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Celebrating 20 Years: Face to Face--Two Decades of Industry History

By Lois Hince
Posted: February 1, 2008, from the February 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
The first of issue of Skin Inc. magazine, published in the fall of 1988, featured 64 pages—16 of which were advertising—and it included business columns; a variety of features such as Peter T. Pugliese, MD’s first article for the magazine titled “Behavior of Normal Skin;” a rundown of industry news; a classified section; and one particular column that has withstood the test of time.
       As it did in that inaugural issue, the “Face to Face” column continues to introduce readers to their peers—each profile with a different story about their attraction to the industry, and each sharing the dreams, determination, challenges, failures, successes and satisfaction of building their own businesses, making it in this industry and influencing people’s lives.
       After a decade of publication, several “Face to Face” subjects were contacted, and in the January/February 1998 issue, readers caught up with them in the article “Where are They Now?” Now it’s 10 years later, and there are even more stories to tell, each relaying a part of the history of this industry.

Flourishing in the Rockies
       When interviewed for the February 2004 issue, Gail Ridings’ last name was Sharp. Born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, she headed to Chicago after college and spent 15 years as a high-powered marketing executive. However, growing tired of the daily grind and experiencing a personal epiphany after losing her mother led her to expand her professional horizons.
       “I had my priorities—a beautiful location, lots of open space, close enough to a large city for convenience, horseson the property—and I wanted to bring my dog, Lucky, with me to work everyday,” she said. “I decided what I wanted to do with my life and built a job around it.”
       “That time in Chicago seems like a lifetime ago,” says Ridings now, who opened the 4,000-square-foot TallGrass Aveda Spa and Salon in Evergreen, Colorado, in November 1995, with five team members. Within a few years, she expanded the business to 6,500 square feet, and by 2004, she employed 80 team members. And that’s about where she’s at today, after 12 years of working in the industry.
       Ridings remains as the spa’s strategic visionary, providing her leadership, financial and marketing talents. She works closely with Susie Siebert, spa director, and together they guide team leaders in the areas of esthetics, massage therapy, nails, client relations, hair, retail, operations, and laundry and maintenance.
       The one thing that is different, however, is that during the past several years, Ridings has noticed a change in the pattern of gift card purchases. “There’s quite a bit of competition out there now for gift cards, and we’ve experienced an alarming decline—nearly 10% in sales each year for the past three or four years,” she admits.
       To keep her spa in the race, Ridings began offering instant gift certificates on thespa’s Web site. “TallGrass is located in the mountains, and it’s not always convenient for everyone to get here to purchase gift cards,” she explains. “Now anyone can print out a gift certificate from our Web site—we even offer different designs. This change to how we do business has made an immediate impact, and our gift card purchases have increased 18% over 2006 sales already.”
       Although it is good to hear that TallGrass is doing so well, it has taken a lot of hard work.
       Married for the first time in May 2005, she and her husband, Chuck, live in a home next to the spa. She continues to enjoy her 20-second commute, and her dog, Lucky … well, he’s taking it a little easier these days. The border-collie mix doesn’t visit the spa as often, but a new addition—yellow Labrador retriever, Ginger—is there with Ridings every day.
       As she said in her first “Face to Face” interview, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Taking risks
       Internet searches can turn up some interesting facts. It was no surprise, however, to read the results after entering the name
Kelli Trumble.
       Trumble appeared as the December 2003 subject for “Face to Face.” She had just opened Sundara Inn & Spa in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, which went on to be named the third “Favorite Spa Escape in America” by ABC’s morning news television program
Good Morning America. In the column, Trumble was described as an example of how a person can succeed when totally committed—heart, mind and soul—to something she believes can happen.
       A Wisconsin native, Trumble received a journalism degree in 1979 from the Universityof Wisconsin–Madison, and landed a job as an editor with a national restaurant magazine. In 1985, she began serving as executive director of the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau for 10 years, then left the position to open an image enhancement firm that helped companies build better customer service programs.
       Trumble’s business travels led to her next career step. “During this time, I also had a life-changing experience at a California spa. I couldn’t quite find a black-and-white answer at the time, but felt it would be great to have a similar type of spa in the Midwest,” she said in 2003.
