The noninvasive spa that specializes in injectables, such as Botox and fillers, is expanding its retail fleet to 26 locations by the end of 2023, thanks to a recent series B funding round. Nicci Levy, Alchemy 43’s founder and chief executive officer, credits the brand’s growth to a number of factors, including social media, a growing wellness industry, a reduced stigma around injectables, “Zoom face” and consumers’ desire to look good as the world reopens.
“It’s a renewed sense of living your best life and taking care of yourself, and sort of, not taking things for granted, not taking life for granted,” Levy told WWD exclusively. “There’s sort of, like, a revival feeling in the air.
“And it’s not only us, but the entire [wellness] category is growing,” she continued. “That’s a function of newer people coming to market and people coming out of their homes after being cooped up for a couple of years and saying, ‘I want to live my best life.’ ‘I want to take that trip I haven’t taken.’ Or, ‘Buy those shoes I’ve been wanting to buy;’ or, ‘Get that Botox I’ve been wanting to try.’”
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There are other factors, too, such as people staring at themselves over Zoom all day (and noticing imperfections) and social media, which leads to even more comparisons among peers. But Levy said Botox and fillers can address these issues. And since society is more accepting of injectables than it was in say 2002 — when the FDA approved Botox as a cosmetic tool — the industry is ripe for growth.
“Botox and fillers have gone through this evolution,” the Los Angeles-based entrepreneur contends. “The original people who used it were older women who were concerned with aging. And now, because we see so many people doing it preventatively, there’s not the same stigma that people associate it with [in the past.] People now realize it’s just part of a maintenance ritual. It’s a wellness treatment, rather than a medical treatment or something that’s aligned with plastic surgery. These are light, very easy, in-and-out treatments that we all do to take care of ourselves. So I think that’s why they’re unafraid, or unashamed to put it on social media. And we are seeing a large number of male users coming to the category. We see a lot of people starting younger to do preventative stuff, to really get in front of it.”
According to a June report from market research firm The NPD Group, 44 percent of U.S.-based consumers are placing more of an emphasis on health and wellness. The evidence shows up in increased sales of things like activewear, sporting goods, performance footwear and wellness-related beauty and lifestyle items.
“Consumers are broadening their definitions of wellness as the pandemic increased our focus on our inner and mental health, Dirk Sorenson, sports industry analyst at NPD, wrote in the report. “As we remerge from the pandemic, there are durable habits that consumers have learned to embrace, from getting outside, to investing in products that bring us joy.”
Levy, who used to sell Botox and other injectables to other spas in Beverly Hills, opened Alchemy in L.A. in May 2016. The idea was to open a spa that specialized in injectables, rather than have facilities where injectables were just one of many things on a cluttered menu of options.
“We consider ourselves, kind of, the anti-med spa,” said Levy, referring to a place that is part medical center and part day spa. “The whole concept [for Alchemy] was pioneered out of the idea that there could be more of a specialty focus within the noninvasive category. Our client could feel really secure that this is a place where our providers do this all day; they specialize in injectables. Essentially, where med spas are known for offering a ton of different services in more of a spa setting, they often offer nonmedical services as well. We chose to approach it from a super, hyper specialization perspective: our business and our brand is based on injectables.”
Today, there are four Alchemy locations, three in L.A. and one in New York City. The firm also recently closed its series B funding round. Levy wouldn’t disclose the investment amounts, but did say Alchemy 43 (the name is a combination of the word alchemy and the 43 muscles in one’s face) is in expansion mode. There are plans to open six spas by the end of the year, including locations on New York’s Upper East Side, Houston, Dallas and the Corona Del Mar neighborhood of Newport Beach, California. In 2023, 16 more locations are scheduled to open, adding up to 26 locations by the end of 2023.
“Texas is a huge focus of ours. So are other areas of Southern California, Orange County. Another big focus of ours is Florida. You’ll see us in Florida in 2023,” Levy said. “As a brand, we skew a little bit younger than the typical Botox customer that [competitors] see. We’re in major metro areas and we’re sort of this young, hip concept that people who are younger and just getting into these treatments for the first time are really attracted to and really drawn to. So we tend to balance the data that we get — in terms of where the biggest markets are and the biggest market opportunities — with where is our customer? We balance those things to think about where the biggest opportunities are.
“A question a lot of us are asking ourselves is, is this [growth in injectables] finite? Is this going to end at a certain point?” she continued. “We have not seen that. All signs point to [injectables] continuing to grow. It’s continuing to evolve and our business just keeps getting better. I don’t think this is something that’s short-lived. I think people are trying these things and realizing how great they work for them and they’re sticking with it. Cosmetic Botox is the number-one aesthetic noninvasive treatment on the market and remains our most popular service. I jokingly call it the gateway drug. It’s where a lot of people start and that has not changed.”