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!  

What Does Kantic Mean, and Why Do We Use That Word?

If you have been using our products for more than five or six years, you probably remember words such as Nd:YAG, Superpulse, Alexandrite, Q-switch, and one of the most complicated to spell and pronounce, Yttrium. These words are all related to the field of lasers. We loved the idea of highlighting my father’s pioneering role in the field of laser technology (remember, he was the first to introduce lasers for use in dermatology in Europe back in the mid-1980s) by having laser-related words on the packaging.

Feedback from the field suggested that while our idea might have been brilliant and made complete sense to us, our customers were confused. They could not pronounce many of the names. They asked if the Alexandrite product was named such because it was meant to be used after an Alexandrite laser treatment (that would have made sense… but was not the case). So, after many family dinners, internal debates, and a couple of arguments, we made the decision to remove these product names from our packaging and brand verbiage.

We made an exception for the word “Kantic” however. My father was attached to the laser names, and to the idea behind using them, and loved Kantic the most. So, we compromised, and three products still have this laser name – forming the Kantic collection of products:

So what does Kantic mean? Kantic is a “misspelling” of the French word Quantique (we liked the K and the C), which translates as quantum. It comes from quantum physics, which studies how atoms and particles behave, including in the field of lasers. It is true to our heritage and to the pioneering role my father played in the field of laser technology. You can find out more here.

Luckily, Kantic is one of the laser terms that is most easily pronounced (in both French and English).

Luckily, the three products that form the Kantic collection share benefits and appeal to a similar skin type:

  • Anti-aging and antioxidant
  • Nourishing and hydrating
  • Calming and soothing
  • Anti-redness and anti-irritation

And luckily, every year, my father and I get better at debating and compromising.

Roundup of 2019 Beauty Conferences & Tradeshows

Yesterday, I realized that there are only 33 (now 32) days left in 2018. This realization was immediately followed by excitement for Christmas, full-on panic, pulling out my 9-grids and reviewing my 2018 goals, and an urgent need to start planning 2019.

A key part of planning 2019 involves deciding which tradeshows and conferences to attend. Thus, I started looking for dates and locations. After spending over an hour online, I realized there really should be a list, somewhere, that someone compiled – but I couldn’t find one.

So, for my (and hopefully your) benefit, here is my roundup of 2019 spa, salon, beauty conferences and tradeshows.

January

February

N/A

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

N/A

A few conferences are still finalizing their dates and locations. And I did limit this list to beauty conferences (and thus omitted some of my favorite “outside my industry conferences” such as Brigadoon – Sundance Utah, February 24-26).  And I am sure I missed a couple – so please help!

Also, I can’t decide if I am less or more stressed having compiled this list… maybe there is a reason it does not exist anywhere! You’re welcome.

Our Business Didn’t Start as a Business… Our Origin Story

Alchimie Forever does not exist because one day my father, Dr. Luigi L. Polla, sat at his desk and decided to start a skin care brand.

Alchimie Forever does not exist because a consultant ran focus groups, identified white space in the market, raised some money, and created a business.

Alchimie Forever exists because my father is a softie and can’t stand to see children suffer.

Alchimie Forever exists because 30+ years ago, my father couldn’t find the perfect product to help heal the skin of his young patients post procedure.

Let me tell you our “origin story.” (Thanks, Marc Ross, for teaching me this terminology.)

My father opened his dermatology practice in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1986, and was the first dermatologist to offer pulsed dye laser technology to treat children suffering from Port Wine Stains and hemangiomas. Parents brought their children from near and far to have Dad erase these debilitating birthmarks, an endeavor that required numerous treatments over a period of months, sometimes years.

I was already working with my father back then (at the front desk) and I remember hearing the children crying from the pain, as the laser treatment created heat and discomfort, redness and inflammation, and a burning sensation. And if there is something my father can’t stand, it is a child in pain (he switched his medical specialization from pediatrics to dermatology after realizing he could not handle seeing terminally ill children). He needed a product to help make them feel better – to help heal their skin.

Not finding the right product, he created his own “recipe.” He would send his patients’ parents to a neighborhood pharmacy with a compounding prescription, the pharmacist would whip up a magical product in little white jars right there and then, and the child would stop crying. The prescription was for what is known today as our Kantic Brightening moisture mask. This compounded product, meant to help heal the kids’ skin post procedure, smelled so good that the mothers ended up also using it, and asking for more at the follow-up appointment: “it makes my skin glow,” they would say. For their convenience, we ended up “pre-making” the product.

One product led to another, and to another, and finally to the brand that became Alchimie Forever.

Alchimie Forever exists because of what is still our hero product, our Kantic Brightening moisture mask.

Long before this mask had a name, it had a loyal following.