       After exhaustive research, a written business plan and a clear-cut vision, Trumble found what she was looking for while snowshoeing near the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Her plan for Sundara—the Sanskrit word meaning “beautiful”—unfolded, and the 45,000-square-foot destination spa opened in March 2003 on the resort’s property.
       Trumble said, “The spa was planned to care for people and help bring them peace. I worked on the outer beauty of Sundara to bring an inner beauty to guests.” She led 90 team members that included 30 spa service members—massage therapists, estheticians, nail technicians, cosmetologists, suite attendants, wellness coordinators, laundry and engineering staff, and dining attendants.
       Fast-forward to the present, where, on February 12, 2007, Trumble was named secretary of tourism for the state of Wisconsin by Governor Jim Doyle. In Wisconsin, tourism is the third largest industry. “My husband and I were handling all the aspects of the spa business, and when this opportunity presented itself, we knew it was time to leave the spa and let it grow,” she says.
       Business partners are now operating the spa and carrying on her vision, but Trumble’s heart always starts beating a little faster when she walks into a spa. “I love the industry—it’s a kinder, gentler world,” she says, and her passion forthe hospitality industry continues in serving as secretary of tourism, providing the opportunity to work with the entire state.
       The path Trumble has chosen makes sense. Throughout the development of Sundara, she focused on the mantra: With risk, there’s reward.
       “I wouldn’t be where I am unless I had all of the other experiences,” she said.
       Something else she believes in and provides as advice is, “Pay attention to what’s important to you.” And you know these are words Trumble takes seriously.

Facing challenges
       Jacki Blaylock Smith, esthetician and owner of Diva’s Day Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says that it hasn’t been an easy year for her due to a variety of factors—the area’s economy affected by a hurricane, the travel habits of snowbirds and the fact that people just don’t have as much disposable income.
       Interviewed for the April 2003 issue as Jacqueline Smith, she had earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1982 from Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois, and, after teaching for five years, went into pharmaceutical sales for 10 more years. The next development in her life is one that shook her world, however. She attributes the loss of one of her twin sons shortly after his birth in 1997 to her change in attitude toward her career.
       “I call it my Joshua lesson—dare to dream. It changed my life,” she said. “I wanted to control my own destiny and be the CEO of my own company. When I dared to dream about what I would do with my life, going into a profession where I could help others look good and feel good seemed right for me.”
       Smith opened a 1,000-square-foot spa in 1999 as a nail technician and earned her esthetic license in 2000 from the Florida College of Natural Health. According to Smith, the spa is an urban retreat that is located one mile from the beach. Since the first interview, she has added a room for couples within the spa, and her team nowincludes two massage therapists, an esthetician and nail technician. In addition to working one-on-one with clients, Smith has taken on a new role as a teacher.
       “I’ve enjoyed going back to my roots,” she says. “Part of being an esthetician is being an educator, and I’m a strong advocate for esthetic education.” Smith splits her time between her spa and the American Institute of Cosmetology in Pompano Beach, Florida, where she teaches basic skin care programs. She’s been instructing evening classes that meet from 6–10 PM, Monday through Thursday, for 20 weeks per session.
       “I’ve increased marketing. I write thank-you notes to clients to let them know how much I appreciate them, and I offer add-ons during treatments to serve as pick-me-ups,” Smith explains. She’s worked with her Web site, too, where clients can now make their appointments and purchase gift certificates online.
       Trends Smith has seen in the industry since she started her business include clients who are much more aware of products and services because of the mass media bringing the spa to the mainstream. “Spas aren’t just for the super rich anymore,” she says.           
     “Microdermabrasion is a household word, and day spas are everywhere. The workplace has become more competitive and that’s led to more clients coming in for manicures, and in my area—near the beach—the derriere facial is very popular.”
        It may have been a tough year for Smith’s location, but she’s a survivor. “I see myself staying in this industry for quite some time,” she says. “I like helping people—the students I’m teaching, as well as my clients.
