BeautyView: Abby Fazio, Owner, New London Pharmacy


New London Pharmacy has been on my “partner target list” for Alchimie Forever for about 5 years. I love the team, the brands, the friendly atmosphere in this beauty boutique. I also have always felt that the owner, Abby Fazio, and I would get along, as business partners as well as friends. I couldn’t have told you why… it was a feeling.

Today, Alchimie Forever is in New London – and I finally had the chance to get to interview Abby yesterday and learn more about her story. And I now have further confirmation that gut feelings and instincts never fail me. I knew we would get along, and now that I know about her, I know why.

Here are just some of the reasons I feel that we are kindred spirits. She works in a family business. She owns New London with her husband John, and her daughter Eleni has been working there for 6 years already. She believes things happen for a reason (including failed first marriages). She loves to-do lists. She feels like she has to be in control. She believes in karma and that anything you do (good or bad) will come back to you. She spends part of her summer in Greece and like me tries to hold on to that feeling when she comes back to the US – unsuccessfully. She is inspired by powerful, successful women (in what she believes is still a man’s world). And she is worried that her Greek family’s rituals and traditions are slowly getting lost on this side of the Atlantic. I ask her about her favorite one, and she tells me she never brushes her hair at night in front of the mirror. “My Mom always told me not to… It is bad luck. And this was one out of the 100 pieces of advice she had for me. Of course, I tell my daughters, but they mostly laugh.” Well, perhaps I will quit doing that and help that tradition live on on this side of the Atlantic…

Spending time with her yesterday to interview her for this blog post only made me want to spend more time with her! Perhaps one day we will meet up in Greece… Indeed, she summarized the magic of Greece better than I could have:

“Going back to Greece is like reinventing and rejuvenating myself. I come back with new ideas and more strength. More hope. When I go back to Greece, I don’t go back to something fancy – I go back to something simple. I look at olive trees every day. I hang out with my brother at his bar and look at the sunset every night. I listen to the sound of the sea. Being outside makes a big difference.”

AP: What city were you born in? AF: Corfu, Greece. I came to this neighborhood when I was 6.

AP: What city to do you live in? AF:Manhansset, on Long Island. I commute, and yes, there are days it drives me crazy. I do the late shift, my husband does the early shift. When my children were younger, he was always with them in the afternoon – he is better at that than I am. And I always to close the store at the end of every day.

AP: What is your middle name? AF: I don’t have one. But my “real” first name is Avgerini, which means Dawn in Greek. Everyone was always making fun of me with my first and last names, so I decided to start going by Abby. Everything is legal is Avgerini, and my friends still call me Avgerini.

AP: What is your astrological sign? AF: Aquarius. I am jealous. I give a lot, and I am very stubborn.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? AF: That I am sensitive. Everyone sees me as a strong woman that can do anything. And it is true – I can do anything because I work at it and drive myself crazy. But I am very sensitive, I get hurt too.

AP: What is your most prized possession? AF: My family photographs. I have to admit I am mad at myself for not taking as many of each child or of each anniversary or of each occasion.

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? AF: Jacqueline Kennedy. I want to understand how she saw things, so that I can be inspired by her. With everything that she went through, I admire her tenacity and would want to learn from her. Sometimes we are so quick to judge, we don’t really know what is behind the surface. She was rich, a Kennedy, and some would say she was so lucky. But I am intrigued by all the sadness and hardships she went through, I want to look below the surface.

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? AF: Yes, actually I wear many, I wear them like jewelery. I like watches because of their look, not because of the time. In Greece I hardly wear a watch, though…

AP: Diamonds or pearls? AF: Diamonds. My husband wishes I liked pearls but I don’t!

AP: What fragrance do you wear? AF: In general I like florals. Right now, I like L’Artisan Parfumeur – that was my latest goal. Mure et Musc Eau de Toilette.

AP: Botox or not? AF: Once or twice a year, when I feel ugly.

AP: Hair color: natural or not? AF: Not. Highlights. I am naturally dark brown, but I like myself better blonder.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? AF: I believe in the Mediterranean diet. Eat a little bit of everything as long as it is whole. Somehow that is so very hard here (and so much easier in Greece!).

AP: What do you do for exercise? AF: I walk. Outside, never on the treadmill. Walking gets my brain to be still and helps with my anxiety. It is really good therapy. My youngest daughter just started SoulCycle today – she is 13. She invited me to try to do it with her – we are going Monday. I’ll let you know how that works out!

AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge? AF: Sparkling water. Cheese. Milk.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? AF: Right now, prosecco. If I have a mixed drink I think of the calories. White wine makes me sleepy, red wine makes me sick. So champagne or prosecco it is!

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? AF: To always to have a date with your husband. Even when you have children. Even when work is crazy. At least one evening per week has to be dedicated to that. And the rule has to be not to business or children. Also, in addition to going to Greece for a month in the summer, I try to go away for a weekend once in a while. Life is different when you go away, when you get out of your daily situation. You get different perspective. You love yourself, your partner, and your kids again.

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. AF: Well, I listen to music on my phone. In the morning I like to listen to a Corfu channel. Greek music. To relax and feel sexy, I listen to Lana del Rey, I adore her voice. When I want to dance or be energized, I listen to 80s music. Nothing compares – still today, 30+ years later.

