Red lips make for brighter holidays

Champagne and red lipstick have two things in common. First, I love them both. Second, while I will indulge in both year-round, to many, these are treats reserved for the holiday season. Indeed, nothing says end of year cheer like a glass of bubbly with a bright red lip stain.

I have written about champagne in the past, so in the spirit of Christmas week, I wanted to share my, my team’s, and my sister’s favorite reds. May you find your perfect shade!

My current favorites are NARS pencils in Cruella and Dragon Girl, sometimes one layered on top of the other. Pencils are easy and these reds complement my complexion. My go-to for a glossier look is the Chanel Gloss Ultra Wear Lip Color.

Alchimie’s PR and Marketing director, Catherine, who is fair-skinned, blue-eyed, with platinum blonde hair loves Kevyn Aucoin’s Carliana and Lancôme’s Caprice.

Alchimie’s Logistics director, Anne, who has a warmer skin tone and darker blonde hair, loves Rouge Volupté Shine by Yves Saint Laurent. She applies it first in middle of her lips then finishes the shape, before adding more in the middle to have a plumping effect.

And my three sisters say the following:

Roxane is also a Nars lover. Her shade is Hot Wired. She likes to apply it with her fingers and always kisses a tissue after application to remove any excess.

Rachel loves Yves saint Laurent Rouge Vernis à Lèvres Number 9. A classic.

And finally Cyrille, who loves to be a contrarian, doesn’t do reds. Her go-to shades no matter the holidays are Bobbi Brown Bare Pink (rich lip), and Latte (creamy matte).

I could not end this without sharing the latest red gloss I came across – I have yet to use it, but love the concept. It was named after one of my favorite Alchimie partners, Jamie, owner of BrightWater, the Spa at Skin Care Institute, and created by local makeup artist Ariel Lewis. Having a red lipstick named after me might be the newest item on my bucket list!

Happy holidays to you!

 

A(nother) day in my life…

16-ish months ago I wrote about a day in my life – a day that defined why I love being an entrepreneur. Since then, there have been a number of similarly memorable days that I could have written about – but usually at the end of those days I am too exhausted to put pen to paper (so to speak). Today was one of those days, and despite the late hour, I have to write about it. Today was an amazing day.

5:30 am. Phone alarm goes off. I already miss the days when the sun was shining this time of day… I remember I am in NYC, in my favorite apartment in Tribeca, courtesy of middle-school bestie Trisala whom I have known for 25 years. Morning routine: coffee and emails.

8:00 am. Breakfast with a client at Aselina (I highly recommend this place for breakfast; civilized and quiet). We discuss the trials and tribulations of small beauty companies, the pros and cons of GoogleAdwords and SEO, and how we are going to take over the world. We agree that life is too short to work with people who are not nice.

10:00 am. Meeting of my day – perhaps my week or month. Or my year. I have a one on one with Lynn Tilton of Patriarch Partners, who has been an inspiration ever since I heard her speak at the WWD Beauty CEO Summit. She is possibly the most time-starved entrepreneur in the country, yet I get to spend 53 minutes with her, in the “purple room” in her office. We debate the benefits of red lipstick versus diamonds to cheer a girl up, and then I tell her my story. She listens to me, and then I listen to her. I really listen. My “products are better than my revenue stream” (I think that is better than the reverse?), I need to streamline my pitch, think in terms of poetry, and drive my message to the core. Having heard her speak to an audience, I knew she was inspirational and charismatic. Having now spent time with her in person, I now know she is (not surprisingly) incredibly smart, analytical, generous, and kind. And she tells it like it is. I leave with some new Stila makeup, and more importantly with a renewed desire to better my best, work harder, work smarter, and tell my story better. Thank you Lynn.

11:10 am. Having found the best cabbie in NYC, I make it from Wall Street to mid-town in 17 minutes flat. He gets a good tip. I am 10 minutes late for a meeting with Ricky’s, a meeting that has taken me longer than I care to admit to get. Richard Parrott, the CEO, spoke in Vegas at Cosmoprof and said that he was looking to expand his men’s category. So here I am with my men’s products. Great meeting – stay tuned for results.

12 noon to 4 pm. I visit existing NYC clients with my NYC angel, Arista, who has been part of the Alchimie team for a few years. She is a delight with clients (they all like her more than they like me), I could not hope for a better representation of my brand. And spending time in spas and boutiques, speaking to the owners and to the customers is the best learning experience. No matter how many times I do it, I always learn something – like that the font on our boxes is still not big enough… In between two visits, we stop by Serafina’s to eat and strategize. Our server Stacy was our server this past June (I like to stop at the same places). It makes me smile that she remembers us and gives us a 4-top because she can tell I need room for my laptop.

