Every year during the autumn months, high up in the Austrian Alps, you’ll see local farmers. They are gathering delicate, yet discreet little plants in an annual harvest known as the Speick Sting. These mountain farmers are workers from Speick Natural Cosmetics Company, gathering the Alpine valerian plant in the Nock Mountain region of Carinthia, Austria. This is the only place in the world where the Speick plant grows, and Speick is the only company that has the rights to harvest it for production of their all-natural beauty products.
It’s the plant’s rich history that explains its coveted status today: even as early as 2500 years ago, it was already pervasive in the ancient world’s cosmetic industry— well known by craftsmen of the time, who used in it countless perfumes, balms, and herbal baths. They believed it would cure diseases, and the ancient Greek doctor Galen famously used it to treat the stomach ailments of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
In 1928, despite the turbulent economic climate in Austria, Walter Rau set his creative business plans into action. He wanted to continue the soap manufacturing tradition of his parents, but in a new, innovative way: he decided to make all-natural body care products, with the Speick plant as their base. These hygiene products would be made with health-promoting ingredients that were gentle on the skin—and on the environment.
And Rau’s vision didn’t end with his products: he wanted his whole company to function with an eye toward sustainability. He made sure that his employees were given extra training during their factory hours, that working mothers were offered company childcare, and that recreational amenities were made available, so that all employees could enjoy good working conditions. The farming families in the Nock Mountains were equally well-compensated and treated like family
members by the central company employees.
In our present day, Speick Natural Cosmetics is in its 3rd generation as a family-run company, continuing in its tradition of implementing humane working conditions at all levels of business. Speick has earned numerous awards for its charitable endeavours, standing out as the 2013 German Sustainability Award winner, as well as the 2014 Gold and 2015 Silver medal winner for the prestigious Corporate Social Responsibility Award. The company was rated on a 350 point system for their commitment to sustainability, through consideration of employee interests, environmentally sound operations, and environmental protection, consistently ranking amongst Germany’s best over their 87 years in business.
With social outreach as one of Speick‘s most central values, the company has made an active effort to support regional environmental projects, including Nature Life International Foundation‘s projects, encouraging students to learn more about natural habitats and the protection of the environment. As the company motto proclaims, Speick is about “being human and continuing to develop oneself,” and—over the course of almost a century—they’ve lived up to their word.