Pillars + Values

Two years ago I Marie Kondo’d my home, and pulled a number of books from my bookshelf that I had not read. I committed to reading them all.

This week, I picked GROW by Jim Stengel from that pile, and the timing could not be better. Alchimie Forever is growing, and growing fast – and this book is reminding me to stay close to our mission and ideals.

“Great businesses have great ideals,” Stengel says. Our big ideal is to improve people’s lives by improving their skin.

Self care through skin care.

Looking good, means feeling good, means doing good.

Specifically, Stengel challenges businesses to clarify pillars (values) that will guide every aspect of the business. Here are our five, which guide everything we do from product development to distribution partnerships to caring for our employees and customers.

Clean. We focus on the safety and efficacy of our ingredients rather than the source. We are paraben-free, vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free.

Read more here.

Clinical. We are dermatologist-formulated. We believe in science. We believe professional skin care treatments are a necessary complement to home care.

Approachable. We believe in making products that are available to all, in price and place. We like to think we are aspirationally accessible.

Responsible. We are fiscally responsible. We are environmentally responsible. We are humanly responsible.

Transparent. We work with integrity. We say what we do and do what we say.

On Sales

“I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.” Estée Lauder. 

Belief in my product is (also) at the core of why, and how, I sell. And belief, supplemented with sales methodologies and frameworks, can only yield even better results. 

I attended sales training last week, and here are the three most important things I learned, and re-learned. 

1. When walking into a potential account “cold.” 

Three easy steps to make an in-person cold call easier:

  • Who: Introduce yourself; name and company name. 
  • Why: Address the reason for your visit; incorporate a compliment whenever possible. For example: “I saw your Instagram account and love it and wanted to see more in real life” or “Congratulations on the great press mention in last week’s issue of XXX, the article made me want to stop by.”  
  • What’s in it for me: Address the benefit associated with your visit, for example, free products to try. 

2. When walking into an existing account for a followup visit. 

Here, the relationship is established, and it can sometimes get easy to treat a followup sales visit as a social call. To help make sure you are making an impact, and to ensure good note-taking and follow-up post-visit, use this framework: 

  • Situation: Who, where, when.  
  • Pain: What pain points were discovered? How can you further improve the relationship? 
  • Impact: What are the followup actions to ensure a positive impact from the visit? 

3. When negotiating a sale. 

First, replace the word “negotiate” with the word “trade”, which is both less aggressive and more positive. 

Second, here are the trading steps to follow: 

  • Get all negation items out (figure out the list of “asks”). 
  • Repeat what you heard (active listening). 
  • Prioritize the issues (so you know which “asks” to focus on). 
  • Qualify the decision-maker (don’t waste their time or yours talking to the wrong person). 
  • Make the office, be clear and concise.
  • Listen and repeat their counter-offer. 
  • Confirm the “expiration date” of your offer. 
  • Agree to consequences. 
  • Confirm all with email and contract. 

Self-care + skincare + looking at yourself in the mirror

To me, skin care has always been more than skin deep. 

At the heart of our origin story is self-care 

“Self-care through skin care.”™

Also at the heart of our origin story is the idea that how you look impacts how you feel, which in turn impacts how you act. 

“Looking good, means feeling good, means doing good.” 

You can learn more about our tag lines by watching this video

In a time that seems defined by over-work, over-connectedness, stress, and mental health concerns, taking care of one’s self is an absolute must. Self-care, of course, takes many forms (exercise, meditation, religion, food, and more), and means something different to everyone. 

In my world, self-care relates to beauty, skin, and looking at myself in the mirror with kindness and gratitude. 

In my world, self-care means applying creams, lotions, potions. Self-care means spending time in my bathroom focusing on myself, and only on myself (my bathroom is a phone-free zone, the only one in my home). Per my mother’s advice, I spend a lot of time looking at myself in the mirror. I inspect all of the infinitely minute changes that take place every day. Changes in my skin, my face, my body. I look at them, I acknowledge them, I welcome them. I smile at myself. I tell myself I am beautiful. Not in a vain way, rather, in a kind way.  