4:10 pm. I have 50 minutes of breathing room before my next meeting, which is at 750 Lex. I spend this precious time at Le Train Bleu, in Bloomingdale’s. I catch up on emails, watch the older ladies at the table next to me have a very late lunch (or very early dinner), and the gentleman across the room with his glass of wine and his book. This moment is oh-so very civilized, somewhat old-fashioned, and perfectly quiet.

5:10 pm. I arrive at my first ICMAD board meeting. I have been a member of this organization for 10 years, and now I get to give back to the industry and play a role. I am in awe, sitting a few seats away from Jane Iredale and chatting with Robb Akridge of Clarisonic, who begins the meeting by greeting everyone and making sure we all have his cell phone number should we need to reach him.

9:45 pm. I am back in my favorite place in NYC, at Trisala’s in Tribeca, talking about my day and her about hers. She makes us each a cup of licorice tea, my favorite, and we slowly let the day end and the energy slow and the noise quiet. We need to get our beauty rest and let our brains recover. Tomorrow is another day. May it be as magical as today.

Self care and silver linings

Self care is having a moment. Some even say that the COVID-19 virus is transforming the “lipstick effect” into the “self care effect.” 

I was raised to believe in self care, and specifically in self care through skin care with my brand Alchimie Forever. But what exactly is self care? Over the past couple of weeks, I connected with Britta Cox, the founder of Aquis hair, about beauty, hair care, skin care, and most recently self care. We shared our respective ways to care for our selves, in general and more specifically during this time of confinement. Here are the highlights of our conversation. 

Britta’s self care wisdom: 

  • “Being in nature, moving and breathing deeply clears my mind and rejuvenates me. It’s also when my best ideas come, it’s when my subconscious and thoughts can float freely. 
  • Sleeping with the windows and doors open and breathing fresh air makes a big difference in how my skin looks and how well I sleep. It makes all the difference to feeling well-rested and fresh in the morning. 
  • Dry brushing. It’s a Swedish thing. Use a dry brush on dry skin, brushing towards your heart to keep lymphatic fluids and blood flowing to enhance circulation, remove toxins and keep skin healthy. Sunday is my self care day when I’ll dry brush and exfoliate from head to toe before taking a nice soak in the tub, with a few drops of oil in the water to replenish moisture. 
  • Detoxing my scalp. The scalp also develops sebum build up. We have a wonderful Detoxifying Scalp and Hair Wash with charcoal. It cleanses deeply without stripping the hair of natural oils, and is pH balanced for the hair and scalp specifically.
  • Spending time in the garden. I love spending time in the garden which is abundant with life, learnings and miracles of nature. I’ve been a certified organic gardener for 14 years, living on almost two acres, which brings such joy. You can just step outside, close your eyes, and experience life and nature everywhere. It makes you appreciate and tune into the small things in life and be in the moment. 
  • Beauty is all about what we put inside. I saw my first aesthetician at age 21, she got me hooked on fish oils. All of the omegas they have are one of the best things you can do for your skin, hair, and mental clarity. And I eat smoked salmon as another source.
  • Drinking water and tea to stay hydrated. Warm tea at night helps with digestion. Chrysanthemum tea is amazing for skin and reducing inflammation & the warm tea water is cleansing. 
  • Music. A good playlist can help you find your Zen, and completely change your mood.” 

I shared some of my current self-care rituals as well, which include: 

