“When you look at the mirror and feel satisfied with what you see, these is a great sense of confidence and fulfillment that it’s not bad after all,” says Avignon president and CEO.
“Beauty is really my passion and I want to contribute to make the Philippines confidently beautiful,” says Christopher Cachuela, the founder, president, and CEO Avignon Clinic.
And he has been pursuing this passion for quite a long time. “Since childhood it’s been my dream to be a “doctor that’s why I took Pharmacy,” Cachuela shares. “After graduating in 2004 I got hired from Zuellig Pharma, the biggest pharmaceutical at the time, and this is the start of my career in the beauty industry.”
After Zuellig, Cachuela continued to work at different pharma companies, handling dermatology products in all of them. This included pathological derma creams, ointments, and gels as well as aesthetic and therapeutic medical devices such as dermal fillers and toxins. He also spent a substantial amount of his career with lasers and machines. “And I have to admit that this is what I enjoyed the most,” he says.
He also worked with international doctors and invited them to speaking engagements here. “In turn, we also developed local doctors to be international speakers representing the Philippines,” Cachuela says. “Working with big aesthetic centers is equally rewarding. I used to certify and train dermatologists and aesthetic doctors for ermage FLX, Fraxel, Clear + Brilliant and Liposonix. I launched ermage FLX and Liposonix in the country.”
Opening Avignon Clinic took an entire decade to study and plan, bolstered by realizations and intentions that Cachuela developed over the years.
One was a vision of being able to bring back to the Philippines the futuristic machines he saw while attending international expos. “I firmly believe that we deserve better or equally great machines and services, We identified a gap in the aesthetic market and we obviously wanted to fill that gap. Just when you think that we already have a lot of aesthetic clinics in the country, we don’t.”
Sans the pandemic, a study they conducted showed a massive 15 to 20 percent compound annual growth rate for the next five years.
A more humane and nationalistic reason Cachuela had was a desire to help his fellow Filipinos. “We wanted to generate more jobs for our country men. We wanted to create opportunities for them and be part of the actualization of their goals,” he says, adding that they wanted the country to be recognized as a destination for medical tourism. “Our Asian neighbors like South Korea, Thailand, and India are already good at it.”
Taking care of the team
But, for many reasons, opening a clinic certainly isn’t a walk in the park—not the least of these challenges is the global health crisis we are all going through.
“The glitz and glam that you see outside is the fruit of the sweat and dedication that my team does inside,” Cachuela explains. “We are health professionals and we are actually taking care of people. There is a degree of commitment and standards that we must uphold. Adhering to the highest standards of safety and compliance is non-negotiable.” He explains they wanted the clinic to be synonymous with treatments that are luxurious but within reach.
Avignon launched just months before pandemic enveloped the world, and Cachuela says it is by far the biggest setback his clinic—and this generation—has faced.
“Looking back, I would not deny that it has caught me by surprise,” he says. “I was in Rome in February 2020! All flights to Asia were cancelled as Italy started to see a spike in cases. I rebooked tickets twice and when I felt really blessed when I got a seat, probably the last FCO-MNL flight at that time. Avignon Clinic QC branch was slated to launch on March 15, 2020.”
Although everything was already prepared, they, of course, had to postpone the opening. e new multimillion peso facility remained unused for a few months, and its team felt disheartened. “We are past that event now. We launched Avignon QC in July 2020 with a star-studded event,” Cachuela happily says.
“I can share endlessly about our ordeals with the pandemic but I am keen on sharing what mattered most. It’s looking after your employees in the midst of depleting resources,” he says.
No Avignon employee was laid off due to the pandemic, the executive says.
“I consider that as one of my achievements to date. Another is the recognition that we are one of the clinics who has robust safety procedures in place,” he says. “That’s the primary reason why patients still visit us because they feel safe and they can literally sleep like a baby in our suites.”
Giving a boost
But, in the middle of a pandemic, what place does the aesthetics industry have in the larger scheme of things?
“Some might see aesthetics as non- essential during this time. The world that we knew is far from recognizable, we were kept at home for prolonged periods, we don’t see our friends, we can’t even shake hands anymore,” Cachuela explains gracefully. “The rising number of cases also adds to our anxiety while the fatalities are starting to be our first degree acquaintances or family.”
All this can take a toll on how we look, he continues.
“I’m sure that you have seen friends in the past months and you were startled how much they have changed, well at least their skin and aging process,” Cachuela says. “Avignon can help you delay those signs and even bring you back to pre- pandemic levels.”
Cachuela also wants to underscore the role of aesthetics in terms of self-appreciation. “When you look at the mirror and feel satisfied with what you see, these is a great sense of confidence and fulfillment that it’s not bad after all. And then you can resume zooming endlessly and partying virtually,” he says.
“As they say, look good, feel great.”
The pandemic has flatlined many companies and businesses, sidelined whole industries, and set aside long-term plans. While many can’t see an end in sight, Cachuela remains adamant that we will all get back on our feet.
“When we get through this—and we will get through this—the aesthetic arena will be the first one to benefit from the surge,” he predicts. “I imagine people getting ‘revenge facials’ and really try to cope with the time lost. Avignon and the rest of the clinics will just to keep our heads above the water, [although that’s] easier said than done I know.”
He says the industry needs to evolve to stay relevant, which is what they’re doing at Avignon. It’s not just about giving clear and wrinkle-free skin.
“It’s a synergistic journey to overall wellness, the use of world class and tech driven facilities to your advantage, the presentation of your space as safe and secured, the expertise of the staff and doctors and the vision of the leaders driving growth,” he says.
But until better days are here, Cachuela’s passion for making Filipino confidently beautiful remains always at the ready.
This full story on Christopher Cachuela may be found in the May 2021 issue of Lifestyle Asia.