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The most fascinating aspect of Speick as a medicinal plant is its powerful balancing effect. Technically, this effect is created by the plant calming the central nervous system, whilst simultaneously stimulating the vegetative nervous system – in lay man’s terms – Speick relaxes without tiring and revitalises the body and mind.
Even in ancient times, Speick was recognised as a healing plant and was held in high esteem. Just one example can be found in the writings of the famous doctor, Galen, who cured Emperor Marc Aurel’s stomach problems with Speick steeped in olive or almond oil.
In the Renaissance, in his ‘Kreutterbuch’ [‘Herb book’], the scholar Pietro Andrea Mattioli recommended drinking Speick in wine as a stomach-healing remedy, which also strengthens the kidneys and bladder. Mattioli also described the Speick trade relations to Syria and Egypt via the reloading points Venice and Genoa.
In the middle of the 19th century, Speick was seldom used in Europe, but it was quite a different story in the Orient, where large quantities were exported. In Asian countries, valuable Speick oil has always been prized as an integral part of body care. The medicinal plant was applied to the skin with warm baths and massages.
Eventually, and unfortunately, the plant fell into complete oblivion in Europe. That is until Walter Rau, the founder of Speick Natural Cosmetics, rediscovered the little yellow plant and was instantly fascinated by it. He decided to incorporate the healing powers of the plant into a gentle, natural soap for body care: the Speick Natural Soap.
In 1936, after centuries of exploitation, the Speick plant was threatened with extinction and was placed under protection.
A scientific study later supported something which the farmers already instinctively knew – that the plant reproduces best of all when a partial harvesting model is used under controlled conditions, which is exactly how our certified biologically regulated wild harvesting is structured.
In 2016, the family run Speick Natural Cosmetics will celebrate its 88th birthday. The natural cosmetics manufacturer is now in its third generation, managed by Wikhart Teuffel, the grandson of founder Walter Rau. The company was founded in 1928, when anthroposophist Walter Rau established the “WALTER RAU Fine Soap Works”. As the child of the Stuttgart-based family business “United Soap Factories”, Rau wanted to continue the soap-making tradition of his parents, but 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 harmonizing medicinal properties of the Speick plant, (Lat. Valeriana celtica), which had been prized by ancient civilizations for centuries for its calming effect on the central nervous system, while simultaneously stimulating the vegetative nervous system.
A unique product emerged from this fascination and vision: Speick soap. This natural, extra-mild soap was a cosmetic revolution for body care.
Inspired by his success, Rau wanted the holistic philosophy behind his product to shape the whole company, he 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” is the motto of Wikhart Teuffel, current managing director, who still values those founding ideals. The founder’s grandson can see how vital it is that “tradition has a future” – be it through the Carinthian Alpine farming families in Austria, who harvest the wild-growing Speick plant approximately 1,800 metres above sea level, high up in the Nock Mountains Biosphere Reserve, the family-run farms that provide the rest of the natural ingredients used by the company, or the workers in the Speick factory near Stuttgart.
It only seems natural that, given this view of people, Speick would be keen to look after the environment too. That is why it is Speick’s main business objective is to protect the life-supporting nature that surrounds us, they believe we must use our natural resources as carefully and sustainably as possible.
Our economic strategy focuses on implementing capable, dedicated management, a transparent company structure with defined responsibilities, and balanced financial resources with marked economic performance.
Since nature not only maintains our livelihood, but creates it, our business objective is to protect life-supporting elements such as earth, air, water and light and to use them as carefully and sustainably as we can.
Energy, emissions and waste all need to be managed in a responsible, sustainable manner, and we strive to be at the very front of modern developments in these areas. Naturally, we also have to pay equal attention to the matter of preserving raw material resources.
Social engagement is particularly important to us, and is a focal point of our business. In this area, our main premise is “being human and continuing to develop the self”. Every person involved in the creation and distribution of Speick products is treated as an individual, and is fundamental to the success of our company.
The concerns and suggestions of the workforce are presented to management via employee representatives, creating a working community that takes care of the well-being and safety of each individual.
When selecting who to work with, we place great value on fair trade and regionality. The price must match the quality of the products. Transport distances and the ecological effects of moving raw materials long distances are also important deciding factors.
By adopting these strategies, we are able to create consumer confidence, which in turn enables us to ensure the long-term profitability of our company and brand values for future generations.
The Speick brand therefore stands for integrity, responsibility and care, and this is reflected by the high percentage of Speick products which have been awarded ratings by the magazine ÖKO-Test, or carry the BDIH seal for certified natural cosmetics.