Maureen Choi

DC’s Beauty Scene Improves With Maureen Choi’s Move To The Capital

I love a challenge. I particularly love the challenge of convincing New York City transplants that while DC may not be as big as the Big Apple, the Capital is certainly just as worthy of their love. This latest challenge presented itself in the person of Maureen Choi, freelance beauty and health writer, and former beauty editor for Glamour and Marie-Claire. This would not be an easy task. My job is not yet done, but over lunch first, and then drinks more recently, this project is fast underway. I will suggest that our next meeting take place at Rosa Mexicana, for fries, mayo, and lots of margaritas (read below…)…

AP: What city were you born in? MC: Sunny L.A.
AP: What city to do you live in? MC: Swampy D.C.
AP: What is your astrological sign? MC: I’m a half human-half horse spirit, otherwise known as Sagittarius.
AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? MC: I’m freakishly good at tetherball. I owned the middle school playground.
AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? MC: Using the tiniest bit of face oil on my skin over my makeup to add a subtle, just-had-a-facial sheen. I’ll warm it up between my fingers first and press it into my cheekbones, forehead, and chin.
AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? MC: Everything in moderation works pretty well. And green tea. Lots of it.
AP: What do you do for exercise? MC: Vinyasa yoga, Pilates, and aisle creeping at Whole Foods.
AP: What is your favorite thing to eat and drink? MC: A kilo of fries with troughs of mayo and margaritas on the side.
AP: Botox or not? MC: Modern medicine is a beautiful thing. I say do whatever makes you feel better.
AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? MC: Tequila. Kidding (not really), I’ll go with unplugging from technology after 9pm.
AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? MC: Not nearly enough. Raise your hand if you need a vacay!
AP: What are your three top tips for travel? MC: Bring half the stuff and twice as much money. Oh, and always, always use a Jason-style sheet mask on a long-haul flight.
AP: What is your worst pet peeve? MC: Lateness. Your cell phone has a clock, right?
AP: What professional beauty/fitness/wellness experts do you have on your speed dial? MC: Does Domino’s count? I’m a self-help kind of lady.
AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? MC: 7A.M. I’m public enemy number one if I don’t get at least 8 hours of sleep.
AP: Who is your mentor? MC: Mama Choi. She’s the best.
AP: What is your skincare routine (products, facialists, etc)? MC: In the A.M., I’ve got my rinse with water (no cleanser)-vitamin C serum-moisturizer with SPF strategy down to 60 seconds flat. At night, it’s more of a double cleanse-essence-brightening serum-retinoid-moisturizer-facial mist for the win kind of skin party.
AP: What do you do to relax? MC: Inhale fries and margaritas (see above).
AP: Quote to live by. MC: Tomorrow is promised to no man. Also my own personal motto: Your face does not stop at your chin. So start paying attention to your dang neck and chest.
AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. MC: Check your ego at the door. Better yet, leave it at home, because doing the crap work with a smile will always pays off.
AP: Describe your dream day. MC: Swedish massage for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
AP: What makes you feel beautiful? MC: Turning that frown upside down.

Taking a look into the life of Joanna Vargas: Celebrity Facialist and Founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection

Coaching and mentoring young women is one of the most fulfilling parts of my job, and our fabulous Alchimie Forever interns give me the opportunity to do just that. A couple of years ago a lovely young woman named Elizabeth walked in to my life as an Alchimie summer intern. She thought she was interested in fashion, but decided after her internship to pursue aesthetics. She became an aesthetician, and with her skills, personality, and overall drive began working with one of the very best celebrity facialists in NYC, Joanna Vargas. This is a happy ending if I ever heard one – especially as getting a facial from Vargas herself is on my bucket list. Before then, and thanks to Elizabeth, I was able to catch up with this amazing woman and learn more about some of her life and beauty secrets.

AP: What city were you born in? JV: Chicago.

AP: What city to do you live in? JV: Just outside of NYC.

AP: What is your astrological sign? JV: Leo.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know?  JV: Fragrances are just as much a passion of mine as skincare.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? JV: I always tell clients who come to my salon in NYC that in truth, the biggest beauty secret the stars have is that they take time for themselves every day. It’s a luxury that really pays off as we grow older and anyone can start now! I have had clients start for the first time in their 60’s, and even they can achieve great skin!

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? JV: I find that the best skin diet is one that involves eating veggies of different colors for every meal and a green juice every day. There is really no substitute and it works on everyone!

