April 19, 2013 - INTERVIEW with Mr. Miquel Ricou Sole, founder of Myrsol BACKGROUND Some time ago, I made an introduction of Mr. Miquel Ricou Sole in this thread "Meet Mr. Miquel Ricou Sole, founder of Myrsol" http://www.theshavingroom.co.uk/forum/thread-19449.html in which I included some pictures and the text. Some people encouraged me to do an interview with Mr. Miquel, so I set to work. A couple of phone calls and one email, and I got an appointment for April 19th, 2013. So here is the result. I am not a professional, and instead than a formal interview, this was a friendly talk. That is probably at fault perhaps you can find lack of rigueur, but our talk was fun and exciting. Mr. Miquel is a very nice person. After the interview, during the visit to the labs, we talked a lot more than what I will transcribe, but I had the recorder off. INTERVIEW It's Friday afternoon, April 19th, 2013, and I go to Myrsol labs in Barcelona, Spain, where I have an appointment to talk with Mr. Miquel Ricou Sole, founder of Myrsol. Carles, his grandson, welcomed me in the outer door. Carles is who now takes over the business. They were awaiting me inside, Mr. Miquel, his daughter Encarna, and Manel, who are the parents of Carles. Exciting. I had been there about a year ago, when I met Mr. Miquel and his daughter. After greetings, we sat back and started. Dr Dulcamara: Well, Mr. Miquel, as you know I wrote a post about you in a shaving forum. I know than Carles has shown it to you. These gentlemen, highly educated, were delighted and asked me to interview you for further information. Even I bring some questions on their behalf. I have to convey his greetings and appreciation for your products and how well they have received my brief introduction to you. They made several comments about your youthful appearance. I’m bringing greetings from everyone and personally from my friend Ravi of Pennsylvania, who use your products every day, and who has nine of your aftershaves. Mr. Miquel Ricou Sole: Thank you. I'll be happy to talk to them. And your friend is just missing one. And, indeed, the bottle is a decorative element. Dr D: Well, I have some questions here. First, tell us about Myrsol. From the very beginnings. Why did you started? Mr. MRS: As a barber, the problem was to make a product to shave without soap. Then I started to think, looking products and doing tests to find the formula that has been good for everyone, the Emulsion. There are men who suffer from ingrown hairs, but with the Emulsion, after a few days, this issue no longer happens. And if they shave every day with the Emulsion, hair grows lubricated because it penetrates quiet deep inside the skin. Formerly, the barbers used hot towels to open the pores, but with the emulsion it is not necessary. But shaving with the Emulsion, without soap, how do you do it? It's a matter of massaging with fingertips, concentrating on the more difficult areas. The barbers were saying that there is hair like wire, very thick, and thin skin. Then the skin tears. And with the Emulsion, this does not happen. So, you were a barber, and looking for good products, that you couldn’t find, so you began to make them yourself at home tests. From what dates we are talking about? I was on my twenties ,around 1943 or 1944. I went buying products and doing tests. Mixing with each other. To find the right mix. And you will ask, how is that I found the right mix? Of course, I read a lot, huh. I began to study chemistry, although I did not finish my studies. But those years was a very difficult time in Spain. I was a barber in the Eixample. (Translation note: The Eixample is a district of Barcelona city). There were many offices. They came in many traders to buy clothes. Then, they had money to go to the barbershop and spend it. And the barbers were not ready to have good products. Did you found many roadblocks? Launching the brand and obtaining health permits was not complicated? Not many. Formerly it was easier than now. Now we had to reform the lab and update it to meet stringent current standards of hygiene and air renewal. You worked as a barber, and you also were creating your products. Which came first? How the products evolved? Was it based on customer tastes or your own idea? The Emulsion was the first. All products are my own idea. Agua de Limon is more suitable for oily skin because it has citric acid. Agua Balsamica is made of herbs and you can feel like if you were in the forest. But all of them have their own properties, besides the scent. What product do you recommend for every need, what lotion? You also have other products, not shaving related, is that correct? Some are more astringent than others. Formula K is more adequate for summer. Metilsol is very good because the thymol decongests the skin. Formula C is not pure violet, because it takes other things, but you can find violet scent. Blue is a fantasy, nobody knows what it smells like. Antesol came out that way, I liked it, and that's all. We also have shampoos and hair lotions, for white hair, grease and dandruff. And the famous art-deco bottle. It is a personal design, isn’t it? From the beginnings? How did its shaped feature? Yes. It is a personal design. From the beginnings. The barbers did facial massage with the products. Some barbers had not taken care when taking bottles in hands, and they stained the labels. Then that product on the shelf looked very dirty. Taking my bottle by sides, the label does not stain, the bottle does not slip in hand, it holds standing up very well, and also it is beautiful. By the way, I know you recently had a change of the bottle’s supplier. Yes. Luckily I managed to save my molds. They were slow to serve the last order and I had to call them by phone. They were in process of closing the company. I picked up my molds, and I contacted another supplier here in Barcelona. But the bottle should not to be missed. It is a very important brand image. It would be a great loss. Yes, and it is very practical. It's different from anything. I do not like straight lines. Formerly there were many straight bottles, unadorned. Is that I am different from others. I do not want to follow what others do. Well, you have to be innovative. Must find your own way. Yes, in this case, yes. Formerly there were many lotions. Now come new ones, but they have no medicinal healing effects for the skin. They are mainly based on the amount of glycerin for smoothness, or the amount of alcohol or menthol, or perfume. But mine, all of them have their own qualities and if a man likes the Emulsion, it is very hard for him to abandon it. Although other liquid is splashed after, though. You told me last year that there are women that use it as body milk or for the legs. You spoke of a customer, who his wife had stolen the bottle. Ha ha. It is true. It is very moisturizing. And