The Power of Hand-Written Thank You Notes…

I love to send handwritten notes. Birthday cards (yes, even to adults); “random” notes (sometimes with an article I think will be of interest;) and of course, thank you notes.

One of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received was from my girlfriend Heidi Kallett, former owner of the Dandelion Patch. She gave me 365 thank you cards and envelopes, and the book 365 Thank yous by John Kralik. The cards are long gone, the book is on my bookshelf as a reminder to keep at it.

If you don’t write thank you notes, try it. A hand-written thank you note is an overt act of gratitude, something the world needs more of.

When to send

  • Anytime you open a gift in absence of the giver. Really, anytime you receive a gift.
  • Anytime to are invited to someone’s home for a lunch, dinner, or party.
  • As soon as you can possibly write the note is the most opportune time to send them.
  • Keep in mind it is worse to never send the note than to send it 6 months after receiving a gift. While more timely is better, the time for a thank you note never has lapsed. Not sending a thank you note is always worse.
  • The most memorable thank you notes are thank yous for random acts of kindness, because those are the most unexpected.
  • Anytime you question whether you should or should not send a thank you note, you should send one.
  • There is never a wrong time or occasion to send a thank you note.
  • Always send a thank you note to a prospective employer who has taken the time to interview you.
  • It is always appropriate to send an immediate thank you email, but only in addition to the hand-written note that will follow.

What to say (and what not to say)

  • Always mention something specific about the gift, preferably how or where you are going to use it; this specificity is particularly important if you received a gift card.
  • Remember that even if you do not like the actual gift, you are thanking someone for his or her thoughtfulness and for the fact that they put time and effort into the gift.
  • Never say you won’t enjoy the gift, have a duplicate of the gift, or will never use it. (Yes, this seems obvious, but you would be surprised…)

Modern day rules

  • An email thank you is never a replacement for a hand-written thank you note.
  • Because of the prevalence of email, actually, a hand-written thank you note will have even more of an impact.

Start today. Send one thank you card to someone, just because. And then sit back, and enjoy how it makes you feel, and how it makes the recipient feel. 

Our Newest Product is Almost Here…

New product development may be the most fun part of my job. It is scientific, creative, challenging, satisfying. There is research, there are prototypes. There are misses and bad skin reactions. And then one day, everything comes together and a new member of the Alchimie Forever family is born.  

Our newest product will be on shelves mid-July, and I can’t wait. Ask and you shall receive! It is a calming, soothing, hydrating, anti-aging body lotion, its name will be (very literally) Soothing body lotion – because it soothes the skin, and soothes the soul. This all-over body cream will complement our existing body product assortment, comprised primarily of targeted problem solvers (Firming gel for neck and bust, Optimizing body contour gel, Dry skin balm).

Much of the new product development process involves looking at products from other brands that fall in the same category. I have been testing body lotions for months… and here are some of my favorites.

Goe (for Garden of Eden) Oil by Jao. This semi-solid oil transforms into liquid oil as you massage it into your skin. It is composed of 28 fruit and flower oils and butters, and the medicinal aroma reduces my blood pressure. The directions say to use sparingly, that less is more – but I can’t help myself and slather it generously over my entire body.

Body Salve (Geranium Cedarwood aroma) by Spa Rituals. I adore Shel Pink, the woman behind this brand, and I love the texture of this product, which is not quite a cream, not quite a balm.

Stress-fix Body Lotion by Aveda. The best part of this lotion is its lavender aroma, formulated to reduce feelings of stress. (Side note, I also love the Stress-fix Soaking Salts in a hot bath before bed.)

Stress Relief Moisturizing Lotion by Aveeno. Can you see the theme here? A competitive product test has to include at least one drugstore product, and I must admit I like this lotion, although I know I shouldn’t because the ingredients aren’t great (did anyone say petrolatum?). Once again, the lavender aroma is a big part of it. I also love the pump packaging.

Herbalderm Sensitive Body Lotion by Rausch. Of course, I had to test a brand from Switzerland. This product is based on Swiss plant extracts and leaves my skin hydrated no matter the climate or dryness.

What’s your favorite body lotion? And are you as excited as I am for the arrival of our Soothing body lotion? July is almost here…

Alchimie Forever… The Story Behind Our Name

It is Marketing 101 that when choosing a brand name, something short, easy to pronounce and spell, and memorable in various cultures and countries is the way to go.

My sister Cyrille and I chose Alchimie Forever as our brand name, many years ago in a delightful tea shop in the Old Town of Geneva. If I had a penny for every time our brand name was misspelled or mispronounced… What were we thinking?

Watch me tell the story here or keep reading.

As we started brainstorming, we identified four guiding principles:

  • We wanted a name that started with A (first letter of the alphabet, A like Ada, who knows…)
  • We wanted a link to Forever Institut, the medical spa our skin care brand was born in
  • We wanted a word in French (elegant, Swiss, international), and a word in English (universal, American, approachable)

We started listing French words starting with A… and suddenly my sister lit up and said “Alchimie!” And then we switched from drinking tea to celebrating with champagne!

It made sense for so many reasons. Alchimie (pronounced al-shee-mee) is the French word for alchemy. And alchemy is very much at the heart of our skin care philosophy.