AP: What do you do for exercise? JV: I always make sure I exercise- I love soul cycle – to burn off stress and to restore my energy levels.

AP: What is your favorite thing to eat and drink? JV: Sashimi and sake are my favorite things to eat and drink!

AP: Botox or not? JV: I never judge a woman for seeking injectables. I tend to attract women who are seeking alternatives to that. I don’t think they are for everyone and I would encourage anyone who is thinking about them to try a results oriented facial first. You might be surprised at how much you get out of it.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? JV: I make sure that I take time for myself- exercise is a big part of that, eating right so I feel happy with myself, and also spending lots of quality time with my kids. My daughter is really into art right now, so I am capitalizing on that- it’s so relaxing to draw and color with her. It’s what makes me whole again.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? JV: Well over 100,000- like 130,000.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? JV: Travelers generally get dehydrated, starting on the airplane. I encourage my clients to take my Rejuvenating Serum on board. Using it mid-flight will rehydrate the skin with skin softening Olive Oil, Rosehips Oil and Neroli Oil for increasing circulation. The Jojoba Oil in it will ensure that your pores won’t be clogged once you arrive at your destination. I also have clients pack rosewater toner in a spray bottle.  Rosewater is incredibly hydrating, so if you spray it directly on your face, it gets moisture into the skin immediately.  If you’re traveling overseas, I recommend doing it twice mid-flight and your skin will be refreshed when you get off the airplane.

When you arrive at destination, exfoliate to get dead skin cells off the skin. It helps you to look refreshed for a business meeting or to go out. My Exfoliating Mask contains Lactic Acid and Volcanic Ash to draw out impurities, dirt and oil from your pores, as well as Galactoarabinan, which is derived from the larch tree and causes mega cell turnover and skin lightening. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, so it’s great for even the most sensitive skin. I’m a big fan of multi-tasking with products anytime, and especially while traveling. A good cleanser and a serum are the two must-have essential products you can’t leave home without. Nothing throws your skin off like substituting your cleanser with a bar of soap. Facial cleansers are made for the delicate skin on the face, the formulas are pH balanced. My Vitamin C Face Wash is great as an exfoliating cleanser that even removes make up. All the products in my line do multiple things for the skin to make it easy to pack and run!

Drinking water on board is essential. I also tend to bring Dr. Lipmans Recharge for a mid-flight boost – all the greens help keep me hydrate and replenished more than just plain water.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? JV: People who use drugstore products because they think it’s all the same. It isn’t. I wish I could teach classes on this subject!!

AP: What professional beauty/fitness/wellness experts do you have on your speed dial. JV: Amanda Topaz is my trapeze instructor. She’s amazing and her class is so empowering. Dr. Frank Lipman is my go-to for everything health and wellness related. He is a genius and his acupuncture is like a vacation. Pati Dubroff is a great friend to discuss new products, treatments and of course trends in makeup.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? JV: I get up at 6am. I like to have some time to myself before the kids get up. I usually get about 7 hours sleep a night. I honestly can’t function without sleep.

AP: Who is your mentor? JV: I feel like everyone I have had the pleasure of meeting in this industry has had an influence on me. I’m inspired by so many people and other facialists like Renee.

AP: What do you do to relax? JV: I see Dr. Lipman once every two weeks for acupuncture. It’s like a vacation!

AP: Quote to live by. JV: “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Most of my rebellions are against mediocrity.” – Anais nin

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage.” – Anais nin

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. JV: Never stop learning. The best thing that I have done for myself in my career is continuing to educate myself. I have always made time to read new books, research new tools, new technologies and most importantly, I never think I know it all already! I have always kept myself in the know when it comes to new technologies in my industry, which keeps my clients happy with my work, but I like this rule because it can apply to every part of life.

AP: Describe your dream day. JV: My life is a dream come true. I have an amazing family and an awesome career. Nothing could top that.

AP: What makes you feel beautiful? JV: I think women always feel best when they take care of themselves. My daughter and I do masks together at home. It’s both great for my skin and just wonderful to share my life with her.

Get to know Victoria Levitan, Beauty Blogger and Owner of Viciloves

Meeting a DC-based beauty entrepreneur is always a pleasant surprise – we are a small

community. Meeting one who was born in Switzerland is even rarer, and even funner! So when

a common friend suggested I meet Victoria Levitan, owner of the beauty blog Viciloves, I could

not wait. We hit it off immediately over two Nespresso espressos (no American-sized coffees

for us!), sharing skin care tips, DC gossip, and laughs.

