Simone France was seventeen years old, living with her parents in Paris just after World War II. Like so many young women then and now, even though she had the most beautiful skin, when she looked in the mirror, all she saw were flaws.
The family was going to a wedding and Simone wanted to look extra beautiful for the occasion. She read a tip in a magazine that recommended brightening your complexion by washing your face with lye soap (very common at the time) and a bristle brush.
Never stopping to think about it, she followed the advice without question, and the next day she woke up to bright red, puffy, sore, infected skin! Not at all what she had in mind for the wedding, and for a long time she was loath to leave the house it was so bad.
A doctor treated the medical problem, but her skin was still in a terrible condition. Back then doctors were not in the beauty business. Once the medical problem was solved their job was done. So the search to regain her beautiful complexion began.
Simone was fortunate to be living in Paris where there were so many beauty institutes and experts available. She went from one to the next to the next. They all had the same approach, promising her fantastic results and pushing her to sign up for a series of costly treatments using the latest, greatest ingredients and methods. Not one of them did much of anything for her.
After a long search with no real results, she finally knocked on the door of a wonderful professional woman who was very encouraging in her approach and who recommended a simple treatment. Not only did her advice ring true to Simone as soon as she heard it, but over time her skin completely recovered.
This experience led to a decades-long career in skin care and a sincere desire to help people. She learned how easy it is to mislead people and she vowed to always tell the truth and never make empty promises. She may have the skin of a baby at 80 years old today, but she never forgot what it felt like to have a face full of serious skin problems. She developed a product line and method based on common sense and results she could plainly see on the faces of thousands of real women, famous and not famous, who came to her every day for advice and treatment.
Bringing Classic French Skin Care to the US
Simone moved to New York in the ‘60’s where she still lives today. Over the years she built a cult-like following while giving facials to Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Iman, Kirsty Hume, Amber Valetta, Vendela, Julie Kent, Verushka, Elle MacPherson and thousands of women who came to her for advice and treatment. Famed hairstylists and makeup artists such as Laura Mercier, Francois Nars, Sue Devitt and Rex, also on Simone France's client roster, regularly recommend her. While many celebrities are paid to endorse product lines, Simone's famous customers have never been paid spokespeople. Simone France has been their private, personal choice for their own skin care.
Over the years, Simone has seen “miracle treatments” come and go. But skin is still skin and that has not changed. Her classic French skin care regimen is as simple and as effective as ever.
The Beauty Editor, The Sisters-In-Law and “Manhattan’s Best-Kept Beauty Secret
In 1999 Simone met Penny Kjellberg, a former national beauty editor who had moved on from magazines and opened a public relations agency. After 20 years in the beauty business, having used virtually every product in the course of doing her jobs, Penny still struggled with a variety of skin problems. Simone gave Penny her famous “Sandwich” and from the first time she used it Penny knew this was something that no one else had, with results nothing else delivered.
As an editor Penny was the recipient of an onslaught of beauty industry hype as companies tried to get her to write about them. She also read thousands of letters from magazine readers and knew what their concerns were. Penny found in Simone a like-minded partner about the need to cut through all the glitz and just talk to people straight-on about their skin, and to only make promises they are positive they can keep. From the start that commitment was made to every customer and it will always be kept. It is a cornerstone of the company foundation.
One of the First Skin Care Web Sites
Simone and Penny teamed up and started a web site, which at the time was very unusual – in 1999 very few companies were actually selling products on the web, and only a small percentage of those were skincare companies. Penny and Simone visited the national beauty editors who leaped on her wonderful story, her unusual products and method, and the fact that she had remained for so long, as Vogue magazine called Simone, “Manhattan’s Best Kept Beauty Secret”
The classic French skin care products that used to be available only with a facial from Simone (if you were lucky enough to get one) were suddenly available to everyone and the company was an immediate success.
The orders poured in fast and furious and Simone and Penny were completely overwhelmed. Simone knew skin care and Penny knew customer service and marketing but neither of them could actually run the business, fulfill the orders, keep customer records, etc. And they had no time to start interviewing business managers and finding bigger office space – they had orders to fill!
One night in September of 2000 Penny reached a breaking point and at 11:30 at night she picked up the phone and called her sister-in-law, Sally Riddles. Sally had been managing offices and running businesses for years. Penny knew she could step right in and get the job done. Clearly in panic mode, Penny begged Sally to quit her job right away and come and work for Simone France. Sally said, “let me talk to Mark (her husband) and call you back.” Ten minutes later she called and said “I’ll do it!” That day she quit and the next week she was on a plane to New York City.
Things settled down and one day in 2006 Penny and Sally’s other sister-In-Law, Jean Kjellberg, who had been an ardent fan of the products for years, mentioned how much she enjoyed hearing Sally and Penny talk about the company at family gatherings. The company continued to grow and more help was desperately needed, so Jean came on board as well, handling customer service and fulfillment.
Today Simone is in her 80’s and has retired from the product company and that company is now owned and operated by Sally, Penny and Jean. Simone personally trained Penny and Sally from the company’s inception through her retirement, so the Simone France tradition is as pure and as alive as ever.
The company remains true to Simone’s roots as a professional aesthetician, caring for one face at a time. What you see is what you get. We don’t follow trends or jump on bandwagons. Simone’s formulas and methods haven’t changed during her decades-long career, and we intend to keep them just as they are. Classic French skin care is alive and well at Simone France. It will continue to work for new generations of women (and men) who seek straight talk and a lifetime of healthy, beautiful skin.