Daniele de Winter, the founder of DeW is one of a handful of women who can claim to have started working in the beauty industry when she was just out of childhood.
In conversation, she points to two factors that triggered her interest in the beauty world, first her love of cooking and , second, an accident of birth. She is the daughter of Dr Jan de Winter, a pioneering cancer specialist who set up Britain’s first walk-in clinic aimed at helping prevent cancer in Brighton.
Her love affair with cooking was kindled on camping holidays and the division of labour that occurs in many families. As the elder of two daughters, she was put in charge of preparing the meals. Her sister meanwhile was left with laying the table and washing up.
Even now she rhapsodizes about her early excitement as she tried out new recipes using the best and freshest ingredients from the market. It was she says a pivotal moment inn her journey to who she is today. And where, I ask were those camping holidays. “On the Cote D’Azur”, she replies. So her connection with Monaco started early too.
Years, later, she’s still mixing and blending flavours with gay abandon. The difference is that her passion has turned into a business and her repetoire now extends to beauty drinks and a most unusual box of chocolate pearls.
Through the years, her focus on health and beauty has led her to explore the underlying medicinal and healing powers of certain foods. This knowledge in turn has transferred directly into the formulation of a variety of products which she now sells in salons and online around the world..
The truly formative influence in this regard turns out to be her father. He founded the first ever walk in cancer clinic in the UK that doubled up over time as an anti-aging clinic. Privy to the lifestyle of his patients and their life expectancy, he was an early advocate of the importance of diet in the prevention and alleviation of cancer itself.
For her own part, Daniele did not study medicine. But she was a key confidante of her father who co-opted her into the clinic by asking her to open a café and show his patients how to cook the food he believed was vital to their survival and revival.
“My father was at his wit’s end. Patient after patient confessed they were hopeless at cooking. Then the idea came to him: “Well Danielle will show you how!” As she tells her story, you almost forget that Daniele is speaking about a hospital clinic. Rather it sounds more like a family business with everyone pitching in.
Her partnership with her father resulted in two books five years apart. The first she co-authored with the slightly forbidding title: What The Doctor Ordered. Much as the name suggests, this laid out recommendations and recipes for healthy living. (Today the material often forms part of her blog).
The next book was attributed to her alone. New material, and a new title: Eat Yourself Beautiful. Published in America, it became a bestseller. Today however she thinks the better name would have been: Eat Yourself Younger. We’re similar ages and looking at her, I’m prepared to give it a go.
The next big step on the way to the business empire she is now building was INSEAD business school. It was here that she first explored the idea of an international beauty business. Founded in Monaco, her products are increasing found in some of the most exclusive Hotel Spas in the world, with clients including Kempinski, Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons Hotels.
I originally stumbled across her range in a small beauty kiosk on a ferry crossing in the mid-2000s. They instantly fascinated me because despite the world competition there is nothing quite like it on the market.