Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

How Her Garden Grows

Gianna Majzler of Costa Mesa Finds Bounty in Her Bath and Beauty Products

September 19, 1996|KATHRYN BOLD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As a child, Gianna Majzler loved concocting facial masks and cosmetics out of such natural ingredients as eggs, honey and oatmeal.

Today the Costa Mesa resident is still at it--only this time she's making bath and beauty products out of more exotic ingredients such as honey and rose extract and wrapping them in whimsical boxes, fine tissues and silk ribbons under her Gianna Rose "From the Garden" label.

"Everything has a little whimsy, a little humor," Majzler says of the collection.

One of her more celebrated soaps is Gianna Rose No. 595, a bar shaped like a dressmaker's form and wrapped in pink and gold tissues. Many people in the fashion industry gave the mannequin soaps as gifts last December, and the soaps were featured in W magazine and the Gump's catalog.

Another bestseller is her Bath Bees, bath beads filled with amber-colored oils and shaped like honeybees.

"I just kept thinking bath beads, bath beads, oh, bath beeees," Majzler says.

The "From the Garden" collection looks different from other bath lines. There's the Speckled Pear Soaps shaped like pears and nestled in a box trimmed with a hand-dyed silk ribbon; blue Robin's Egg soaps available in a nest soap dish, and her "L'Orangerie for the Bath," soaps that look like oranges inspired by the Orangeries at Versaille and Tuileries Gardens Majzler admired while visiting Paris. Her Bee & Rose bar features a rose-shaped soap with a honeybee clinging to its petals.

Majzler's creations are so distinct that they've quickly found their way onto the editorial pages of gardening, home and fashion magazines such as W, Gardening and Victoria Country Home. In the already crowded bath and beauty market, retailers such as Nordstrom and Gump's are finding room for her collection on their store shelves.

"Gianna Rose? I'm in love with her," says Eric Cortina, merchandise manager for Roger's Gardens in Newport Beach. "The colors, the patterns and the scents are wonderful.

"It's not only the products, it's her whole look," he says. "She's updated the Old World look. It's a very strong garden influence but also very vintage."

Roger's Gardens will carry her bees and other bath products on a special gardening tree at its annual Christmas Fantasy starting Oct. 7. In January, the upscale nursery will open a boutique of Gianna Rose items.

"We'll try to present her style and look," Cortina says.

Majzler produces her bath line out of a Fountain Valley warehouse with seven employees who package the soaps by hand. Nothing is automated.

"They all have to be able to tie little bows," Majzler says with a laugh. "I'm obsessive about packaging. The soaps have to be wrapped by hand because our shapes are so unique. We have to cut the tissue. There's a lot of hand work and care."

The Bee & Rose Sea Salt Bath Crystals come in a keepsake box adorned with a rose-shaped button or a pale pink silk bag trimmed in green velvet leaves. The mannequin soaps are wrapped in iridescent gold tissue and decorated with a hand-dyed silk ribbon and a Gianna Rose stamp.

"The way she wraps her dress forms, with the little stamps--they're phenomenal," Cortina says. "The attention to detail."

*

Majzler is also particular about what goes into the pretty wraps.

"You need a wonderful product. I'm not going to put junk inside of there," she says.

She knew her Bath Bees had to be filled with something "special and bee-related," so she chose a honey-scented formula with bee balm and pollen extract and sunflower oil. Her Robin's Eggs have oatmeal, wheat germ and botanical extracts.

"I use vegetable-based soaps instead of tallow because I don't like the idea of using something from a cow," she says.

Over the years Majzler's love of things whimsical and romantic has taken various forms. In the '80s, she started her own business, making mother-daughter dresses, robes, smocks and other clothes that often had a vintage flair.

Her Garden Smock, which was awarded federal trademark status, is still a favorite with gardeners, artists, cooks and teachers. Her success with the smocks enabled her to start the bath line four years ago.

"I've always been interested in cosmetics. As a kid, my favorite toy was a Bonnie Belle kit where you could mix [beauty] concoctions. As a teen, I whipped up my own facial masks. It's like cooking."

Majzler began working with chemists and soap mills to produce her bath line. Her first soaps were square-shaped with a logo and adorned with her trademark hand-tied ribbons.

"Before we knew it we'd sold 5,000, then 10,000. I did another soap and then another."

Gianna Rose now has 2,000 accounts in the United States, Canada, Japan and England. The soaps range in price from $7.50 for her L'Orangerie soap to $22 for the Green Tea Soap--a "manly man" soap that's about the size of a brick. In addition to Roger's Gardens, the line can be found in Orange County at Nordstrom, L'Herbier de Provence in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, and Modern Romance in Fashion Island Newport Beach.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|