My favorite New York City beauty boutiques

There are many ways to discover, or rediscover a city. Through its restaurants. Through its wine bars. Through its parks. And, through its beauty boutiques and pharmacies. Last week I spent three days in the Big Apple, and I had the opportunity to return to many of my favorite New York City beauty boutiques – beauty destinations you can only find in the Big Apple. Next time you go there, stop by any of these and discover the wonderful beauty products they source from around the world.

Aedes de Venustas (9 Christopher Street)

This is truly one of the most beautiful, elegant, magical beauty boutiques I have ever visited (indeed, Aedes de Venustas means Temple of Beauty in Latin). The décor is decadent, dark, and velvety. I always imagine I am walking in to a German medieval castle when I enter. Karl Bradl, the owner, specializes in unique, hard to find, exquisite perfumes, candles, and home fragrances. My two favorites, which make perfect holiday or hostess gifts, are the Feu de Bois by Dyptique (my mother’s favorite), and the Aedes de Venustas candle that was a collaboration with L’Artisan Parfumeur (I always save the beautiful purple candle container once the wax is gone).

Carnegie Hill Pharmacy

There are two locations, one on 1331 Madison Avenue and one on W55th and Broadway, recently opened. Owned by David (the pharmacist) and Valerie (his model-like business partner and wife), this pharmacy stocks European brands first and foremost, including such favorites as Nuxe, Caudalie, Gewhol, Natura Bisse, and of course Alchimie Forever. Go there too for hard to find supplements, and the perfect cure for any ache or ailement.

Clyde’s Chemists (926 Madison Avenue)

Pharmacy meets boutique department store is how I think of Clyde’s, a beauty institution on the Upper East Side. The back pharmacy area is extremely well stocked and feels like a beauty supply store, filled treasures waiting to be discovered. The front of the boutique, however, feels like the beauty floor at Barney’s. European favorites have their own counters, including Clarins and Guerlain, while you can also find niche boutique brands such as Clark’s Botanicals. Their fragrance selection is significant, and their men’s section your go to for Zirh, Anthony Logistics, and more. The best part? The team that makes your shopping experience civilized, pleasurable, and fun. And the fact that sometimes clients walk in and know of Alchimie Forever and my father, Dr. Luigi L. Polla, because they have visited him at Forever Laser Institut in Geneva!

C. O. Bigelow (414 Sixth Avenue)

Ian Ginsberg owns and runs this beauty destination, which has been in his family for three generations, and was initially opened in 1838. This store is such an institution that it has is own Wikipedia listing. Not surprising… you just need to list to Ian speak for 5 minutes to understand his passion and know-how. A pharmacist by trade, he likes to work with brands that are hard to find and nice to work with. His team has been with him for 10+ years, a testament to both management and the staff. Go there for the experience, and for the best selection of NARS, Rilastil, and Oribe.

New London Pharmacy (246 Eight Avenue)

The owner of New London, Abby Fazio, a Greek pharmacist, fascinates me. She knows her customer like the back of her hand, loves skin care above all (in particular oils and balms), and has a passion for bringing foreign lines to the US (she was the first to offer The Organic Pharmacy). She believes in the balance of body and mind, and in the need to treat both for optimal health and wellness – through medical services, homeopathy, and natural remedies. She also works with her husband (they have been involved in New London since 1977), and listens to her daughter’s preferences when selecting new brands. When you visit, make sure you take the time to meet the delightful Wesley, who always has the perfect answer to all of your beauty and grooming questions – and always answers with a smile.

Shen Beauty (315 Court Street, Brooklyn)

Yes, you have to leave Manhattan to visit Shen Beauty, but it is well worth it. Opened in 2010 by Jules Stringer and Jessica Richards, this boutique carries exclusive lines, many from the UK. That might have to do with Jules’ UK origin, and previous career as a beauty journalist in the UK. Look for Amanda Lacey and Jemma Kidd. Also, if your brows are in need of some TLC, this is the place to go.

Whitney Chemists (50 University Place)

Somehow, this boutique reminds me of my grandmother’s stash of goodies she always had beautifully displayed in her bathroom. It might be because of the Grether’s Pastilles (my Nana’s favorites) which I can’t help but purchase every time I go there. Or it might be because of the lovely German accent I hear in Christine’s English. Either way, no trip to NYC is complete without a visit to Whitney’s, the best trip down memory lane.

