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From Department Store Phenom to Spa Professional

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: November 29, 2010, from the December 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Charlene Keefe picture

Charlene Keefe

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After receiving her license from Golden West College in Huntington Beach in 2005, Keefe shared a rented room at a salon with another esthetician for six months, and tried to decide on the best product line for her clientele. Because of her product knowledge, Keefe began working with YG Labōratories on developing a private label line, which now has 60 SKUs. Then, in 2006, she opened her own small spa—the same location she is working in now—focusing on providing results to her clients through her treatments and home-care products, which include her private label line, as well as Circadia By Dr. Pugliese. “When selling retail, don’t be worried about making X amount of dollars; you have to put that aside. Meet clients’ needs, develop a long-term relationship with them, help them choose the right product and don’t overload them,” she says.

Focused on learning even more about cosmetic chemistry, Keefe recently completed both parts of a cosmetic chemistry class at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), taught by ingredient guru Rebecca James Gadberry, with the intent of formulating her own line one day. “I hope with that education, I can hook up with a cosmetic chemist and understand the terminology when we formulate products. I want to be in it and be part of it,” says Keefe. By focusing on offering the right products for her clients, Keefe is making an investment in her business—and her clientele—that promises to pay off for years to come.