For more than three decades, stylist Frederic Fekkai has shaped the hair-care world.
Even before his eponymous brand of hair-care products and salons was sold to Procter & Gamble 10 years ago, it attracted celebrity clientele like Claudia Schiffer, Sigourney Weaver and Renée Zellweger through its salons across the United States. Now, every summer, Fekkai takes a break from New York to visit his hometown of Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. There, Fekkai discovered the 25-year-old lifestyle brand Côté Bastide, and its heritage of using local artisans and perfumers to produce all of all its natural products, including candles, soaps and bath oils. In 2015, Fekkai and his wife, Shirin, acquired Côté Bastide and relaunched the business as Bastide, drawing inspiration for the brand from their life in Provence and Fekkai’s childhood there.
“Our flagship boutique in Aix is on Rue Espariat. This street is so important to me because it is also where I grew up as a teenager, on the Place d’Albertas,” he said.
Fekkai walked us through a typical day in his life, which begins quietly in his country home in Provence with a garden walk and swim, followed by a farmer’s market shopping trip and conference calls with the Bastide team.
7:00 a.m.: No matter which time zone I’m in, I’m naturally an early riser. I wake up in our bastide — “country house” in French — in my hometown of Aix-en-Provence, France. Shirin, my wife, and I restored this 17th-century property over the past six years, and we spend about half our year here, whenever the kids are out of school in New York. I wake to the sound of cicadas humming, which is almost the natural background white noise here all summer. I like the quiet time in the morning before everything else starts so I can meditate on the day a bit and get in some time to think.
7:30 a.m.: I have my daily glass of warm water with the juice of a full lemon. I finish the glass while I walk around the garden with Gypsy, our dog. She’s very easygoing and just roams the property all day, awaiting her next belly rub. The kids are always eager to comply.
7:45 a.m.: I go for a quick morning swim to clear my head and find focus for the day. The kids aren’t up yet, and no one is trying to get a hold of me, so this time is priceless.
8:15 a.m.: Because days can get busy, Shirin and I always try to prioritize breakfast with the kids. Shirin takes out the crepe batter she made and stored in the fridge the night before, and I set out the bread from our favorite local bakery, La Fabrique à Pain, alongside some homemade jam from Shirin’s mother and a jar of local lavender honey.
9:45 a.m.: Our friend Gregoire has a delicious ratatouille family recipe that we can never seem to replicate on our own, even though we come close. He agreed to come over tonight and make it with us for practice, so we head to the market for ingredients. Tomatoes are in season now, so we make sure to load up for tonight.
11:15 a.m.: We visit Karine, our store manager, at our Bastide shop before the late morning crowds come by, and we discuss all the tourist traffic that has come into the store this month. Shirin and I collaborate a lot on the store together – she has a very creative and visual eye for things I would have never thought of, and I spend more time trying to think of the things that make a customer’s time in our store easier and more enjoyable.
1:00 p.m.: I meet my friend Aurelien for lunch at Chez Jo, probably my favorite restaurant in Aix. I love the pizza here, even though I rarely have pizza in New York. Aurelien is an artist who makes masterpieces out of wire, iron and other raw metals, and he’s working on creating a special piece for our brand. He shows me his sketches of the prototype he has envisioned, and we brainstorm about partners we know in Marrakesh that could help us make this.
3:15 p.m.: I go to the Bastide office to meet with Caroline, our supply chain manager, and we get on a video call with our New York team to discuss some new packaging options that have just been delivered for an upcoming launch. Because we have two offices for Bastide — one is based in Aix-en-Provence and one in New York — the six-hour time difference between the two can make days feel longer than 24 hours, as I’m in contact with both offices daily. Given this time difference, the afternoons in Aix are very busy and often spent on the phone with my New York team, who are just starting their day.
6:30 p.m.: I return home, and immediately my son, Philip, runs to the car and challenges me to a game of soccer. He’s six and is getting quite good — he can spend hours kicking his ball against a wall on the side of the house, practicing alone. Of course, I oblige.
7:15 p.m.: We’ve worked up a sweat from soccer and go to the pool with my daughter, Cecilia. We’re in the pool for no more than 15 minutes, but we’re cooled off immediately and refreshed for dinner.
7:45 p.m.: Our friend Gregoire arrives, and we’re ready to learn his family recipe. Philip and Cecilia picked a zucchini from our garden this afternoon and proudly present it to Gregoire to add to the basket of produce we have from the market.
9:30 p.m.: Ratatouille and grilled fish for dinner, followed by a generous bowl of fresh fruit with mint and Verveine tea for dessert.
10:00 p.m.: The kids’ bedtime routine typically includes reading a book together before bed. Cecilia has actually been writing and illustrating her own stories recently, so we read one of hers together tonight about a fairy who rescues a unicorn.
10:45 p.m.: Because the work day is just wrapping up in New York, I’m back on email to catch up on the day. Sometimes I will catch up on calls, as well, but it’s quiet on the conference-call front tonight. Shirin and I debrief about our day, and we often talk about Bastide, because it shapes so much of our day-to-day. Our life in Provence is simple but sweet. We call it “la douceur de vivre” and always consider ourselves very lucky.