Lindsay Crames, President, Beauty Fashion Sales Group

Twice a year, I visit with the fabulous Jeffre Scott in Charlotte, NC. There are many reasons why I love this bi-annual trip: the successful skin care events, the dinners,  the laughs, and the other industry leaders I meet there. Meet, and re-meet. A couple of weeks ago, thanks to another fabulous dinner on the eve of a fabulous event, I reconnected with Lindsay Crames. We first met in 2011, but it took this dinner (at favorite French restaurant Terra) and a great glass of wine for us to truly connect and embrace the fact that we are both women entrepreneurs in family beauty businesses. We both love our companies. We both forego work life balance. We both consider our fathers our mentors. And we both read James Patterson

AP: What city were you born in? LC: Miami.

AP: What city to do you live in? LC: Manhattan.

AP: What is your middle name? LC: Brooke.

AP: What is your astrological sign? LC: Cancer.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? LC: Sometimes I still think about my first love…

AP: What is your most prized possession? LC: My company.

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? LC: Steve Jobs.

AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum. LC: Trendy, easy, comfortable.

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? LC: I do not wear one.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? LC: I do not wear jewelry.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? LC: I like making my makeup look like my actual skin. I like to use liquids and creams. I used RMS coconut oil as a base to mix with any liquids, creams or powders to help give the appearance of younger, glowing looking skin. I also love Kevyn Aucoin sculpting powder for helping to define my face.

AP: What fragrance do you wear? LC: Jivago.

AP: Botox or not? LC: Not.

AP: Hair color: natural or not? LC: Not.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? LC: None.

AP: What do you do for exercise? LC: I run, sometimes…

AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge? LC: Wine, diet coke, mozzarella cheese.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? LC: Prosecco.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? LC: I do not have a work life balance. I work a lot!

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? LC: 50,000

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? LC: 1. Pack items that are light enough that you do not have check your bag. 2. Make sure all items are interchangeable and can make several outfits. 3. Do not travel with full size beauty products.

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. LC: Roar by Katy Perry, Amongster by Polica, The scientist by Coldplay.

AP: What book are you reading right now? LC: Along came a spider, by James Patterson.

AP: Quote to live by. LC: You are never done learning.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? LC: Garbage that smells in my apartment.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? LC: I wake up around 7:30 am and try to get 6 1/2 hours every night.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? LC: The people and the products!

AP: Least favorite thing. LC: A lot of people to please. Just as many opinions…

AP: Who is your mentor? LC: My father.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. LC: Do something that you love and then it will not feel like work.

BeautyView: Katina Turner, Founder & CEO, Turner & Scott

Last week, I took one of my bi-annual trips to North Carolina. I love all of my North Carolina clients, and have a girl crush on one… Katina Turner, founder and CEO of the beautiful Asheville-based boutique Turner & Scott. She is as much tough New Yorker (and still often wears all black) as she is laid back Ashevillian (is that a word?). She is part Greek (as you can tell by her maiden name, Masouras), which is enough for me to be fascinated. She worked at MTV. She loves Eminem. She is passionate about beauty. Enough said…

AP: What city were you born in? KT: Brooklyn, NY. Yes, it’s a city.

AP: What city to do you live in? KT: Asheville, NC.

AP: What is your middle name? KT: I don’t have one because my name was so long when I was born (Katina Masouras) my parents didn’t feel like they needed more.

AP: What is your astrological sign? KT: Gemini.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? KT: If you don’t know then I don’t want you to know.

AP: What is your most prized possession? KT: I would say my children and husband, except they are not a possession.  My pictures. They are everything.

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? KT: I would love to have a sit down with my father (now deceased) So many questions…..

AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum. KT: Casual, easy, black.

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? KT: Yes, usually a Rolex Datejust.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? KT: Diamonds.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? KT: Always wash your face before you go to bed.

AP: What fragrance do you wear? KT: I just found a great new fragrance, Gorse by Laboratory Perfumes.

AP: Botox or not? KT: Yes. No question.

AP: Hair color: natural or not? KT: Not.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? KT: Own a Hurom super juicer and use it every day.

AP: What do you do for exercise? KT: I run after my daughter. I flirt with Pure Barre and Pilates but can never commit.

AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge? KT: Beer, wine, milk. Don’t ask.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? KT: White wine, preferably pinot grigio.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? KT: I am still trying to figure that out… Family and life first.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? KT: I don’t travel that much.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? KT: Noise canceling headphones, a full ipad of movies and books, and Yosi Samra flats to run around in the airports without falling.

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. KT: Justin Timberlake “Take back the Night” and “Murder,” and Eminem “Berzerk.”

AP: What book are you reading right now? KT: In in a middle of many, which makes it hard to read and finish just one. I start many and rarely finish. On the half read list a book about elections Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way. My husband is considering a run for state office. Also, Parenting with Love & Logic because I have the love part down the the logic escapes me. And Take the LeadI’m trying to be a better boss…it’s not working.

