Engines of society - Alexa Ballmann

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In cooperation with Losch Luxembourg, we regularly present women from Luxembourg who have a very special impact on society through their professional careers or simply through their personal stories.

If you are looking for complete relaxation and pampering and simply want to do something good for your body, the Institut de beauté Alexa Ballmann in Oetringen is the right place. From skin treatments to manicures, epilation to relaxing massages, the team of the ambitious entrepreneur offers absolutely everything your heart desires.

With the opening of this wellness oasis, the 36-year-old with the invitingly warm charisma has fulfilled a lifelong dream. She feels at home here. But today Alexa Ballmann has the day off and has something very special planned. She gets to try out a car that she would like to call her own one day: The new Porsche Taycan 4S. This car heralds a completely new era for the brand, namely that of the first fully electric Porsche.

She locks the door behind her and sits down in the elegant sports car full of anticipation. Its noble yet futuristic design, its imposing appearance and its generous amount of space immediately appeal to the young beautician. The Taycan drives off silently, unusual for Alexa who has never been in an electric car before.

But you quickly get used to the absence of the otherwise typical sporty sound, and the Porsche succeeds in convincing with its superior and agile driving feel almost immediately. Despite its proud size and incredible power – after all, it has over 500 hp "under the bonnet" – the Porsche sits extremely well on the road and is almost as agile as a small car. After just a few minutes, the dreamlike backdrop of Luxembourg's Moselle region appears in front of Alexa. Today she will explore this harmoniously picturesque region and give her mind a little time out.

Even as a young girl, Alexa was passionate about doing her dolls' make-up and hair, and even then, she made plans to one day work as a beautician and run her very own institute. After graduating, it became clear to Alexa that she would not be happy in a full-time office job. She really wanted to work with her hands. After much persuasion, her parents agreed and Alexa began an apprenticeship as a beautician at the city's Institut de Beauté Annette Weber-Krier, where she worked for seven years and learned a lot.

Fate's providence

In 2011, an acquaintance pointed out to Alexa that a former beauty institute in Oetringen was for sale, and out of curiosity she set off there with her father – who supported her idea from the start – to have a look. Once there, the beautician's mouth was left open, because this story actually begins much earlier.

About two years before, she had visited a friend who lived in this very building. There was already a beauty salon in the front part of the building. She parked her car next to the house and was immediately blown away: a beautifully quaint building, located directly on the main street, with huge windows and a parking space right in front of the door! It was exactly what she had always imagined. But the institute was already taken and so she had to let go of this thought for the time being.

Nevertheless, she told her friend at dinner afterwards that they would be neighbours someday. And although most made fun of the idea, it stuck with Alexa, and she was convinced that if she wished hard enough, her dream would eventually come true. And that's exactly how it was going to happen!

"For many, a craft education was and still is not worth the same as a university education for example."

Thanks to a chain of happy coincidences, Alexa was suddenly the head of her very own beauty institute at the age of only 26. At first, this daring project was naturally a challenge for the young woman, as she had to work 12–14 hours a day at times to keep her one-woman business running. It was only after almost two years that she was ready to hire staff. Coincidentally, the flat next door – yes, exactly where Alexa's friend lived at the time –became available and so she was able to expand her institute. Today she employs 13 people and is grateful that over the years she has always been able to work with great, independent and self-confident people, and that there has always been a relaxed working atmosphere.

In 2018, she then opened another branch in the swimming pool in Niederanven and in the summer of 2020, after the first lockdown, she took another chance and took over her now third institute in Keispelt. For a while, Alexa tried to split herself in two to be able to be everywhere at once, but when she started to suffer too much from this pressure two years ago, she had to decide to give up her duties as a beautician to be the manager behind the scenes to ensure high quality standards.

