Co-Founder of high-performance skin care range 111SKIN, Eva Alexandridis sits down with iMBARC to share the secrets behind the success of the brand, how she perfectly balances work and family life, and why she never fails to bring a pair of flippers on every trip.
Can you tell me about the origins of 111SKIN?
The journey to founding 111SKIN was actually very organic and started in my husband’s practice around 12 years ago. Yannis [Eva’s husband] is an American Board and European Board certified surgeon and has been in his practice for the last twenty years at 111 Harley St. – hence the brand’s name, 111SKIN. Around 12 years ago, he started to develop a small range of skin care products that he would give free of charge to his patients to help speed up the recovery process after surgery. This continued for about three or four years and his patients started to spread the word, asking for more products to share with their family and friends. He was getting interest from big institutions like Harrods who were intrigued and the demand quickly increased. There came a point when it was clear that the only way we could meet this demand was to create an organised business around these products and that’s when I got involved. My husband is very much a surgeon and has no time to run a second business so I stepped in to help establish the company and run the retail side of things. Yannis drives the product development while I manage the business, brand and sales side of the operation.
111SKIN is well-established as a cult favourite brand among those in the know. Why do you think people love the products so much? What makes 111SKIN stand out?
Today I think there is a strong shift in the industry with customers seeking high-performance skin care. They want products that are developed with credible technology and that can guarantee results. The doctor brands are the ones that are really offering an answer to these demands. My husband’s extensive knowledge, expertise and experience really sets 111SKIN above so many other brands in the industry. He’s a plastic surgeon so he really knows the three-dimensional nature of skin. He knows the whole healing process and is very considerate of how what you put on the skin penetrates it at different levels. Our products are highly effective but they aren’t aggressive. We don’t uses nasties like parabens, paraffins or silicones. His philosophy is very strong on that.
You are the driving force behind developing the business and brand. What was this like during the early stages of founding 111SKIN?
It was a very serious and steep learning journey for me and I had to start almost from scratch. Of course, when it came to the product and the ingredients themselves, my husband was very involved in the development but for everything else, I had to really get stuck into research and investigation to make the right choices for the brand. For example, sourcing the packaging. I remember that I had absolutely no idea where to buy cosmetics packaging so I asked around and a friend of mine was producing cigars at the time. He put me in touch with a company that was making the tins for the cigars and I began working with them. In the early days of 111SKIN I was travelling everywhere. I had to fly all over the world from Asia to Italy and luckily, with the right research, lots of meetings and helpful advice from friends, I found the right suppliers for the brand.
How does product development work for 111SKIN? Do you try to predict upcoming trends or consumer patterns?
We never research or try to follow industry trends. We develop our products based on the demand that Yannis sees in his clinic. Every single week, he sees hundreds of patients which provides him with the best insight into what people want and need when it comes to skin care. For example, a couple of years ago, he came to me and said ‘mature acne is an epidemic’. He recognised that many of his patients were coming into the clinic with this problem and he wanted to address this with an effective range that targets blemishes and that people could use to prevent breakouts as well as during and after a breakout. At the time, he was using other products in his clinic but found that they were either ineffective or very harsh. We then developed our range called ‘Clarity’ which uses effective ingredients but is still gentle on the skin. This is now a big seller in our top retailers because it gives people an effective solution to a wide-spread problem.
Another example is the neck. Two years ago, Yannis declared ‘the neck is the new face’. The people coming to his clinic were happy with their faces but the neck was an area that had been neglected. He then went on to develop something specific to the neck. The skin is different here and the results you want are also different. When we went to the buyers meetings with it, everyone was so excited. Again, we were giving them an effective solution to a problem that lots of people had.
What is an average day like for you? Can you talk me through your morning routine through to your evening routine?
We have two boys, the youngest is eight and the eldest is thirteen. Our daily routine is quite straight forward as we schedule our time around school and work engagements. At 7 a.m, we wake up and have breakfast with our older son before taking him to the tube station for school. At 8 a.m we wake up our younger son and have a second breakfast with him (I have to pace myself! Usually it’s a juice at 7 a.m and something substantial like healthy pancakes at 8 a.m). On Mondays, we love to start the week right with a run in the morning. I find that this helps to set the tone for the week and gives me real clarity of the mind. My working day starts at 10am and usually finishes at 6 or 7. I then go home to spend quality time with my husband and sons. This is really important for me so I avoid taking on any work engagements in the evening.
How often do you find yourself travelling?