AP: Quote to live by. KT: I don’t have one.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? KT: People who chew with their mouth open. Yuck.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? KT: I wake up at 6:30 and try to get 7.5 hours.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? KT: All the committed, excited people trying to improve other people’s lives through beauty.

AP: Least favorite thing. KT: I can’t say yes to everyone. I hate having to say no to beautiful lines I can’t carry in my boutique. There are so many good lines out there, I just can’t carry them all.

AP: Who is your mentor? KT: My former boss, Elisa Bellatini. She was my boss at MTV and she taught me how to be tough and how to work harder than anybody else.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. KT: You have to work hard. You have to work harder than anybody else. And you have to be working hard at something that interests you and makes you happy, otherwise you will be miserable.  

Lessons from (fantasy) football…

If you know me, you know I love football; you know that I love the Patriots above all (I discovered football while in college in Boston, when Drew Bledsoe was still the quarterback). This year, for the first time, I thought I would add to my Sunday fun by joining my brother-in-law’s fantasy football league. I am not very good at it… probably for a number of reasons. One of these reasons, I thought until last night, is that I let my feelings get in the way of my strategy. The name of my fantasy football team is The Brady Bunch. My second draft pick was Tom Brady. I have Alex Smith as my backup quarterback, but had not played him all season, despite poor fantasy points by Brady, just because, well, Tom Brady is Tom Brady.

Yesterday, I decided I had to set emotion aside and play to win. Yesterday, I did what I thought I should have done weeks ago:  yesterday, I benched Tom Brady in favor of Alex Smith. Like a sign from the Universe, the Bleacher Report last minute “Sit ‘em / start ‘em” advised to do just that. Yesterday, Tom Brady scored 53.75 fantasy points, to Alex Smith’s 8.75.

What did this teach me? A few things…

Never bench Tom Brady. When you are good, you are good, even if you have a few weeks in a row of less than stellar performance. At the end of the day, skill, practice and perseverance always win.

Don’t (always) listen to the advice of professionals. Obviously, the brains behind the Bleacher Report know more than I do about football – fantasy and reality. That does not mean they are always right.

Don’t listen to gossip. What is wrong with Tom Brady’s right hand? While a photo of it looking swollen and hurt went viral last week, and the Twitter rumor mill is filled with discussion of how injured it is, the Patriots have been (characteristically) mum about the topic. And as Brady’s performance yesterday showed, no matter what his hand looks like, he can still use it – exceptionally well.

Instead, listen to your gut. What I did yesterday went against every fiber of my being. Actually, right after I changed my lineup I texted my brother-in-law to tell him what I did, adding “I just died a little inside.” If it feels wrong, it probably is wrong.

Never, ever give up. Yesterday, I gave up on Tom Brady. We are only halfway through the season, and I gave up. I lost faith. Yesterday was a great reminder that it ain’t over until it’s over.

Yesterday, I also remembered one of the many reasons I love football so much – the lessons I learn watching this game (and now playing in the fantasy world) are so very applicable to the business world…

DC, I love you

They say absence makes the heart go fonder. That is certainly true for me… after almost three weeks on the road, with 12 hours here and there in Washington, DC, I got back last night for 4 days straight. This morning, I woke up and my first thoughts were of the many reasons why I love the District (and Georgetown) so much.

  1. The monuments. Even with all of the scaffolding around it, the Washington Monument is jewel-like, in particular when it is all lit up at night. The list is long, I won’t mention them all…
  2. The cab drivers. In what other city is NPR the radio of choice for cab drivers, and where else can you have such insightful political conversations with them? I learn something every time I speak with one.
  3. The trees. The entire city is filled with trees… and today, they are the color of gold, copper, bronze.
  4. The security. There is something special about seeing the Secret Service or just some big security guys with earpieces outside the restaurant I am about to walk in to.
  5. The conversations people have. Invariably, they are educated, intelligent, hushed, and intense. And the conversations I randomly strike up with someone sitting next to me at a bar (see below for my favorites). Similarly educated, interesting, and enlightening.
  6. The running trails. Miles and miles of amazing running. The bridge loop. The C&O Canal. Embassy Row. The National Mall. The running trails, and the friendly (and numerous) runners.
  7. Town Hall. Ex-pat Louisianans come here for Saints games. New England Patriots haters are not welcome. The food is delicious. And their specialty cocktail, the Town Hall, is perfect to celebrate a touchdown or drown your sorrows following an interception.
  8. The Rye Bar, and its barrel-aged Manhattan made with Pennsylvania-based Dad’s Hat rye whiskey, Dolin sweet vermouth, and Byrrh quinquina. The restaurant at the Capella is just as amazing, topped only by the truly amazing service.
  9. Black Salt. I spend much time in Louisiana, where the seafood, the oysters, the shellfish is amazing. Yet (and even my Louisiana-born and bred husband agrees), Black Salt remains my favorite for seafood. And then, there is the fish market…
  10. Thunder Burger. Amazing beer selection, burgers worth dying for, and Josh the deadpan bartender, make this place a must.
  11. Peacock Café. When I need a French Kiss, or to feel like everyone knows my name, Peacock it is. And their fries are the best I have had in DC.
  12. Stachowski’s. As a European, it thrills me that the American city I live in still knows what it means to be a butcher, and to buy meat somewhere other than at the grocery store.
  13. And last, but not least, my amazing girlfriends who live here; you are my heroes, my sisters, my support network. You know who you are. Thank you.

