An exuberant success story
In 2018, our family company will celebrate its 90th birthday. The natural cosmetics manufacturer is now in its third generation, managed by Wikhart Teuffel, the grandson of founder Walter Rau.
Let’s take a look back. The company was founded in 1928. When anthroposophist Walter Rau established the “WALTER RAU Fine Soap Works”, he was taking a real risk in the midst of a crisis-shaken economy.
As the offspring of the Stuttgart-based family business “United Soap Factories”, Rau wanted to continue the soap-making tradition of his parents.
However, this was not enough – he dreamed of manufacturing more than just the curd soap that was popular for washing clothes in those days. His idea was to produce a gentle, natural body soap.
This idea was teamed with a special fascination – Rau was inspired by the unique harmonising medicinal properties of the Speick plant, (Lat. Valeriana celtica), which had been prized for centuries. Speick has a calming effect on the central nervous system while simultaneously stimulating the vegetative nervous system.
It became his vision to harness the benefits of this almost forgotten plant, and to make them accessible to people again.
A unique product emerged from this fascination and vision: Speick soap. This natural, extra-mild soap was a cosmetic revolution – for body care – as opposed to washing clothes.
Nonetheless, Rau did not want the holistic philosophy behind his product to be limited to its manufacture and sale. Rather, the entrepreneur shaped the whole company according to his own anthroposophical principles and perspective.
Rau wanted to create something of value for people, based on a holistic understanding of humankind and nature. Employees received further training during "factory hours", working mothers were offered company childcare and local recreational amenities were created.
The company continues to work according to these principles today. “Being seen as a person; being given the opportunity to grow and to learn” – employee development remains important for Wikhart Teuffel today. The founder’s grandson can see how vital it is that “tradition has a future” through the Carinthian Alpine farming families in Austria, who harvest the wild-growing Speick plant. The family farm has been taken over by the next generation and with it, the Speick harvest – by hand, as it has been for centuries. Approximately 1,800 metres above sea level, high up in the Nock Mountains Biosphere Reserve, the Speick harvest ensures that these families have an essential, additional source of income.
Employees of the family business who have visited the Nock Mountains and the alpine farmers that harvest the Speick plant left with an awareness of the finite availability of natural resources, as in the alpine ecosystem of the Carinthian Nock Mountains, and how “being human” is inextricably linked to the natural universe.
SPEICK natural cosmetics today. This is the continuation of a vision held for 90 years, combined with an awareness of the environmental and social fabric which weaves together the family business, the alpine farmers and the Nock Mountains Region.