The eldest of the four Polla sisters, all of whom are involved in some way or another with the family business of beauty, Ada Polla, CEO of Alchimie Forever, is a well-traveled and well-read Swiss-born brand founder and entrepreneur with incredible tenacity, drive, and a “figure out how to figure it out” mentality. As passionate about SPF and red lipstick as she is about the powers of Botox, Ada is refreshingly candid about aging, choosing herself and a career over having children, and why she thinks the idea of balance is BS.
Ada left her native Switzerland in the ‘90s to obtain her undergraduate degree at Harvard University, then moved from Boston to Washington, D.C., to obtain her MBA at Georgetown. During her senior year of business school, Polla wrote her thesis on bringing her family’s skincare line from Switzerland (Ada’s father is Geneva-based dermatologist, Luigi L. Polla, M.D.) to the U.S. In 2004, that thesis became a reality with the official launch of Alchimie Forever.
Polla is based in Washington, D.C., though she uses that term loosely, as pre-COVID, she was flying three or four times a week (about 150,000 miles a year), whether it was to New Orleans (where her husband is based), Geneva (where Forever Institut and her family lives), or to key accounts, stores, and spas across the nation.
Here, get to know Polla and her take on all things wellness.
What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness means feeling my best self, so I can then be my best self—and to me, that translates to being strong, rested, serene, beautiful, kind, and present in the moment.
What are your favorite things to do to maintain your personal wellbeing?
I think of wellbeing as body, mind, and heart. Taking care of my body: sleeping and exercising.
Taking care of my mind: reading and downtime. Taking care of my heart: spending time with the people I love (and of course, my cats too).
Is there a specific fitness activity that you love and why?
I have been a runner forever—I even ran the Marine Corps marathon in 2004. Running remains my go-to exercise; it helps me relieve stress and clear my head, almost like a form of meditation. I also am a huge fan of SoulCycle. Finally, I love to ski in the winter (that’s the Swiss in me), and wakeboard in the summer (fun fact: I rowed in college and still love any activity that brings me in, on, or near the water).
What is your favorite healthy food, and do you have a favorite way of preparing it?
I love hard-boiled eggs. I cook them until the water boils, then turn off the heat and cover them for 15 minutes. I like to eat them with salt, pepper, and THOMY mayonnaise, which I bring back in my suitcase every time I go to Switzerland.
What is your favorite healthy beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), and do you have any insider tips for preparing it?
I start every morning with a tall glass of room-temperature water and an EmergenC, orange flavor. At least then I know I have done one good thing for my wellness, no matter where the rest of the day takes me.
What is your favorite place for a healthy vacation or escape?
My happy place for all things wellness of body and mind is the Greek island of Tinos. The pace of life is just a bit slower, the food is fresh and healthy, and the Aegean Sea is cool and invigorating.
What is your favorite self-care routine?
I own a skincare brand, so suffice it to say, my self-care routine is very skincare heavy. Spending time in my bathroom layering products on my face and body always makes me feel relaxed and refreshed.
What is your go-to for de-stressing?
I have two tips to de-stress. The first is to work. This is actually a tip I learned from my father, who always told me that there is nothing better to beat stress than to do the work that is stressing you out! And the second tip is to spend time outdoors, in nature, ideally exercising—this can be running, going for a walk, wakeboarding, swimming. Fresh air is good for the soul (and the heart and the body).
How do you celebrate small victories?
I celebrate by recognizing the small victory, which sounds simple but is not easy. I like to pause, acknowledge the success (whether big or small), and say a thank you to whoever helped me get there (even if it’s just to myself).
What brings you joy?
I have three cats, and spending time with them is a huge source of joy and calmness. I also love to read; books enable me to travel in my head, escape to different times and places, which also brings me great joy.