       “I always try to focus on the best things that happen and know that I am in control of my own destiny. It’s a freedom I have because of a choice I made. It’s a freedom I have because I dared to dream.”

Facing mortality
       The November 2001 issue was the only issue in the 20-year history of Skin Inc. magazine that did not run an interview in the “Face to Face” column. This issue’s column was written right after Sept. 11, 2001, and it reflected on the emotional impact of the tumultous time.
       “ … We’ve come face to face with mortality. It has never faced all of us at the same catastrophic momentas it did on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the United States. …
       “ … All of this brought us face to face with a myriad of emotions as events unfolded. We came face to face with terrorism as we never have seen it. Fear and chaos followed, anguish permeated our faces and our hearts as we watched and listened, in disbelief, at what was happening …
       “ ... While vivid images of this attack are emblazoned in our minds, so, too, are the acts of bravery and courage we have seen in the face of this disaster. The outpouring of human emotion and effort in rescue attempts has been unprecedented. …
        “ … This nation’s generations have come face to face with patriotism, and each has celebrated in its own way. The red, white and blue flag—the stars and stripes forever—flows and waves across this country. A message has been sent to the entire world that though wounded, we stand united … and strong. … 
       “ … May the souls of the so very innocent victims of this disaster, who valiantly faced this horror, rest in peace.”


Man on the move
       Ever since Benjamin Jayne moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1992, he’s been a man on the move. This is very apparent since his first interview with Skin Inc. magazine in October 2002.
       A U.S. citizen raised in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Jayne chose massage therapy as an elective in a high school vocational training program because he had strong hands, and that selection set the wheels in motion. He became licensed and worked as a massage therapist, eventually moving to Tulsa to operate a business called Body Sculpt, Inc., where he learned more about esthetics and innovative industry trends. During the time Jayne was building his clientele and his reputation, he was approached to renovate and operate a two-story spa space at the Tulsa Southern Hills Marriott.
        With the help of an investor and his wife, an interior designer, he created a functional 2,700-square-foot upper-level spa and a 900-square-foot lower-level salon.
        During Jayne’s first interview, he said, “I need to be involved in something that isn’t the same all the time. This definitely offers the opportunity for change. There’s never a dull moment here.”
        In November 2005, he renovated a sports bar at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tulsa andworked his magic to turn it into a spa. He
now owns Elements Spa, his second hotel spa venture. “We want people who visit the facility to feel the difference between the large hotel and the relaxed atmosphere of the spa—they should be able to enjoy the experience,” Jayne says.
       The location offers massage therapy, body polishing, facials, hair removal and nail services, and it specializes in a Couple’s Weekend Escape and Silver, Gold and Platinum packages, each featuring various combinations of tub treatments, facials and massage therapy.
       Jayne pinpoints Sept. 11, 2001, as a turning point for the spa industry, saying, “People looked at the way they were living at that time, and more and more became aware of the spa industry. Going to the spa no longer was just about massage, but about what kind of changes could be made in a person’s life.”
        “The spa experience has to be sold—not just a treatment or a product,” he says, and Jayne built this concept into his spas—no clocks, a temperature-controlled atmosphere and no artificial plants, to name a few examples, and he has also made a leap into the medical spa arena as of 2008. The first Face and Body Medical Aesthetics, LLC, is now open in Tulsa, and Jayne expects more to open throughout the country. Each site will offer a liposuction alternative, nonsurgical face lifts, body contouring, laser hair removal, photo rejuvenation, anti-aging and wellness services, permanent makeup and teeth whitening.
        “This medical spa concept is for the people who may feel over-processed with injectable fillers—those who know about these procedures, but aren’t educated in them. We’ll provide that,” he explains. “People can’t make informed decisions on hearsay.” Jayne’s hired a plastic surgeon, two nurses and medical estheticians for the Tulsa office, and, while cosmetic surgery will not be provided at the facility, consultations and evaluations can be done.
        It’s been Jayne’s goal to continually build repeat business, and now his expertise has gone beyond the strength in his hands to his strength as a business owner. And he’s still on the move. “We’re in the business of helping people feel good about themselves and helping them lead healthier lifestyles,” Jayne said in 2002. “There’s almost an instant gratification that doesn’t exist in most industries.”