On the winding country roads of the Moselle region, the electric Porsche's instant acceleration power can be savoured to the full. In the meantime, Alexa has arrived high up in the Wéngerten, as the Moselle people call their vineyards, and is enjoying the breathtaking view. Even a typical May rain shower in no way diminished the driving pleasure to the top, because even when the roads are wet, you feel completely safe in the Porsche Taycan 4S with its four-wheel drive. The sporty 5-seater is now available in three variants: the Taycan Turbo, Turbo S and the newcomer 4S. This model can be equipped with two different battery sizes. Both variants guarantee a power output of over 500 hp, as well as a range of about 400 kilometres and, of course, CO2 emissions are always 0g/km.

Remarkable commitment

Alexa doesn't really have any traditional hobbies. But she is rarely bored. Even though this sounds like work to most people, there is nothing better for her than to be involved in various associations and organisations in her free time and to stand up for the things she believes in.

For almost two years, Alexa Ballmann has been president of the Jonk Handwierk association, where she is a passionate advocate for young entrepreneurs. She is also president of the Hair Beauty and Tattoo Guild, a member of the Fédération des Jeunes Dirigeants d'Entreprise de Luxembourg, a board member of the Fédération des Artisans and an alternate member of the Chambre de Commerce plenum.

She is also a strong advocate for talent development and for helping young people discover their passion and make it their profession, rather than being forced into a track. For Alexa herself, it was very problematic when she decided to learn a craft. For many, a craft education was and still is not worth the same as a university education for example. And she fights to change this. That’s why Alexa is a member of the DAP Commission for Esthétique, where she helps to draw up and correct programmes for the exams and the trainings so that they are adapted to the respective requirements.

"A tough year"

For Alexa and her team, the Covid crisis was an enormous strain, as it was for most Luxembourg businesses. When the lockdown paralysed the entire country, Alexa was part of a working group of the Fédération des Artisans that put together the hygiene measures for the different areas in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. In her eyes, the government handled the crisis well because it was in constant contact with the different associations to find customised solutions for everyone.

"The Taycan is the first Porsche to be available with no leather at all as an option."

When the institutes were finally able to reopen, it was an advantage for Alexa's team that the profession of beautician has always had a lot to do with hand washing and strict hygiene rules. The team quickly got used to the mandatory FFP2 masks and the customers were not long in coming.

Furthermore, Alexa was invited by the government to participate in a working group to set up an exit strategy to prepare post-pandemic times together with Xavier Bettel, Paulette Lenert and others.

Innovation in the blood

By now the clouds have cleared and Alexa is making herself comfortable on the terrace of a restaurant, enjoying some local treats before her first little all-electric journey continues. However, it's not just its advanced electric powertrain that makes the Porsche Taycan a forward-thinking vehicle, because the designers have also put some thought into the interior as a way of doing the environment a favour. In fact, the Taycan is the first Porsche to be available with no leather at all as an option. Instead, the interior is made from innovative recycled materials that do justice to the concept of an electric sports car. Alexa thinks it's great that Porsche has taken this path towards a more sustainable future, because the core and philosophy of the Institut de beauté Alexa Ballmann is also based on innovation and sustainability.

For example, Alexa is doing everything she can to digitise her business in order to go paperless. She also makes sure to keep up with the times when it comes to the products she uses and sells in her institutes. She uses hardly any plastic packaging. The products are produced in an environmentally conscious way, they are nature-based and in most cases do not contain dyes or perfume or, in the case of specific products, are enriched with natural perfumes and – very importantly – are not tested on animals and are even vegan.

A look into the future

Slowly but surely, Alexa makes her way home again. One thing has become clear today: The new Porsche Taycan knows exactly how to turn people's heads. And not only in the figurative sense. Because anyone who catches sight of the luxurious sports car will find it hard not to stare at it. It is with a heavy heart that Alexa leaves it behind at the Porsche Centre in Howald after having spent an adventurous weekend with it. In the coming weeks, her two-year mandate as president of Jonk Handwierk will expire. She hopes to mark this milestone with a small celebration in compliance with the hygienic measures and looks forward to the next challenge ahead.