AP: What book are you reading right now? AF: I actually just finished a book my cousin wrote! When the Cypress Whispers, by Yvette Manessis Corporon. It is about the tiny island where my Mom was born. It is a novel, but a lot of the things are based on what her grandmother told her about that island – which are the same stories that my mother told me about that island.

AP: Quote to live by. AF: Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? AF: When people don’t finish their tasks. I finish what I start… (and see my quote to live by above).

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? AF: The connections I make with people who come in to the store or the pharmacy. I think this love I have is also why I am so addicted to Twitter. I love their stories.

AP: Least favorite thing. AF: I have been hurt by people who are out for themselves. I always thought beauty was not like that, but I guess those people are to be found everywhere.

AP: Who is your mentor? AF: For some things, it was my mother because of her strength. She is still working at 82. She taught be about customer service, about giving. For my business, it was more my father. He taught me more about competition and how to build something, and how not to be afraid.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. AF: Do not be afraid.

My favorite New York City beauty boutiques

There are many ways to discover, or rediscover a city. Through its restaurants. Through its wine bars. Through its parks. And, through its beauty boutiques and pharmacies. Last week I spent three days in the Big Apple, and I had the opportunity to return to many of my favorite New York City beauty boutiques – beauty destinations you can only find in the Big Apple. Next time you go there, stop by any of these and discover the wonderful beauty products they source from around the world.

Aedes de Venustas (9 Christopher Street)

This is truly one of the most beautiful, elegant, magical beauty boutiques I have ever visited (indeed, Aedes de Venustas means Temple of Beauty in Latin). The décor is decadent, dark, and velvety. I always imagine I am walking in to a German medieval castle when I enter. Karl Bradl, the owner, specializes in unique, hard to find, exquisite perfumes, candles, and home fragrances. My two favorites, which make perfect holiday or hostess gifts, are the Feu de Bois by Dyptique (my mother’s favorite), and the Aedes de Venustas candle that was a collaboration with L’Artisan Parfumeur (I always save the beautiful purple candle container once the wax is gone).

Carnegie Hill Pharmacy

There are two locations, one on 1331 Madison Avenue and one on W55th and Broadway, recently opened. Owned by David (the pharmacist) and Valerie (his model-like business partner and wife), this pharmacy stocks European brands first and foremost, including such favorites as Nuxe, Caudalie, Gewhol, Natura Bisse, and of course Alchimie Forever. Go there too for hard to find supplements, and the perfect cure for any ache or ailement.

Clyde’s Chemists (926 Madison Avenue)

Pharmacy meets boutique department store is how I think of Clyde’s, a beauty institution on the Upper East Side. The back pharmacy area is extremely well stocked and feels like a beauty supply store, filled treasures waiting to be discovered. The front of the boutique, however, feels like the beauty floor at Barney’s. European favorites have their own counters, including Clarins and Guerlain, while you can also find niche boutique brands such as Clark’s Botanicals. Their fragrance selection is significant, and their men’s section your go to for Zirh, Anthony Logistics, and more. The best part? The team that makes your shopping experience civilized, pleasurable, and fun. And the fact that sometimes clients walk in and know of Alchimie Forever and my father, Dr. Luigi L. Polla, because they have visited him at Forever Laser Institut in Geneva!

C. O. Bigelow (414 Sixth Avenue)

Ian Ginsberg owns and runs this beauty destination, which has been in his family for three generations, and was initially opened in 1838. This store is such an institution that it has is own Wikipedia listing. Not surprising… you just need to list to Ian speak for 5 minutes to understand his passion and know-how. A pharmacist by trade, he likes to work with brands that are hard to find and nice to work with. His team has been with him for 10+ years, a testament to both management and the staff. Go there for the experience, and for the best selection of NARS, Rilastil, and Oribe.

New London Pharmacy (246 Eight Avenue)

The owner of New London, Abby Fazio, a Greek pharmacist, fascinates me. She knows her customer like the back of her hand, loves skin care above all (in particular oils and balms), and has a passion for bringing foreign lines to the US (she was the first to offer The Organic Pharmacy). She believes in the balance of body and mind, and in the need to treat both for optimal health and wellness – through medical services, homeopathy, and natural remedies. She also works with her husband (they have been involved in New London since 1977), and listens to her daughter’s preferences when selecting new brands. When you visit, make sure you take the time to meet the delightful Wesley, who always has the perfect answer to all of your beauty and grooming questions – and always answers with a smile.

Shen Beauty (315 Court Street, Brooklyn)

Yes, you have to leave Manhattan to visit Shen Beauty, but it is well worth it. Opened in 2010 by Jules Stringer and Jessica Richards, this boutique carries exclusive lines, many from the UK. That might have to do with Jules’ UK origin, and previous career as a beauty journalist in the UK. Look for Amanda Lacey and Jemma Kidd. Also, if your brows are in need of some TLC, this is the place to go.

Whitney Chemists (50 University Place)

Somehow, this boutique reminds me of my grandmother’s stash of goodies she always had beautifully displayed in her bathroom. It might be because of the Grether’s Pastilles (my Nana’s favorites) which I can’t help but purchase every time I go there. Or it might be because of the lovely German accent I hear in Christine’s English. Either way, no trip to NYC is complete without a visit to Whitney’s, the best trip down memory lane.