In an International beauty member newsletter, I recently read about a product called Blue Lagoon Hydrating Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30, which is apparently THE waitlist worthy product to try!

What? Really? I’m not buying this. It says, “Contains minerals, geothermal seawater, and silica, direct from the Blue Lagoon in Iceland,” and claims benefits that are supposed to “protect and strengthen the skin’s barrier function” while also “minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles”! Wow, that’s quite a mouthful. I don’t think I’m buying this in a 50ml tub for $89.

The Problem
There is no such thing as natural or organic geothermal seawater. The geothermal water from the Blue Lagoon is the excess water from a nearby geothermal plant that is pumped into a lava field right outside the plant. Secondly, this “magic cream” seems to do too many things at the same time, and in my book, its claims are so extravagant that I simply don’t trust it.

The Fix:
First of all, the International Skin Care Sales Manager for Blue Lagoon Iceland should know the difference between features and benefits and not make claims that might not even be true, as they aren’t supported by clinical studies—at least, not any I could find.

Secondly, do your research before entering the international market with regard to what claims are acceptable and what claims are not, as they vary wildly from Europe to the US.

Thirdly, I’d like to suggest that the BL management stick to what they know best, which is catering to tourism, something they’ve managed very successfully for over 10 years.

Also, I find it super sad that the Blue Lagoon has completely lost its focus on the root mission, which has always been to help people who suffer from psoriasis and severe eczema.
If you have time, dig deep and you’ll find the true story of the Blue Lagoon.

My favorite service experiences this year—shown in order of my devoted love for each brand:

Curio Concept: This unique boutique caters to those who aren’t afraid to take an individual style stand as well as those who aren’t typical brand whores.
Curio is all about individuality, culture, and fashion democracy.
See post here: http://tertiaryreport.com/curio-concepts/

Calphalon: No BS service promises here. If you buy their pots, pans, or other kitchenware, their lifetime warranty is a promise you can count on—and they mean it! They rock!!! Read my post and you’ll understand why I love this brand so much: http://tertiaryreport.com/calphalon/

Leather Spa: There is no other company in NYC that can repair shoes, handbags, belts, and other leather goods as well as Leather Spa. The service in their stores is lacking somewhat in the amount of attention they give to customers, but their repairs are beyond belief! The shoes I got repaired this fall (some are over 10 years old) look exactly the same as when I first wore them.
See post here: http://tertiaryreport.com/leather-spa/

 

My least favorite service experiences this year—shown in order of my devoted dislike for the brand:

American Airlines: Hands down, the worst service and safety experience I’ve ever experienced in my life! Which places them below airlines I’ve been on in Cambodia, Iran, Vietnam, Burma, and Fiji, to name a few. I’ve never felt so unsafe and uncomfortable on a flight: therefore, I’ll never step foot on an AA airline ever again!
See post here: http://tertiaryreport.com/american-airlines/

The Whitney: One of my favorite architects, Renzo Piano, the master behind the Pompidou in Paris, made me really sad when I visited his latest building in NYC: the Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking district. What an utter flow crash, with no concept of lighting, color, or the spirit of the art. The modern art on display is badly curated, placed in such a way that you just want to throw up and take a shit at the same time— meaning I almost felt hungover rather than being refreshed and inspired by the art.
See post here: http://tertiaryreport.com/the-whitney-museum/

Aire Spa NYC: Love the concept and the interiors of the bathing area, but unfortunately, the chlorine smell overwhelms the experience. Nor is the staff helpful, and by staff, I mean everyone from the front desk check to the masseuse.

Also, the temperature in the massage rooms is totally off and the music can be so loud that there is no way to relax and enjoy an aromatherapy massage. In fact, I was so tense during my massage that I came out of it feeling in worse physical and mental shape than when I walked in. It’s not worth the $300 unless you just want to experience a beautiful space full of the smell of chlorine.