DC, I love you.

BeautyView: Matana C. LePlae, Co-Founder and CEO, Lashfully

One of the key trends in beauty this past year has been eyelashes. We have graduated from a mere obsession with mascara to a fascination with eyelash treatments, eyelash extensions, and more.

Matana C. LePlae, Co-founder and CEO of Lashfully, Inc, has capitalized on this consumer trend. Her chic beauty lounges offer services and products that specialize in the care and treatment of eyelashes.

A citizen of the world, Matana has lived in Los Angeles, Tokyo, New York and currently resides in San Francisco with her two daughters. I recently caught up with her, and loved how much we had in common (in particular skipping dessert but keeping the wine, not believing in work-life balance, and disliking cheap tippers!).

AP: What city were you born in?

ML: Seattle, WA.

AP: What city to do you live in?

ML: San Francisco, CA.

AP: What is your middle name?

ML: I am Thai and we don’t really have middle names so mine is my maiden name: Churanakoses.

AP: What is your astrological sign?

ML: Taurus.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know?

ML: I am neat, organized and keep an orderly home, but my desktop on my computer is a complete mess! There are icons on top of icons.

AP: What is your most prized possession?

ML: A teapot from my grandmother.

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be?

ML: My grandmother. She passed away about 12 years ago; she was so sick at the end but made she sure she had her Chanel red lipstick on until the very end. I miss her laugh.

AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum.

ML: Classic, modern, feminine.

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model?

ML: Nope.

AP: Diamonds or pearls?

ML: Both.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret?

ML: I know it seems like self promotion but really lash extensions (and if you’ll indulge me in a #2: absolutely no sun on the face.)

AP: What fragrance do you wear?

ML: I switch it up but primarily stick within the Chanel family: No. 5, Mademoiselle, Chance, Allure.

AP: Botox or not?

ML: Not yet, but I am keeping a watchful eye on when I should start…

AP: Hair color: natural or not?

ML: Semi-permanent to cover a few greys.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any?

ML: Forgo dessert but keep the wine.

AP: What do you do for exercise?

ML: All kinds of cardio, boxing with my trainer, and those awful burpees!

AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge?

ML: Real butter, greek yogurt, apples.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice?

ML: Bees Knees.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance?

ML: I don’t believe in balance, I just like working really hard and also having lots of fun and fully participating in everything.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average?

ML: 50,000.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? 

ML: 1. Never check a bag; 2. wear your heaviest, bulkiest item on the plane (coat, boots, bulky sweater) 3. Take cash.  I am kind of a dooms-day traveler and paranoid that all ATMS and credit card processing will be shut down and I will have to revert to cash only.

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now.

ML: John Coltrane, Anything by The KillersFrank Sinatra (yes, I am an old soul).

AP: What book are you reading right now?

ML: The Receptionist – An Education at the New Yorker by Janet Groth.

AP: Quote to live by.

ML: I recently was listening to Stephen King being interviewed on NPR about his new book. He captured something that I think nails my philosophy — I am going to quit and be dead for a long time. The only time I have is now.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve?

ML: Cheap tippers.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get?

ML: I am an early riser, 5:30/6 a.m. I usually get about 7  – 71/2 hours/night.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry?

ML: How woman’s faces can be instantly transformed and when they see it, they smile and stand a little taller.

AP: Least favorite thing.

ML: Unfortunately I think there are a few people in this business that think beauty is only skin deep.

AP: Who is your mentor?

ML: Hillary Clinton.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today.

ML: Always live with class and style. Remember that your peers or even those who are many levels “your junior” at the office, can one day be an important client, boss, investor, connection.