that's very interesting. Even after a day of skiing, if you have dry skin, it is healing. Tell us about the classic shaving today and the online forums. How do you see this? How has this affected your sales? I should ask. And how they developed the idea of caring for these things? Not by asking me, not. But speaking of these products among themselves. I like it. It is nice. This should have happened twenty years ago. Carles shows me from time to time on the computer. Yes, I've noticed the increasing sales. We are very grateful. Here the barbershops have been go to less. People dispense shaving on them. They go occasionally for a haircut. They spend money, but less. In Madrid they spend a little more. Once I was at the Majestic Hotel (Translation note: It is a hotel in Passeig de Gracia, in downtown of Barcelona), with a friend who had the barbershop there. He said his customers from Madrid usually asked for the Emulsion. When I went the first time to Madrid all barbers told me they bought in different places, so I asked them for the most important barbershop, and the first day I sold 1,000 bottles. But I did not finish. I continued touring over all Spain. In downtown barbershops. The year was 1962. When the SEAT 600 car appeared. I bought one car and I toured Spain with it. What future plans do you have at Myrsol, in terms of products and distribution? We will see. With the full range of product that I have, if they were a lot of selling, these labs would be small. I read recently that you have signed a distribution agreement with Eurostil. I saw some pictures on the internet. Yes, now we are partnership with them. They asked us about our products. They distribute many products to hairdressers. We'll see how it evolves. But I do not find Myrsol in perfumeries. Only in a few selected stores. I hope I would be able to find it in more places. If you do not show on TV, people do not know you. So it is difficult to sell. Now Eurostil will distribute to more places. Make a spot on TV, Mr. Miquel. I would have to take the briefcase, a good car, and a young female driver. So great, ha ha ha. I always would be out. Now let's talk about Don Miquel Ricou Sole. How are you? How is a typical day in your life, what do you do? Aside from breathing, be happy. Fundamental. Be happy. There are customers who I have not seen five years ago, and they say: You are as always. How do you do it? I say, look, I use the Emulsion in my face. I keep active. I keep coming to the labs. But Saturday and Sunday I go out. Ah, here I have a question about that. What hobbies do you have? What you like to do on weekends and holidays? I see you in fine shape. Still going to dance? I love to go dancing. I love music. What I do not like are fast modern dances. I like to spin a lady around a dance floor. Ha ha ha. It's good exercise to keep fit. The weekend dancing. I’m sure you don’t forget it ! No. Well, you told me you shave with the Emulsion. But what razor? A gentleman asked for it. What razor is, Carles? Show it to him. Ah, this one. Wilkinson Classic. I use one blade edge on the first day and the other edge for tomorrow. And then I change it. If you make two passes and one against, you will have irritated skin. I only do one pass, but well done, which is what you need to do. And what perfume or cologne do you use? One that we manufacture for ourselves. Fantasy scented. The family, how many grandchildren do you have? Do you consider yourself a lucky man? Being in good health, yes. Quite lucky. The family? The youngest one is me. Ha ha. Just do not know how many grandchildren I have. Three, four, I don’t know. See, see, yes, (Dr D: here Carles helps with the math) four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. So you are a happy man. Yes. But I've always been so. Life has treated you well. I've done things for life to treats me well. I have never been envious, because if there is one thing I cannot get it, I do not care. When I went to take orders on foot, I liked bicycles, but if I could not buy a bicycle, then I did not buy it. Afterwards, I bought a bicycle, and a motorcycle, the Biscuter, the Seat 600, the Ford, the Morris, and now a Nissan Primera, that's all. And now, finally, a few words to the members of the shaving forums, please. Say what you want. Well, besides to express my gratitude, telling them they are lucky to get a beneficial product for their skin. Because it is a fortune to find a good item. They are very happy with your products, and I know they are eager to read this interview. They were very excited and have given me many greetings for you. They have said they have shelves full of your good products and give thanks to you for continuing to manufacture these products. Yes, this and will be forever. I don’t think that these products will ever go away. Formerly a barber bought one bottle. But now there are barbers who buy a dozen or two dozen bottles. They also sell bottles to their customers. And this is one way to selling it. And now please show me the labs, and let me take some pictures without revealing your secrets. Let's go! VISIT TO THE LABS Then, Carles and Mr. Miquel showed me the facilities, I could visit all the rooms, and they allowed me to take some pictures, but not of all. Recently been refurbished to meet strict hygiene regulations. The incoming air from outside is filtered conveniently and there is a constant renewal. They are divided into several rooms, washing, filling, and another room where they have tubs of the products under manufacturing. During the visit we continue the conversation and they again said they are very grateful to the members of the shaving forums. They never imagined they could go so far. Carles has its own ambitions, and he is not afraid to grow if needed. We need not fear that the products will disappear. We speak of the stores that sell their products through internet. We also discussed shaving creams solid and liquid. I asked them to improve the containers, and to think of a smaller bottle , since the current ones are aimed to the professional consumers. Something with a little more glamour and the height of the magnificent bottle of aftershave. We also talked about hair care products, shampoos and lotions. FAREWELL Finally, after shopping for me, for my friend Rafael and for my friend Ottavio from Italy, Manel and Mr. Miquel escorted me to the exit. It was right there when Mr. Miquel said that the key of all, if health respects you, is to remain active. And Manel explained that Mr. Miquel still maintains a driving license and drives his vehicle. They really are an exceptional family, and Mr. Miquel has an extraordinary charisma. It was a pleasant afternoon. I hope that by reading this interview you can get an approximate idea, folks. If you travel to Barcelona and visit them, they will receive you with open arms.