Arcona Devan gained a celebrity following despite herself.
She planted her studio in Valley Village, a freeway ride from most starlets' stomping grounds; treated all customers equally, and argued passionately against cosmetic surgery. Still, Devan's holistic approach to skin care attracted the likes of Anjelica Huston, Diane Lane and Julia Roberts, who flocked to Devan, known by her first name, until she died in 2004, at age 60, from a long illness.
Taking over the skin care company from its namesake put Chanel Jenae, vice president and product developer, and Kevin Anderson, chief executive officer, in a delicate position: They wanted to stay true to Devan's mission, but also put their mark on the growing business. This year, they've started to do the latter with a new studio, revamped packaging and a push to expand Arcona's product distribution.
"I don't think Arcona fully realized how amazing the things she developed and her philosophy [were]," said Jenae, an aesthetician and former employee of distributor Caleel + Hayden, who began to work with Devan in 1999 after being introduced to the Scandinavian facialist as a client. "She was very much a visionary and an artist. I came with more of a business background and was like, 'Arcona, do you realize how incredible all this is?'"
To expose Arcona to a wider audience, Jenae and Anderson relocated the Arcona studio last month from Valley Village to a 2,600-square-foot space in Santa Monica, Calif., across the street from the famed retailer Fred Segal. About a year ago, Anderson conducted a survey to determine if a move would hurt business and found that about 67 percent of Arcona's clients lived in Westside locales, including Santa Monica.
"A lot of people would say, 'I would come a lot more often if you just were closer.' Being in L.A., traffic is an issue," he said. "We are happy to be here. We think it is a great community that is very open and receptive to what we were doing."
Created by Jenae, architect David Kellen and interior designer Cynthia Marks, the Santa Monica studio is rimmed with windows and doused in creamy white, from the limestone floors to the walls tinted with nontoxic milk paints. Visitors entering the studio encounter a combo reception-retail space where products are displayed at even intervals on shelves lining the room, then walk into a waiting room with fake suede chairs and finally enter one of the seven treatment rooms. Throughout, flowers from a local flower shop owned by an Arcona regular add pops of color.
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