What the Media is Saying ...
The best way to describe Mina, is that she is many humans in one dainty, little body. She is well versed in aesthetics medicine. She has a cult following. At the same time, she is an active researcher, vision lender and advisor to the Mayo Clinic of Europe, Institut Pasteur. And if that isn't already impressive enough, that is only two of her many human forms. In a saturated market of skincare, she launches a line of not just skincare, but transformative medical grade skincare that has been creating a lot of buzz in the medical world since its inception only four months ago. A fellow editor colleague of mine told me that people generally do not venture into that space because it is small, and pretty much run by giant companies, most pharma-backed. You just can't compete. Then there is Mina. Her brand, Vivre SkinLabs, is clearly not afraid and have products these other giants apparently have not thought of developing. As if that isn't enough, Mina is also the founder of Vivre Paradise, a "beach enamored" lifestyle brand of beautiful swimwear and flowy linen and lace caftans she designs along with jewelry, beach bags and everything that creates that dreamy getaway we always dream about. Mina reminds me of these lyrics "anything you can do, I can do better". Let us just add, she cooks like a chef. Dresses like a poster child. And she throws a party like she is Martha Stewart ... and she is captivatingly gorgeous.
All that is impressive. No one takes on this many human forms all at the same time. However, what really captured us is Mina's substance. Whether it is medicine, skincare or beach jewelry, her creativity and unique vision on setting a tone on living a life worth indulging is unparalleled. She has been coined a "lifestyle expert" by Dr. Oz for that very reason.
Mina is the youngest daughter of Kai T. Au, Asia's Father of Fitness whom founded the first chain of fitness centers and Olympic training facilities in Asia. As a child, Mina has been socially cultured by the numerous events and entrepreneurial outings often hosted by her late father. Having spent many summers traveling abroad in different parts of Europe, Mina also developed a deep affinity for, and love of, European culture, as well as a command of four languages, all attributes which would place her in the center of a rapidly-evolving international luxury market. Combined with her forward thinking, unwavering visions, it is no wonder everything she sets out to do, she does better.
WHOM YOU KNOW is pleased to present Mina-Jacqueline Au as our Mover and Shaker (for the second time, because she is that impressive - first was in 2009).
Peachy Deegan interviewed Mina for Whom You Know.
Peachy Deegan: What was it like growing up in a fitness environment designed by your father, Kai T. Au?
Mina-Jacqueline Au: I remember my father's clients were all celebrities and friends of his. Everything about them was very lavish - to entertain them, my dad would have yacht parties and lots of themed balls. It was so much fun for me, it was all about dressing up and getting ready with my mom and sisters. I also remember sitting through business dinners. I was maybe about 4, I had no idea what they were talking about. In fact, that how I learned
mandarin. I would just sit and listen to them speak night after night. There were no ipads when I was 4, so my entertainment was trying to dissect what they were saying and actually learning the language. One time we were at a dinner at the Jockey Club, and one of his business associates, a body builder, saw that I was bored and took me to see the horses get ready for the race. He was super nice and entertained me all night. Years later, I found out that man was Sylvester Stallone. My father lived and breathed business but he kept that very separate from his expectations of my sisters and I. He never forced us to do sports or go into business. He didn't try to encourage our schooling to go a certain way or towards a specific career path. It drove my mom nuts because she was that traditional tiger mom.
Peachy Deegan: It seems like everything you do is somehow influenced by your lifestyle. How do you define luxury without pretense?
Mina-Jacqueline Au: Anyone can spend $3000 on a handbag stamped with a major designer name. Don't get me wrong, I still love Hermes and Chanel ... but the truth is, luxury has lost its luster over the last two decades. A lot of the expensive bags are just bags mass produced by machines and sold at a premium just because. To me, that is luxury with pretense. Luxury without pretense is when you get to purchase items for their meaning and their stories. It could be where the artisan comes from, the material it is made from, or something that reflects who you are. These items often times, are items you can keep and cherish year after year. Its not defined by a trend or a fad. It's not seasonal. To me, that's real luxury. Real luxury is also something that is supposed to inspire you - and it doesn't matter what the price point is. It can be a $25 item found on the streets of Morocco to a $25,000 vintage dress from an auction house ... luxury is never defined by price tags.
Peachy Deegan: How do you feel the luxury market will weather the current economic conditions?
