Mid-year goals evaluation

I cannot believe that we are almost in July… and that half of the year is gone. On a six hour drive yesterday I mentally revisited my 2011 goals, both personal and professional, and realized there is much to do still. I thought by putting in writing what I have accomplished this year so far, and what I have yet to accomplish, by sharing this with you and with the Universe, I would hold myself more accountable and move forward with more purpose. Feel free to periodically ask me how I am doing on any of these goals… knowing you might be a great motivator!

Ada goals:

– Drink more water: done! I now carry around a water bottle everywhere I go.

– Read more: in process. Current book: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

– Learn to be a good wife: hmm… not sure about this one. Need to ask my husband.

– Build my art collection: in process.

– Develop a better morning routine: not done. I still read emails on my phone before even opening both eyes up. Need to stop doing that and start my day in a different way. Thoughts?

– Unsubscribe from emails I don’t read: in process. Hopefully you are reading this one and won’t unsubscribe…

– Do more yoga: definitely need to work on this.

Alchimie goals:

– Consolidate our partnership with Universal Companies: in process (the six hour drive yesterday was Abingdon – Washington DC).

– Grow sales: in process; in my mind, sales are never high enough and never grow fast enough

– Reformulate our products without parabens: in process

– Improve our sampling program: done! As of next week, we will have beautiful paquette samples of five of our best-selling products! So excited…

– Continue to generate national, international, trade and online press mentions: in process. Would you like to write about us? Email me!

– Relaunch our website: done! Have a look…

– Do more with social media: in process. Are you a fan on Facebook? Do you follow us on Twitter? Have you seen our various YouTube videos?

– Improve our sustainability practices: in process. We are reducing, reusing, and recycling. Our new brochure is printed on paper from managed forests, with vegetable dyes. Our new samples are aluminum, not plastic. We are working with the Arbor Day Foundation and Casey Trees to plant trees throughout our community. And we are having fun doing it!

– Find someone to join our Board of Directors: in process. Interested? Please email me to apply!

Lessons From a High School Graduation

Two nights ago, I attended my husband’s son’s high school graduation in New Orleans. I guess I should say I attended my step-son’s graduation… It was a warm Louisiana evening, filled with proud parents, happy siblings, and excited graduates. I couldn’t help as I watched the ceremony, listened to the speeches, and enjoyed the music, thinking back to my own high school graduation.

What I remember most from my graduation (back in 1995… yikes!) is the overall theme of “yes you can.” Our speakers (whether students or guests) spoke of ambition, of endless possibilities, of dreams coming true, and of changing the world. That day, there was nothing I couldn’t do. No goal was too far out of reach. No plan was too ambitious. If I wanted to do it, I could, and I would. Watch me. While I still believe in that feeling, it has been informed by almost 20 years of life, which in my case has meant entrepreneurial highs and lows, personal love and loss. Today, I still know I can do anything I set my mind to, but I also know it will probably be hard.

I was surprised that that was indeed the theme of Parker’s graduation Commencement speaker. Anh “Joseph” Cao, former U.S. Representative for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District (the first Vientamese-American elected to Congress, he served from 2009 to 2011) and a candidate for Attorney General of Louisiana, spoke of his life, of the lessons he learned along the way. He spoke of being born in Vietnam and leaving his home country at the early age of 8. He spoke of wanting to be a physicist, but then becoming a Catholic Priest. He spoke of realizing it was not his vocation and of becoming a lawyer. He spoke of losing everything during Hurricane Katrina, of having to rebuild everything. He spoke about life being filled with hope, but also filled with hardship. His three pieces of advice to the graduating class were:

–          Be prudent

–          Be disciplined

–          Be persistent

I listened, and nodded in agreement. This theme re-emerged at the very end of the evening, when the Principal granted the graduates their diplomas, and ended the night by quoting Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up.”

While I couldn’t agree more with either the former Congressman, or the Principal (these are lessons and words I live by every day), I still somehow missed the innocent naiveté of the messages I heard at my own graduation. Then again, I thought to myself, we aren’t exactly in 1995… the messages I heard Tuesday night were a stark reminder of the “different reality” we live in today.

Sun, sunscreens, sunburns…

The sun is (or at least should be!) shining, it’s that time of year. And May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. All in all, it is time to review sun, UV, sunburns and sunscreens. Here are some tips to help you separate fact from fiction when it comes to this burning topic (no pun intended…).

Myth: I don’t need to wear sunscreen on a cloudy day.

Truth: Up to 85% of UV can penetrate light cloud cover

Myth: I have a tan, so I won’t burn.

