JUNE 27, 2016

Care for Water


More and more, we're drawn to brands that have a story to tell. Brands that, while doing something good for the world, make us feel good too. Amsterdam-based lifestyle brand Marie-Stella-Maris does just that. I was first introduced to the brand a few years ago when they transformed a corner store on the Keizersgracht into a stunning boutique, complete with impressive window displays and striking campaign photography; the branded dark blue and white labels adorning their perfumes, soaps and bottled water read, "Care for water." This sophisticated simplicity has always intrigued me, and I finally had the opportunity to meet with Josha Jansen (Marketing & Communications at Marie-Stella-Maris) to talk about the brand's simple idea: that everyone should have access to clean drinking water.

Take us back to the beginning. How did Marie-Stella-Maris come about?

Patrick Munsters, formerly creative director at Scotch & Soda, was inspired by the UN declaration that made access to clean drinking water and sanitation a human right in 2010. He was inspired to contribute directly to water-related issues worldwide, and Marie-Stella-Maris was born in 2012. 

Marie-Stella-Maris is much more than water, isn't it?

Since the launch, we’ve been collaborating closely with partners working to provide people with access to clean drinking water. Our foundation plays an important role in that. Of course you need to hardware (pumps, etc.) to make that happen, but hygiene is a very important part of clean drinking water. With that thought, we decided to develop skin, hair and home products based on natural ingredients; the launch of the care line in 2014 coincided with the opening of our brand store on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam. We see Marie-Stella-Maris more as a lifestyle brand; it's about ‘buying is sharing’, or doing something good for yourself while doing something good for someone else.

Tell us more about the brand's social mission.

We want to provide as many people around the world with clean drinking water, and by buying our products, you contribute directly to this mission. For our bottled water, we donate EU0.05 per liter to the Marie-Stella-Maris Foundation, and for every care product, it’s EU1.00. Over the past few years, we’ve contributed EU370,000 to 8 projects around the world, helping to provide more than 17,000 people with access to clean drinking water.

That is quite impressive! And you're trying to tell this story through interesting photography projects, right?

Yes, exactly. We've been collaborating with Amsterdam-based photography magazine GUP for a few years now. They have introduced us to talented photographers who have shot documentary images and autonomous work while visiting one of the foundation's clean drinking water project sites. It’s been an incredibly rewarding project for both the photographers and for us, and the results have been incredible. So far we have worked with Linelle Deunk (who visited our clean drinking water project in Uganda in 2014), Ernst Coppejans (who documented the 14 deep tube wells that were being installed in Bangladesh in 2015 to provide 2,500 people with access to clean drinking water), and most recently Robin de Puy (who traveled with us to Mozambique). We've exhibited their work at The Ravestijn Gallery, Kahmann Gallery, and Unseen Photo Fair.

I'm curious, since you're doing so many projects all over the world, does Amsterdam play an important role in the branding?

We always say that we're Amsterdam-based, we’re proud of the fact that our headquarters are based here. And our scent No. 92 Object d’Amsterdam is a bestseller; the candle and the room spray make for great souvenirs! 

What's next for Marie-Stella-Maris?

We want to continue to grow our brand in Europe. We’re currently looking to branch out in Germany and Belgium with our care line, and focusing on the restaurant business and hotels. We're driven by the goal we have set for ourselves: by 2020 we want to help 100,000 people with access to clean drinking water. That's just our initial goal. The opportunities are endless. We'll continue to look for interesting ways to tell our story because we believe we have an important mission. We hope you think so too!

Thanks Josha for taking the time to meet with me and show me around your beautiful new office! This post was created in collaboration with Marie-Stella-Maris, a brand I love and support. Featured below is the N0. 92 Objet d'Amsterdam scented candle and room spray. Find out more about their products and their foundation, or follow along on Facebook and Instagram.