It all began in France Normandie. Normandie is the country of “cidre”, a delicious apple juice. You can see agriculture fields everywhere in this north-west part of France. Deauville or Honfleur are the very well-known cities on the shore.
In Normandie, green is everywhere. Speaking of nature, I was lucky to grow up in an area surrounded by woods and forests. It really developed my ability to observe nature. I recall great walks with my family to hut for mushrooms in the forest, we spent hours to seek for those precious treasures and sometimes on our way we met unexpected insects or animals.
Life was everyday full of surprises in the middle of this nature. Something more predictable was school, slowly you get the habit to wake up and go there. I was the most average student, I did not enjoy really high school however I always found strategy, energy and resources to move up to the next level. After high school, I joined the university of sciences. There I discovered the world of biology, biochemistry and more. It was truly fantastic to understand how every minute in our body; millions of chemical reactions take place to renew our life. All biological steps should be coordinated very well; it is what we call in biology the balance or the “homeostasis” a key word for a me. I finally graduated in 1998 with a bachelor of sciences in biology. During this bachelor, I worked 6 months as intern at the INSERM 393 in Paris, a research unit laboratory specialized in genetic disorder researches. I focused my research work to understand if some blood samples from child donors could potentially carry gene mutations.
After these years, I decided to change the course of the things and not spend my life in a laboratory. I left university to work one year, big jump after so many years at school. I joined the consumer products research center of a well-known international company in France.
It was my first contact with the cosmetic product, a true revelation. I formulated for a year in the laboratory what one call white products formulation (oil in water emulsions). I extracted from skin biopsies the most out layer of the skin, the Stratum corneum. Finally, I performed some tests to assess the moisturizing properties of skin care creams.
I totally felt in love with this world of cosmetic. Cosmetic industry is at the crossroads of many scientific fields such as biology, physicist -chemistry, botanical and more. Also, what a great job to develop products to embellish the skin and its beauty, what a great moment to see a woman open a jar of cream, put the finger in the bottle, smell it and… smile! Make people happy, yes happy, it is a great feeling when you find your career path. It became more than a job; it became my passion.
This internship opened my appetite for the cosmetic industry. To beef up my knowledge about the development of cosmetic products, I joined the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences in Nantes France to obtain a Master degree in dermo-cosmetic sciences in September 1999.
After my graduation, it was time to seek for a job and I decided to shift again my career. Instead of joining the research and development team of a company, I preferred to find a position which combined cosmetic related topics and trips outside France. My wish was to travel the world. I found a great opportunity with a company based in France Brittany. I worked for a company which sold a deep knowledge around the marine flora. Every day I explained to my customers how seaweeds can represent great ingredients for cosmetic products to help the skin to overcome ageing and environmental aggressions. Ulva lactuca, Condrus cripsus, Laminaria digitata had no secret for me anymore. At that time, I was a sales representative, I traveled in France and abroad to sell actives ingredients to the well-known cosmetic firms. I travelled often to Asia. Every four months my usual trip was some bounds from Paris -> Tokyo -> Osaka -> Seoul -> Shanghai -> Hong Kong -> Taipei -> Paris…It was truly fantastic to visit those big cities, to observe how people live there, to eat, to communicate, it was full of surprises. I did this job for 3 years.
Those trips in Asia influenced first my eating habits, I love Chinese, Korean or Japanese foods J. In Asia people are very nice, always ready to help you. Regarding beauty routines, it is more sophisticated compared to Europe. A woman in Korea can spend as much as 2 hours in the morning to prepare her skin. The “layering” gets its origin in Japan where women applied several layers of skin care to get their skin ready. It has been popularized today in the BB creams all brands are selling. It was from 2001 to 2003, I have been amazed by the sophistication of Korean retail stores in Seoul, when I recalled the cosmetic ecosystem there back in 2001, it is not a surprise that this country is the trend-setter for skin care products.
After this first work experience, I joined a second laboratory in Lyon France to sell on the French market delivery systems for the cosmetic industry such as liposomes… it was a very interesting position to understand more what one call the « encapsulation ». Basically you load ingredients in tiny spheres to boost their performances in cosmetic products so the skin can be even more embellished.
After the Far East, I was eager to understand how the cosmetic industry and skin care consumption on the other side (i.e North America) was developed, what were the beauty routines. A great opportunity happened in 2006 when I left France end of January 2006 to relocate to NYC. An experience of living abroad is the best thing you can do to learn a lot on you. I recall my first three months; I was often alone eating in the evening and thinking how can I make a life in this country that looks like Europe however it is a totally different culture. My job as a sales guy was to travel across the country to meet the research and development people of cosmetic companies. My goal was to help them to develop the most efficient, differentiating and innovative products. My molecules powered the best skin care products of the US market. I travelled from NYC to Dallas, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Memphis, Cincinnati also sometimes I jumped to Canada or Mexico cities. Again I truly enjoyed these experiences where I learnt so much on the brands, the consumers’ needs and the skin care products. I left USA in 2012.
After a quick 12 months’ job in Paris I returned to NYC in summer 2013 for a little while then moved again to Switzerland where I live today. I worked for a company in the alpine plants and flowers 🌺 such as Edelweiss as well as anti-ageing molecules (peptides molecules), at that time I worked deeply the collagen and its functionality. The collagen is one of the most important protein of the skin!
I do not know if you know Switzerland however it is a beautiful country. Sometimes people say it is too quiet, frankly I really enjoy the nature, the pace of life in 🇨🇭 Switzerland. Swiss people are very nice always ready to help you. Swiss people loves the trains and nature; public transportation is probably one of the most performant in the world :)!
Switzerland for me is a heaven of peace and nature.
Today I decided to quit this big corporation work and positions. After the completion of an Executive MBA at HEC Lausanne, I get a break for the next 12 months and think about what could be my next move. In the meantime, my wish is to open my blogzine AlexRioLab to share my 3 passions:
- The beauty and its science.
- Some stories on nature, I am passionated by animals.
- Some articles and advices around leadership and people empowerment, especially women’s achievements, finally stories around what I call « the Urban Amazon ». The Urban Amazon is this courageous woman manager who fights every day to climb the social ladder and survive the turbulent cities !
Maybe you will enjoy my articles, it could give you a temporary escape from the high pace cities. From all my experiences and trips abroad I learnt two key things:
Persevere, and do not wait for the perfect opportunity, create it :)!
Alexandre R Rio