Truth: Having a tan is only the equivalent of about SPF 4, and does not mean you won’t burn.

Myth: I am young, I don’t need to worry about skin cancer.

Truth:  Melanoma (skin cancer) is the number one cancer seen in ages 25-29

Myth: I need more vitamin D so I shouldn’t wear sunscreen.

Truth: You only need about 10 minutes of sun exposure per day to get enough vitamin D for your wellbeing. (And remember, even with sunscreen on you will get sun exposure).

Myth: Getting just one sunburn won’t really harm my skin.

Truth: A single sunburn in childhood will increase the risk of melanoma. And it can take up to 5 years for the skin to fully recover from a single sunburn!

Myth: Tanning beds are sage.

Truth: UVs matter inside and out; indoor tanning may increase the chance of getting melanoma up to 75%

Myth: Sunscreen will block all UV

Truth: “Sunscreen is not enough” as said Dr. Karen Burke. Remember to layer your antioxidants under your sunscreen, so you have a second line of defense (try our Diode 1 + 2 serums for your face, and our Alexandrite gel for neck and bust for your body).

Other interesting facts about the sun and sunscreens…

UVA versus UVB:

  • UVA damage DNA and lead to skin cancer (damages not initially visible to the naked eye)
  • UVB lead to redness and ultimately wrinkles (the visible sunburn effects)

Chemical versus physical sunscreens:

  • Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays. These are typically lighter sunscreens.
  • Physical sunscreens (really known as sunblocks) reflect UV rays. Ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are used in physical sunscreens. The usual “thick, white, sticky” feel of sunscreens comes mostly from physical sunscreens.

Water-resistant versus waterproof sunscreens:

  • Water-resistant sunscreens maintain their SPF levels after 40 minutes of water exposure
  • Waterproof sunscreens maintain their SPF levels after 80 minutes of water exposure

The sun’s reflective powers are great:

  • 17% on sand
  • 80% on snow

If you want to learn more about the sunscreens I like, watch this week’s segment on Let’s Talk Live. And remember, no sun is safe sun. And you earn the skin you’re in!

Self care advice from my Mom

In the US, there’s an inherent fascination with European women. How can they be so thin despite eating so much cheese? How can they be so healthy despite drinking wine, often at lunch? How do they achieve their quintessential elegant look? How come they seem to age more gracefully?

While I don’t pretend to have answers to the first two questions, I do believe that the European woman’s approach to skin care has much to do with the answers to the third and fourth questions. While speaking about European women is obviously a gross generalization, here are some tips on skin care habits that my Swiss mother engrained in me from my early teens:

  1. Skin care is a part of self care, part of health care. Facials are not luxuries, and a good moisturizer is not a frivolous expense. Indeed, I was taught that going to the spa should be considered as necessary as going to the dentist on a regular basis.
  2. Prevention is more important than correction. Don’t wait until you start seeing wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging skin to incorporate anti-aging products into your routine. If you are old enough to drink (and remember, in Geneva, this is 16), you are old enough for an eye cream.
  3. Spend time in your bathroom; it is your sanctuary. Growing up, I watched my mom take long baths, apply lotions and potions, and  spend a lot of time in her bathroom. That was her special time each morning–her way to get physically and mentally prepared for the day, and in the evening, it helped her remove the effects of the day.
  4. For every year you grow older, spend an extra 30 seconds in your bathroom. When you are 20 years old, you can jump out of bed, tie your hair in a ponytail, and leave the house in 5 minutes looking fresh and beautiful. As we age, getting to that look takes more time and more effort. Don’t fight against it, embrace it, and spend more time in your bathroom.
  5. Look at yourself in the mirror. Really look–don’t just glance. This will enable you to see every wrinkle starting to form, to see the appearance of very light brown spots and watch them turn darker with the passage of time. The process of looking, observing, and assessing will give you a feeling of control over the changes happening on your face and body and will ensure that you don’t just wake up one morning and think, “I have just aged 20 years overnight.”
  6. Taking care of your body is as important as taking care of your face. Treat your neck and décolleté with specific products. Nourish the skin of your body. Take particular care of your hands and feet. Not just once a week, but every day, twice a day.
  7. Makeup is meant for highlighting and color, not to treat skin. If your skin looks good, you don’t need to cover it with foundation. Show your skin. Use makeup to brighten and color.
  8. The worse you feel, the brighter your lipstick should be. Red is the color of power, wearing it will not only have people commenting on how great you look, but will make you feel powerful and in control, hence better. Find the shade of red that suits you, and use it.
  9. Keep your nails real, short, and oval. Did Princess Grace of Monaco have long fake nails? I don’t think so. Short is elegant. Nude is the best neutral, but bright red works on short nails too.
  10. Smile. You will look better, feel happier, and everyone around you will too.