In a time when we all need to be reminded about the importance of self-care, I am grateful for the many brands (beauty and otherwise) that focus on this message. The most recent example (which inspired this blog post) is Birchbox – and their new You-Time campaign 

Next time you look at yourself in the mirror, ask yourself “Who do you see?” Answer with positivity and kindness. 

 

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!  

ada polla shows redness on her face

Skincare Tips For Stressful Situations

I feel fortunate that most of the time, my skin is not a cause for stress or concern. I am nice to it, and in return it is nice to me. We happily coexist. Sometimes, however, my skin likes to remind me that it is the boss of me, and that I need to be extra gentle with it. It can’t use words, so it “speaks” to me with zits, redness, dry patches, and dark circles. Here are my go-to tips and products for stressful skin scenarios.

Reaction from another product.

  • Case in point, the very unflattering photo of me here, trying out a mask (that shall remain un-named) on half my face to compare the effect with our Kantic brightening moisture mask. Instant redness and irritation.
  • The best thing to do is nothing, or apply a very calming, trusted moisturizer. I used our Kantic calming cream and was fine the next morning.

Travelling.

 Stressed.

  • Stress will come out on your skin in various ways. For me, I get dry red patches in symmetrical areas, often in my wrist area. This may sound bad, but Neosporin is then my go-to – the kind with pain relief properties.
  • Our Dry skin balm also helps calm the inflammation of stressed skin and is ideal if your stress comes out as dry flaky patches (body, not face).

 Hungover.

  • The eye area is key on such mornings, and our Tightening eye contour gel works miracles in lifting and opening my tired eyes.
  • A tiny bit of Kantic Brightening moisture mask mixed in my favorite moisturizer will help give my skin an all-day glow to counteract the “morning after dullness.”

 Sunburnt.

  • Think healing, gentle, anti-inflammatory, and anti-redness. Our Kantic Calming cream helps reduce redness and calm the heat in your skin, and you can even use it on your body.
  • If you peel, do not “pick” at your skin. Once the redness is gone, our Gentle refining scrub will help accelerate the skin’s recovery.

 Breakout before a hot date.

  • Never, ever, ever pick. It only makes it worse.
  • The Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is a miracle worker. Ideally overnight, but even if it is for an hour or so before said “hot date,” it will help.
  • Dab a tiny amount of concealer to hide the redness, but don’t overdo it as that will only attract attention to that area.

Stop Adding Sugar to Your Diet to Look Younger Longer

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day so a post on sweets (aka sugar) seems timely (it was that or a red roses rant).

Summary: Sugar is a (skin) aging accelerator. Stop adding sugar to your diet to look younger longer.

Sugar is hidden in almost everything we eat – including fruits and vegetables, yogurt (except plain), processed meats, salad dressings, sauces (yes, the best tomato sauce has added sugar), bread, pasta, crackers, wine, and more. Knowing this, we are all getting our “recommended sugar dosage” by eating and drinking “normal” substances – so no need to add juice, soda, sports or energy drinks, cereal, desert, cookies, muffins, smoothies, or other sugar-forward foods in our diet.

I am not speaking about the correlation between sugar and tooth decay, excess weight, diabetes, heart disease (and those connections are real). I am speaking pure skin here – excess sugar makes you look older sooner. Here is a summary of the pesky process called Glycation.

  • Excess sugar molecules attach themselves to proteins including collagen
  • Said collagen loses its strength and flexibility
  • Skin thus looks slacker, more wrinkled, less plump

Ironically, the culprits in this process are called AGEs – advanced glycation end products (compounds that result from a combination of sugars and proteins). And yes, they age you. For a more in-depth understanding of the impact of glycation on aging, read this article.

Here are easy tips to incorporate in your daily lifestyle today:

  • Stop drinking sugar – fruit juice, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks  
  • Forego pre-made or store-bought salad dressing, at home and at the restaurant; instead, have oil and vinegar on the side
  • If you must have desert, do it the European way and eat fruit and nuts (and cheese!)
  • Put down that piece of chocolate – unless it is dark chocolate (packed with antioxidants), small, and the only one you will enjoy this month.

Conclusion: Sugar is a (skin) aging accelerator. Stop adding sugar to your diet to look younger longer.