  • Alchemy is the medieval science that became chemistry. And how can you formulate skin care products without chemistry, without labs, without clinical studies? There can be no skin care without science.
  • Alchemy is also part magic. The Alchemists were involved in such mystical pursuits as transforming lead into gold and finding the stone of eternal youth (both endeavors somehow related to beauty and youth). And skin care is indeed part magic…
  • The Alchemists were also among the first to identify plants as having healthful benefits. And potent botanicals are at the core of our formulations.

So yes, our brand name is hard to pronounce, and hard to spell – and now you know why: science, magic, and powerful botanicals!  

The Power of Words

I love to read, and I love to talk about books. I look forward to weekends (including music festival weekends!) so I can dive in a book and spend two days reading. If you want to speak my love language, send me a book recommendation you think I will enjoy or ask me about a recent book I read. At home, I have bookshelves full of books I loved, and piles of books I am looking forward to reading.

Yesterday, I added a new book on my list of books to read, thanks to the recommendation of Debra Neill Baker of Neill Corporation.

She opened our day-long strategy meeting by reminding us of the power of words, and by sharing three sentences we should all incorporate in our conversations more frequently to build connection and love:

  • “Tell me more”: this helps us listen better. I like to “end” a conversation with “what else?” – yet this verbiage is so much more powerful.
  • “I was wrong”: because “I am sorry” is over-used and not powerful enough. This will be a hard one for me to incorporate in my language…  
  • “I don’t know”: because it is ok not to know. As a colleague added, another nice way of saying that is “I haven’t learned that yet.”  

These phrases came from a book Debra read recently, which I immediately ordered: Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan. This book is about “12 essential phrases that turn the wheel of life.” (I think “No” is on that list and that is certainly a word I need help with!)

Today, I commit to using these three more frequently. And this weekend, I am going to read this book!  

Georgetown, How I Love Thee…

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending Carol Joynt’s Q&A Café. She interviewed Nancy Taylor Bubes, during a fabulous lunch at the Georgetown Club. (Read more about the interview here). There is hardly anything more Georgetown than that, and it reminded me how much I love this neighborhood I live in…

The sights

  • The amazing architecture, the row houses, the hidden gardens (and swimming pools), the cobblestones. Every time I walk down the street, I discover something new, beautiful, and captivating.  (Go on the House Tour and Garden Tour to discover some of these secrets…)
  • The Potomac, with its boat houses and rowers.
  • The trees, which change their dress with the seasons, and also look magnificent.

The tastes

  • Thunder: the best burger in Georgetown, and heaven if you like beer. Also, Bernard and Josh are possibly the most entertaining bartenders you will come across…
  • Peacock Café: the best fries in Georgetown, and my personal favorite lunch spot.
  • Bourbon Steak: the best Manhattan (other than the one my husband makes), and fascinating people watching if you want to see (foreign) Government-looking types in suits.

The smells

  • Georgetown Tobacco. Every time I walk by there, I am reminded of when my Dad used to smoke the pipe, and then Blue Gitanes… (shhhh, don’t tell him I told you).  
  • I even love the ginkgo trees around Olive street… stinky in the fall, yet so Georgetown.  

The sounds

  • The birds of Spring. They start chirping at 4:10 am, like an orchestra of happiness for things to come.
  • The sound of tennis balls hitting racquets on the courts of Montrose Park. There is nothing quite so civilized.

The feels

  • The community feel of the neighborhood, where people still say “good morning” and nod and smile to each other when walking down the street.
  • The international feel of the neighborhood, enhanced by the embassies nearby and the international Georgetown students.

Keep Calm…

Our Alchimie Forever marketing calendar says that April is the month of Calm. As in calm skin, and calm spirit.

Calm skin. April is National Rosacea Awareness month. Those who suffer from rosacea know this is the antithesis of calm. Red, angry, irritated, uncomfortable, are words that describe rosacea skin; calm is not. Helping to calm your skin looks like this:

  • Avoid triggers. These will vary somewhat individually: heat, alcohol, spice, and more.
  • Protect your skin. From the sun (always), but also from the cold and the wind.
  • Treat your skin gently. Avoid harsh products, cleansers and otherwise. Look for anti-inflammatory ingredients. Remember that less is more.
  • When all else fails, apply makeup to cover up the red. I so rarely recommend makeup other than for color… but sometimes it really is necessary.
  • Your dermatologist is your friend. Listen to his / her recommendations, follow his / her prescriptions, trust the expert.

Calm spirit. Is there a calm spirit month? This is the time of year when my spirit is the antithesis of calm. Tired, overwhelmed, irritated, uncomfortable, are words that describe an agitated spirit; calm is not. Helping to calm my spirit looks like this:

  • Avoid triggers. I know what mine are, I trust you know yours.
  • Protect my energy. Be more quiet. Spend more time in nature (as I write from the gardens of Salamander Resort & Spa).
  • Treat myself gently. Sleep more, drink less, exercise more. Cancel appointments (responsibly).
  • When all else fails, smile until I make it. A Saturday with absolutely zero commitments is 3 days away. Tinos is 64 days away…
  • My therapist is my friend. For me, that means my massage therapist… thank you Brian!

Calm – of skin and spirit!