Dare to dream…

Last year was the first time I attended the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) annual gala. Some of you might remember that I blogged about it, about the inspiration that came with that evening. Yesterday, NFTE held its 2011 Dare to Dream gala. Just as in 2010, I was re-inspired, re-energized, moved to tears. And yesterday, I was also honored as a locally-grown entrepreneur. It was a magical evening. An evening filled with amazing students, teachers, and entrepreneurs. An evening filled with great friends. An evening filled with soundbytes. Here are some of my favorites.

“We can educate our way to a better economy.” Julie Kantor, the Executive Director of NFTE DC Region

“I have an MBA. A Masters at Being Amazing.” Also by Julie Kanto

“Entrepreneurs can do anything with persistence, perseverance, and passion.” Edie Fraser, Diversified Search Odgers Berndtson

“Your first business may fail, but that doesn’t mean that your second, or third, or fourth won’t be successful.” Aaron Batallion, Living Social

“No fear. There is no reason to fear.” Michelle Lee, STG International

“Hire for attitude over smarts. Attitude is everything” Mark Michael, Occasions Caterers

“The person who says it can’t be done shouldn’t interrupt the person who is doing it.” Seth Goldman, Honest Tea

The keynote address was by Rodney Walker (pictured below with his Alchimie Forever goodie bag). The entire video presentation of his journey was so powerful and moving it is impossible to capture it in a soundbyte. I saw seasoned business men discreetly wipe the corners of their eyes (I was doing the same, less discreetly) as he spoke of overcoming drugs, homelessness, poverty, with the help of NFTE. Rodney inspired me to do more with NFTE, and today I re-iterate the commitment I silently made last night to play more of a role in the life of these young students. As soon as I stop typing, I will be calling my girlfriend Minal, who is the one who introduced me to NFTE a few years ago, to make this commitment a reality. Once again, thank you NFTE.

Why did we create Alchimie Forever?

I have had more questions this week about “why did we create Alchimie Forever,” “what is your unique selling proposition,” and recently in Cincinnati from an ex P&G executive, “what is the unmet need your line is filling.” These are all million-dollar questions for a consumer brand, questions that I fall asleep thinking about, dream about, and wake up pondering. These questions are always at the back of my mind. I know the answers – let me share them with you.

Why did we create Alchimie Forever?
We created Alchimie Forever to make men and women feel better about themselves – and thus make the world a better place. My father’s dermatological career has been first and foremost about making his clients, male or female, look younger, look more beautiful. Ultimately, however, whether through treatments or at-home use of Alchimie Forever products, our goal is to make people feel better. When you look better, you feel better. When you look better, you feel more confident. When you feel better and feel more confident, you are happier, nicer, kinder, you smile more… you are, in effect, a better person. That is why we created Alchimie Forever.

The Alchimie Forever mission
Our mission at Alchimie Forever is self care through skin care. We work to encourage people to take better care of themselves. The disease of our century as we see it is the dearth of self care. We don’t sleep enough, we eat overly processed foods, we drink too much, we don’t exercise enough, we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves. The results of this lifestyle can be seen in obesity, stress disorders, depression, and more. While skin care is not going to solve all of these problems, Alchimie Forever products play a key role in reminding people to slow down; reminding people to touch and be touched; reminding people to take care of themselves, to spend a few extra minutes in their bathroom, to apply lotions and potions that will make them look better, hence feel better.

This is so relevant today, I believe David Cameron, the new Prime Minister in the UK said it best:
“It’s time we admitted that there’s more to life than money and it’s time we focused not just on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) but on GWB – general wellbeing.”

“Wellbeing can’t be measured by money or traded in markets. It’s about the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our culture and, above all, the strength of our relationships. Improving our society’s sense of wellbeing is, I believe, the central political challenge of our times.”

Our Unique Selling Proposition and the Unmet Need
What does the beauty consumer want today? She wants it all. She wants to look as young as she feels (anti-aging results). She wants to use products that make her feel special (luxury). She wants products she can feel good about using (responsibility). In the crowded skin care market, numerous lines answer one or the other, maybe two out of three of these needs. We, at Alchimie Forever, fulfill these three needs in a single jar.

  • Results: Visible, immediate anti-aging results. Without side effects. Without inflammation.
  • Elegance: Products that look good, feel good, smell good, and that you want to use. Twice a day. Everyday. Forever.
  • Responsibility: A botanical approach to ingredients, a commitment to sustainability, and a commitment to community involvement. All at a reasonable price point.