I always think it’s funny when people tell me I have a glamorous job. The words “magazine editor” conjure images of exclusive red-carpet soirees and celeb-infused events. Sure, I get a cool invite or two and tons of free products, and I’ve sat a mere arm’s length away from such luminaries as Tony Leung and Ralph Fiennes at one time. But most of the time? I’m just trying to catch up with my email and figure out the day to day. I wish I could clone myself just so I could make it out to all the spas and salons that various publicists want me to check out.
Luckily, this past Sunday, some great Los Angeles-based spas and salons gathered in one spot at FreshEvents’ Pamper Me Fabulous (check out FreshEvents’ blog here for great party ideas) to offer their best products and services. A portion of the proceeds went toward Step Up Women’s Network, a national nonprofit that helps women and young girls in a myriad of ways, doubling the feel-good vibe of the event. I had a rare opportunity to put on my heels and head out to downtown L.A.’s Vibiana (a gorgeous structure, if you’ve never been) to check out the scene in one fell swoop. Here’s a taste of some of the great women-owned companies (many of them Asian!) I got to check out.
First stop, Asian-owned Chocovivo – whole bean chocolate, stone ground and infused with spices, which makes for some zingy flavor combinations. The company only uses dark chocolate and all natural ingredients, artisanally grown. You can melt the bars into drinks or sauces.
Then we stumbled on Mark Alice – not a person, but three people behind an all-natural bath and body care company that also has a line of mineral makeup. This Asian-owned company launched in 2004 in Walnut, Calif. and is now planning to launch in Taiwan, China and Korea, says Linda Li, one of the founders. Li notes that the company’s skincare line is formulated by a doctor and is particularly good after laser treatments, thanks to ingredients like Angelica root, witch hazel and essential oils like raspberry oil.
Right next door was charming, self-proclaimed “crafter” Michael Lin. Lin is the man behind Ethan’s Earth 100-percent handmade (by Lin), all-natural soaps, which also make use of interesting Chinese herbs like ginseng. The soaps are made with locally grown ingredients, chief of which is organic olive oil grown in California’s Central Valley as well as a few essential oils from France. Lin says the idea for to make handmade soaps came to him when he was a kid, tooling about his uncle’s toiletries factory. Dismayed by all the chemicals that normally go into manufacturing such supplies, he decided to make his own chemical-free soaps. This lifelong pursuit was only underscored when he had his son years later. The coolest soap is one made out of chocolate mixed with seaweed powder (vitamin E) that smells absolutely heavenly (trust me!). Don’t you think the whisper-thin wrapping paper adds a particularly pretty touch?
Continuing on the Chinese herb trend is another organic skincare company called Golden Path Alchemy. I particularly liked the sample set, which comes in a gorgeously deep purple Fair-Trade box, handmade in Nepal. This is going to be repurposed as a jewelry box in my bedroom. Creator Ashley Beckman (a Chinese medicine student and a practitioner of homeopathy) says she uses ingredients grown on a farm in Santa Barbara’s Montecito. I’m really interested to test out the Renew Herbal Steam, which looks like loose-leaf tea, but you use it to steam your face.
I was particularly glad to see Audrey magazine’s biggest fan Lillian Wang there with her company Marie Louise Cosmetics – basically the Estee Lauder of Japan (if you don’t know, you’re missing out). As usual, Lillian was on hand to answer questions and offer even more free samples, which I can’t get enough of (we love her!).
There were several non-beauty related companies, too, like Solas, gorgeous handbags from Kara Kurcz, which just started selling in Korea and Japan. The designer herself was there (in cute sunglasses) and told me that Bai Ling and recently hitched Yunjin Kim are big fans. Kurcz also has a blog, which features a noteworthy fashionista every week dishing out advice on shopping your own closet – always helpful advice, recession or no recession.
So much more, but not enough room! Stay tuned for more…