The Next Chapter for a Skincare Icon
Highly regarded as a beauty industry innovator and icon, Cornelia Zicu has been making waves in the world of skincare since she started. In the ’90’s in NYC, she quickly became a world-renowned skin care expert specializing in luxury spa and beauty treatments, and then she founded Manhattan's biggest and most luxurious spa, The Cornelia Day Resort. This occupied the top two floors of a prestigious Fifth Avenue building, which covered nearly 22,000 square feet and had numerous unique amenities including New York’s first Watsu Pool for underwater warm water massage treatments, private spa suites, and more – even a rooftop garden. Recognized as “The Best of the Best”, this spa was a game-changer in the world of day care spas across the USA.
Cornelia also had created a product line that would become one of the most successful lines at the time, with her success extending across the world with her products being in the hands of not only celebrities and A-listers of Hollywood, but the products could be found in the hands of Queen of England as gifts for the guests at her annual private party, as well as The Saudi Royal Family requested exclusivity in the Middle East to distribute the line.
After departing from her Cornelia brand, Cornelia went to work as the Red Door Spa as the Global Chief Creative Officer (CCO), with her previous success allowing her to become the spokesperson for the Red Door until it closed its doors following 2020. Times change, however, and so has Cornelia.
She recently developed the skincare line Lalele for her son Hani Zicu, helping him realize his dream of launching his own brand. Excited to learn more about what she feels is her best product line yet I sat down with Cornelia to learn all about Lalele and what makes this so important and so uniquely different. So …. well, Cornelia.
1. Love your new product line and mission. Tell me about the inspiration behind it.
I have always had a relationship with nature, as a young girl picking plants and understanding the nature of so many varieties and how each one could help or heal. My passion for nature continued throughout my career, and I always have leaned on their powers when formulating products as I knew the power that they had to help people’s skin. My son, Hani Zicu, shares the same passion. His childhood as a refugee shaped the way he viewed the world and impacted his personality, one that was always in search of helping the less fortunate. His love for nature was nurtured from the day he could first walk and would play in his great grandfather's garden where his grandmother would be picking tea leaves to dry and fruits for homemade jam. Later in life when working in the locker room of my former Manhattan spa, he saw the joy someone felt who could not afford the Cornelia brand but being gifted the opportunity to experience the luxury service and products. That day he made a promise to himself to bring that same joy to all and to make myquality products accessible to all and the dream of impacting the world in a positive way culminated into Lalele, a product line that exceeds expectations and a brand that aims in making the world more beautiful in every way.
2. I understand that you scour the globe to source ingredients, selecting some from different countries. What makes the ingredients that you find so special and worth that sort of dedication and effort?
It’s important to use the most potent plants that are grown in the most pure and rich soil – as not every plant’s potency is the same when grown in different parts of the world. So, we go to the country that grows the most potent, powerful plant there, so we can use not only the best variety, but also from the places best suited for growing the healthiest and most potent version of each. Chamomile, for example, comes in many varieties but only two are cultivated and sold commercially, Roman and German Chamomile. We chose German Chamomile for itshigher levels of chamazulene and bisabolol, making it a more efficacious form of chamomile for skin care products. Searching for the best German Chamomile, we found the one growing in certain regions of Romania to contain the highest concentrations of Bisabolol oxide A (70.2% versus an average of around 40%). We use award-winning natural ingredients that undergo clinical tests.
3. You work with these communities as well. Would you share an example or two of ways that you’re doing that?
Our goal is to build a community that has a say in the people and places we help. Proceeds from the sales will go towards different projects the Lalele community decides on quarterly. We have been focused on a successful launch so we can guarantee we build the right community and infrastructure to make our soon to come philanthropic projects a success. We do not want to ruin the surprise, but we can say the first three locations part of our giving back campaign will be The USA, Romania, and Nepal.
4. The products themselves are also applied to the face via masks, which are so different than any other face masks I've ever tried. Not what I expected at all – such a wonderful product!
These sheet masks are made with organic, bamboo cotton and are more in line with a high quality spa service or treatment than a face mask. Unlike most masks that target one concern (wrinkles, dark spots, sagging skin, large pores, etc.), our goal was to target all concerns – and under each skin type.
We strived to deliver the potency of an ampule but in the convenience delivery system of a sheet mask. Our complex anti-age formula was designed to not only target all the concerns above but also to prevent them. In order to achieve this task we needed to not only find the best active ingredients but also to balance them perfectly and use the perfect concentrations of each. Potent formulas coupled with a unique delivery system reduces product waste and the mess created from excessive dripping from the envelope used in most sheet masks on the market. This allowed us to simplify busy consumers' beauty routines by reducing the number of masks required as well as reducing the need for an additional serum when using the mask.
5. Can you share what is next to extend the Lalele collection?
Our plan for the future is to come every two years with new products that will be unique, results oriented and innovative. The research and study for the next two is finished and soon we will be able to create the first sample for family and friends to try. Usually the formulation and testing can take a few months until we achieve the perfect formula, so we wait until we are certain that this will achieve the visible, powerful results that we are seeking before we start production. This is why a new product can take as long as two years because of the extensive research and testing time.
6. Where can we buy them and learn more about them?
We are so excited to have you back in this business, changing the industry and improving our skin’s health, feel and aesthetics, Cornelia!
It is my pleasure and honor to be able to do what I love and make people feel more happy, beautiful and healthy. I am so grateful for the opportunity. Thank you! – Cornelia