Dr Marie Drago is a French doctor and a member of the French Society of Cosmetic Science. She also knows a thing or two about our microbiome. Having discovered how a prebiotic and probiotic fuelled diet drastically improved her symptoms of gluten intolerance, it struck her that the same principles could apply to skin. Having written her thesis on the enormous benefits of good bacteria, she then went on to create Gallinée skincare, which harnesses the powers of the microbiome.
Here she talks to 35 Thousand about the difficulties of being an introvert as the face of a business, why she is enjoying a new found working flexibility, and why Gallinée is now thriving despite the pandemic.
Describe yourself in 3 words…
“French, nerdy and curious”
Tell us about your work…
“I am the founder of the Franco-English brand Gallinée, all based on my Pharmacy Thesis. We are the first brand to take care of your skin, your microbiome and the balance between the two.”
Do you work in the spare room, a skyscraper or other?
“I usually work on my kitchen table or in a co-working space in Highbury with the rest of the team. I cannot wait to go back to the office!”
What parts of your work give you energy?
“Learning, solving problems and seeing people on the team grow.”
What parts of your work drain you?
“As a scientist I am quite introvert, so being the face of a brand is quite draining for me. I love to meet people and talk, but after that I just need to sit down alone for a while.”
Most pivotal point of your career so far?
“Leaving my job and starting Gallinée. It was in June 2015 and I should have done it sooner.”
Best piece of advice you received that you now pass on to others…
“You need a killer line on your CV, or you’ll never need a CV again. I’d like to thank my friend Guillaume for this, and it’s true. The worst case scenario for me is having to work for someone again.”
What’s your context outside of work – do you have family, other people counting on you, pets, hobbies, external commitments?
“I usually live in London with a very cool flatmate. For the last 4 months I’ve been staying in Lisbon and enjoying a lot of sun.”
Describe your pre-pandemic day-to-day…
“Waking up, drinking a lot of Japanese green tea, making waffles and then walking to the office around 9am. I usually leave the office around 6.30pm and either catch up with friends, or just go back home relax. I usually cook my dinner from scratch, it really relaxes me.”
How has your daily life changed, what’s your new normal?
“It’s been interesting. 2020 was just all about trying to survive as a company, and luckily Gallinée did quite well. 2021 taught the team and me that we could work from anywhere and still be a close team, so our lifestyle has become a lot more flexible.”
Has the Corona crisis impacted you personally and professionally? How?
“I guess Covid impacted everyone. It taught me to slow down a bit, consume less and how much I loved my friends and family. Professionally it was really a roller coaster, but we all came out better at the other end (I really hope we can start talking about it in the past tense now). Gallinée is thriving, the team is closer and even better than before.”
What, if anything, keeps you up at night?
“Weirdly I sleep a lot better since I have my own company. I used to be quite anxious, I always had a feeling life was way too short and I was not living it to the fullest. It all disappeared as soon as I started Gallinée.”
What have been your best coping strategies over the past year?
“I walk a lot (like, a lot). It allows me not to look at my phone, to process things and to listen to podcasts. I’m not really a gym bunny, and I don’t think alcohol brings solutions. Walking it is!”
What has kept you sane? And kept your family sane?
“Like everyone I guess, I bought a lot of house plants, got a sudden passion for fermentation and stopped looking at the news.”
Did 2020 change your outlook on life in any way?
“I think so, I taught me things that seem like a mountain to you are probably just a molehill the month after.”
Are you travel ready? Where do you want to go, with who or would you rather stay home?
” I’m writing from Lisbon, so for me the aim is to manage to get back to London and stay there for a while. I used to travel a lot before Covid and I can’t wait to do it again, but there’s no rush.”
Finish this sentence “If you look in my handbag at any time you will ALWAYS find….”
“Antibac gel, a Burts Bee lip balm, Gallinée hand cream and a few spare masks.”
before “What are your work from home saviours?
I am very easily distracted, so my saviour is ASMR videos on YouTube. It’s white noise, it helps me concentrate and calms me down a lot. This is my favourite one here. It’s a library with a crackling fire and a storm outside. I also use the Pomodoro method, it’s the best at keeping me working for long hours: www.tomato-timer.com” (This is a time management method where you set time to work and then break before starting again.)
I also drink massive amounts of tea every day, and I’ve been living with this Bodum teapot by my side.”
Describe your style?
“Normcore to the max, and very minimalist.”
Name your 5 essential items of clothing
“Vivobarefoot trainers Geocourt, who keep me walking for miles while looking stylish. A Maje dress when I want to dress up, Big fluffy jumpers from Comptoir and some white T-shirt usually from Arket. I usually buy French brands on Vinted.”
How do you see your business or career in two years from now?
“Hopefully Gallinée will keep on growing but we’ll manage to keep it a nice friendly company, where people are happy to come to work on Mondays.”
What’s something you haven’t conquered yet but really want to?
“Getting rid of my French accent. It is extremely strong and gets in the way sometimes.”
What could you say to your 20 year old self that would help her the most?
“Stop being afraid all the time, especially of what people think. People just don’t care that much.”
Do you have a life motto or mantra that really resonates with you?
“I’m a big believer in Karma, so do as much good as you can if you want a good life.”
If you loved reading about Dr Marie Dr`ago as much as we did then you will love the rest of our How She Carries On Series that takes a peak into the lives of professional women and how they manage the juggle.