 

AP: What city were you born in? VL: Zurich, Switzerland.

 

AP: What city to do you live in? VL: I live in Alexandria, VA and love it because it has a European

flair and is very historical.

 

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

 

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? VL: I started my career in banking

and worked in the industry for three years.

 

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? VL: Keeping my skin hydrated at all times.

 

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? VL: Eat in moderation, no fast food/soda and drink

plenty of water. I also make sure to balance out my diet throughout the week if I know I have a

special event coming up where I may eat more than usual.

 

AP: What do you do for exercise? VL: I do Pilates 3 times a week and alternate between

running, cycling and Zumba for my cardio exercise.

 

AP: What is your favorite thing to eat and drink? VL: I love to eat and try out new cuisines so

this is very hard to answer! My favorite protein is duck so any time I see something with duck

on the menu, I will order it. I love Elderflower so a St. Germaine Cocktail is right up my alley.

 

AP: Botox or not? VL: Not for me but I don’t mind other people getting it done.

 

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? VL: I’m still figuring it out but as long as your work

is something that you enjoy, it’s a lot easier to achieve that balance. Your work should blend in

with your personal life in a healthy way and not have a negative effect on it.

 

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? VL: Flying home to Europe at least once a

year plus any work trips and vacations round up to be at least 13’000 miles per year. This year

I’m going to Australia so it’s going to be a lot more than that.

 

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? VL: 1. When you pack, roll the clothes in your

suitcase because you’ll have so much more space. 2. Tell the hotel you’re staying at if it’s a

special trip, such as an anniversary or birthday trip and chances are you’ll get a complimentary

upgrade and / or a special amenity 3. Check out TripAdvisor for great restaurant and activity

recommendations. I use them every time I travel and their recommendations are spot on.

 

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? VL: People who chew gum while in a conversation with you.

 

AP: What professional beauty/fitness/wellness experts do you have on your speed dial? VL: I

don’t have any experts on speed dial, but I do turn to my Pilates instructor for any fitness-

related question.

 

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

usually get? VL: I usually get up between 7-7:30am and get 7-8 hours of sleep.

 

AP: Who is your mentor? VL: Since I’ve started blogging I haven’t been able to find a mentor yet

but there are certainly entrepreneurial women that I look up to. Women who have transformed

their blog into a full fledged business and have done so by following their passion and never

giving up. I specifically admire Julia Engel’s blog from Gal Meets Glam because she’s my age and

has done an incredible job with staying true to herself while continuing to produce stunning

and engaging content for her readers.

 

AP: What is your skincare routine (products, facialists, etc)? VL: I LOVE skincare. I start out by

using a face serum (right now I’m using the Pigment Lightening Serum by Alchimie Forever),

then an eye cream (Origins GinZing Eye Cream in the morning and Kiehl’s Avocado Eye

Treatment at night) and then finish it up with the the Clinique Dramatically Different

Moisturizing Lotion. At night I like to treat my face with a hydrating and brightening mask

followed by a face oil, such as the Josie Maran Argan Oil or an overnight mask. My all time

favorite is the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask.

 

AP: What do you do to relax? VL: I love spending time with my husband and our dog Daisy or

reading a good book with a cup of tea. I also enjoy being near the water and feeling the

calmness come over me.

 

AP: Quote to live by. VL: “Happiness depends upon ourselves” by Aristotle. That quote has

stuck with me for over 10 years and it still motivates me to this day.

 

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. VL: Don’t be in a job you

that don’t enjoy, it’s not worth the frustrations – trust me. Also don’t be afraid to speak up and

negotiate for yourself. No one else will do it for you.

 

AP: Describe your dream day. VL: A day that includes spending time with the people I love,

good food and conversations, and time with my dog Daisy is everything I could ask for.

 

AP: What makes you feel beautiful? VL: Knowing that I’m seizing every opportunity and that I’m

actively working towards becoming the best version of myself.

Catching up with Kayla Childress: Founder of Mindful Luxury

While I felt like I already knew her, it was the highlight of my week to actually meet Kayla Childress, Founder of Mindful Luxury. I felt like I knew her because of so many connections, through Neill Corporation and SpaRitual, among others. Finally, in person, we met at the Ballantyne Resort and caught up over coffee…   

AP: What city were you born in? KC: Atlanta, GA.

