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8 Generations of Cologne?

Farina cologne order letter
Letter for one of the orders of Farina’s new fragrance, 1716
Photo Credit: Public domain

Have you ever heard of cologne? Most people would say, “Sure!” But have you ever heard of the Farina family?

Farina and cologne actually go together. In 1709, Giovania Maria Farina founded his company in Cologne, Germany. Their company’s creation: perfume. Their original perfume was called Eau de Cologne, and eventually the term became a household name.

At the time, because of the lack of clean water for bathing, cologne was an indispensable accessory for all the royal courts. People wanted to smell good. Following on the success of the Farina perfume, Wilhelm Muelhens created a fragrance in 1792 and called it 4711, which is known worldwide.

Despite the competition, the Farina family continues to persist. They house a museum of perfume to this day in Cologne. The company is still run by the founder’s descendants—eight generations later.

A family business that stretches across three centuries is outside the norm, considering that 70% of family businesses fail in the second generation, and 85% by the third generation.

I don’t know the values of the Farina family, but it’s a rare family that keeps a successful business going long after the founders are gone. But legacy is about more than handing down the family name or the family wealth.

Legacy involves a successful transfer of a family’s vision and values—the things that shape a family’s view of themselves and the world around them, that shape their goals and dreams.

What legacy are you aiming to leave to your children, grandchildren and future generations? Can you imagine future generations living out your vision for your family? Do you have a vision big enough for the centuries?

Take the first step by taking some time to think through and write down your vision for your family.

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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