So much for retirement
       Once upon a time—in 1993 to be exact—Sharon Kennedy and her husband retired to Hendersonville, North Carolina, from San Jose, California.
       “I’ve worked in this industry for 37 years—ever since I received my cosmetology license from a San Jose beauty college,” she said during her interview for the September 2000 issue. In 1990, she attended classes at Christine Heathman’s Advanced Aesthetics, Inc., and received her certification in rehabilitative esthetics and camouflage makeup in 1991.
       “A visit to some of my husband’s relatives in North Carolina changed things for us, however,” she said. “We discussed relocating to this quiet area and slowing down the pace of our lifestyles.” Kennedy thought she might still like some involvement in skin care after moving to Hendersonville, though, and applied for her North Carolina cosmetology license in 1993. She rented a facial room in a small salon for her business—Advanced Skin Care—and her “involvement” eventually led to her moving the business into her own home in 1996.
       The 300-square-foot space has its own entry and restroom, as well as a secluded area and a beautiful wooded view through a picture window. By 2000, Kennedy’s client base numbered about 150, and her appointment book was full for two months out.
       And her business still continues to be very successful, providing the personal attention and privacy that has appealed to her North Carolina clientele for more than 10 years. Retail products generate 50% of her profits, and skin care services round out the rest. “I’ve cut down on my schedule a bit and I’m not taking any new clients,” Kennedy explains. “I’m planning to semi-retire in March.”
       She believes that working with clients is a partnership. “Taking care of clients’ skin here is only half of what needs to be done,” Kennedy says. “They need to take care of their skin at home the other half of the time. Educating clients on what they need to do at home is important.
        “I’ve loved working with my clients throughout the years—especially the educational part … teaching them how to take care of their own skin,” she says. “They trust me and look to me for advice. I’m proud, too, of the work I’ve done with clients in referring them to dermatologists for skin cancer detection.”
       Kennedy’s seeing more male clients, and feels that today clients in general are more aware of new product ingredients. “Clients come in asking more questions, and this challenges me to keep up with what’s going on in skin care,” she says.
       This transitional time for Kennedy has found her referring more and more clients to other estheticians in the area, estheticians who weren’t even there when she arrived. “We should share our knowledge, be mentors and help others going into this wonderful profession,” said Kennedy in 2000. “Estheticians starting out must remember to always care about clients and they’ll be successful.”

Alaskan charm
       Good skin care is as important as ever in Juneau, Alaska, and Beatrice Caujolle, owner of A Certain Charm Institut de Beauté, is a testament to that fact.
       French-born Caujolle opened her business in 1990 and has enjoyed running it on her own throughout the years. Her first “Face to Face” interview occurred for the January/February 1993 issue of Skin Inc. magazine, with a follow-up in the January 1998 10th anniversary issue.
       After falling in love with the city of Juneau 30 years ago while visiting a friend, she moved to Alaska. When Caujolle arrived, she worked as a fashion color consultant, and the realization that skin care needed to be addressed before color coordination took place led her to pursue a career as a skin care professional. “Being from Europe and seeing esthetics all my life, I knew that a skin care business could work very well on its own,” she said. “In this day and age, skin care is crucial and needs to be respected as a field in its own right.”
       Caujolle has always taken the time to educate Juneau residents about skin care. For example, when she first opened her business, she visited nearby sporting goods and outdoor clothing stores to let the owners know she offered good skin protection products. Caujolle spoke to community high school classes and even at a local gym to bodybuilders about waxing, and she described Juneau as having a well-educated population with many professionals. “They’re becoming educated about skin care and usually after the first facial they realize how important it is to their daily lives,” she said.
       In the mid-90s, Caujolle launched a fragrance product—Alaska Wildflower by Alaska Scents. “Capture the spirited fragrance of Alaska” was its tag line, and it won the distinction of being one of the 20 best scents in Alaska. Although it was a successful venture for her, she sold the product rights about two years ago.