AP: What city to do you live in? KC: Charlotte, NC.

AP: What is your astrological sign? KC: Aries.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? KC: I don’t love flying, but have become used to it. I still get nervous every time I fly saying a little prayer before take off and landing.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? KC: Use professional products always!

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? KC: Eating clean as much as possible. Home cooked meals!

AP: What do you do for exercise? KC: I train with a trainer 2-3 days a week, run and spin. Spin is my favorite. I have a spin bike at home so there are no excuses!

AP: What is your favorite thing to eat and drink? KC: I could live on sashimi sushi daily. I’m a wine fan!

AP: Botox or not? KC: I believe if you want it to look and feel better, do it! I have done it several times, but currently do not have it.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? KC: I am an early riser giving myself a few minutes in the morning to center myself as best as I can for the day.

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

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? KC: Always travel with a light sweater/wrap, boarding pass on my phone and uber!

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? KC: Liars.

AP: What professional beauty/fitness/wellness experts do you have on your speed dial. KC: My trainer!

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? KC: Usually between 5-6am. I struggle with sleep. Some days I sleep 8 hours others 3 or 4.

AP: Who is your mentor? KC: I have so many! But the first that comes to mind is my grandma who recently passed away.

AP: What is your skincare routine (products, facialists, etc)? KC: I use Privai with my Foreo a few times a week. I need to incorporate facials more!

AP: What do you do to relax?  KC: Meditate and work out.

AP: Quote to live by. KC: So many! “You’ve got what it takes but it will take everything you’ve got” is my current favorite one.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. KC: Stay laser focused. Give with passion. Love what you do down to your core. Never give up.

AP: Describe your dream day. KC: I would start this day by sleeping in the most comfy bed somewhere in the Caribbean listening to the waves crash in. I would eat the most delicious and fresh food all day while reading a great book, walking on the beach collecting shells and just being.  

AP: What makes you feel beautiful? KC: My daughter.

Erin Romney

Erin Romney: Owner of ROMNEY

If you know me, you know how important my girlfriends are to me. I cherish each and every one of them, and they are a big reasons I live in DC – most happen to live there. If you know me, you also know I spend a lot of my time in New Orleans. My love story with New Orleans started in 2008, and continues strong. There is something about the spirit of the people there that I have yet to find elsewhere. And little by little, I am discovering amazing women there, some who have become girlfriends, and some whom I hope to one day have the privilege of calling that.

Erin Romney falls in the latter group. The friend of a friend, I reached out to her because of her very New Orleans story – and cannot wait to meet her, and get to know her in person.

Read on… and go visit her studio!

AP: Tell me a little bit about yourself. ER: I am the owner of ROMNEY Pilates and RIDE. I started this studio 11+ years ago shortly before Katrina. After losing the studio for a bit while New Orleans built back up I lived in Paris, France teaching Pilates there.

AP: Katrina… such a loaded name. ER: Yes… Katrina changed me, like Katrina changed the personality of New Orleans. All for the better of course and I appreciate what I went through now but it was a rough go for a while. People are passionate about this city and it showed in the rebuilding efforts.

AP: You moved from New Orleans to Paris… and even Paris couldn’t keep you from coming back to New Orleans. ER: I came back to New Orleans with a vengeance to rebuild my business in the city I had fallen in love with. I realized when I moved back that people needed a place to escape the stress the city was under, and for a time our studio was a refuge. People would stay for hours. It was a source of happiness and release not only for clients but for me as well. That’s when I took it over the top to create that atmosphere that provided that daily escape through the surroundings and movement. Today, 11 years later, three studio upsizes and a location within The Ritz-Carlton is we are where we are. We have expanded our offerings to Pilates, Cycling, Barre, Gyrotonic, Megaformer and now boxing. I have got an incredible team that I work with daily and we are in a beautiful facility that my father designed in a lovely location.

AP: What city were you born in? ER: I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico but shortly after my birth we moved to Salt Lake City, UT.

 AP: What city to do you live in? ER: I live in New Orleans (NOLA, The Dirty, The Big Easy, The Crescent City).

AP: What is your astrological sign? ER: Cancer with a sprinkle of Leo.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? ER: I love interior design and fashion. I love creating beautiful spaces to surround oneself in. A beautiful, comfortable interior really affects people. Fashion is a way to express yourself. It’s your personality coming out for everyone to see even if they never have a conversation with you. 

