We had the good fortune of connecting with Sabine Dodane and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sabine, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I was born and raised in France. Growing up, I was taught to appreciate life’s simple pleasures, and to be connected with all of my senses. I learned to select the best that nature has to offer: produce grown right, not rushed, picked at the peak of ripeness and flavor, from trusted sources.
My approach to self care and skincare has always been based on the same principles. I created Rêves de Sabine (“Sabine’s Dreams”) to share with others the pleasure of fresh skincare, made with ingredients selected for their quality, and as close to their original form as possible. Minimally processed ingredients retain more of their natural properties, smell great and feel great on the skin. And I believe that when you feed your skin the nutrients it craves, you are nurturing your entire well-being.
It didn’t happen overnight. My first career was in design and packaging. I absolutely loved the creative part of it, but I always felt a bit like an outsider, uncomfortable promoting a product that did not always live up to the promises of the packaging or marketing. Having waited so long to express my own sensibilities, the day I decided to change paths happened almost without warning, and I fiercely embraced my new venture without ever looking back.
Please tell us more about your business. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
There are three components that, combined, set the Rêves de Sabine bodycare line apart:
• We are a small-batch beauty line
• Our ingredients are fresh and transparent
• We care about our community
Because we are a small-batch beauty line, we make product based on demand. Our clients dictate which products are needed most and when. We never produce large quantities that end up on a shelf for extended periods of time. Each batch is fresh-made, and we never use preservatives. We carefully source each ingredient from growers and artisans around the world. Our oils, butters, beeswax, etc… are minimally processed to ensure that they retain their natural properties. They all smell great and feel great on the skin. We simply believe that when we feed our skin the nutrients it craves, we are nurturing our entire well-being.
We are nimble and easily adapt to the changing needs of our clients. This is especially true for our HEAL scar treatment oil, which was the result of repeated requests to solve scar issues, whether it happened because of surgery, an accidental cut, a burn, acne etc… Another example is our hand sanitizer. At the onset of Covid19, sanitizers became very hard to come by. We were asked over and over to formulate a safe and effective sanitizer, knowing that (other than alcohol) all of our ingredients would be thoughtfully added to minimize damage to the skin, since alcohol is extremely drying. Aware of how stressed and anxious our community was feeling, we infused our sanitizer formula with essential oils that were not only known for their antiseptic, antibacterial or antiviral properties, but also for their ability to calm and reduce stress. We also had our formula approved by a local compounding pharmacy, which ordered our sanitizers for their own customers.
We truly care about the community. We noticed that our local nurses in particular were affected by the constant use of harsh sanitizing products. We offered our DREAM balm at a reduced cost and received an extraordinarily positive feedback. Because most of the local stores that carried our products were closed, and because ordering was possible online only, we added phone orders and curbside pick-up for our local clients. Also, knowing that our Ventura community was severely hurt financially by the stay-at-home order, we donated 10% of our proceeds for the month of May to our local food bank.
Rêves de Sabine (“Sabine’s Dreams” in French) has been a lifelong dream. It just took a long time to act on it and believe that I had it in me to be an entrepreneur. Since its inception, five years ago, Rêves de Sabine has been impacted not only by the challenges of starting a small company from scratch, but also by two of the state’s largest fires, and by a global pandemic. Through it all what I have learned is that what matters most is not only a belief in a dream, but more importantly a belief in community. I haven’t done this alone, and I am grateful for the outstanding support of friends, customers, and professionals who have donated countless hours of their time, expertise and services to help me keep my dream alive. In return is my unwavering commitment to helping my community be a more beautiful place, esthetically and in spirit, through kindness, compassion, care, and love.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
One of the most extraordinary things about Ventura County is its climate. If you love nature, you can be outdoors all year round, and enjoy its extraordinarily beautiful coastline, completely undeveloped islands (in just one to three hours by boat), or spectacular trails.
I would perhaps suggest renting a kayak and going on a guided tour through the harbor late afternoon and, weather permitting, venturing out on the open ocean. For a full day excursion, I would definitely take you on a kayak tour around Santa Cruz Island and discover its wildlife, caves, and pristine waters.
Another day would be spent riding bikes to Ojai. I would start at Foster park, a few miles inland from Ventura. The bike path is pretty, safe, and the uphill grade very gentle so it’s doable for just about anyone. I would pick up lunch at Tortilla House, a little hole-in-the-wall in Ojai that has the best quesadillas ever. We would order one of their homemade aguas frescas, and find a shady spot at Libby park, a block away.
Of course another day would be spent hitting every vintage store in Ventura. One of the reasons why I feel so at home in Ventura is that it is comprised of so many cool small businesses (I do almost all of my clothes shopping here), and there is a surprisingly good selection of mid century furniture and home decor. I know most store owners personally (one of the benefits of the small town life). I would take you to the Refill Shoppe, where you would create a body lotion, naturally scented with your own blend of therapeutic essential oils.
For dinner we would take a bottle of wine, bread and cheese, and head out to the Jolly Oyster in San Buenaventura State Beach Park, a low-key outdoor oyster shack that offers delicious oysters from their own sustainable shellfish farm in Baja California. We would have a peak at the San Buenaventura mission, which is so pretty, and finally end up at my studio at Bell Arts Factory, on Ventura Avenue. We would admire on the way all the stunning murals from local artists.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Women’s Economic Ventures, an organization that helps women realize their dreams, achieve financial independence and succeed on their own terms. When I decided to follow my heart and start my own business, 5 years ago, I signed up for a 3 month course with WEV. I was full of creative ideas, but clueless about running a business. Not only did they give me a solid base, but they have tirelessly been there for me ever since, providing financial (during and after the Ventura fires, during Covid19), technical, professional and moral support, and helping me build countless skills. Their commitment to my success has been tremendous!
Alondra Gaytán Z Studios Sabine Dodane Ginny Clayborn