Mina-Jacqueline Au: You'd think the luxury retail market is suffering. But quarter after quarter, luxury conglomerates like LVMH prove that they are opposite of suffering, despite pandemic, despite economic setbacks. So whatever business strategies they are using, it is working. And historically, luxury markets always weather the storms, so they will do just fine.
Peachy Deegan: What do you think are the key components of a successful lifestyle?
Mina-Jacqueline Au: Living an inspirational life. Having an open mind to learning, we are always students of the world till the day we die. Live with individuality. Be inspired by everything and everyone around you. Be kind, because you don't know everyone's story. And as long as there is a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in, always give back. If I can share a meal with a friend, I can certainly share a meal with someone in need.
Peachy Deegan: What is your favorite luxury indulgence?
Mina-Jacqueline Au: Time. We are always running. Going. Working. Achieving. We never have time anymore. Before you know it, life vanishes in front of your eyes. Time to reflect. Time to reset. Have time that you can't have. Time is true luxury that money cannot buy. Sometimes, all we can do is pray for time.
Peachy Deegan: What is your favorite place to be in NYC?
Mina-Jacqueline Au: There are so many! I love places that transport me to another time, another space ... there are cafes & restaurants that brings me to my time spent in Europe like Via Quadronno, La Goulue and my favorite, Pastis. As a matter of fact, Pastis sits on what is called Gansevoort Row, its a point where several streets come together in the Meatpacking. I find that spot so special, so magical. Those outdoor seatings of Pastis, Serafina ... and there you have Hermes that sits gallantly in between. In the summer there are street performers ... it just stops you for a moment.
Peachy Deegan: What is your favorite place to be in NYC?
Mina-Jacqueline Au: There are so many! I love places that transport me to another time, another space ... there are cafes & restaurants that brings me to my time spent in Europe like Via Quadronno, La Goulu and my favorite, Pastis. As a matter of fact, Pastis sits on what is called Gansevoort Row, its a point where several streets come together in the Meatpacking. I find that spot so special, so magical. Those outdoor seatings of Pastis, Serafina ... and there you have Hermes that sits gallantly in between. In the summer there are street performers ... it just stops you for a moment.
Peachy Deegan: What is your favorite shop?
Mina-Jacqueline Au: Saks Fifth Avenue flagship, right at opening on a Monday or Tuesday morning before it turns into a madhouse. I ride that express elevator to the shoe floor like a little kid. LoveShackFancy, I can spend hours in their little boutique. I turn little girl happy as soon as I step foot in there. I also get in trouble every time I walk in there, I basically get my entire wardrobe and more from LSF.
Peachy Deegan: Who is your style icon?
Mina-Jacqueline Au: Oh I have quite a few. The Marchesa Luisa Casati for her eccentricity. Maria Felix for her exuberant and extravagant approach to life. Frida Kahlo for her passion and inner strength to
surmount. Jackie Kennedy for her simplicity, grace and character. I often look to women of the past generations - women had more than just nice shoes & matching bags. They had poise and faith in what they could achieve. They did things their own way. You can take Jackie O. and put her in
a Vogue spread today, and she'd look completely relevant and ready for Fall 2022.
Peachy Deegan: What is your favorite travel find?
Mina-Jacqueline Au: The world is full of "too much" of everything. We are all full of "too much" of everything. I don't have a specific favorite find, but I do love everything I collect in my travels. I'm drawn to the true meaning of people, craftsmanship, creativity, individuality and I believe beautiful objects from different cultures can transcend time. Usually what I acquire in my travels has a fascinating story behind it.
Peachy Deegan: You use Vivre in your businesses a lot. What does it mean?
Mina-Jacqueline Au: Vivre is French, it means to live. It's a word of action, not of observation. it's the idea that we want to change, to evolve and be active participants in this life. I am constantly inspired by people, great art, stunning architecture that tells its history & beautiful things. My life is about collecting, not buying. It is about living, not passing by. When you live and collect, you are experiencing stories, and those stories become a part of every aspect of my life. They inspire, influence and shape me. So Vivre is about me and my life. And I want to bring a part of that to everything I do.
Peachy Deegan: Let me end this interview on this note. My husband is a surgeon, and having gone to a conference with him one day, I had the opportunity to hear Mina speak at Hackensack Medical Center. When she was presenting a medical study to a room of physicians, she is as fluent in science and medicine as she is telling us about an indulgent life in this interview. She is, in fact, many humans in one body. And that truly, leaves me speechless.