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? ER: Eat healthy, that is number one! It’s what fuels you. It’s what raises your vibration. Beauty is from the inside out. It’s your skin, your physical shape, your hair, the clarity of your eyes, your mental and physical energy. Those all contribute to beauty and it begins with a healthy diet. I’ve been down that road before of abusing food (sugar in particular) and suffered the consequences of bad skin, low energy levels and physically not my best.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? ER: I start every morning with lemon water, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper in warm water. It’s alkalizing, anti-inflammatory and speeds up metabolism. I limit dairy, gluten, caffeine (former addict) and sugar (former addict as well).  I only drink on special occasions because alcohol affects me negatively and I’m suffering the next day. I know it sounds like an extreme diet and it’s certainly not how I’ve eaten in the past but the results are outstanding in my physical body and mental clarity!

Every season I do a food based cleanse. It’s 10 days, seasonal, vegan, very clean vegetable based recipes. Since doing this cleanse/detox I have managed to rid my addiction from caffeine and sugar. I will trip up after a few months and then it’s time for the next cleanse so it gets me back on track.

AP: What do you do for exercise? ER: A lot of different things to cross train: Pilates, Cycling, Megaformer, Barre, Gyrotonic and recently Boxing. Everything I do I really believe in for the specific results it provides. No one exercise covers it all unfortunately. Fitness is not about one modality, you can’t train the same way over and over and get the same results. That’s why we offer a variety at our studio, we are basically five boutique studios under one roof. You eventually plateau or over-train the same muscles groups the same way and then injury happens. I want to look good and feel good well into my older years. To live life with vitality, vigor, and no physical pain.

 AP: What is your favorite thing to eat and drink? ER: One thing that I love to drink but I don’t think it’s great for you is sparkling water. It prevents me from drinking soda or sugary juice drinks. To eat? Circa 3 years ago it was pizza, fried stuff and sugary desserts. Today, I actually love roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale salads and avocado toast. 

AP: Botox or not? ER: Whatever makes someone feel beautiful…within reason. I always say try natural alternatives first, facial massage, creams, acupuncture, to see if those are effective and if not then take the next step if you feel like you need it. Skin ages differently over time. Aging and gravity take their toll on people in different ways and someone else’s path is their path. Just remind them of their worth and inner beauty with or without the needle.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? ER: I’m still trying to figure this one out. I absolutely LOVE what I do and I also am blessed with the most magical family but both worlds pull at me like a tug-of-war.   

I’m proud to show my children what hard work looks like for an entrepreneur. I have found my life’s work and I believe that I’m showing my children that anything is possible in life with some passion, grit, and elbow grease.

When I’m with my children and not working I can really focus on them and be an attentive mother. When I’m with them, I’m pulled into their world, which is very different from business world. Children are so sweet, innocent and awed by life. A very successful business woman told me once that in order to pursue/grow/attend to your company you need really good help/team at home and I have been fortunate to have found that. I couldn’t do what I do without it.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? ER: Oh gosh, I have really started traveling recently because my children are easier to travel with but it’s mostly in the U.S. Roughly about 7 trips per year. I hope to travel to more foreign territory in the next few years.   

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? ER:

1) I’m that person who cleans my space on the plane.  I have this blended essential oil spray that kills airborne germs since the air is recycled on planes. I will also bring hand wipes and wipe down the seat, the air vent and anything I touch. 

2) I always bring an apple with me to hold me over. Airport food is horrible and when I’m starving is when I make poor food decisions. 

3) Always carry on a simple black outfit in case they lose your luggage and you are without clothes 

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? ER: Slow, inefficient drivers. I said it. Not proud but that always brings out a little road rage in me unfortunately. I recently put a calming essential oil diffuser in my car so hoping that helps.

AP: What professional beauty/fitness/wellness experts do you have on your speed dial. ER: Local: Tisa Beauty Bar for make-up, Dr. Deirdre Hooper for skin, Angelina Marzano for massage and Melanie Weller for body work, chakra aligning.

