BeautyView: Molly Schrader, Owner, Retro

Molly Schrader, Owner, Retro

Molly Schrader, Owner, Retro

How can I not love a woman who likes champagne as much as I do (maybe even more) and believes the best diet is never to eat anything that comes in a package? Her beauty phislosophy is to always make an effort – and I can attest that she does. She always looks fabulous, a combination of Marilyn Monroe and Amy Winehouse. Meet Molly Schrader, owner of Retro. The best salon ever not just because they carry Alchimie Forever, but because in addition to offering hair and skin services, they also offer champagne.

AP: What city were you born in? MS: Houston, TX.

AP: What city to do you live in? MS: Southern Pines, NC.

AP: What is your middle name? MS: Lee.

AP: What is your astrological sign? MS: Aries.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? MS: I absolutely LOVE Bossa Nova music.

AP: What is your most prized possession? MS: My super hot husband!

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? MS: My maternal grandmother. I never had the chance to meet her but I heard she was fearless, wild, and beautiful.

AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum. MS: Glam. Rock. Chic.

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? MS: I have cursed wrists. Bracelets and watches look terrible on me.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? MS: Diamonds! A girl needs to shine!

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? MS: Always make an effort. No matter how tired you are. Style your hair, put on some lip gloss, get a manicure.

AP: What fragrance do you wear? MS: In the daytime, Pure Grace by Philosophy. At night, Coco Chanel.

AP: Botox or not? MS: I haven’t yet but my girlfriends who do it LOVE it!

AP: Hair color: natural or not? MS: Not! I love to change my hair color. It’s like being reborn!

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? MS: If it comes in a package, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

AP: What do you do for exercise? MS: Running and squats. Lots of squats.

AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge? MS: Coconut milk, champagne, veggies

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? MS: Champagne of course!

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? MS: When at work, focus on work. When your at home, focus on you. It’s important to find the seperation.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? MS: Between 6-8,000 miles

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? MS: 1. Always look nice. You never know who you will meet while traveling. 2. Make a playlist. Music sets my mood. It’s essential to get my head right for the next adventure. 3. Bring your own toiletries. Hotel products are not catering to your skin type!

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. MS: All the rage back home by Interpol; Desperate youth by Santigold; and Love is to die by War Paint.

AP: What book are you reading right now? MS: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso.

AP: Quote to live by. MS: “Shut up, and put your big girl panties on.”

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? MS: Panty lines!!! The worst!

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? MS: Probably around 9 hrs. My cats send me hate stares if I’m not up to feed them by 8:30.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? MS: The amazing products and how they can change a person’s life.

AP: Least favorite thing. MS: I want to take home everything.

AP: Who is your mentor? MS: My former boss, Michelle. She’s a woman of beauty, dignity, and strength. I learned a lot from her.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. MS: DO NOT expect to be handed anything. You have to WORK for it. Once you have it, work harder to keep it.

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Interviewing tips and highlights from #GIRLBOSS

One of my summer reads this year has been #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso, Founder and CEO of Nasty Gal. I admired her and what she has accomplished even before I knew her story. And knowing more about her story only makes me more admirative. I enjoyed her book, and her messages to women entering the workforce – and cannot recommend the book enough to young women everywhere.

In particular, her chapter on “Hiring, Staying Employed, and Firing” resonated with me. I am fortunate enough to have three amazing summer interns for Alchimie Forever this year (Alchimie’s Angels, as we know them, partly because all three have names that start with A). As I have gotten to know them better over the last couple of months, they have shared some of their dreams, fears, and professional ambitions with me. They remind me of how it was to be a junior or senior in college, of the unique combination of carefreeness and stress of that time. And their stage of life reminds me of the painful process that interviewing can be.

