicate perfumes. Walking through nature and learning about all that nature has to offer or watching him work in his laboratory. That’s what Caroline Greyl remembers the most about the childhood she spent with her father.
Sitting patiently as her father was carefully blending on his workbench and inhaling heavenly scents of magnolia, jasmine, and vanilla that filled his lab.
In honor of Father’s Day, Caroline recently charmed us with her early memories and stories about her dad’s enduring influence on the family-owned luxury haircare company, where Caroline now serves as CEO.
From the brand’s beginning in 1968, Caroline’s mother Leonor was in the hair salon while Jean-Marie worked as the formulator behind their innovative products. He tapped his expertise as a galenic engineer (someone who studies the beneficial characteristics of plants) to create naturally based shampoos, oils, masks, and styling products.
Jean-Marie was retired in Paris with his wife Leonor. Caroline’s husband, Tom Brooks, stepped into Jean-Marie’s role as head of research and development of the renown global brand.
Read on for our conversation with Caroline …
A Leonor Greyl Father’s Day Q&A
Jean-Marie is known for his intuitive ability to find the best botanicals for healthy and luxurious hair. What’s the secret behind his superpower?
Caroline Greyl: He always had a passion for nature and plants. He grew up in the countryside, and when he was young he had something like an apprenticeship or residency at a school run by monks. One of the monks treated sick people in local villages with tinctures made from plant extracts that his students collect for him. The monk noticed my father was very good at identifying every plant and came to rely on him.
My father loved nature. Growing up, we would go to the forest for walks or mushroom picking. He’d name all the plants around. It’s just part of his DNA.
How did he pass his knowledge and passion on to you?
I inherited my dad’s nose – his knowledge and sensitivity to scents. Whenever we tested a new product and he asked for my opinion about the perfume, we always picked the same scent in the end. That’s something I will always remember.
What was the most important business-related lesson he taught you?
To always observe nature. My father always looks at what is around him to see if there is something he can extract.
For example, we were on a family trip to Cancun years ago, and as the sun went down, he got excited and pointed to a cactus. He said, “Did you see this, Caroline?! The flowers open at night.
We did some research and talked to our suppliers when we returned home and learned it’s called Lady or Queen of the Night [cereus grandifloras]. It has some wonderful properties. Now we use its extract in our Masque Quintessence because it provides hydration for more than 48 hours.
Another time, I was complaining to my dad that half my flowers were dying in my small Parisian garden. He observed that bamboo roots, which grow horizontally, were suffocating the other plants. He also saw how fast-growing and strong the roots were.
This is where we got the idea to use marrow from the stalks in our Shampooing Crème Moelle de Bambou, created specifically to help repair damaged ends of long hair.
Once again, it’s really about observing what’s around you. I have tons of stories like this!
What life lessons did your dad teach you?
He taught me to cook. My parents worked late when I was growing up. So, when we got home from work I would do my homework while my dad cooked dinner. He asked me questions and gave advice while I watched him.
Even today when we spend time together, we cook. And he’s still giving me advice (laughs).
He also taught me patience. For many months we tried to make a souffle for Sunday family dinner. The first time, we kept opening the oven, and it would deflate. After six or seven tries, we finally made a classic white souffle!
Really, the most important thing I learned from my dad is that, at end of day, we must put all our heart and passion into whatever we do.
Caroline Greyl’s Fav Father’s Day Gifts
For Dads with Full Hearts and Thinning Hair: Shampooing Au Miel
This gentle everyday shampoo is a dream come true for thinning hair in need of a volume and shine boost. Featuring acacia honey extracts and body-building almond proteins.
For the Practical Dad: Douceur Végétale
We love how this product doubles as shampoo and body wash, making it perfect for travelers or after sports. Jean-Marie came up with the idea for Douceur Végétale while on a cruise in Martinique, where freshwater was limited. What if there was a cleansing gel that lathered so easily, it foamed even in seawater? He headed back to his lab, and in 1985, Douceur Végétale was born!
For Dads Whose Hair Needs Taming (like their jokes): Gel a l’Hibiscus
Moringa protein in this alcohol-free styling gel tames frizz and improves thickness while walnut extract seals in moisture and hibiscus extracts provide protection.
For Dads Who Rock Their Locks: Eclat Naturel
Conditioning shea butter and jojoba oil are the star ingredients of our award-winning styling cream for thick and unruly hair.
For Dads Who Strive for Perfection: Baume Bois de Rose
Men love this powerful styling balm with a matte finish and delicate rosewood scent. It’s not sticky, stiff, or greasy. Put full creative power in his hands!Not sure which product is right for your pops? Consult with our Leonor Greyl Hair Concierge.
From Caroline and the rest of the Leonor Greyl family, we wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the papas! The holiday brings to mind this très à propos quote from French author Antoine François Prévost:
“The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature.”
Read more about Jean-Marie’s legacy as a dedicated husband, father, and innovator here.