Graubünden Tourism

Natural cosmetics from the mountain village Soglio

Cultivated thanks to goat butter, sheep whey and chestnuts

In Castasegna in Bregaglia, visitors can take a tour of the SOGLIO products factory and learn about the production of natural body care products. For example, that you can also make cosmetics from chestnuts.

From Franco Brunner

That scent. It is a mixture of oils, herbs and flowers. It is incredibly pleasant. The group of visitors, who almost stand a little on their feet in the small entrance area, does not speak much, it is primarily smelled. The reason for the considerable crowd on this Wednesday morning in the sales shop of the SOGLIO production plant in Castasegna is the upcoming guided tour through the manufactory. People seem to be interested to know how these natural SOGLIO body care products, which are available in Claro shops, drugstores, pharmacies or selected hotels throughout Switzerland, are produced here in this former hotel building, directly on the border with Italy.

Hygiene must be

Verena Koller takes the group of visitors with her on a tour of the time-honoured house. First of all, shoe covers and head hoods are handed out. Although it doesn't look very advantageous, hygiene is a central aspect in the production of body care products. The nice lady leads the guests into the herb room, where herbs are stored for one year. Then it goes through the warehouse forwarding agency, where Mrs. Chiesa is putting together a package that has been ordered online.

The journey continues via a small control laboratory up to the second floor. An employee is using a machine to prepare goat butter for cream production. Next door, an employee applies the labels to the small bottles of the company's own perfume brand – by hand. Meanwhile, her colleague fills the foot cream tubes on a lathe.

Verena Koller tells us that 95 percent of the herbs, goat butter, sheep whey, flowers, essential oils and other raw materials used come from local producers. And the remaining five percent come from organic farmers in Graubünden. Koller also explains that – in keeping with the current chestnut festival – the SOGLIO product line currently contains three chestnut articles. A shaving oil, a hair lotion and a sun cream.

The history of SOGLIO personal care products began in 1979 in a small room in a house in Soglio that had been converted into a laboratory. It was there that Walter Hunkeler, a chemical laboratory assistant from Basel, experimented with goat butter, from which he and his wife had developed a rheumatic ointment and a massage balm. Soon Hunkeler realized that the business with natural products had a lot of potential. The SOGLIO company moved to Castasegna into the empty premises of the former hotel «Croce Bianca». That was about 35 years ago. Today, the SOGLIO range includes more than 50 different products and the company now employs a total of 16 people. Two from nearby Italy, the remaining 14 from the immediate vicinity.

Secret remains secret

No, no, of course Verena Koller answers a question from the group of visitors at the end of the tour: «How exactly this wonderfully fragrant body milk is produced cannot be revealed.» This is of course a secret recipe. Meanwhile, it is not secret that the SOGLIO product line is constantly changing and developing. For example, four new products were added last year alone, Koller explains. Perhaps one of these four new products is included in the small farewell gift that every visitor can take home with them. The fragrance from the bag with the sample products is at any rate so typically SOGLIO-soothing.

Franco Brunner
Franco Brunner

Franco lives in Domat/Ems but feels at home everywhere in Graubünden.

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