On page 161 of her book, Amoruso lists “Interview No-No’s That May Doom You to Unemployment.” Here is her list of interviewing tips, with which I wholeheartedly agree:

-       “Chewing gum

-       Bringing things with you – a beverage, a pet, a boyfriend, a child

-       Leaning back in your chair and crossing your arms

-       Staring at the floor, out the window, or at the interviewer’s boobs

-       Picking your nose or your nails

-       Having your phone even visible

-       Having zero questions

-       Asking so many questions that it seems like you’re interviewing the interviewer

-       Not writing a thank-you email or note – I especially love a handwritten note because to me, someone who knows to have good manners knows how to get what she wants in this world

-       Dressing like you’re headed to a nightclub instead of a job interview

-       As a female, thinking that you don’t have to wear a bra, even if you’re interviewing at a company with a name like Nasty Gal”

 

I would add a couple more recommendations to her list:

-       Be late, even by one minute

-       Be too early; if you arrive more than 10 minutes early, find a nearby coffeeshop

-       Lie on your resume, in particular about languages; you never know when your interviewer might switch to French because you have “conversational French”

-       Cry

To all young women (and men) interviewing everywhere, good luck! And to my three amazing interns, enjoy the process!

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Notes from Cosmoprof: sales advice from one Shark and four retailers

During his opening remarks at the Professional Beauty Association keynote breakfast during Cosmoprof, a week ago today, Mark Cuban focused on sales. His remarks were short and to the point, and the two key messages I took away, and have written on postits now strategically placed in my office were:

“Sales cures all ills.”

“Keep on grinding. Keep on working. Keep on selling.” 

Not that I don’t know this already – but a reminder that I (and most entrepreneurs out there probably) need to focus my time and energy on revenues is always welcome. No business can exist without revenue…

This message informed my attendance at a panel the following day, The Retail Evolution: What’s New In Stores. This panel, led by Andrea Nagel of CEW, included:

-       Marcia Gaynor, DMM Prestige Beauty, Walgreens. Her Duane Reade Look Boutiques focus on making shopping easier and more convenient for the consumer, who is already shopping there for her family.

-       Shannon West, VP Beauty, Costco. 1.5 million people walk in a Costco every day. The company offers items at a 14% markup from their full landed cost, launches a line with their hero SKU, and never wants to be more than 25% of a brand’s business (i.e. they like to work with established brands).

-       Nicky Kinnaird, Founder and Creative Director, SpaceNK.  She built a beauty empire on two continents, with 62 stores in the UK and 22 in the US (including store in stores at Bloomies). Her role with the company recently shifted away from day to day operations, as she launched her own consulting business (of course with SpaceNK as a key client).

-       And Richard Parrott, President, Ricky’s NY. Ricky’s has 29 stores in New York City (of which 15 have salons), and segment their business between tourist-based business and the neighborhood store (in which of course relationships and clienteling are much more important).

Not surprisingly, the panel was sold out. I guess I am not the only indie beauty brand looking for more distribution… Here are my key takeaways.

-       Apparently, the difficulty of establishing new relationships goes both ways. While I often feel that retailers are not being as responsive to me as I would hope, Marcia, Shannon, and Nicky all expressed that finding brands is not easy, and that when they call brands they would like to have represented in their stores, they often do not even get a call back.

-       Stores like to cherry pick from lines. Nicky said she likes to offer in her stores what reflects the consumer’s bathroom, which is most often an assortment of the best products from a number of different brands. Shannon echoed this stating that Costco’s philosophy is usually to pick the brand’s hero product to launch… “Exactly what they don’t want to sell us” she admits…

-       The trends identified by the panel include:

  • From Richard: anything coming out of Japan, products for men, and sexual wellness
  • From Shannon and Marcia: devices
  • From Nicky: supplements and smart fabric

-       Apparently, boutiques are looking for new brands! Nicky told the brands in the audience “email me and you will get a response” (which I confirm is true), and Richard admitted freely “we are looking for new brands.” Indeed, he urged brands to “stick with it and be persistent.” “Don’t stop,” he concluded, echoing Mark Cuban’s exact advice.

And with that, my focus on sales, prospects, leads, and cold and warm calls just doubled!

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BeautyView: Cathy Cluff, President & CEO, The Oaks at Ojai

Cathy Cluff, President & CEO, The Oaks at Ojai

Cathy Cluff, President & CEO, The Oaks at Ojai

I met Cathy Cluff, President & CEO of The Oaks at Ojai 10ish years ago (!) because of my fascination with daughters who work with their mother – I do, and she does too (her Mom is the amazing Sheila Cluff). And we happen to work (and play) in the same industry. Since our first meeting during which we talked about the dynamics of family business and specifically mother-daughter relationships, we have shared stories of love, life, loss, and shots of Patron (although now we will have to switch to Crown and ginger…).

