After two years of making gentle occasional suggestions to Carlos that yoga might be good for him (especially as he's a surfer) with no success, he finally and spontaneously made the jump of his own volition here in Hossegor. Amazing! So each day we've been heading over to Gabrielle Turnes' studio in Hossegor's commercial district for 90 minutes of Bikram yoga. Gabrielle introduced us to PotionM, a micro-nutritional supplement, and we've been taking it now for about a week. It's a mixture of powdered fruits, vegetables, herbs and supplements designed to be taken as a 30-day 'cure', a total boost for your body. After a wedding, a house refurb and a house move we needed a lift and that sounded pretty good to us. When we found out that some of the founding partners of the company were based in the area we just had to get in touch.
Marina lives in a beautiful timber-clad house with her two young daughters. I managed to catch an hour of her time in between collecting her children from school and running both PotionM and an established organic/green lifestyle event company. All hail to hard-working, multi-tasking women!
"We started PotionM as a joint project between friends; Myself, Luc and Nicolas. Nicolas runs an ecological community in Andalucia, while Luc and I have been working together for many years organising trade shows and events in the organic and green lifestyle industry and prior to that at surf brand Ripcurl," Marina explained.
Having seen similar nutritional products in the US, the trio initially looked into acting as European distributors for an American brand. The transport costs were too high however, and philosophically the team felt that they would prefer to keep things local. And so the idea for PotionM was born.
"We wanted to create a high-quality product, with as much as possible sourced locally and with the mixture created here in France."
Teaming up with a qualified nutritionist the put together a mix of powders, with all the products dried at low temperatures to ensure they retain their nutritional benefits, and which was designed as a complete nutritional support that anybody can take.
"It's not a diet product, it's designed to be taken alongside a healthy balanced diet," says Marina. "Our clients normally tell us they feel the effects after around 10 days, and the benefits from client to client depending on their individual needs. Some clients tell us they have more energy, better sleep patterns, better immunity to colds and flu in the winter. Each person's body extracts the specific nutrients they need depending on where their body is deficient."
The team took just six months from the inital idea to launch, with Nicolas responsible for sourcing the ingredients and the website, Marina looking after the administrative side and Luc in charge of sales and marketing.
As well as dried fruits and vegetables, the powders include ingredients with antioxidant and detoxifying properties such as rosemary and dandelion, healthy bacteria to support digestion, immune system supports such as reishi and spirulina and ingredients such as gingko for energy. The company list all the ingredients on their website with detailed descriptions of the specific health benefits.
"We managed to source most of the ingredients in Europe, although a few had to be shipped from the US as their equivalent in quality and organic credentials was not available in Europe."
As the American brands that originally inspired the idea are now entering into Europe the team wanted to ensure they were competitive on price and quality. They launched in France last April and have now sold around 70% of their first production.
"When 100% is sold we'll have recouped our initial costs but we're choosing to reinvest all the profit into the next production and more products."
While PotionM was designed to be taken by anybody, the team has already developed products specifically aimed at the elderly, children and sportspeople.
"We're all agreed that we want the allow the product to develop organically over the next few years. We've had an amazing response so far," Marina says. "We've been very fortunate that the product sells itself to a certain extent, as we're the first locally-made product of this type in Europe at the moment. But we want to stay small, allow our distributors to handle the bulk of sales and stay focussed on the production."
The team run their joint business between Capbreton and Andalucia over Skype and email, with a face-to-face meeting every two to three months.
"We also attend both public and industry events together across Europe," explains Marina.
PotionM has already won an award from Natexpo which will take place this weekend in Paris.
"We created a product which we loved," says Marina. "Our main motivation was never profit, but the desire to create something positive for people based on our own organic and nutritional values."
Carlos and I have a few more weeks to go on our 30-days, but so far I have to say we both feel great. I feel less bloated and my digestion has improved, and Carlos is sleeping better and we both have more energy. Gabrielle, the yoga teacher who introduced us to the product, has found it a great energy support as she runs her busy studio on her own often teaching two classes a day.
We'll also update you when we finish the course.