General experts I turn to: Taryn Toomey is my spiritual guru (she’s an amazing human being), Gwyneth Paltrow for various alternative treatments, natural products that I’m into and love her cookbooks, Kate Hudson for a little happiness which is just as important as everything else for health. I also really look up to trainer Todd Durkin, he is another incredibly inspiring person. You can simply walk into his gym and you feel his positive energy.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? ER: I try to wake up before my children so I can meditate. That’s usually around 5:30am. Meditation has been life changing for me.  I am able to handle stress better and I’m overall more calm and focused. I try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. I love sleeping and I’m good at it.

AP: Who is your mentor? ER: Salma Hayek once told me that I need to create a mentor within myself. Brilliant words I live by. If I had to pick one person it would be Taryn Toomey because she helps inspire me to build my inner mentor. She’s touched my soul with her words, classes and philosophy on life. I look up to her in so many ways.

AP: What is your skincare routine (products, facialists, etc)? ER: Skin hasn’t been my greatest asset and it’s probably because I ate very poorly for decades. I’m turning that around now and regularly get facials about every 2-3 weeks. The skin should be more about regular maintenance rather than a really aggressive peel once a year when your epidermis isn’t necessarily prepped for that. 

I recently switched to the La Mer oil facial cleanser and love it. Exfoliation is good for my skin so I use a scrub as well. I also discovered these natural facial products called Kypris from Donna Karan’s space in Aspen. They are organic, natural and use essential oils in their serums. I firmly believe in the power of therapeutic grade organic essential oils. I use a lot of Skinceuticals products as well. If I need a strong moisturizer, I’ll use Crème de la Mer.

I get facials from Marlene at La Visage Day Spa and my dermatologist is Dr. Deirdre Hooper

AP: What do you do to relax? ER: I take bath’s daily. I can’t remember the last time I showered. There’s something so healing about being in water and the weightlessness of the body. I love to read and always bring a book/magazine with me. I could stay in there for hours, literally. 

AP: Quote to live by. ER: Here are a few: 

You are love, fall for yourself.  – r.h. Sin

Paradise isn’t a place. It’s a feeling.  – L. Boyer

Life doesn’t get any easier. You just get stronger. 

The flower doesn’t dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes. – Mark Nepo

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. ER: You don’t have to choose the career or the family. You can have both if you want it bad enough. Raising children is very important absolutely but so is following your dreams and becoming your own person. More specifically…

1)  Do it because you LOVE it. Do it because you can’t stop thinking about it. Don’t do it for money, that will come because you love it.

2)  Surround yourself with people who lift you up and support you. It doesn’t have to be many, but they should be significant. 

3)  Listen to your intuition. Setbacks will happen and they will sting but know that they are just guiding you to something better.   

4)  No one is you and that is your power. You have more strength inside of you than you realize, if you only learn how to tap into it you can achieve the life of your dreams. Conquer from within!

AP: Describe your dream day. ER: Even though I’ve created a pretty great daily life for myself I need to be in nature to be well. I would love to wake up early near the ocean with a forest nearby, watch the sunrise and walk around exploring the outdoors or swim for a couple hours. Return to have breakfast with my family and enjoy them for a couple hours then work on an art project. Eat lunch with my family. Explore outdoors on horseback with kids. Read a book in the bath for a bit then help prepare a beautiful, outdoor dinner for a close, fun group of good friends and family. At the end of the night, sit next to a fire under the stars with a cup of tea and reflect/express gratitude for the perfect day. 

AP: What makes you feel beautiful? ER: When I exercise, meditate, eat clean and hang out with my loved ones.

Cindy Feldman, Mentor and Inspiration

It is a beautiful occurrence when work relationships blossom beyond their initial context. I first met Cindy Feldman, Founder and Owner of Progressions Salon and Spa through a common friend, the publisher of DC Magazine. He said we were meant to get along and work together. And he was right. I pitched her Alchimie Forever for her salon, and we started working together as vendor and customer. Under the pretense of this vendor partner relationship, we went to lunch. And then we kept going to lunch, and somehow she is becoming a mentor of mine (she might not even know it yet!). I have learned much from her already, and look forward to more lunches. In the meantime, I have much to learn from her answers to the below questions.

AP: What city were you born in? CF: Takoma Park, MD.

AP: What city to do you live in? CF: Brookeville, MD. I live on 3 acres that back up to Rachel Carson Park Land. She was the first woman environmentalist.

