Story by Claire Connors
Photographs by Jonas Jungblut
In case you haven’t noticed, the plum— along with its wrinkled sister, the prune—is having a bit of a moment. To be sure, it’s always been considered an MVP in the “health food” domain, considering that it’s packed with calcium, fiber, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants. Now, it’s also being sourced by international skincare companies for its anti-aging properties. And isn’t that ironic, considering the plum is one of the oldest fruits on the planet, having existed since the Neolithic age (that’s over 12,000 years ago). In fact, the plum was one of the first fruit trees—along with cherry and peach—to have been planted and grown by humans. Now that’s what we call a sustainable fruit!
This durable little pouch of healthy goodness and its byproducts are the only ingredients in Le Prunier, a new American-made skincare oil being enthusiastically embraced by magazine editors and influencers on a global scale. The beautiful brains behind Le Prunier (that’s “the plum tree” in French) are the Taylor sisters, Jacqueline, 36, Allison, 30, and Elaine, 28, who created the top-secret blend of plum varietals for this beauty breakthrough. (Elaine is currently working for another startup but is still involved in the family business.)
“We were like, oh my goodness, this amazing resource was being thrown away? We were ecstatic with our discovery.” –ALLISON TAYLOR
From Farm to Skin
The seeds for the idea of Le Prunier Beauty Oil were planted, literally, a hundred years ago. The Taylor sisters grew up about 30 miles north of Sacramento, California surrounded by acres of plum trees that were originally planted by their great-grandfather, Earl Taylor, in 1916. “He was the youngest son of seven boys,” says Jacqueline, “He moved here from Kentucky to find a better life. He bought a small plot of land, set up shop growing cling peaches, and soon added plum trees.”
Eventually Earl sold the farm to his son George and George’s wife, Betty, the Taylor sisters’ grandparents. “We were very close to our grandparents,” says Allison. “They lived right on the ranch and we spent all of our free time there, riding horses, running around and exploring. They had chickens, guinea hens, and a pig or two. We’d ride through the orchards on four-wheelers. It was an idyllic childhood.”
Before long, the sisters started pulling their own weight on the farm. “If we wanted to make money on the side, we’d work on the ranch,” explains Jacqueline. “We didn’t pick the fruit ourselves, but I remember working those farmers markets after school and on weekends.” Every Saturday and Sunday, in the pre-dawn hours, the girls would load up their pickup truck, charmingly christened Old Blue, with produce and haul it to various markets in the area. “We also worked during processing time in our plant,” adds Allison. “We were all hands on deck, including our mom, Mona, who normally handled the accounting.”
When George passed the family business to the Taylor sisters’ dad, Richard, and their uncle John, the brothers had the foresight to make the farm fully organic in 1985, long before it was fashionable. “We’re an herbicide/pesticide-free farm, meaning our soil is extremely healthy plus we use all-natural methods of fertilization,” says Allison. “We’ve also installed solar panels in all of the facilities in the U.S. to help conserve energy and reduce our footprint.”
And in 2016, exactly 100 years after Earl first planted his 90 acres of land, the Taylors installed a revolutionary wastewater filtration system, along with 2,000 goats that eat the weeds in the orchards during the fall and greatly reduce the need for farm equipment like tractors. “Working in harmony with the land is important to our father,” says Allison. “And being organic resonated with the ethos of the company.” Today, with close to 2,000 acres of orchards, Taylor Brothers Farms is the largest grower of organic plums in the world.
“We learned that dried plums contain more antioxidants than kale, blueberries, and spinach.” –JACQUELINE TAYLOR
Planting a New Seed
The Taylor sisters’ start in the skincare business was also an organic process. As teens, they accompanied their father overseas for business trips, visiting Korea and Japan where the plum is considered a superfood with health benefits that go far beyond its digestive qualities. “We learned that dried plums contain more antioxidants than kale, blueberries, and spinach,” Jacqueline says. “If that’s the case, we figured it would make sense that the byproducts are equally as rich in antioxidants and nutrients.” While Jacqueline, Allison, and Elaine all went on to study in fields they were passionate about—dermatology, marketing, and business administration respectively—their plan was always to circle back to what they knew best—the power of the plum.
An Anti-Aging Oil Born from the Wrinkled Prune
Taylor Brothers Farms mainly produces dried plums or prunes that are sold around the globe. “Our grandfather and father had already figured out what to do with the edible part,” says Allison. “The question for us was: What parts of the plum could we work with that were being discarded?” The answer: the pits, also known as kernels.
Working with a few well-regarded labs in the U.S., the sisters cold-pressed the pits, creating a rich, all-natural, yellow oil that they then tested over the next two years. The final results were astonishing. “That was truly a high- five moment for us,” recalls Allison. “The tests indicated that the pits are very high in melanoma inhibition, as well as reducing and fading dark spots or age spots. We were like, oh my goodness, this amazing resource was being thrown away? We were ecstatic with our discovery.” It’s true, dermatologists suggest that topicals made with antioxidants help lower incidences of skin cancer.
The Scent of a Plum
Too bad we don’t have a scratch-and-sniff strip for this article because one really has to experience the olfactory component of the oil. The first thing you notice about Le Prunier, besides its pretty color, is the yummy scent. It has a soft, almondy fragrance that reminds you of warm, delicious cake. “ There are no almonds in the oil,” says Jacqueline, “but due to the rich nature of the antioxidants—and the fact that plums and almonds are in the same fruit tree family—it lends itself to an almond smell. We just leave it as is, so our final product is in its truest form.”
There’s More to Come with the Plum
While Le Prunier Beauty Oil is winning over the both skincare professionals and regular folk, the sisters are busy planning their next coup. “By the end of the year, we will be launching two new products,” says Allison. They won’t divulge the exact nature or resource of the merchandise, but they will say they are skincare related and “will be in line with the ethos of the company while staying true to the family heritage and the farm. Like Le Prunier, the new inventions will be made from plum byproducts but will not be the same ones that are in the oil and they will not contain oil.”
We’ll be on pins and needles in the meantime.