Robbie Gonyer-Penney, owner of Essence of You in Bakersfield, California, says she fell into being an esthetician, but there was an element of kismet involved. The 52-year-old started her career as an engineer. After being laid off, she tried odd jobs ranging from bookkeeping to serving tables before landing on what she feels she was meant to do.
“I tried massage because my husband has asthma, and I had heard massage could help,” she says. The first time she did it, it was clear she had a gift. Gonyer-Penney studied massage at Pacific School of Body Therapies in Bakersfield and, after receiving her massage license in 2000, began working at a spa. Although she loved the feeling of helping her clients, she felt as though the spa environment left a lot to be desired, so the struck out on her own.
In 2003, Gonyer-Penney completed her esthetician’s license from Federico’s College of Beauty in Bakersfield and opened Essence of You in her home. Now, she says, “I like to say that I’m in the business of making people happy.” As a one-woman shop, Essence of You has a smaller treatment menu than many large skin care facilities, but each item on it has been carefully designed to be the best available. For example, waxing: “I was getting my body waxed, and speed wax was painful,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be that way.” Gonyer-Penney offers sugaring treatments, using sugar, lemon and water, which is better suited for clients with sensitive skin. It sticks to hair but not skin, making it less painful than traditional wax.