When I first started developing the range, I was travelling mostly by myself which really wasn’t fun. I used to go to places like Hong Kong only for twenty-four hours. I’d go to exhibitions or for meetings and then try to come back as soon as possible. I didn’t like it but it had to be done. Now I’m so fortunate because the business is at a mature age where it makes sense for my husband and I to travel together. I’ll meet with the marketing and sales teams and he needs to meet with clients so it works perfectly. We go everywhere together and always make sure to add one or two days to the end of the trip for ourselves. We are so fortunate because the business takes us to some of the most beautiful and interesting place around the world. This weekend, we were at the GRAMMY Awards in L.A which was a lot of fun. We took Monday for work but the trip was a real mix of business and pleasure.
Do you have any favourite travel destinations?
I have too many to count! This year, we’ve already been lucky enough to travel to some amazing destinations. There’s a new place in Switzerland called Bürgenstock Palace Resort. It’s at the top of Lake Lucerne and it’s a really phenomenal property with amazing views, the freshest air and an incredible spa. Yannis’s cousin is the architect which is how we came to find out about it. You take a little boat and then a gondola bringing you up to the resort. It’s so spectacular. We travel so much so it’s rare to find properties that are unique so this was really special. It’s so stylish and classy. This year, it’s definitely one of my favourites!
Do you prefer secluded relaxing holidays amongst nature or cultural adventures in busy cities?
We are very lucky because our business takes us to big and busy cities around the world where we can experience so many different cultures. When we travel for pleasure, we like to have quality family time where we can unwind on our own terms. We love being close to nature whether that’s up in the mountains or by the sea. Every year we do one ski trip. I know it’s one of the most famous resorts but we love Courchevel. It has the biggest ski area in Europe with three interconnected valleys so it means we can spend a whole day skiing and enjoying lunch and après-ski in different parts of the region.
What are your top three favourite hotels around the world?
We travel so much that I could write a whole book about hotels! For a city holiday, we’re big fans of the Four Seasons so if there is one of these in the area, we’ll usually stay here. We now work with the Four Seasons but fell in love with their properties long before this. Last year we went on a trip with the kids over the Easter break that took us to 11 different destinations in one month! We stayed at the Four Seasons in Budapest which is a beautiful old insurance company building on the river which I loved. The Four Seasons in Prague is also spectacular. Our favourite part of this holiday was Marrakesh. It is such a beautiful and colourful city! We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental which was amazing – we loved every minute being there.
It’s not just the property that makes it special but the memories that you make there. Last year, a real highlight was our trip to the Six Senses in Thailand with the kids. Usually we choose accommodation with amazing views but we chose a hide-away villa surrounded by lush greenery on a semi-private island. This was a really memorable trip because my son and I both got our diving certifications so we would spend the day diving and then come back to a private chef cooking an amazing Thai dinner for us.
What are you top 5 travel essentials?
I always bring my flippers! I don’t go to any hotels that don’t have a swimming pool or a beach nearby. Usually I’m travelling across different time-zones so I sometimes wake up really early and I love being able to go for a swim or a run. I’m one of those crazy people that you see on the beach with a long-sleeve top (sun-protection!), flippers, gloves and a hat . . . I look like I’ve come straight from the 1960s. So that’s one essential – my swimming kit. I always bring my sneakers with me because running is so easy to do wherever I am. Of course, I bring my face masks with me wherever I go as well as some of the 111SKIN creams and the essence. Headphones are an essential and I also have my five minute journal which I now take with me everywhere. It only takes 2-3 minutes a day, morning and night, and helps you set goals for the day and reflect on the goals you’ve achieved.
If a close friend came to London for the first time, where would you take them?
We live in Chelsea so we’re very blessed to have a lot of incredible restaurants around us. We love places like Zuma. My husband and I have been going there since it first opened so although it’s now a well-known institution, it still feels like our local. There’s a little place called Good Earth close to us which we love for light or healthy snacks and of course, Annabel’s is incredible. For first time visitors, I always taken them on the London Bus. I’m a huge promoter of this. It lets you cover so much of the area and it’s so flexible. We would hop on and off at my favourite places like St. James’s Park and the museums like the V&A and Tate Modern. There’s also a speed boat on the Thames that I love to bring people on, it’s really exciting and kids especially love it. Some people complain a lot about London but in reality, we’re so lucky. The museums are amazing and free of charge and the theatre is world-class! I would definitely take a guest to see a show whether it’s a big production like Hamilton, or a small funny show like The Play That Goes Wrong. I love London, for me, it’s the best city in the world.