Reopening… to the new normal

Over the past week, we have started to see some states (in the US) and some countries begin to reopen – including the reopening of various beauty businesses. In Georgia for example, salons reopened last Friday April 24th (the first state to reopen salons). Across the pond, Switzerland reopened this past Monday April 27th, and their beauty businesses including salons, spas, and medical spas were allowed to reopen during Phase 1. 

At least here in the US, this reopening of salons in Georgia has generated much controversy. The naysayers have said things such as “It’s too early.” “It’s all about vanity and beauty should wait.” “It’s not safe.” On the opposite end of the spectrum, many stylists and salon owners are thrilled to be back to work, and guests are flocking to the salons to get long overdue services. This article gives a great overview of the debate.

As a consumer of all things beauty, I look forward to returning to my favorite Washington DC salons and spas whenever the local government deems it safe.  

As a participant in the beauty industry, I know that state boards of cosmetology are working around the clock to issue the best possible safety guidelines that will shape our new normal. We will see new personal protective wear for therapists and guests, including masks, face shields, gloves, and more. New restrictions on how many people can be in salons and spas at the same time. New policies for waiting areas (bye bye magazines and beverage services) and for check in and check out (online payment and rebooking is more relevant today than ever). And more. 

As a Polla sister, I admire the work Rachel and Cyrille have done to create new systems at Forever Institut and Forever Boutique to welcome our patients back. And I am so very grateful for our patients who are trusting us to continue to create a safe environment for them, and provide the highest quality treatments. 

And as a human, I ask that we all be kind, considerate, and compassionate with one another during this time of transition. We are, truly, all in this together, albeit all in different boats. 

Supporting Your Favorite Brands and Businesses During COVID-19

The last ten days have changed my reality as I knew it. Two of my family’s three businesses are closed because of Swiss government action (Forever Institut and Forever Boutique). In the US, many of the spas and boutiques that sell Alchimie Forever have made the choice to close for a number of weeks, and our sales have already decreased as a result. All of the favorite places I love to go to are closed (from exercise studios to boutiques to bars and restaurants).

I know that we are all in this together, and that we will come out of this together, stronger, wiser. But when? And will my world look like then what it looked like two weeks ago? 

As both a small business owner and a small business supporter, I am concerned about small businesses and independent brands everywhere. Here are some of the ways I am helping my favorite boutiques, bars, restaurants, spas, and salons. I am: 

  • Leaving five-star reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc. 
  • Following social accounts, and like, comment, share. 
  • Creating social media content that highlights your favorite brands and locations; post and tag. 
  • Purchasing products online from any of your brick and mortar faves that have a website presence. 
  • Purchasing gift cards from your favorite service providers. (Getting my holiday shopping done early!). 
  • Ordering takeout / delivery from my favorite restaurants who can no longer accept table service. (Side note: in many municipalities they can now also sell beer and wine for delivery or takeout)

This too shall pass. Until then, let’s work together to ensure that our favorite small businesses and independent brands are here when it does. 

Our New Year’s Resolutions

When we were children and still spending New Year’s Eve with our parents, they implemented a tradition of discussing our current year successes and New Year’s intentions and…

When we were children and still spending New Year’s Eve with our parents, they implemented a tradition of discussing our current year successes and New Year’s intentions and resolutions over New Year’s Eve dinner. We did this for so many years, all four of us still live a version of this tradition ever 31st of December.

Here are each of our 2020 resolutions.

 Roxane: Be ok alone.

My husband just started a new job that requires him to be away during the week and home only on the weekends. This is a wonderful opportunity for him, but a challenge for me. I have never learned how to spend time alone nor do I like it. My 2020 challenge and resolution is to be ok when I am alone. I’ve come up with a number of tactics and strategies to set myself up for success:

  • Getting to know my neighbors and having dinner parties with them.
  • Becoming a regular at the local diner.
  • Having friends over and/or test new restaurants with them.
  • Going rock-climbing once a week with a colleague.
  • Engaging in local activities: Thursday evenings in Nax (the village I live in) I can do yoga classes or ski under the stars.
  • Working late or going to bed early (instead of binging on TV shows).
  • If I am eating at home by myself, I will try reading a book, listening to an audio book, watching a good movie, calling family and friends or Skyping with my husband and having a virtual dinner with him.
  • Creating evening routines: turning music on when I walk in the door, starting a fire, lighting candles, doing 30 minutes of yoga, taking a long shower and treating my body with many Alchimie Forever products.

I think there is a slight change I might actually start to enjoying spending time with myself, by myself.

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Rachel: Let go of my fear of taking risks.

In 2016, when I became CEO of Forever Institut, I took a big risk to launch our first expansion project, Forever Boutique. This risk has paid off as the Boutique is break-even and showing growth every month, yet more than ever I am afraid of failure, and plagued with too many doubts. Yet, to succeed as an entrepreneur (or as a seasoned business leader), you have to embrace risk. Calculated risk, yes, but risk nonetheless.
This year, I feel sufficiently serene to be able to take a leap forward and embrace a new risk. We will be looking out for our second Forever Boutique, and I trust that my change of mindset will be like a message to the Universe who will answer with the perfect location for our expansion.

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Cyrille: Continued affirmation of (my)self.

Last year I tried yoga nidra for the first time, and it was like a revelation. The practice starts by setting a powerful intention for yourself; creating in your mind of a precise sentence that helps support your heart’s wishes. This intention (or sankalpa, the Sanskrit word for resolve) should be positive, short, and stated in the present tense. Sankalpa is not about achieving goals or fixing something that is “wrong”. Instead, it’s about connecting with your emotions and beliefs. I learned that my sankalpa already resided within me, as a heartfelt longing. And I repeat it to myself everyday “I am a conquering queen, creator of my own life”. I think of it as a vow between the Universe an me.