       As with any small business, Caujolle has experienced change throughout the years. Her clientele has grown, but now her original clients are older. “Many have become snowbirds and leave during the winter months only to return once again in the warmer spring and summer months,” she says. “The important thing, though, is that they return. The beautiful thing is that now I’m seeing their children as clients and, because I’ve educated their parents, they are aware that they need to take care of their skin.”
       Caujolle also thinks in recent years there has been too much emphasis on the use of machines for skin care. “There’s a feeling out there that perhaps ‘more is better,’ but as estheticians, we have to remember that it’s what we do with our hands that matters—that is the gift we possess,” she says.
       Also, more men are coming to her for skin care—most at the request of their wives, Caujolle admits. In the past, they have tended to stay away from spas. “Clients are accepting the idea that taking care of the skin is truly a legitimate expression of your inner self,” she said in 1998. “Up here, especially themen think that rugged is good, and exemplifies solidity and frontier virtues. I am trying to show both men and women in Alaska that rugged doesn’t mean having to look old.”

Finding tranquility
       Beverly Miller holds the distinction of appearing in the premier issue of Skin Inc. magazine in the fall of 1988. She was the first of more than 100 industry professionals to be represented in the “Face to Face” column, and she was ahead of her time.
       At the time of her first interview, Miller had worked in the industry for 12 years and was a skin care manager for Designs On You, a full-service salon in the Columbus, Ohio, suburb of Upper Arlington. She had just organized a local seminar with a plastic surgeon and a dermatologist for 20 estheticians. “I think this is a wave of the future, hooking up with doctors,” Miller said.
        She also acknowledged that her typical clients were concerned about battling wrinkles before the fact. “They want to do everything they can to slow down the aging process and prevent their skin from drying out,” Miller noted. “Skin care used to be considered a pampering type of thing, but now it’s more of a take-care-of-yourself kind of thing.”
       In the “Where Are They Now?” article that appeared in the January/February 1998 10-year anniversary issue, she explained that, in 1996, her husband was transferred and the family moved to St. Charles, Illinois, a town about 30 miles west of Chicago, and after the move she trained for Sebastian’s Trucco cosmetic line. “I did some makeup instruction in Ohio, so this was a natural way for me to break into the industry in a new area,” Miller said. “I also did some training for Dermalogica.”
       She established a referral relationship with a physician in Rockford, Illinois, which lasted until the commute between the clinic and her home took its toll. She wanted to spend more time with her three children, so eventually she began working at a salon and day spa in Geneva, Illinois, as the salon manager and coach.
       In 2000, Miller left the Geneva day spa, tired of the busy atmosphere, time limits on treatments and cookie-cutter facials. Shedecided to open her own place where she could concentrate on excellent customer service and results-oriented treatments. Finding a 500-square-foot space in her own town and already having an established clientele of approximately 100, Miller started the journey to where she is today. “I was everyone—receptionist, esthetician and cleaning lady,” she says. “I added another esthetician in 2001 and by 2003 had outgrown the space.”
       Through networking with clients and area business owners, Miller found a new, much larger location in St. Charles, and welcomed business partner Loreta Lescelius as general manager. With these developments, she had found Tranquility Skin & Body Care Center, and, in October 2007, the center celebrated an expansion of its space.
       She has 14 staff members—four estheticians, including herself; three massage therapists; two nail technicians; and five front desk personnel, including Lescilius, who also designs all of the center’s displays and promotions. “Loreta serves as my eyes and ears when I’m with clients,” says Miller, who works in the spa four days a week. “She is aware of everything that is going on with the business so I can concentrate on what I’m doing with my clients.”
       In addition, she brings in specialists to offer acupuncture, life-change and nutrition counseling, and permanent makeup services at the center, which features an infrared sauna with steam shower, in addition to a complete menu of skin care treatments, massage therapy, manicures and pedicures, and waxing services.
       It seems Miller has come full circle regarding skin care, having seen it from all sides during her 32 years in the industry.
“Taking care of the skin isn’t necessarily all about artificial and instant results,” she says. “Taking care of the skin is a lifelong commitment. It’s taking care of the skin and aging gracefully … it’s about looking good for your age. It’s also about health and wellness, and that’s what we offer our clients at Tranquility.”