AP: What city were you born in? CC: Plattsburg, New York.

AP: What city to do you live in? CC: Ojai, CA.

AP: What is your middle name? CC: Sheila, after my Mom.

AP: What is your astrological sign? CC: Virgo on the cusp of Libra.

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? CC: I like oddities like circus side shows and Lucha Libre. I also ignore everyone in the room while watching TV.

AP: What is your most prized possession? CC: Sophia and Roman, my kids.

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? CC: Today it would be Jodi Foster for her intellect and talent. From the past would be Frieda Kahlo for her tortured creativity.

AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum. CC: Hipster, business, stylish.

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? CC: Yes, it depends on the outfit but usually has a wide leather band.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? CC: Diamonds of course.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? CC: Sunscreen.

AP: What fragrance do you wear? CC: Georgio Armani.

AP: Botox or not? CC: If I need it but I hope not I am deeply afraid of needles.

AP: Hair color: natural or not? CC: Natural with added highlights.

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? CC: Gluten Free and high protein snacks.

AP: What do you do for exercise? CC: Swim, hike and walk on the beach, but not often enough.

AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge? CC: Peanut or almond butter, milk and Girard’s Italian salad dressing.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? CC: Crown and Ginger plus Baileys and coffee.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? CC: Simply recognizing the need for one and realizing that the work will always be there tomorrow.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average?CC: Only about 10,000.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? CC: A magazine, no alcohol on the flight, and hydration.

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. CC: Jackson by Johnny Cash, Problem by Ariana Grande and Los Angeles by X.

AP: What book are you reading right now? CC: Positive parenting.

AP: Quote to live by. CC: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain” by Vivian Greene.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? CC: Being late and watching a movie from the middle.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? CC: 6am and out of bed by 6:30. I need 8 hours of sleep but I am not a great sleeper.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? CC: That beauty can come in so many different forms.

AP: Least favorite thing. CC: That people let external beauty rule their lives.

AP: Who is your mentor? CC: My dynamic and innovative Mom Sheila and the late Alex Szekely.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. CC: Surround yourself with really smart people and always be kind because it will be remembered. Hire the attitude teach the skill.

Tinos… it’s good for the soul…

After a week in Tinos, I feel like a new person. Someone healthier, more rested, calmer, someone with more breathing room. It may be all of the fresh Greek salads, and the swimming in the sea, but I think there is more to it… Tinos is good for my soul.

A girl and the sea

A girl and the sea

Time spent outside is good for the soul. Reading outside; eating outside; having cocktail hour outside. How can I implement this back in DC? More outdoor furniture; discipline to walk down three flights of stairs to the side yard for my morning coffee…

Time spent in the clear, cold, salty sea is good for the soul – and the body. Something about the cold invigorates me. At my favorite beach, I am often alone in the water, and that solitude among the waves is magical.

Time with the data on my phone turned off is good for the soul. I check emails when I choose to, not when I can or because I am addicted to the device; I must try this type of digital detox in DC, even if for just a couple of hours.

Simplicity is good for the soul. Simplicity such as a small house that has exactly everything you need in it, and not one thing more; 6 Tinos glasses, 6 and no more because you won’t ever need more; no TV, radio, internet, because the entertainment comes from books (and books there are…) and looking at the view from the terrace.

Doing things  “the old fashioned way” is good for the soul.  For example, drying clothes on a clothesline, rather than in a dryer, is somehow soothing, more environmentally friendly, and better for the clothes. And they end up smelling like sunshine.

Using “old” things is good for the soul. I love making coffee in the old-stlyle coffee maker that probably belonged to my grandmother; I love the old, somewhat ragged beach towels that have been here ever since I have been coming to Tinos, that still “work” perfectly. Somehow with age these belongings have taken on more meaning through history, I have grown attached to them. Who needs the latest and greatest all the time?

Eating local is good for the soul – and for the palate. For the soul, it reminds one of where everything comes from, and of the circle of life. A farmer plants a tomato plant. Tomatoes grow. Next door, a restaurant serves those tomatoes to happy American tourists. Such is the very simple circle of life.