While this may not be a traditional resolution (I have never embraced these as much as my sisters LOL!), I vow to continue to repeat my sankalpa daily, as I have found it to be a powerful tool, a gateway to positive change and personal transformation.

Cyrille

Me (Ada): Feel (be) healthier.

This may be the most non original and common New Year Resolution, yet it is not one that I have made in the past – so it is new and interesting to me. I am working to feel healthier, to be healthier, despite traveling 100,000 miles per year, sleeping five to six hours per night, mostly in hotel rooms. To start off strong, I am doing a 21-day cleanse that entails no alcohol, no sugar, no carbohydrates, limited fat and limited dairy. As I write this, I am on day 5, and feeling good. To me, this is as much about the physical cleanse, as it is about the emotional breaking of bad habits, such as relying on wine to de-stress, and on food to feel better.

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What are your New Year’s intentions?

Gift Giving Guide

‘Tis the season… the season of gratitude, and the season of giving. In many ways, I find even more pleasure in giving the perfect gift than in receiving gifts! Finding the perfect gift for everyone really is one of the most satisfying things ever. If you are stuck buying yet another tie for your father, here are some out of the box ideas that will bring a smile to even the “hardest-to-shop-for-person-ever.”

‘Tis the season… the season of gratitude, and the season of giving. In many ways, I find even more pleasure in giving the perfect gift than in receiving gifts! Finding the perfect gift for everyone really is one of the most satisfying things ever. If you are stuck buying yet another tie for your father, here are some out of the box ideas that will bring a smile to even the “hardest-to-shop-for-person-ever.” (I have three of them on my list…)

For your significant other: Erotic Poems by E. E. Cummins. (With the promise of a live reading by candlelight)

For your dad: Smartphone Film Scanner. (So all of those pictures of you as a baby can make it to his phone instead of being relegated to a cardboard box at the bottom of a closet)

For your mom (in particular if, like mine, she loves art and espresso): Color Lab espresso cups.

For your brother (or brother-in-law): a top of the line double-edged razor. (And for an even smoother shave, add Alchimie Forever Antioxidant skin repair gel)

For your sister (or sister-in-law): a gorgeous sparkly clutch that will take her from day to night.

For your best friend (or for your mother-in-law who has everything), this hand-beaded silk chiffon bib necklace is the perfect accessory, and it won’t be one that all of her friends have.

For your co-worker, the most beautiful candle from the unique NYC boutique Aedes de Venustas, which smells as delicious as it looks.

For your secret Santa: a bottle of Bourbon and these will for sure help him/her stay warm throughout the winter.

For that special person on your list who has everything, these two options always enchant: an artsy iPhone case, and a beautiful notepad.

Tips For a Successful Annual Family Meeting

A few years ago, we attended the INSEAD executive program on family business. It was a turning point for our family business in terms of identifying goals and best practices. One best practice that came out of this program was to hold an annual family meeting – we call it our Family Council meeting.

A few years ago, we attended the INSEAD executive program on family business. It was a turning point for our family business in terms of identifying goals and best practices. One best practice that came out of this program was to hold an annual family meeting – we call it our Family Council meeting.

The intended outcome of this meeting is to spend time together, of course, but beyond that it is to update those family members not involved in the day to day operations of the family business on the current states of our business units, and to benefit from their thinking, insights, and questions.

We just came back from our third Family Council meeting, held at Villa Verde Resort in Friuli, the region of Italy where our father grew up. Each meeting gets better, as we learn from our experiences. Here are our best practices so far:

Roxane:

  • Have someone take photos; these times are precious! My husband Guillaume is (one of) our assigned photographer.
  • If the work meeting lasts the equivalent of a full work day – which it should – make sure there is time to exercise or practice an outdoor activity before dinner. Your body fluids get moving again, your brain is oxygenated, and everything feels much better afterwards. I know I needed this time!

Rachel:

  • Do not schedule anything right after the meeting, as ours usually lasts longer than scheduled. We learned this the hard way our first Family Council meeting (we all had a train to catch): everyone left rushed and frustrated at not having been able to share everything we wanted to share (yes, we do talk a lot and the goal of these moments is to share, share, share). However, balance this with respect for timing and scheduling.
  • Set a clear code of conduct. I love ours – love, respect, no sleeping (see photo!).

Cyrille:

  • Organize some bonding time before starting the meeting. Reconnecting emotionally and tuning our energies towards one another makes the business discussions much more open, rich and authentic.
  • If one or more family members has a hobby they are passionate about, it’s great to include it in the schedule. Our dad loves golf, and so do some other family members. Thus, we set aside time to golf (see bonding time above). The rest of us were by the pool and that was superb too!
  • Include a festive and joyful together time after the meeting. Either a dinner – or even better, stay overnight and have some fun the morning after.

Ada:

  • Schedule “alone time” in the midst of all the “together time.” Without it, I am not very much fun to be around.
  • Include the children in the day as much as possible. Either in terms of them participating in the presentations and discussions (depending on the age), or in terms of them being present even if they are not actively participating. Per our Dad, it is never too early to start – and they learn by osmosis.
  • Think about all of the possible tension points that will surely come up during such intense family time. Plan for them. Figure out how to diffuse them before they occur.

We already can’t wait for next year’s meeting!