Behind the Brand: Chanel Jenae, Owner and Creative Director of Arcona
By Robin Tolkan-Doyle, Beauty Editor
In 2014, I spent a girl’s weekend at the Ojai Valley Inn and treated myself to a facial at their renowned spa. As a beauty editor for many years, I had tried hundreds of products. So I was curious to experience the Arcona ones my esthetician used during my treatment, since they were an untapped brand to me. Needless to say, once my facial unfortunately came to an end, the esthetician had no problem upselling me a bag full of lotions, cleansers and serums including Magic White Ice, which I still use to this day.
Arcona’s simple and straightforward philosophy for creating such high quality, pure products should really be mandatory protocol for any beauty brand: “Color, fragrance and consistency don’t change your skin... live, active ingredients do.” Arcona believes that lasting beauty and skin health comes from within; whatever you put on your skin goes into your body. Because of this, all Arcona efficacious products are infused with cosmeceutical grade ingredients such as high concentrations of antioxidants, enzymes, growth factors, peptides, and retinols. Arcona is also synonymous with cold process formulations, as not to destroy the ingredients with heat, which just adds to their artisanal quality.
The artist behind this beautiful brand is Chanel Jenae, who was inspired to combine the clinical approach of her mentor Arcona Devan - who she worked under as a licensed esthetician - with her own background in herbology, acupressure and alternative medicine. After Devan’s passing in 2004, Jenae saw a growing need in the skincare world to marry science with nature. Since launching the Arcona Studio in Santa Monica along with her ever growing collection of products, Chanel’s products have won countless awards and the faces of countless celebrities including Regina King, Catherine O’Hara, Dianne Lane, Zoe Kravitz, and Emmy Rossum.
CocoEco had the opportunity to chat with Chanel recently…
What made you decide to become an esthetician when you were still in high school?
My obsession with skincare has been lifelong. I was interested in all facets of skin health, treatments, and ingredients from my earliest adolescence—so much so that I got my esthetician's license while I was still in high school. I was fortunate early in my career, to meet and work with some exceptional mentors, who guided me, and supported my passion and love of skincare.
What is most gratifying to me are the close relationships I have formed with my clients, and witnessing the incredible transformations to their skin---seeing their confidence soar. There are many skin care modalities I have studied, but my favorite is our signature facial contouring massage, which contours and sculpts the face through lymphatic drainage, which reduces puffiness and stagnation; acupressure to improve circulation, and various exfoliating treatments to refine, clarify and balance the skin. I feel incredibly fortunate to do work that I am truly passionate about.
Where did you grow up? Please discuss your life before entering the skincare business.
I grew up in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. I have so many fond memories and really cannot think of my life before skincare. It has always been there and a part of my life. I have very fond memories of my early life. One huge inspiration was my amazing grandmother-- our trips to museums, exploring San Francisco, and the time we spent together. She had a profound effect on the person I am today. She was such an inspiration, because it was she who was my biggest supporter.
Tell me about your background in herbology, acupressure and alternative medicine.
I have always had a thirst for knowledge. Education is everything, and delving deeper to understand the overall health of skin is key in better supporting the creation of products and treatments that help bring the skin into homeostasis. I have had the pleasure of learning from great teachers, and the various methodologies which they taught me are all interconnected. Our philosophy is to combine science and nature as the key to efficacious products. Percentages, pH, and purity are everything.
Did you always have your sights set on being an entrepreneur?
One might say, that I grew into being an entrepreneur because my love of skincare and desire to share my knowledge led me in that direction.
What have been some of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in being the co-owner and CEO of Arcona?
Striking a work/life balance. Navigating the uncharted waters of the last year has been a great teacher in many facets of my life, both professionally and personally. I think it is important to have a destination in mind both for your life and your business--but always to remember to enjoy the journey. Staying flexible, and having an open mind are equally important, as things have a way of changing even when everything is perfectly planned. I would add that I learned that it is important to follow our instincts, as they are often correct.
What are some of the highest highs you’ve experienced in your career?
First and foremost, are the incredible relationships and love we have developed with people all over the world, who have seen great improvement in their skin. This is most gratifying. Winning two ALLURE magazine Best of Beauty and Editor's Choice Awards, was an incredible honor for a smaller brand. Meeting and working with Julia Roberts was a “pinch me” moment.
What is the benefit of creating products that are “cold-pressed”?
We cold-process many of our ingredients, so that they will not be destroyed by heat. We choose to use high-performing, science - based actives, that help deliver consistent results to improve the quality and health of the skin.
You have said women tend to over - moisturize. How do you know if you are doing this especially when your skin is very dry?
Having a better understanding of your particular skin condition and type, helps determine the most appropriate level and weight of moisturizer. A one size fits all approach is not suitable to all! Activating and balancing the skin is the key. Moisturize from within with healthy food, greens, and omega - rich foods. Using gentle moisturizers that work with the skin replenishing lipids is key.
Since your products are so pure, do they have a shorter life span than typical mass-produced skincare?