Marie and Alain the Pioneers of Luxury Hairstyle in Bangkok
Portrait of the month: Marie and Alain.
She touched the hair of Eva Longoria, Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith. He has founded and managed several companies in recent years.After having lived 50 years in France, Marie and Alain, decided to settle down in Thailand, to open therea high-end salon, MALAIN Beauty, in the heart of the luxurious Siam Hotel, in Bangkok.We met and asked our questions to this incredibly ambitious, talented French couple, addicted to challenge and very worked look!
What is your background and how did you get to Thailand?
MARIE: Originally from Nice, I started hairdressing very young, at 14 years old. And yet, nothing predestined me there! As a child, I had only one idea in mind: to become a soldier. Not being the best at school, one day mymother said to me « my hairdresser is looking for an apprentice, so you’re going to go. » This is how I found myself hairdresser. I’ve been in this profession for 30 years, I climbed the ladder little by little, starting apprentice, then I spentmy professional baccalaureate, my master’s certificate, and I also participated in the best workers in France. And then in 2017, I met Alain. It was love at first sight. He, like me, needed change, a new challenge in our life. I no longer had the leverage to move into my position, so we decided to leave everything to embark on a new adventure in Thailand.
ALAIN: Also from the south of France, more precisely from Marseille, I have had the chance to work in different fields over the past 30 years. I started in photography, then I foundedseveral security companies, transport and others, until the day when, in 2017, I had enough. I felt a deep need for a new challenge.The same year, shortly before leaving for Thailand, I met Marie. she said « I follow you ». On a whim, we left for a trip on two wheels from north to south which was to last 2 months. Falling in love with the country, we finally stayed 4 months.
You two have just embarked on a new adventure with the creation of MALAIN Agency, in Bangkok. Tell us about this project.
MARIE: MALAIN Agency is an agency that includes several branches: MALAIN Beauty (hairdressing and make-up) where there is the hairdressing salon and ‘WE COME TO YOU’ (where we travel to hotels) MALAIN Photo (or we highlight photographers and videographers) and MALAIN Training ( training in hairdressing and make-up PROCHAINEMET). We have officially opened the opening lounge 7 days a week in the luxurious SIAM Hotel in BANGKOK, one of the most beautiful and prestigious hotels in the
Thai capital. Located in the DUSIT district on the banks of the Chao Phraya river, the establishment is a true bubble of tranquility with atypical charm.
ALAIN: This project was born in the south of France, in Marseille, in 2017 when we met. What Marie was doing in France, we wanted to develop in Thailand, that is to say to offer a hairdressing service, high-end makeup directly in the rooms of luxury hotels and train the Thais.When we arrived in Bangkok, we inquired as to whether this type of service already existed in theluxury hotels. We were surprised to see that nothing like this existed and that we were going to be the pioneerswith the creation of MALAIN Agency in Thailand.For the moment, the team is made up of 6 people all Thai (trained and valid by Marie), but should grow in a few weeks with the arrival of a French makeup artist trainer and an Australian colorist trainer.
Why did you decide to develop your agency in Bangkok? What do you like most here?
MARIE: At the beginning, my choice fell on Washington in the United States after a job offer from Parmout Piture ,. Thailand did not attract me at all, I had a lot of feelings. It was then that Alain pushed me to accompany him to spend a few weeks of vacation in Thailand. I found that many people, like me, had prejudices about this country. However, when I landed in the Thai capital, I immediately fell in love with it. Bangkok has a thousand different and contrasting facets. The new and the old, the chaos and the serenity, the skyscrapers and the small traditional houses, the big avenues and the pedestrian lanes. It is a city which seduced me. To all those who are still hesitant to live in Thailand, it is necessary to leave to understand this country and discover all the beauty that is hidden there.
ALAIN: I was lucky enough to make a few trips to Thailand, and as with many, I fell in love with this country. Since we settled here, we love to travel to other provinces by motorcycle, get lost in the alleys of Bangkok, camera in hand and capture moments of life, emotions. Bangkok is an incredible city, in which one feels much safer than in France.
What are the biggest difficulties you have faced with the creation of your company in Thailand?
MARIE: In France, we had a name in the hairdressing world. When we arrived in Thailand, we had tostart from scratch and make ourselves known. For 8 months, we spent our time canvassing all the hotels,to network and prove ourselves. It takes between 1 year and 1 year and a half to start a business wellin Thailand.
ALAIN: The second major difficulty we have faced is recruitment. In Thailand, therelatively expensive training is 3 months to become a hairstylist which will not be complete, against 3 years minimum in France. It was a shock for us. It is impossible to become a hairdresser in such a short time. This is why we must take all the bases of our employees, reform them and teach them to work on a European hair and others. The Thai way of working and managing is also very different. This is a real difficulty, especially when you have supervised French people for 30 years.
Do you have any advice for French people who want to do business in Thailand?
ALAIN: Be well informed about the company they want to create, and above all have patience … for the procedures and call on a law firm.
Marie, you have arrived at a rare level in the field of hairdressing. How do you explain it?
MARIE: It takes a lot of passion, determination and a little talent. But above all, one day I met Pascal Coste, famous hairdresser, who put my foot in the stirrup, he brought out the genius in me, and put me on the path of the incredible opportunities that are presented. He helped me make contests that allowed me to get noticed and climb the ladder. I was several times nominated for the Schwartzkopf competition and silver medal at the Trend Vison WELLA, until the day when Pascal entrusted me with the artistic direction of his group.
What big stars have you styled during your career? In what context ?
MARIE: I have done several events, such as the Cannes Film Festival, Fashion Week, the Red Cross ballin Monaco, the Victoria Secret parade etc …, during which I had the chance to style celebrities like Brad Pitt, Leonardo Di Caprio, Pamela Anderson, Eva Longoria, Will Smith and many French stars.I regularly return to France for L’OREAL to style at major events.I still have stage fright when I do my hair, but it is this stage fright that allows me to give the best of myself andto excel in what I do.
What is the profile of your clients? Thai? Expatriates? Passing celebrities?
MARIE: Generally speaking, our customers are Thai from Hi-So or customers who stay at the Siam Hotel (hotel open to the general public). We also worked with The Face in Thailand as well as with Kantana production. Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to take on the Thai star rating from D’Araya Alberta Hargate, nicknamed Chompoo, during the Cannes film festival and May Davika Hoorne for Paris fashion week. I specify that we are often asked on social networks to do a before and after of our work on our customers for us it is possible to do it for the well-being of our customers.
Your 3 greatest successes?
MARIE: My greatest achievement is having dropped everything at 50, having the courage to start all over again.zero. The second is the creation of MALAIN Agency and the last is my marriage to Alain.
Any plans for later? How do you see yourself in 10 years?
ALAIN: We have full head plans for the years to come. But our next baby we care about is to open a training center specializing in hair and makeup. The idea is to train young Thai people for at least 1 year, with the establishment of a scholarship system and a recognized diploma. They will be able to learn all the styling techniques on all types of hair, there will also be makeup and hair removal sessions. We are taking advantage of the interview to launch an appeal. We are looking for sponsors who will help to realize this big project. To give the young Thai man the chance to become one day an internationally recognized hairdresser. Marie and I need to take on new challenges, and in 10 years there will be others, believe me!
MARIE: Helping the Thai people is essential for us. It was while traveling that we realizedhow lucky we were to be born in France. This training center will allow us to help these young Thai people by giving them access to a complete training, led by excellent foreign teachers.