A beauty brand whose journey has seen it travel from Paris to the Palaces of Monaco to around the world, Anne Semonin has acquired a reputation for skincare excellence since its creation 25 years ago.
At the helm is Aline Marcadet, who has helped steer the company to further global success ever since taking the reigns 12 years ago. An interior designer herself, she designed many of the incredible Anne Semonin spas around the world and works closely with France’s top laboratories and experts in her search for the newest techniques and most hard-working ingredients.
We asked the beauty and business entrepreneur about her journey to the top, her career advice for those looking for inspiration and the worst and best parts of her working life so far.
GTG: What attracted you to your role?
AM: The opportunity to buy in 2001 a 20 year old company and develop it with a modern vision and strategy while keeping its unique concept and DNA. The company was created in Paris on September 23rd 1982 by Madame Anne Semonin, a very famous beautician of her time who was the private beautician of stars such as Grace Kelly, her daughter Caroline and Catherine Deneuve who regularly enjoyed her world famous facials.
Madame Semonin was a pioneer in skin diagnosis and this helped her develop her own products and create a “sur mesure” approach blending essential oils and trace elements to intensely and effectively boost, regenerate and plump the skin. Her unique lymphatic drainage technique has been exclusive to our brand for over 30 years and is still one of the most revered beauty techniques in the industry.
The first Anne Semonin Atelier de Beaute opened in 1982 in Paris at 1, Rue Petit Champs close to Place Victoires. It has recently been renovated and is the Anne Semonin flagship store in Paris. I initially bought 50% of the company in 2001 from Madame Semonin and the following year the remaining 50%. For almost 15 years under my leadership, Anne Semonin has been my lifetime work and passion. I have been so happy to see the company grow during this time to over 35 countries and over 150 spas and department stores around the world.
GTG: What has been the toughest part of your career to date?
AM: To continue to successfully develop a leading niche exclusive French cosmetic brand amongst huge and tough competition. Anne Semonin is today one of the very few remaining independent brands in the market that has managed to grow and thrive, while still keeping its freedom and vision. We have achieved this because what we miss in size and resources we make up by being dynamic, decisive and responding quickly to fast evolving market and client needs.
GTG: Do you have a mentor and how have they helped you?
AM: My mentor is my partner in business and in life, Andreas, who in 2005 purchased 50% of the business. Andreas is a very successful businessman in various different fields including as an owner and developer of luxury hotel chains. From him I learned a lot about how a small brand needs to organise its back office operations, IT, R&D, procurement, production, sales and marketing to be successful. He is also very experienced in how to turn a hotel spa from a cost centre into a profit centre.
Andreas and I complement each other very well as I offer a deep knowledge of beauty and product innovation, chic design and the Parisian touch that defines our brand.
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GTG: What was the worst job you ever did?
AM: I am a self-made entrepreneur. I started work during high school and university to pay for my expenses. I took a lot of jobs but I do not have any negative memories from these experiences. I worked at Burger King, looked after elderly ladies, worked in retail boutiques such as Dior etc. All taught me something valuable and I had a great time coming from Biarritz to discover the Parisian life.
GTG: What has been the biggest learning curve of your career?
AM: What I learned through experience is that everyone can achieve their dreams, everything is possible. You just have to focus on your vision and dreams and never let go.
GTG: What was the best advice you have been given along the way? And why?
AM: Stay simple and authentic, stay yourself even when success comes.
GTG: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this industry?
AM: Have a great concept, be passionate and try and to learn as much as possible about this business. Build a great team around you, especially in sales and marketing, secure enough financial resources and persevere.
With Anne Semonin, I kept the original concept/philosophy – the “made to measure” tailored approach and natural active ingredients - but have brought my personal touch to make the brand much more modern, dynamic, visually attractive and refined, which all helped me develop the brand internationally.
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GTG: What is your team management strategy?
AM: Above all a small company needs talented, motivated, multitasking staff. At Anne Semonin, we are dispersed around the world and all of us need to do a bit of everything. In this respect, we are very lucky to have such a great French and international team at Anne Semonin.
GTG: What is the one piece of advice you would give to your 17-year-old self?
AM: To be even more focused and driven and believe more in myself.
GTG: What does the future hold?
AM: Both Andreas, myself and all our international team are very optimistic about Anne Semonin. Although the cosmetics and spa market will continue to be dominated by large brands with extensive marketing budgets and resources, new technologies, the astonishing growth of Internet and e-commerce will allow smaller high quality brands with unique concepts and effective products to thrive.
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