Long before we had a brand, we had skin care solutions.

Long before we had a business, we had a mission.

Mid-Year Reflections…

I am a planner, a list maker, a goal tracker. I start new years with a list of goals, some new, some left over from the previous year. And usually, sometime in the middle of the year – typically during my vacation in Greece, or around Labor Day weekend – I re look at my goals and set myself up for success for the fall.

This year, my mid-year reflection happened this past Saturday, August 18. I was in Magnano in Riviera (Italy), where my father is from, a place I have not visited in over 20 years. I was there with my husband, my three sisters and their partners and children, and with my father – per his request, to celebrate his 70th year of life, and have our annual Polla Family Council meeting. Such a family gathering, and such a birthday, were conducive to reflection.

So, I reflected.

The first few months of 2018 were challenging, for reasons I still had a hard time processing. I acknowledged this to myself and thanked myself for getting past it. I thought about a note I made for myself at the end 2017 about strengthening my tolerance for tension. I certainly can check that off my list.

I thought about what I am most proud of professionally, namely continuing to grow Alchimie (look for some new distribution this fall), launching our newest product (Advanced retinol serum), continuing to lead Neill Fulfillment.

I reflected on my relationships and the people closest to me. Am I contributing to their happiness, to their growth, to their personal and professional development? These goals are important for the rest of 2018 (and beyond).

I reaffirmed my commitment to my self-care and reminded myself how part of the reason I started feeling better late Spring was more running, more water, more sleep, more reading. I re-commit to ending the year healthy and strong, physically and emotionally.

I thought about some very specific goals I have yet to achieve: redoing our YouTube videos; working on my book idea; reaching 10,000 Instagram followers for Alchimie; reading the books remaining on my “Marie Kondo-ed book pile.”

Finally, I think about what I am looking forward to for the rest of the year. These next few days in Italy, maybe becoming a home owner, lots of productive work travel, my god-daughter Jade’s week-long visit, the holiday season.

So much to be grateful for, so much to do, so much to look forward to…

 

Preparation H for the eye contour? Dr. Polla doesn't recommend it!

Being in the skin care industry, I love to hear about people’s skin care routines, beauty tips and tricks, and product use and mis-use. One of the strange things that I have heard on more than one occasion has to do with the use of Preparation H in the eye contour area to alleviate puffiness. I heard this one too many times this past week, and had to research this. Does Preparation-H really help the eye contour area? Here is what I found out.

Of the Preparation H family of products, I have really ever heard of two being used for “anti-aging” and “beautifying” purposes in the eye contour area: Preparation H Cooling Gel, and Preparation H Ointment. Here are the ingredients:

PREPARATION H COOLING GEL

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS Phenylephrine HCl 0.25% Witch hazel 50.0%.

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, edetate disodium, hydroxyethyl cellulose, methylparaben, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, propylparaben, purified water, sodium citrate, sulisobenzone, vitamin E acetate.

PREPARATION H OINTMENT

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Mineral oil 14% Petrolatum 74.9% Phenylephrine HCl 0.25%.

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Benzoic acid, butylated hydroxyanisole, corn oil, glycerin, lanolin, lanolin alcohols, methylparaben, mineral oil, paraffin, propylparaben, purified water, thymus vulgaris (thyme) flower/leaf oil, tocopherols excipient, white wax.

Dr. Polla’s comments?

When in doubt about anything skin related, I turn to my dad. What does he think of this? I asked him first about the Phenylephrine HCl ingredient. “It is an adrenergic derivative known for its decongestant and vaso-constricting properties.” Translation into lay speak, this means this ingredient may indeed reduce swelling or puffiness. However, my father cautions: “This is a temporary effect, and when it subsides you often see the opposite, i.e. vaso-dilation of the capillaries, which increases the look of redness” (think darker under-eye circles in the eye area).

The cooling gel contains witch-hazel, which is known to also have decongesting properties. This ingredient is actually often used in facial skin care formulations, so no concerns there.

The ointment contains ingredients that, well, make it an ointment: mineral oil, glycerin, paraffin, wax. “These ingredients are meant to sit on top of the skin,” my father explains, “rather than penetrate. They are thick, oily ingredients that can clog pores.” Imagine putting Vaseline on your face. Possibly beneficial if you suffer from serious dry patches, but not recommended on a daily basis.

Other than not being ideally formulated for the eye contour area, I finally ask, would using this product in this way potentially be nefarious? “There are a couple ingredients that may over time irritate the eyes,” replies my father, “including sulisobenzone in the cooling gel, and various alcohol-derived ingredients in the ointment.”

Conclusion: using Preparation H products in the eye contour area won’t kill you – but it is not “Dr. Polla-recommended.”