Beauty & The Biz: Ada Polla & Alchimie Forever

I’m excited to share with you (another) new series on the blog (talk about a productive October!): Beauty & The Biz. Ever since I started this beauty blog, I’ve spent much of my time, picking the brains of beauty gurus and entrepreneurs, and after much thought I decided, why not turn it in to a blog series? Beauty & The Biz is dedicated to beauty entrepreneurs, businesswomen (or men), makeup artists and every beauty professional in between. As a consumer, we’re only exposed to the beauty products through endless advertisements, magazine and blog features and online reviews. I’m interested in the story that can’t be told on the back of the box, and I hope you are too!

To kick off the series, who better to feature first than a Washingtonian skincare and business guru? If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I am a huge Alchimie Forever loyalist (I love their cream cleanser, gentle refining scrub and brightening moisture mask). Ada Polla is the CEO and co-founder of Alchimie Forever, the amaze swiss skincare line. Today, she shares the inspiration behind the family owned business, what a typical day is like and her best advice for aspiring beauty entrepreneurs.
The Business of Beauty: Ada Polla Alchimie Forever

For those who aren’t familiar with Alchimie Forever, tell us a little bit about the brand and how it began.

Alchimie Forever started in my father’s (Dr. Luigi Polla) medical office. He was the first physician to do laser therapy in Europe, and wanted skin care products that would heal the skin post procedure, and enhance the rejuvenating effects of the treatments. He started creating his own formulations, giving “cream prescriptions” to his patients and sending them to the compounding pharmacy, until he thought “Why don’t I just make these creams instead?!” I expanded the business to the U.S. when we had just five products, in 2004, as a way to bring the best skin care Switzerland has to offer on this side of the Atlantic.

Is there a particular reason why this awesome skin care line is based in Georgetown, DC?

Well, I moved to DC in 2002 to attend Georgetown Business School (from Boston, MA), and I just fell in love with this city. I love the low heights of the buildings, the powerful feel of the Capital, the cosmopolitan and cultured residents, and the sense of history that I feel in Georgetown. I just couldn’t bring myself to move away!

Alchimie Forever Kantic Mask

Have you always been a product junkie?

Yes, always a skin care junkie. I think we learn our habits from our mothers… and my Mom always had (and still does have) a wide array of skin care products. She’s not really into makeup (except for lipstick, again I get this from her), but loves lotions and potions for face and body.

What are your favorite products from the line?

This is the hardest question! I love our Kantic Brightening Moisture Mask, I do it 2-3 times per week, it is my skin savior for when I travel (which is 80% of my time!). I also love our newest product, the Daily Defense Cream SPF23, our first product made with an SPF. It even smells delightful!

Ada and Maggie

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.

This is impossible, the beauty of what I do is that nothing is ever typical. But some things that happen a lot involve: waking up at 5 am, running or spinning, getting on a plane, skipping lunch, having meetings of conference calls with clients, doing press interviews, writing (for my blog, trade magazines, the Huffington Post), and having some champagne or chardonnay at the end of the day. One of my recent days looked like this.

What’s your favorite part about the job?

My team! I love building the brand with my team, and building my team. We are in this together, we are all so passionate about what we are doing, having the ability to work with such wonderful people is a treat. And it makes me feel great that I am contributing to their livelihoods, in addition to their happiness and professional development. And I learn from each and every one of them.

Coolest destination you’ve traveled to for work?

This would be a tie between Geneva, Switzerland (which I go to quarterly, and think is so cool because it is my home town), and Hong Kong. I was exploring distribution there, and fell in love with the city. It is so elegant, mysterious (I love the mountains rising up from the water), educated, and fast-paced. I can’t wait to go back!

What’s your work motto? 

Always be overdressed. Always be kinder than you feel.

What’s next for Alchimie Forever?

We are working on two great possible products for 2014 (shh… they are still secret), as well as travel kits, which is something our clients have been asking us for, and something I selfishly want to develop given how much I travel. We are also working to expand our distribution across the country, including in states that we still do not have representation in.

What advice do you have for aspiring beauty entrepreneurs?

Just do it. And remember that “no” is just the start of a conversation.

What are your favorite fall beauty buys:

SpaRitual Share Collection, specifically Uncomplicated. I can’t decide if I love the name or the color more!

Nars Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella. This is a year-round color for me, but I use it more frequently in the fall and winter. A bright red lip and I feel instantly elegant and classy.

Aveda Style-Prep Be Curly. This is a new product for me, I was recently told I should embrace my natural waves instead of fight them… I’m trying this out. Let’s see how it goes!