However, I do believe with a few tweaks this place could be amazing. The first thing to do is to change upper management and train the staff to shut the f(*$ up while attending to their clients.
See post here: http://tertiaryreport.com/aire-spa-nyc/

My absolute favorite fragrance house is diptyque, which creates the most amazing scented candles and perfumes. They had been my client for many, many years, but last year, they decided to move all operations, including global creative, to Paris.
Of course, my team was a bit disappointed, but hey… if the CEO and upper management feel they need to manage their global marketing out of Paris, that’s fine.
I signed up for their email campaign many moons ago, and I was always really pleased with their messaging and online design…until recently. I’m no longer sure what they’re trying to communicate. The emails I get are watered down, slow to load, and I really don’t “feel them” as the brand I used to know 🙁

The Problem
I found out from a good friend of mine, a diptyque insider, that the new agency doesn’t have a native English-speaking writer on staff! Nor do they have any expertise in e-commerce or any know-how in terms of optimizing on-line sales.
Apparently, the copy is written in French, then Google translated, and then edited by a Parisian copywriter! WOW, I thought to myself, that’s so weird. Why are they doing that? Well, my theory is that maybe they think that we, Americans we “don’t get it” and that the right way is the French way (no pun intended)…

The Fix
diptyque should go back to its roots: the founders (who were also friends), Desmond Knox-Leet (painter), Yves Coueslant (set designer), and Christiane Gautrot (architect) embraced exploration and localization so well.
Having your headquarters in Paris is fine, but localize each market, meaning: hire creative teams who know the local culture, language/slang, as well as the customers who are already fans—they’re the ones who’ve created the LOVE for diptyque!

On a recent visit to Dashing Diva in Brooklyn, I was sitting comfortably, getting a pedicure and reading my favorite glossy, when the aesthetician suddenly yelled, “Ohhh…. fungi, fungi here, no good!” as she pointed to the big toe on my right foot.

Oh, shit… I thought to myself. Hmm, well, I must have gotten it here as I haven’t changed my pedicure spot in ages.
Well, 6 weeks later I’m fungi free, and I haven’t had a mani-pedi since, as I simply don’t trust their sanitation method anymore. As a matter of fact, my nails look healthier, feel stronger, and grow a lot faster than they used to.
So, here is my theory: putting the nail clippers and files under a blue light doesn’t clean anything. They used to have a one use rule for all files and brushes, but no longer. It’s a shame because I used to love going there knowing that my nails wouldn’t be manicured with tools that were used on another customer.

The Problem:
Both high-end and low-end nail salons are cutting corners in cleaning their equipment, especially on weekends when they’re busy. Also, it seems like they’re trying to cut costs by using files over and over again until they almost fall apart. In my books, that is just outright gross!!!

The Fix:
Buy extra equipment and sanitize it between uses (for an hour minimum), or buy a sanitizer machine like the one used in dental offices as the cleaning process is faster. Maybe it makes sense to cut the paper files in half to cut costs, but that might make it super hard for the aesthetician to work with.
Use only one file per customer, and offer the customer the file and buffer to take home. If needed, raise your prices to cover the extra cost as customers would rather pay $1 or $2 more for a clean and safe mani-pedi rather than end up with a bad nail fungus.

My co-worker and I booked a ticket to D.C. a few weeks ago on the Acela, which we both agreed was a much more civilized way of traveling to DC than flying. There was no fuss boarding the train, and we had some high-speed internet access, meaning we got loads of work done before arriving at Union Station. But, while walking from Union Station to our hotel, we agreed that the experience, service, and comfort were nowhere near those of the EU and Japanese rail systems. Americans are light years behind when it comes to railway travel and service. I’ll say no more…

The reason for our trip was to celebrate the first year anniversary of Curio Concept. A luxurious, curated boutique located in Georgetown, Curio Concept sells high-end street fashion, including clothing, shoes, jewelry, and home accessories. In 2015, my company was lucky enough to be selected as the branding agency for Curio Concept, and I must admit that though I rarely pat myself on the back, in this situation, I had to say, “Wow, we were part of this creation!”
I have no other words except to say how cool and awesome the boutique is, and how proud I was to walk inside. The owner, Lena Faruki, pulled this off entirely on her own. It was 2 years in the making, with loads of unexpected surprises during construction—such as having to deal with the excavation of a horse skeleton from the 1700s in the outdoor tea garden!—as well as having to deal with a very difficult construction team, whose name I won’t disclose here.

The Problem:
There is not one single problem with Curio Concept except maybe that the D.C. woman doesn’t “get it.” Curio is just too cool and authentic for those in government — sorry, D.C. women…

The Fix
Open up a concept store in NYC. Unfortunately, the problem is finding the right retail space, as greedy landlords have made it almost impossible for startups/young companies to have a brick and mortar presence. It’s deeply disappointing that NYC has lost its authenticity to corporate avarice 🙁 Such a shame!