THE BLOG

24 Hours in the Life of a Beauty Brand CEO

06/24/2013 06:18 pm ET | Updated Aug 24, 2013

As I write this, it is just past 7 pm somewhere in the skies. I spend a lot of time here -- a lot of time in the sky, in airports. As a beauty entrepreneur, I travel most of my time. Also as a beauty entrepreneur, I get asked frequently what a "normal" day is like. The short answer is there is no such thing as a "normal" day. No two days resemble each other; no two weeks are the same. That is part of the fun and challenge of being an entrepreneur, and being on the road all the time.

Nonetheless, today was a great day, and a good example of what I spend my time on when I am in DC, where our Alchimie Forever US headquarters is located. 2013-06-24-aaaaaaahufpo.jpg Ada Polla

4:30 am. My alarm goes off. This is about 30 minutes earlier than my usual wakeup time, and somewhat more painful than expected as I had a social dinner engagement last night that lasted until near midnight. I can't help myself but set the alarm for 5 am and get 30 minutes more of shut-eye. (Very rare for me, this happens maybe once a month; I don't even know how to snooze my alarm...)
5:00 am. My alarm goes off again. I wake up (again) from the deepest sleep, and don't feel much more rested than 30 minutes ago, but this is the latest I can get up and still do everything I need to do today. This first hour of my day is spent checking my emails on my phone (which I do while still in bed; a habit I am desperately trying to break); making coffee (my Krups coffee machine is one of my most prized possessions); putting in a load of laundry (oh the glamorous life...); showering and other morning routine things; slathering on a half-dozen Alchimie Forever products; deciding on my outfit -- a Trina Turk black dress and Kelsey Dagger 5 inch silver heels.
6:00 am. Skype conference call with the General Manager of my family's medical spa, Forever Laser Institut. My 3 sisters and I are now majority shareholders of the spa, which means we are all much more involved than 3 months ago. Working with Europe means frequent 6 am calls... on days like today I don't get to work out (I can only work out in the am), but that' s ok since I went to spinning yesterday and will wakeboard twice this weekend).
7:00 am. Blowdry with Enver. For the past 11 years, ever since I moved to DC really, my blowdrys have been with Enver at George at the Four Seasons. Today, for the first time, it is as the new salon that Enver just opened, Georgetown Salon and Spa. A rare treat, I splurge on a blowdry maybe once a quarter... given how I feel with my hair perfectly blown out, however, I am thinking that I should definitely do this more often.

ada polla

during my blowout

7:45 am. At the office I answer a couple of emails, mostly from my team in our Geneva office (its the afternoon there already), and then tend to the real reason why I should have gotten up at 4:30 instead of 5, which is to put the finishing touches on my slides for this afternoon's presentation at Georgetown University. Nothing like waiting for the last-minute to do everything... this happens too often.
9:00 am. Breakfast with favorite client, Mike, owner of the Grooming Lounge. A couple of times of year we have breakfast at the Mayflower, a favorite tradition of mine, to talk business, share industry news, check in with each other and have a laugh or two. This is one of the favorite parts of my job, the relationships I create with other business owners. I respect and admire every entrepreneur I work with, they all inspire me one way or another.
10:30 am. Phone call with the new spa manager of the Salamander Resort and Spa. This is possibly one of the biggest developments in the regional DC spa and wellness industry, a beautiful resort opening in August in Middleburg, the brainchild of Sheila Johnson. Penny, the spa manager, and I have known each other for about 6 years we figure -- from her Mandarin Oriental days -- and finally, we have the opportunity to work together. Good things come to those who wait. She confirms with me that Alchimie will be one of the lines she will carry at the spa, we talk opening order and training. This is a great day, my favorite type of call!
11:30 am. Meeting with Erin, owner of Homebody, a design store in Capitol Hill. While Alchimie is mostly sold in spas and beauty boutiques, some of our more gift-oriented products also do well in concept stores such as this. I show her our hero Kantic brightening moisture mask and our newest body product, our Dry Skin Balm. I try to use the SPIN selling techniques I learned earlier this year...
12:30 pm. Back in the office. No time for lunch, which is quite typical unless I have a lunch meeting. I keep basics in the fridge in the office, such as apples and slices of muenster (and of course Diet Coke and champagne) for days like today, but I have not had a change to replenish. That's ok, the muesli from this morning will tide me over. My fabulous intern Maggie is working on our Youtube videos, and came up with the great idea of doing a "what's in your purse" video of everyone on the Alchimie team. Today, it's my turn... Then, I answer a couple of emails, and then it's time to go again.
1:45 pm. Maggie and I arrive at Georgetown University. I have been invited to speak to a group of about 30 graduate students who are visiting for a week from the University of Versailles in France. There, they are pursuing an MBA with a concentration in Cosmetics and Fragrances. I can barely believe it when they call me, who knew there was such a program... only in France! They come to Georgetown for a week, and have a program that combines academic lectures with professional briefings. I fall in the latter. I have been preparing these slides for about a week, combining general industry information with my company's history, and a few of my favorite "rules of life" to spark discussion at the end. As always when I speak in public, I get butterflies in my stomach... only until I actually start. This time, I start with a few sentences in French, which makes them smile. I love public speaking, and they are a fabulous audience. Maggie is here to film tidbits of this presentation, again for our Youtube channel.
3:45 pm. The presentation was fabulous, and is followed by a site visit. Maggie and I drive back to the office, where Sherrod, my executive assistant (without whom my life as I know it would not be possible) has prepared samples, business cards and wine for the students who are making the way to the office. They arrive, I give them a quick tour of the office, answer more questions, show them our products and we all enjoy an early glass of wine.
5:00 pm. The students have left, and I finally have a chance to check in with Sherrod in terms of his projects, catch up on a few of the day's 250+ emails, pay a few bills, text with my PR director in New York about pending press and off I go again, this time to the airport.
7:00 pm. I board my flight to New Orleans. I travel about 70 percent of my time, either to see my husband, as is the case tonight (he lives in New Orleans, we split our time between the Big Easy and Washington D.C., I will be working from his office tomorrow Friday), or to visit clients, attend tradeshows, and do press meetings. I love flying. I fly so much that US Airways is kind to me (!!), I do my best thinking and writing in the sky. I will land around 9:30 pm, will have a cocktail at home to catch up on the day with my hubby, and will hopefully be in bed by 11:30 pm (Central time).