  • Stepping outside and breathing  fresh air. I try to spend part of every day outdoors, for my mental and emotional well-being.
  • Exercising 3-5 times a week. It has a positive effect on my skin. Exercise activates blood circulation, it’s good for my mental state, and for my physique. Normally I’m a morning exerciser but had a challenging day and decided to go for an evening run. I needed to shift my mental state and sometimes to do that I have to engage my body and shift my physical state.
  • Masking it up. I sleep with the K18Peptide™ Masque overnight. It’s so good for my hair and amazing at mending split ends. 
  • Scrubbing my body. My alternative to dry brushing (although I may have to embrace this technique) is Aveda’s Beautifying Radiance Polish. When we’re young our dead skin cells naturally fall off. As we age, those natural processes get a little lazier and don’t function as well. The older you get the more important it is for you to help your body naturally shed dead skin cells. Be super gentle with the skin on your face and neckit’s delicate, but the body benefits from a good scrub. Always scrub against gravity, so from the feet up your legs, from the hands up your arms, it’s good for lymphatic drainage. 
  • Smelling the roses (or magnolias in this case). My husband brings flowers into the house. We’re in Louisiana right now and he brought in a magnolia from our tree.
  • Soaking it up. I’ve been taking baths almost every night which I don’t normally do. It feels so good for my head, and I love the feeling of weightlessness. Kneipp bath salts make the baths feel like a real treatment.  
  • Being mindful of what I eat and drink. What we eat and drink is reflected in our skin. I’m trying to eat extra healthfully, and be very diligent about going three days each week without alcohol. A trip to the fridge is the most tempting trip. My girlfriends and I joke about the COVID-19. I don’t want that.
  • Taking care of others. The other aspect of self-care is care of others, your children, your spouse, your partner, care of people who can’t care for themselves.

 Last but not least, we both agreed that gratitude is a powerful form of self care. To read more about our respective silver linings, click here

How are you taking care of yourself during these times? 

 

Remote Inspiration

This week (quarantine week 3) has been particularly challenging because the current reality has lost its novelty and is starting to sink in. I finally realized on Monday that life is going to be this way for another 4-6 weeks (hopefully not much longer, please). 

I wrote last week about my new sanity rituals, which while I am (mostly) following, are not helping (much). I do not feel inspired. I do not feel productive. I do not feel creative. When this happens during “normal life,” I go out in the field and visit Alchimie Forever customers. Nothing re-engages me in my brand, in my work, than being out in the field, listening to our brand ambassadors, learning from them, feeling their enthusiasm rub off on me. 

In “current life,” however, that is not possible. So instead, I turned to customers, business leaders, brand owners, for some remote inspiration. Here are four things that have helped me re-engage. 

 A remote training session with Heyday. This was almost as great as being in the field, visiting with the Heyday therapists IRL. Their questions, their feedback, their enthusiasm was contagious even “just” on the screen. And this gave me an opportunity to wear lipstick (first time in two weeks…), which felt wonderful. 

The COVID-19 speech by Marriott International President & CEO Arne Sorenson. I am a Marriott girl through and through, and will forever be after this speech, possibly the best crisis communication I have heard. Honest, realistic, hopeful, compassionate, emotional. 

The wise and honest words of Jennifer Yen, Founder & CEO of Purlisse, as quoted in Glossy today (article written by Emma Sandler). 

“As a brand founder who experienced the 2008 financial crisis and recession, the experience taught [me] lessons which [I have] applied for the past 12 years, including the importance of keeping a lean team, focusing on profitability versus growth, and reinvesting profit into hiring and product development. … Scrappy is the new sexy. It’s hard to see when the party’s over when times are still good, but I’ve been preparing for another moment like 2008 because it was so traumatizing.” 

The community efforts by Mathilde Thomas, Founder of Caudalie. Her brand sent hundreds of products to hospitals throughout France to help with chapped, irritated skin. In her LinkedIn post about this, she encouraged everyone: FAITES CE QUE VOUS POUVEZ POUR AIDER (Do what you can to help). Her example inspired me to reach out to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital to offer to donate some Dry skin balm, some Kantic Brightening moisture mask, and some Kantic+ Intensely nourishing cream. Because that is what I can do right now, right here, to help. 

How do you stay inspired and engaged in your work, in your brand, during these strange times? 

 

15 Beauty Rules

I was invited by Progressions Salon and Spa last week to participate in a Wellness and Stress Management event. In thinking about the theme, I was reminded of the core of our brand’s DNA, and of the reason why my parents decided to create a product brand so many years ago: because looking good, means feeling good, means doing good. Indeed, looking good is a way to relieve stress, and increase wellness.

The question, of course, is what can we do to look good, to look better? Here are 15 rules, strategies, rather, that I learned from my parents – and that I follow religiously.   

