Housed on the spot that saw the Emperor and Empress Bonaparte wed, right on chic Rue Saint-Honoré is L’Institut Darphin Paris Vendome, the flagship spa for the luxury skincare brand of the same name. The serene space serves as a haven for weary editors and celebs when they’ve reached the last leg of their Fashion Month tour. Jessica Alba has been known to stop by for facials that feature time-honored European techniques and the brand’s decadent products. Courtney Das is a glowing testimony to the efficacy of Darphin’s skincare, as she should be, given she has a hand in developing product campaigns for the brand across all markets.
In a bold move, Courtney joined Darphin’s Global Marketing team two years ago, relocating from New York City to Paris without a proficiency in French. She is now a happy resident of the bustling Marais district.
After lunching on Verjus’ famed fried chicken sandwiches, we sipped some Mariage Frères tea with the busy expat to chat about her rise from makeup counter sales to marketing powerhouse, a rooftop bar/restaurant with a cool surprise menu and the mentor who convinced her to make the big move!
I always knew I wanted to be in beauty and moved to NYC after college for that reason. I started out at a Chanel counter for about a year and then moved to the Estée Lauder Companies. I was with Bumble and bumble for seven years, first in sales then marketing, then moved to Paris to work in global marketing for Darphin.
While in marketing at Bumble and bumble I had a great opportunity with Estée Lauder Companies to attend FIT for my Masters in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management. I was pretty busy for two years, working full time and getting my Masters part time. In the program we had multiple classes a week and travelled to six different countries to learn about the beauty industry around the world. This made me want to go abroad and the week after graduation I applied for the Darphin position. Within six months I was moving to Paris!
Any specific mentors?
I was lucky to have Jane Hudis, Global Brand President of the Estée Lauder brand, as my mentor during my last two years in NY. She is a true inspiration and one of the hardest workers I’ve ever encountered. When making my decision to move abroad she is one of the people I consulted and she encouraged me to make the move.
What inspires you about the Darphin brand?
It is so feminine and sophisticated, really the embodiment of the French woman. The products are like works of art, with gorgeous textures and amazing fragrances. Overall, the brand is just really beautiful to me.
What does a typical day of a beauty marketing professional look like?
Each day is different. We plan out our marketing calendar far in advance so I could be working on anything from the beginning conception of a project to an execution in-store. I work with a lot of other departments in the company so on a day in the office I could start my morning meeting with our creative team about a photo shoot, then have a call with Asia about a new product opportunity, then have a discussion with product development about a new formula. It is always interesting and ever-changing.
What key product can you not live without?
I love the 8-Flower Nectar Essential Oil Elixir. It is a total anti-aging oil that has the most indulgent scent. I wasn’t a big oil user before working for Darphin, but now I can’t live without it. I use it every night and have seen a real change in the quality of my skin.
What have you enjoyed most about the transition from New York City to Paris?
I feel that my quality of life is better overall in Paris. I’ve been able to have a better work/life balance. I found a great group of friends when I moved. The expat community is very strong. I have friends from all over including the UK, Germany, Spain, Canada, Columbia… all over the world. Everyone mostly moved here with their companies or studied here and ended up staying. We all love traveling together and I have been able to take a ton of trips throughout Europe with them. I made it a goal to go somewhere out of Paris at least once a month and am happy to say that I have been able to.
I also joined a soccer team, C.O Vincennes WISP, which is a big part of my life in Paris too. I have made some really great friends who also share a passion for the game and I get to play soccer a couple of times a week with them.
What has been the most challenging?
The French language. I have learned a lot, but I thought I would pick it up easier. It is my goal to be fluent before I decide to move.
Any difference in work attire between Frenchies and Americans?
I do see differences. In France people seem to maintain a specific style, less following of trends, and invest in a couple high-quality pieces. In NYC it seemed that people were changing styles more often and would buy items to just wear that season.
How about beauty routines?
There is a huge difference. Most of the girls I work with wear little or no makeup and don’t do anything to their hair, and of course because they are French they have the je ne sais quoi and look like super models. I remember when a girl on my team told me she had never even tried on liquid foundation! In NYC, people spend much more time doing their makeup and hair before going out, but it is also acceptable to walk around in your workout clothes after the gym, where in France you don’t see that at all.
What only in US amenities do you miss most?
You spend seven years at Bumble so you’re knowledge of that brand is pretty extensive. What products do you still use?
Any great restaurants/shops that you’ve discovered?
During my first 2 weeks in Paris, a good girlfriend of mine from NYC recommended Le Perchoir, which has now become my favorite restaurant in Paris (and maybe even the world). It is set on a rooftop with the most stunning 360-degree views of Paris. I love it during winter when I can warm up by their fireplace with hot cocktails in the outdoor bar. The restaurant, which is just below the bar, has a three-course menu that changes daily and is always phenomenal.
My favorite shop is Merci. I had heard about it before moving to Paris and realized the day I moved into my apartment that it was one block away. It has four floors and a ton of rooms to explore with everything from clothes to home goods to a cozy café with walls of used books.