Tips & Advice

Family Business Tips with Alchimie Forever

Just when we thought we couldn’t love Alchimie Forever more than we do, we found out the lovely, touching story about their family business.

The Alchimie Forever brand retail a fantastic range of dermatologically tested products, based on the need for post-procedure skincare. The products are formulated to immediately treat sensitized skin and to accentuate anti-aging benefits for the long-term.

My sisters and I knew each other as girls, then women, as sisters, and as friends. Now we know each other as colleagues and co-owners, which makes our relationships so much deeper – Ada Polla

The geniuses behind the brand are The Polla Family – four sisters who each share a desire and passion for skincare. Together they have dedicated themselves to focus on the development of anti-aging technologies, the research of antioxidants and the use of lasers in dermatology, which has all led to the creation of Alchimie Forever.

The story of their family-run business is such an inspiring one, that we wanted to dive a little deeper into how everything fell into place. Surely launching a family business is a rollercoaster ride, with highs, lows, successes and dramas. Or perhaps if you all share such a strong passion and have a keen goal, it’s the best thing in the world.

Introducing the Alchimie Forever ladies, with Ada Polla, CEO, talking us through.

Polla sisters funy low res

Question: First up – let’s have an introduction! Who makes up the family-run Alchimie Forever?

It all started with Mom and Dad, who met and back in medical school. Our Dad is Switzerland’s top dermatologist, Dr. Luigi L. Polla. He opened the first medical day spa in Geneva, Switzerland (Forever Laser Institut) and was the first physician to introduce laser technology to use in dermatology to Europe, back in ’80s. He still sees patients every day, and is also very involved in product development for Alchimie Forever.

Our Mom is also an MD, she was trained in internal medicine, and for many years ran our formulation department. Her expertise lies in antioxidants -in particular plant-based antioxidants – and in allergies and asthma. She ensures that our formulations are clean, hypoallergenic and safe for all skin types.

As for the four Polla sister- together we own a significant majority of Alchimie Forever. As equal shareholders we define the brand’s development strategy, while each having a specific area of focus in our family’s businesses.

There is me (Ada), I’m 38 and CEO of Alchimie Forever. There is Cyrille, 36, who is Director of PR and Marketing for Forever Laser Institut. There’s Rachel, 34, who is CEO of Forever Laser Institut. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Alchimie Forever, acting as the liaison to the other Polla sisters. And then there is Roxane, 26, who is  currently at medical school in Geneva, studying surgery.

Question: When did you decide to launch the business, and what is the story behind the idea?

The Alchimie Forever brand naturally evolved from our father’s medical practice. As the first physician to offer pioneering laser treatments in Europe, he wanted to provide his patients with home care products that would minimize side effects and heal the skin post treatment.

He began by sending patients to a pharmacy in Geneva that would manually compound the formulations he had created, per his very specific instructions. From there, he decided it would be more convenient for his patients to have these products pre-compounded, and available at our medical spa. That is how the first Alchimie Forever products were created! We have since evolved our line into a retail line, focusing on clinical results and clean formulations for all skin types, in particular sensitive and sensitized.

Question: With your areas of individual expertise, did it just make sense to combine skills and launch a family business?

We evolved into a family business because of a desire to contribute to our family of businesses. All four of us worked with our parents as children, in various capacities, and that experience stayed with each of us in our adult life.

We also all have had non-family business experience, which we wanted to gain in order to broaden our skill set, our perspectives, and also as ‘proof’ that we would succeed outside the family business if this was needed.

Question: Was the first year of launching your family business the hardest, and how did you get around it?

Each year in a family business (probably in any business) comes with its own challenges. I don’t think we would say the first was the hardest – but probably the most creative!

In general, when it comes to business challenges (or life challenges!), we take a very open and collaborative approach to finding the best solution. We do 4-sister Skypes regularly to address these challenges – we love these Skype sessions and we would recommend them to anyone! We also very strongly believe that we all need to agree with the proposed solution. If we can’t all agree, it means there is a better solution somewhere out there, waiting to be brainstormed.

Question: What has been the highlight of the business so far? We can imagine it feels so much more exciting celebrating success together...

The highlight for us was when our father decided to pass the ownership and overall responsibilities of the family businesses down to us. When we were growing up, he and our mother were the majority owners, and also the brains behind the business strategy. About three years ago, we became majority owners, and hence at the helms of the strategic direction of both Forever Laser Institut and Alchimie Forever. We celebrate that every day.

Another highlight, much more mundane perhaps, was to have our Kantic Brightening Moisture Mask featured in US Vogue Magazine (printed edition!) this past February!

Question: How do you see the future panning out for Alchimie Forever?

The goal is to continue to grow our brand, and to make it available to all women worldwide. We really do believe in our products, in our formulations, and we want everyone to have the opportunity to use them! That is how we make a difference in the world: looking good means feeling good, means doing good!

Question: Which other female lead businesses/leaders/entrepreneurs do you admire?

The list is very long! A few names that come to mind (other than our mother of course), are: Marcia Kilgore, a pioneer in the beauty and spa business. Arianna Huffington, who has changed the way we consume news. J. K. Rowling, who knew that the world wanted to believe in magic, and Oprah Winfrey, because…well… she is Oprah Winfrey!

Question: How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Ha! The million dollar question! As sisters, we debate work/life balance all the time. With a family business in particular it is even harder given the fact that ‘family time’ often turns into ‘business time’ – since we can’t really help ourselves. For us, it is less about balance, and more about presence.

It isn’t about an even split or our time between work and life – we just strive to be fully present in all we do with the business, which in some ways is even harder!

Question: What advice would you give to other sisters or close friends who are looking to go into business together?

Working with family (or close friends) is fabulous, as it leads to an additional layer in an alterady-existing relationships. My sisters and I knew each other as girls, then women, as sisters, and as friends. Now we know each other as colleagues and co-owners, which makes our relationships so much deeper. It is a beautiful thing.

Of course, we sometimes argue, and families and friends always will, but we always strive to argue respectfully, to actively listen to all perspectives, and to never, ever doubt our common goal, which is to grow and develop our family businesses.

Question: Lets finish off with hearing what products you guys love and use personally..

Ok, here’s a rundown from each of us…

Ada: Kantic+ Intensly Nourishing Cream because I travel so much and it’s really great for this.

Cyrille: Kantic Calming Cream as it is perfect for her sensitive skin.

Rachel: The Pigment Lightening Serum to help keep those brown spots away.

Roxane: Daily Defense SPF23 because it’s so versatile. It’s anti-aging, hydrating, and protective all in one!

To explore the full Alchimie Forever product range and to see what the sisters have created, take a look here.

SkinStore Editors

SkinStore Editors

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Our team of beauty experts cover everything from skincare to makeup, picking out the most effective products from the best brands and latest trends. Stay up to date on everything beauty with the SkinStore blog, and find all your essentials in one place.

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