In its podcast hosted by Elisabeth Assayag and Emmanuel Duteil, Europe 1 retraces the saga of Max Sauer.
230 years of a unique know-how in France. This is the story of Raphaël.
Based in Saint-Brieuc in Brittany, our company has been making fine brushes for fine arts and the biggest make-up brands for generations. Handmade brushes of exceptional quality.
In this Europe 1 podcast, discover the story of Raphaël brushes told by Eric Sauer, president of Max Sauer Group.
The brush, that indispensable accessory for painting walls and canvases, but also widely used for make-up. Behind this small hairy object lies a great know-how that the family business Max Sauer has been holding since 1793. First there was a certain Mr. Parent who created the company in the Paris, then it was bought in 1959 by Charles Sauer. Eric Sauer, President of the Max Sauer company:
At that time we mainly made brushes for the building industry, the fine art brushes part was rather marginal. And my great-grandfather asked my grandfather Max to develop the fine art brush business and to set up in Saint-Brieuc. Why Saint-Brieuc? Because it is the capital of fine art brushes in France, just as there are knives in Thiers and silks in Lyon. In the generation of my father and my uncle, they are the ones who have recovered the fine art brushes part and who have developed it.
The company specializes in fine art brushes, such as brushes made for art in schools, brushes for painters, called Raphaël brushes, very famous and widely used by all art students. And for 50 years, the company has been approaching another art: make-up:
Makeup brushes appeared by chance in the 1950s. Before that time, women used to apply makeup with puffs and sponges. The brush did not exist for this application, it existed for fine arts, for painting, but not for makeup. It was an American company, Revlon, that came to my father and asked him to make brushes for him. Revlon went to see who could meet his need to make a new tool for applying makeup.
For the make-up part, the company sells its brushes on behalf of the biggest French brands and even beyond. Half of its turnover is realized in export and for 50 years, the 800 employees of the company have been rethinking the manufacture of brushes. They have gone from horse hair to synthetic fiber and after 230 years, the company has not lost its know-how, on the contrary it remains THE reference:
Both fine arts and cosmetics, what we don’t find with our Asian competitors is of course a 200 year old know-how. When it comes to brushes, we are really THE French specialist in this field, whether it’s a fine art brush or a make-up brush, and of course a level of quality that we have been able to develop, especially by working with the major make-up brands, which are extremely demanding in terms of quality criteria. We have learned a lot over the last 20 or 30 years with them, they have taught us quality with specifications, tests, approvals … we are in a very demanding level.
Since 2020 with the confinements and the wearing of the mask, the makeup market has fallen by 30%, but it is rising again. An encouraging news for the company and its brushes that they think are always more environmentally friendly so that they last even longer.
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