• February 1, 2023

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There’s big business to be done in Botox – and other injectables – and Nicci Levy wants to own a nice-sized chunk of it. The founder and CEO of Alchemy 43 operates four beauty bars including three in Los Angeles and one in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. She plans to open four new stores this year, including locations on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, L.A.’s Newport Beach, Houston and Dallas, a new market. There will be 10 new beauty bars in 2023; locations are being finalized.

Alchemy 43 is no cottage industry. Levy ultimately wants to operate more than 200 stores when full expansion is reached. Taking the company public is also in her sights. “I think going public is a potential [outcome] for us,” she said. “Certainly an IPO is on the table.”

Levy said the experience of getting injectables at Alchemy 43 is vastly different than getting a face refresh at the dermatologist or any of the other medical specialists that have taken up the needle. The shops are aesthetically pleasing and prices are well considered.

Named for the number of muscles in the face, Alchemy’s “microtreatments” are minimally invasive, both on consumers’ skin and pocketbooks, and performed by a team of licensed medical practitioners.

A standard Botox treatment is $350 to $650. A filler service for lip enhancement or cheek augmentation will run you anywhere from $650 to $1,200. It depends on how much product a person needs since everyone’s different. The market where the store is located also figures into the equation, Levy said.

According to FNF Research, the global aesthetic injectables market is on track to grow from $12.9 billion in 2020 to $22.5 billion by 2026.

Why all the interest in furrow-less foreheads and pouty lips? Levy said the pandemic, which had consumers staring at their own visages on Zoom for hours, is just part of the reason. The fact that Botox is a household word and injectables aren’t a dirty little secret anymore also has much to do with its popularity.

“There was an opportunity to reimagine how these treatments are consumed and focus on making it a great experience and really acceptable. Before, you didn’t tell your friends and you wouldn’t share it with your spouse,” Levy said. “Then it evolved, as so many of these beauty services do, to a more normal thing where before you weren’t talking about it and now you’re chatting about it with your friends at lunch or calling your best friend to find out where she went, or making an appointment yourself.”

Levy started Alchemy 43 in 2016 after a long career in corporate cosmetics and a bit of a shorter, yet very significant career, in medical aesthetics. She had a job in college at the makeup counter, which started out as a fun way to make a little extra money and fell in love with the feel-good high of helping people like what the see in the mirror. Her ‘aha’ moment came in 2009 when she started working for Allergan
AGN
, maker of Botox. “That’s where the idea of Alchemy 43 was born,” she said.

“When I moved over to medical aesthetics, even though the treatments I was selling or representing were purely elective, they were not therapeutic. They were non-invasive fillers and yet there was no attention being paid to the experience itself. It was kind of like being torn down to be built back up. No one wants to hear what’s wrong with them,” she said of medical settings. “That’ not enjoyable, it’s not really productive and it’s not good for your mental health. I thought why do these treatments have to be packaged that way, why can’t they be packaged as ‘refreshment’ where you look and feel your best.”

Over the past five years, more than 400 aesthetics clinics and care centers raised $3.1 billion from investors, according to a McKinsey study. Claritas Capitol and Forerunner Ventures are two key investors in Alchemy 43. The expanded access and shift in consumer attitudes has lured two new demographics: men, who are projected to double their use of injectables over the next five years, and teenage girls, seeking lip injections and prejuvenation to prevent the loss of youth.

“We’re a brand that prides itself on inspiring confidence in women and men because we want you to feel good about yourself,” Levy said. “We do a lot of education so that you can make an informed decision. As a provider, we want to understand what you didn’t like about your other injectable experiences. We’re really digging in with the customer,” she said, referring to subcutanial treatments, pun intended.

This is not to say that doctors can’t be good injectors, they just have to put in the time. “For a physician, it’s little to no part of their training in medical school – and beyond. If you’re a gynecologist, and you take the time to study and read up, you could become a great injector.

“I would say that nobody needs these treatments,” Levy said. “It’s not a lifesaving thing here. We want you to feel great about it and customize it to each client’s personal aesthetic goals, such as Botox, Juvederm and other fillers, facial peel treatments, mini neck peels, microneedling, PRP treatments and Clear + Brilliant ® laser. Clients can also see their results before any procedures through VECTRA 3D imaging.”

The business, which is staffed by registered nurses, nurse practitioners and physician associates is expected to do $10 million in sales this year. Levy said, “If you’re going to a provider for the first time and trying to figure out if this is the best place to go, rather than look at their license or where they went to medical school, a better measure would be to know how many of these procedures they do a week, and what percentage of their practice is doing these treatments.

“We don’t have estheticians performing any of our services,” Levy said, adding that there’s a large chasm in skill sets between some doctors who take a course and dedicated injectors.

Levy sees room for a lot of players, but it’s a battle for consumer mindshare. “Everybody knows the word, Botox, there’s no one place you go to get Botox. I’ll use athletic shoes as an example. If you ask people to name the top three athletic companies, everybody is going to say Nike
NKE
first. We think there’s a real opportunity to be the Nike of the non-invasive business and we want to be synonymous with Botox.”

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