CEO Q&A: François H. Spills the Tea on All Things Hair Care


PHYTO hit the big 5-0 and we thought, what better way to celebrate the milestone than a convo with our CEO, François Hourcastagnou!

He knows PHYTO inside and out having spent the last decade rotating around the company in different capacities. He’s not just a strategic brand builder, but he was also instrumental in making PHYTO a go-to for haircare in the U.S. and internationally. His tireless work far surpasses that though. Hourcastagnou is pivotal in PHYTO’s philanthropic efforts.

Hourcastagnou, who started his PHYTO journey as a Brand Manager, has spent time in the field as well as operational and executive roles, was appointed CEO in 2016. His ability to execute a strategic modern vision while staying true to our strong brand heritage.

So, keep reading below and get to know a little more about why we are who we are. PHYTO is a brand with personality and purpose and Hourcastagnou totally embodies that!

Q: What are you most excited about PHYTO’s 50th Anniversary this year?

Even with a 50-year legacy filled with history and tradition, I’m most excited to see how PHYTO will continue to evolve. Developing safe and natural products is top of mind for us, and so is constantly meeting the needs of our consumers. PHYTO will always be PHYTO, but we’ve found ways to marry our history with the latest trends and that is really validating to watch. We will always stay true to our roots while looking for ways to shake things up.

Q: How do you think PHYTO stands out in the haircare market?

It’s a really interesting time because safer beauty products have definitely moved into the forefront now more than ever. We love that so many brands are putting a bigger focus on the ingredients going into their formulas. We think one of our biggest differentiator is that we were doing this before it was even a trend so we truly know the market inside and out. We also focus on facilitating a healthy scalp, instead of just the hair, since that’s where healthy hair begins. PHYTO also prides itself on having a wide array of products catering to every type of hair so that our consumers get exactly what they need. No cookie cutter hair care here.

Q: How do you see PHYTO evolving in the next 5 years?

Continuing the legacy! PHYTO has been around for 50 years with a perfect mix of all-time iconic products and new innovative formulas. We are still independent, working on our own agenda - who knows what our rock star lab researchers are currently working on! I fully trust them to come up with the next breakthrough in the haircare world. We have a track record of legendary formulas, I can’t wait for what will be next!

Q: American vs French Hair Care Routines: who does it better and why?

I would say a mix of both. PHYTO is a French brand with a complete Parisian heritage and it was created to treat unhealthy scalp and hair before all. But our founder Mr. Patrick Ales was a celebrity hairstylist – so he couldn’t possibly put aside the styling products. Once the brand was introduced to the US market in the late 80’s – American hairstylists discovered the botanical treatment approach and infused their creativity into it. American and French routines complete each other the same way science and nature have the same common goal in hair care, make your hair look stunning.

Q: What do you think are the main challenges when leading a clean beauty brand in 2019?

The education piece. So many brands call their products clean or natural when that’s not entirely accurate. I think consumers are savvier than ever but labels can still be misleading or confusing. It’s our responsibility to make sure there is transparency on our labels and in our messaging. The consumers can then understand and look for what’s really good and appropriate for them.

Q: What made you fall in love with the beauty industry? What are your tips for someone who’s just getting started?

Like anything else, being truly in love with what you do will always be a game changer in the degree of success of your career. Having said that, you can nowadays apply different skills to many different industries. When you look at the evolution of digital, data mining, e-commerce skills, the expertise is fundamentally the same. What makes the difference is the people you do it with. I have been with the company for 11 years now, the first thing that made me stay is the people I have met along those years. Find yourself a company, a project you really want to associate yourself with. Then if you are starting, grasp as many experiences as possible. At the end of the day this is what counts, people and experiences. PHYTO is before all a beautiful human adventure.