Singing out loud is good for the soul – I have heard more men sing while working here than I ever have. It started with our cab driver from the Athens airport to the port. The radio station was on, Greek songs, of course, and twice during the 40-minute cab ride, he sang to those songs. Loudly and happily, no humming there. It was beautiful. It reminded me that the smallest things can change someone’s day, someone’s mood.

Church bells are good for the soul – no matter the church. The first time I hear them during this trip is at 8:45 pm Saturday evening on our terrace, for no apparent reason. Perhaps they are just there to remind us of the higher powers that watch over us.

Silence is good for the soul. This may be the most significant luxury of our time here. Sitting in our terrace, no matter the day of the week or the time of day, it is quiet enough to hear the wind rustle through the leaves; hear the birds chirp; hear nothing… It is so quiet that we all wonder at the lone car that drives on the single village road, once in a long while.

Tinos, it’s good for the soul.

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Two weddings and a birthday…

Saturday five days ago, on Summer Solstice, my sister Cyrille got married. The day prior, my brother-in-law Stern got married. The day after, my god-daughter Jade turned 8. Needless to say, last weekend was one of many celebrations.

Two of these celebrations took place in the idyllic place of Chateau de Roussan in St. Remy de Provence, a small town in the Rhone region of Southern France, not far from Avignon. I learned while there that the city’s two claims to fame (other than the amazing countryside, kind residents, excellent produce, and overall beauty) is that St. Remy is the birthplace of Nostradamus (I saw the house where he was born), and where Caroline de Monaco lived for a few years with her two children after the death of her second husband, Stefano Casiraghi.

Chateau de Roussan (photo coutresy G Varone)

Chateau de Roussan (photo courtesy G Varone)

The entire weekend was spent in the Chateau, which was fully occupied by the wedding party and guests – in effect, we felt like we lived there for three days. I felt like I got a glimpse of what it would have been like to live in the French equivalent of Downton Abbey. I definitely could have gotten used to it, including the part where my husband and I played a game of chess in the Chateau’s library…

The Polla girls

The Polla girls (photo courtesy M Eckstein)

Orange!

Orange!

The rehearsal dinner consisted of a gathering of 30-some Swiss guests, and one French guest, cheering for opposite sides of a World Cup game this past Friday. The wedding celebration was held in the garden, on a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon, a perfect setting for a perfect couple and my nephew Leonardo. A picnic apero in the grass was followed by an outdoor dinner, and then dancing until 3 am. Apparently, my sisters and I can dance!

The bride, the groom, and Leonardo

The bride, the groom, and Leonardo

Picnic apero, with champagne (photo courtesy M Eckstein)

Picnic apero, with champagne (photo courtesy M Eckstein)

My sister, the most beautiful and generous bride, shared the “morning after brunch” with my god-daughter Jade, who turned 8 that day.

My goddaughter Jade and I

My god-daughter Jade and I 

Jane and I the morning after on her 8th birthday

Jade and I the morning after, on her 8th birthday

The entire weekend was filled with love, laughter, some tears, hugs, kisses, and champagne. The best part? The people. I was reminded of the best reason to have a wedding – the opportunity to bring together all of the people you love in one place, at one time. Thank you Cyrille and Marin! And we get to do it all again this fall, when another of my sister is getting married… in Bordeaux! Stay tuned…

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I feel naked without VoMor!

Almost a month ago to the day, I had VoMor hair extensions put in, as part of research for a work-related project. While I was less than thrilled at the idea of having another person’s hair in my head, I learned a lot from that experience, which I expected. As it turns out, I actually loved having the extensions in, which I far from expected.

First, I got more random compliments on my look this past month than ever before. People did not comment on how good my hair looked. They did not ask where I got my hair extensions put in, or even if I had hair extensions. People just said nice things such as “You look really good today.” Maybe I looked better because I felt more beautiful than usual.

VoMor selfie

VoMor selfie

Second, I did not feel the extensions at all. They didn’t itch, they didn’t snag, they didn’t feel like anything really – other than I was much hotter (in the temperature sense of the word) than before. Apparently, hair does keep you warm.

Third, they were much less high-maintenance than I had expected, or had been warned they would be. I only made two changes to my daily hair routine: to run, I had to trade my high ponytail for two braids; and I did blow dry my hair after each shampoo (but the low maintenance way, without a round brush, just using my fingers).

