Last fall, with the help of my Board, I decided that it would be helpful to have some marketing and branding professionals look at my brand. After all, I turn to experts to help me formulate my products, why should I not turn to experts to help me brand my products? While this seems very rational, if you know me, you know how much of a control freak I am, which made entrusting a branding firm with Alchimie a personal challenge (I have had a few extremely strange dreams about this project… the kind of dreams that remind me of those I had when I started school, in which I would show up to class realizing I had forgotten to prepare for a test, or forgotten to put on my clothes). After 9 meetings, 8 RFPs, and much thinking, I put my brand in the hands of Kelly Kovack, of Brand Growth Management. I have not regretted my decision for a single minute. We are in the midst of our brand renovation project (you may see some fine-tuning of our website and copywriting in the next few weeks), and given how much Kelly and I interact these days, it seemed fun to have a call with her where for once I was doing the asking, and she had to do the thinking and the answering…
AP: What city were you born in? KK: Montreal, Canada, but I grew up in Palm Harbor, Florida (it sounds more beautiful than it is).
AP: What city to do you live in? KK: Manhattan.
AP: What is your middle name? KK: Ann, which was also my mother’s middle name.
AP: What is your astrological sign? KK: Taurus, which most people do not find surprising…
AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? KK: I love that our industry offers a great balance between creativity and business. This suits my personality and skill set.
AP: Least favorite thing? KK: I don’t like the perception of the beauty industry from the outside. Outsiders seem to feel that it is a superficial industry. Being in the industry, you realize that there is nothing superficial about helping someone clear their skin. The beauty industry is really about giving confidence to people.
AP: What is your most prized possession? KK: I have a lot of things I truly love, like books and art. But things can always be replaced. Experiences and memories are my most prized possessions. They mean much more to me than things.
AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? KK: I am a very good cook. But I don’t cook very often and my fridge really only contains champagne, water, and vitamins. I live in NYC, I eat most of my meals out… but when I do cook, my dinners become type A extravaganzas…
AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? KK: I do. A vintage Rolex. It was a gift to myself after I went through the sale of Bliss to LVMH. It was the first time I had money and felt comfortable making such a significant purchase. Since then, I have been a consultant and I have had my own business. Throughout that time, I always thought “if all else goes bad, this is another month’s worth of expenses.” That I still have the watch and never had to sell it to make my rent is worth a lot to me.
AP: Diamonds or pearls? KK: Both.
AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? KK: It depends on my mood. At this very moment, dead would be Katherine Graham, and alive would be Christine Lagarde. I find her completely fascinating and so chic. The way she has been able to navigate a truly masculine industry in a truly feminine way is amazing.
AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? KK: I’m not sure I have found it, but as I have gotten older, I have realized that setting up standing appointments is key (acupuncture, gyrotonics, core fusion). They are non-negotiable, my team knows it, I know it, and I have learned to work around them.
AP: What are your three top tips for travel? KK: 1. If traveling in a group, always rent a house or apartment rather than staying in a hotel. 2. I like to pick a regular spot to go to every day when traveling, like a coffee shop, where I can be recognized, and ask people for tips. (This includes when I travel for business, I like to always stay at the same hotel). It brings familiarity to the traveling process. 3. Always have loads of reading material.
AP: What is your favorite book? KK: It’s impossible for me to pick one, so here are my most recent reads: Just Kids by Patti Smith and A Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake.
AP: What is your cocktail of choice? KK: Vodka martini. A little dirty, and very dry.
AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? KK: Mixing super aggressive products with super gentle ones. At night right now I use Renova with Rodin face oil over it. Also, hydration: I would love to bathe in hyaluronic acid.
AP: What fragrance do you wear? KK: Odin Fragrances… of course. Right now I am wearing a fragrance we are launching next year. Usually however, I constantly rotate between the 6.
AP: Botox or not? KK: It took me a long time to do it, but now I’m hooked.
AP: Hair color: natural or not? KK: Unfortunately and only out of necessity, not. I would really rather do anything than sit in a salon for two hours. I wish I could rock my gray hair… but not yet.
AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. KK: Just a growin by Young man. It’s around you by ANR. Bald by The Darkness.
AP: Quote to live by. KK: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever.” by Gandhi.
AP: Who is your mentor? KK: I don’t really have a mentor, but there have been a lot of people who have taken a chance on me during my career.
AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. KK: Don’t be afraid to take risks. Never stop learning. Work hard and own successes and failures. You can learn more from failures than successes, but don’t make the same mistakes twice. And most importantly, if you hate getting up in the morning and going to work, find another job.