  1. Prevention is everything. Don’t wait to see wrinkles or have bad skin to use great products, get regular facials, and go to your dermatologist at least once per year. Think of your skin care the way you think of your dental care – you don’t wait to have rotting teeth to brush your teeth daily; you don’t wait to have cavities to go visit a dentist twice annually for your checkup. The same behavior applies to skin.
  2. No smoking. Ever.
  3. No sun. Ever. If you must sun, remember: no “unprotected sun.” And no tanning beds either.
  4. Never go to bed without washing your face. I recently learned from a very credible source (a German R&D specialist) that every day you sleep with your makeup on you age your skin 7 days…
  5. Exfoliate once per week. Every week. This not only helps your skin look its best, it also will help all of your skin care products work better. Using expensive serums and masks on skin that is never exfoliated is like taking a shower with your rain coat on. It’s a shower… but it’s not exactly have its full desired effect…
  6. Use a product with broad-spectrum SPF protection every morning. January 1 through December 31. Yes, that includes the winter months.
  7. Use an antioxidant product every day, ideally twice a day. This will help your skin age as gracefully as possible.
  8. If you’re old enough to drink, you’re old enough for a good eye cream. The skin around the eyes is the first to show signs of aging, so prevention is even more important.
  9. Sleep on your back. You can train yourself to do this. Even if it’s not all night, every night, it will truly make a difference. My dermatologist father can always tell on which side a woman (or man!) sleeps because the wrinkles are deeper on that side of the face.
  10. Use products on your neck and décolleté. Your face does not end at your jawline, but rather just above your chest.
  11. The hands are a woman’s second face. Treat them like you treat your face, with anti-aging products and sun protection.
  12. Use more skin care and less makeup as you grow older. Makeup ages you. Except mascara and lipstick.
  13. Make an extra effort to look good on the days you feel bad, sick, tired, sad, upset, or are in a bad mood. Nothing brightens those hard days as regular compliments throughout the day about your lovely outfit, great hair, or fabulous necklace. It works every time!
  14. Look at yourself in the mirror. Really look. That way you will never wake up thinking “how did this line just appear, it was not there yesterday….” Wrinkles take time to form. If you see them forming, you’ll be less shocked or upset when you realize they are fully formed.
  15. Every year you grow older, spend 1 more minute in your bathroom.

A Day in the Life

A day in the life

5:00 AM – 5:45 AM
Alarm goes off; check phone, texts, emails, and social media while not quite awake.
Coffee, then review priorities for the day.

5:45 AM – 7:00 AM
SoulCycle or morning run. My goal is to exercise three times a week, which I do almost every week.

7:00 – 7:30 AM
Morning call with Anne & Dad, Geneva Switzerland; Discuss European distribution and Alchimie marketing calendar for Forever Laser Institut.

7:30 – 8:00 AM
More coffee; chat with Husband before the day starts; sometimes I eat breakfast… but rarely. Shower, shampoo and DIY blowdry, Alchimie morning product routine (face and body), red lipstick always, head to Alchimie office.

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Budget review; sign checks; email check-in with all team members.

9:00 AM – NOON
Sales focus: follow up phone calls to existing clients; get feedback, share marketing plan for relaunch of body products. Coffee with potential new client.

NOON – 1:00 PM
Order lunch from Stachowski’s Market (club sandwich, no bacon); eat half while regrouping my to-do-list. Calls with sales team and freelancers.

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Weekly Accountability call meeting (with 3 other women business owners who have become my best girlfriends): review accomplishments of last week, share priorities for this week, provide input and ask for input as needed.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Meet with my EA Sherrod: discuss various projects and priorities, review travel plans and calendar for the next week. (Thank goodness for him, he keeps me sane)

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Weekly Skype call with my PR Director, Catherine: review pending press, makeup artist partnerships, future launches. (Always reapply lipstick before Skype!)

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Return calls, follow-up on overdue emails. Write at least three thank you notes to clients, friends, and team members.

5:00 – 6:00 PM
Writing time: work on my blog, Adamant about Beauty, write style piece for Huffington Post, research next trade magazine column.

6:00 PM – 6:30 pm
Alchimie Forever team has left for the day, office to myself. Regroup. One glass of well-deserved wine. Return emails.

6:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Call with my Husband to “calendar” i.e. plan our schedule for the next two months.
He lives in New Orleans, I live in DC. Long distance love requires planning.

7:00 PM
Dinner with BFFs at Peacock Café in Georgetown, my absolute favourite!
Harvest fettuccine is my current go-to on the menu.

9:30 PM
Last email check; review calendar for tomorrow – realize I am on the road for the next three days and need to pack. Do said packing, with a brief fall into the black hole of Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter / and the latest social media craze.

10:45 PM
Evening beauty routine; delightfully get in bed, read a few pages of the current selection for Book Club (all DC authors, they often attend Book Club so reading is a must!).

11:00 PM
Sweet dreams! I need my beauty sleep!