Yesterday, a week before I head to Greece to the salty sea (which can be damaging to hair extensions), I had the fabulous Scott Messina from Paris Parker remove them. As scared as I was to have him put them in, I was even more concerned about having him take them out. What if I really don’t look good with “just” my natural hair?

Scott Messina removing my VoMor hair extensions

Scott Messina removing my VoMor hair extensions

Scott had warned me: “You will get addicted to them.” And I did. I feel naked without them. I miss “my” hair. In the fall, after a summer of sea, river, and pool, I will be back for more. Who knew?!

Sans VoMor selife, immediately post removal

Sans VoMor selife, immediately post removal

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BeautyView: Abby Fazio, Owner, New London Pharmacy

 

Abby Fazio, Owner, New London

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.

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The politics of fashion…

This past Tuesday evening, I realized something important to me. I realized that I am not the only one to whom people raise eyebrows and ask “but why would you base your business in DC.” I get asked that because I am in beauty. I realized many, many others get asked that because they are in fashion. And I realized that we are all in this together.

The fabulous Elaine and I on the red carpet.

The fabulous Elaine and I on the red carpet.

On Tuesday evening this week, The Politics of Fashion. premiered at Mazza Galerie. The baby, the brainchild of my amazing friend Elaine Mensah. Well – truthfully, she had “real” baby Sage in fewer months than it took her to conceive and birth this movie.

This movie was both a political statement and an industry overview. Elaine captured the thinking of designers, retailers, marketing and PR experts, stylists, fashion and beauty entrepreneurs, and more, who all get the question about “But, why in DC.” And we all answered, in our own way.

While some of the specifics of our answers may have differed, we all agreed on the following:

  1. DC is amazing and should not wish to be what it cannot be (i.e. New York).
  2. We should all stop giving DC a bad fashion rap (us insiders and you outsiders). And DC should stop being so defensive about its fashion status. We look great, and wear outfits that do not include dark suits or flat shoes.
  3. We are all in this together. The success of one indie brand or boutique is the success of all indie brands or boutiques.
  4. DC is special – for many reasons, including for the fact that we do not have a presence in Congress similar to that of the other states’. And yes, that does influence our industry (and many others).
  5. We can do anything we set our mind to. Elaine is the perfect example. “I want to make a movie about the fashion industry,” she said one day not that long ago. In various iterations, haven’t we all said something like that some time? And how many of us actually do what we say we want to do? Not many. Thank you Elaine for reminding us we can do anything we set our mind to. If we work hard.

And to DC, to my fashion and beauty industry friends, who said no to New York and many other cities, who chose DC,  I say, I love you. And I love our city.

(Next screening is on 6/17 at E Street Cinema and tickets can be purchased here.)

My mentor Tina Alser, MD, and at the movie premiere.

My mentor and amazing beauty entrepreneur Tina Alster, MD, and at the movie premiere.

Summer reading

While I read throughout the year, there is something about summer that always makes me want to read more. Perhaps it has to do with the time I spend on the island of Tinos, in Greece, doing little else other than eating Greek salads and reading under an umbrella on my favorite beach. The countdown to that trip has begun, as has the definition of my summer reading list. Here is what I will be reading (mostly under an umbrella) this summer:

Anything by Beth Harbison, starting with Always Something There To Remind Me. Recommended by a BFF as the perfect beach read, this novel and a few of her other ones will be perfect in between my non-fiction selections.

Thrive, by Arianna Huffington. Last year on the same beach I read her first book,  On Becoming Fearless, it seems perfectly symmetrical to read her new book this year, under the same umbrella.

French Women Don’t Get Facelifts  by Mireille Guiliano. I am a fan of Guiliano’s, her previous books made me laugh as she describes cultural differences between French and American women, which always ring true. And really, this is work reading…

Financial Peace Revisited by David Ramsey. I haven’t read a personal finance book in years, and probably need to be reminded about the joys of delayed gratification and the real definition of “need.”

And finally, Tout a Fait Homme by Barbara Polla, aka Mom. I listened to her talk about this book as she was writing it, and can’t wait to read the final version, controversial ideas and all.

The return from Greece is always hard, but this year I will have a summer book to look forward to for early August: my friend Karin Tanabe’s second book, The Price of Inheritance, comes out August 5th. I will be reading that one under the umbrella in my side yard…

 

Summer reading

Summer reading