CPP-LUXURY.COM has had the privilige to recently interview Marie Eve Cadouin MacGoey, co-founder of US based luxury cosmetics and SPA brand AKHASSA, a favourite for the top luxury SPAs and hotels.
How did you come up with the idea of setting up Akhassa? What was your motivation? What does the name mean?
Akhassa is a natural body care line with an Asian and holistic influence. Our name is taken from the Sanskrit word that represents the ethereal fifth element in ancient Siamese culture that balances and bonds together the tangible elements of earth, fire, water and air. Akhassa is a reflection of the founders’ personal philosophy of introducing modern beauty products based on the natural benefits of herbs, plants, fruits and essential oils indigenous to Asia.
In the context of today’s increasingly growing competitive market of natural cosmetics, how is AKHASSA positioned and what is your unique product proposition ?
Our product lines are paraben and mineral oil free, using only pure essential oils (no synthetic fragrances), natural extracts and no artificial colours. Most of our products are 100% natural (i.e. Herbal Bath and Body Compresses, Sea Salts, Body Oils, Bath Mitts).
Our core strengths are follows:
§ Ease of use: The Akhassa line is a concise and effective body care line that that is easily integrated into existing menus with minimum inventory requirements. Our collections support a unique spa menu with treatments that can be adapted and customized to enhance the individual theme of prestige spas.
§ High end effective packaging with brand identity: Our packaging makes effective merchandising easy for retailers with our sleek design and colour codes.
§ Committed team able to create innovative products and concepts to meet the ever changing spa demand and desire for exclusivity: we offer our customers the opportunity to create custom and co-branded products together with signature treatments that support the philosophy of their spas; we work with them to develop marketing templates, press releases, point of purchase materials and retail merchandising guidelines.
Your company was founded in the U.S., yet most of your products are made in Asia. How do you decide which products to manufacture where?
Production is mostly in the US for logistical reasons though those products that cannot be replicated elsewhere, such as the traditional herbal compresses (originated in 14th century Thailand) are made in Asia.
Are your products included in SPAs ? What is your strategy in regards to SPAs ?
Akhassa is a niche brand encompassing 3 retail collections (Retreat, Nurture and Rituals) for a total of 48 SKUS. The brand was developed to meet the spa requirements; thus Akhassa offers its entire retail collection in professional sizes (32 SKUS) which are complemented with an exclusive menu of 22 treatments. The Akhassa treatments are supported by a training DVD and protocol manual.
In addition, we also:
– sell a number of products created strictly for professional use by spas and salons such as our Detox Masque with Sake extract or our Rejuvenating Clay Wrap with Thai White Clay also called Dinsawpong.
– offer a paraben-free amenity line for in-room experiences
– offer our VIP customers custom spa products together with the development of signature spa treatments
Akhassa Spa Treatments are available in some of the world’s most exclusive Spa Destinations (Mandarin Oriental, St. Regis, Viceroy, Vdara, etc.), where the brand has become synonymous with both luxury and quality and continues to gain attraction in the luxury spa domain.
What is the ideal SPA location which would fit the philosophy of your brand?
We think that Akhassa is ideal for a multitude of spas be it a day spa in New York or a destination spa in Bali located on top of a mountain overlooking rice fields. Our true goal is to offer unrivalled experiences with special attention to detail leaving customers relaxed and rejuvenated with a renewed energy.
Which do you consider your international direct competitors?
The competition can be divided into 3 groups:
Retail: Origins, Philosophy, Korres
Spa: Espa, Bliss, Elemis, Jurlique
Amenities: Murad, H2O
How is your marketing and sales strategy divided geographically ?
We continue to concentrate on the US as it is currently our biggest market and demand is growing. In the meantime we are planning a launch in China where we project 170 stores will carry Akhassa by 2012. Akhassa will also launch in Mexico this year and is presently available in Japan and Scandinavia. In addition we are in the midst of registering our products in Russia.
More and more consumers are confused about a beauty product being natural, bio, eco, organic or with part organic ingredients. What is your view on this and how are your products positioned? How can consumers differentiate?
We strive to bring an effective, safe and well priced product to the consumer. Our products are natural, meaning plant based, as well as free of parabens, mineral oil, colors and synthetic fragrance. We are planning to obtain organic certification in the near future and we advocate natural and organic products because they are made with a thoughtfulness about our health and how we use the planet. That being said, the consumer should keep in mind that not all organic or natural products are equal and reading product labels and some research is required as the definitions of these terms vary widely.
An increasing number of international luxury natural cosmetics products are available online. What is your opinion about buying such products online.
This is how purchases are made in the 21st century and a great way to take advantage of an incredible convenience for most of us who lead busy lives. This is how more and more people shop. One must be available on line.
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