AP: What year did you open Progressions and to what do you attribute its continued success? CF: September 4, 1984 is the day that Progressions opened. What I attribute to its continued success is the understanding of the “why” we do what we do. Innovation and marketing are the fundamentals of any business success and growth. The “why” is the intention to transform and make a guest day through the modality of the beauty industry. Love is our competitive edge. I deeply love those I serve inside my business (my team) and those I serve as our guests as well as our community.

AP: What is your astrological sign? CF: Pisces.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? CF: I have a diploma from the Institute if Integrative Nutrition.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? CF: Happiness.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? CF: The 80/20 rule works for me! Eat 80% of the time healthy mostly organic fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and lean protein. 20% allow for the rest!

AP: What do you do for exercise? CF: I have a personal trainer 3 x a week come to my home because it is effective and takes the thinking out of exercise. She provides a variety of workouts, weight training and cardio. The other two days I go to a boxing class. I also enjoy bike riding, running and hiking.

AP: What is your favorite thing to eat and drink? CF: I love great food. Seven-layer dip, freshly made guacamole and chips are amount my faves. I love great wine as well as IPA’s from local breweries.

AP: Botox or not? CF: Botox in moderation.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? CF: Work/life balance to me is all integrated into just enjoying what I do so there is nothing to “get away” from. It’s about creating a beautiful life that gives purpose and great satisfaction to those I touch. I travel a lot with my chosen profession so it integrates both work and pleasure.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? CF: I have no idea how many miles I travel but it is more then 1000 and less then 100,000 per year!

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? CF: Drink lots of water, be prepared for all temperatures, in a plane never touch your face and adapt immediately to whatever time zone you are in by just adhering to the time that is.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? CF: Judgments.

AP: What professional beauty/fitness/wellness experts do you have on your speed dial. CF: My personal coach, intuitive healer, great friends.

AP: What conferences did you attend in the last 12 months, why, and with whom? CF: The last 12 months I have attended a multitude of conferences and business teachings.

Serious Business – Industry leaders and various other speakers that gave insight to life, business and our industry. I also was honored to be a part of a panel of industry leaders. I shared our strategy for creating a growth minded coaching culture with a tiered, goal oriented compensation plan.

Strategic Coaching in Toronto – A coaching environment started 25 years ago by coaching guru Dan Sullivan. Our group of entrepreneurs from all different business including retail stores, doctors, financial advisors, web based businesses etc from all parts of the world gather to learn new innovative ways to transform our businesses and learn skills in order to 10x our efforts. It is a year commitment of quarterly visits and coaching throughout the year to review new skills into practice. Each visit builds on another. It is like going to business school as well as sharing with others our successes and challenges ultimately creating excellent outcomes by the use of tools we implement from this program.

Tony Robbins 5-day Business Mastery in West Palm Beach – Same message different messenger. Again, skills, advice and knowledge shared. I also brought one of my young leadership team members with me so they could be mentored on leadership and be exposed to business skills.

Social media conference from Goldwell led by Patrick McIvor and Jeff South – Using social media for the greatest good and building community.

Scott Buchanan Aveda-sponsored Leadership and Culture- Industry advice on leadership taught by Scott who also uses daily in his salons what he teaches.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? CF: I wake up between 5-6 daily. I usually need between 6-7 hours of sleep per night.

AP: Who is your mentor? CF: One of my mentors is my friend Cele, I have known her since I was 8 years old, that still works with me today as Progressions HR director. She has been in the beauty industry over 40 years as a stylist, she has survived breast cancer, the loss of her 30-year old granddaughter and has shown me what courage and strength truly is as a woman.

AP: What is your number one piece of advice when managing a large team? CF: My number one piece of advice when leading a large team is having a leadership team that is broken into the main parts of the team’s culture: HR, Sales and customer service, Education, Inventory, Marketing and financial. We meet weekly to discuss all areas and implement the “why” we do what we do to create a solid culture.

AP: What is your skincare routine (products, facialists, etc)? CF: Innovative purposeful high quality products like Alchimie Forever, facials as often as I can and protecting my skin in the sun.

AP: What do you do to relax? CF: I relax by my meditation daily, beach walks are my favorite place in nature and being with friends and family. I also enjoy being quiet in nature or reading. Time with my partner is also a sacred practice.

AP: Quote to live by. CF: All is well.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. CF: Be true to yourself, do not compromise your values. Love what you do.

AP: Describe your dream day. CF: I live my dream day everyday.

AP: What makes you feel beautiful? CF: What makes me feel beautiful is knowing I have giving my best to all I encounter and doing my best.