From manufactory to world-renown laboratories: a history of success
The key to understanding the strength and potential of the cosmetics industry lies in its history. For in the course of one century, the branch has experienced a true boom, while Made in Poland products have deservedly gained recognition both at home and in the most remote parts of the world.
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The golden two decades
It all began in 1919 when Poland regained independence. After over a hundred and twenty years of foreign rule, Poles undertook the enormous task of unifying the country’s fragmented infrastructure and modernizing its economy. In the wake of the new energy triggered off by the rebuilding of an independent country, a reorganization of the cosmetics industry took place. Small, local manufactories had been appearing on Polish territory since the mid 19th century, but cosmetics production on an industrial scale began only in the 1920’s. It was then that such cosmetics companies as “Schicht-Lever” (the future “Uroda”), “Miraculum” and “Ewa” were founded. In 1929, “Pebeco” company began its production under “Beiersdorf’s” license. All in all, in the course of the two inter-war decades, several extremely prosperous companies were set up which produced cosmetics on an industrial scale and many smaller companies which operated locally.
Polish celebrity Zofia Batycka in Miraculum advertisement
The Polish object of desire
The beginnings of a regular cosmetics industry created in the ‘twenties provided a solid basis for its further growth after World War II. It was then that the Polish industry was nationalised and the “Pollena” national consortium took over the cosmetics and cleaning products industries. With its expertise, long experience and existing base of manufacturers, Poland soon became the leading producer and exporter of cosmetics in Central-East Europe. It produced colour and conditioning cosmetics as well as perfume for all the countries in the Eastern Bloc. Women in the Czech Republic, in Russia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria all smelt of “Pani Walewska” perfume, painted their lips with “Celia” lipstick and used “Miraculum” creams. Polish products were highly regarded by the international female society, and the name “Pollena” at the time became a synonym of true luxury. Still, it was luxury at an affordable price. Hence, it was probably that blend of good quality and a reasonable price that allowed many of the brands created at the time to survive the economic transformation period of the late 1980-ties and to keep successfully selling their products till the present day.
The knowledge, expertise, experience and production infrastructure accumulated over the over forty-year period guaranteed a perfect start for the cosmetics industry in the new, difficult conditions of free-market economy. During the economic transformation after 1989, the manufacturing companies were privatized and were then bought by such cosmetics concerns as “Cussons”, “Henkel L’Oreal” and “Beiersdorf”. Many foreign companies, “Avon”, “Procter & Gamble”, “Oriflame” and “Colgate Palmolive” among them, invested in new factories in Poland. At the same time, local Polish cosmetics companies were being founded and were dynamically developing. Among some of the companies set up then were:” Dr Irena Eris” Cosmetics Laboratory, Eveline Cosmetics, “Soraya”, “DAX Cosmetics”, “Ziaja”, “Kolastyna”, “Oceanic”, “Dermika”, “Joanna”, “Bielenda”, “Hean”, “Inglot” and “Inter Frangrances”. In effect, the present cosmetics industry in Poland is an unprecedented in Europe mix of global cosmetic concerns, big and medium-sized Polish companies as well as several hundred small and micro companies, all producing cosmetics.