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Katherine Vaccaro, Ziba Day Spa & Art Gallery, Laguna Beach, California

By Abby Penning
Posted: March 3, 2008, from the March 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Katherine Vaccaro has been involved in some aspect of the personal care industry for the majority of her life. Now the owner of Ziba Day Spa & Art Gallery in Laguna Beach, California, she began her relationship with skin when she was in her teens, working as a fit model for Ditto Jeans. “I had to learn early on how to have clear skin, exercise to be fit and healthy, and to eat well—to have the whole persona of health—so I’ve been interested in these subjects for most of my life,” says Vaccaro.
     Continuing to connect her interests in health and personal well-being, she explored further, working as a makeup artist, gym manager, skin care product representative and dental technician. Vaccaro even found herself moving from New York to California in 1986.
     However, none of these life changes connected with her like skin care did. Working in a dentist’s office a few years after her move, Vaccaro realized she loved working with people and wanted to do something to help the patients, but could hardly bear to see them in the pain dental procedures can cause.
     That’s when she decided to follow her heart and become an esthetician. “It’s important to have a passion for whatever it is that you are interested in,” Vaccaro says. “My passion was to help people, to better them, to build up their confidence and to make them feel a little more beautiful—to celebrate the beauty in them.”
     Receiving her esthetic license in 1992 and her massage therapy license after that, she honed her skills working in spas and chiropractors’ offices, providing services such as facials, waxing and massage, while also broadening her horizons by studying body alignment, reflexology and kinesiology.
     Growing more confident in her abilities, Vaccaro began to branch out, subletting space from a plastic surgeon in 2001. There, she continued to grow her list of skills by offering laser hair removal, body wraps, microdermabrasion and pre- and post-operative care, but yet, she still felt a drive to reach higher.
     “To fuel your success with passion and enthusiasm is the key,” Vaccaro says. “Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success—nothing really great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. And then passion, which I have for what I do, is something within you that provides continual enthusiasm, focus and energy in order to succeed.”
     Out of this driving desire, she opened Ziba Day Spa & Art Gallery in 2004. Merging her love of skin and client care with a lifetime of involvement in art—developed through her family, her mother and sister both being artists—she found the two aspects fit together well. However, that doesn’t mean Vaccaro didn’t put the utmost consideration into her new business. “When I came up with the combined concept of the day spa and art gallery, I felt it was crucial to know where this business was going to be,” she says, and Laguna Beach, with its annual Festival of the Arts and Sawdust Festival celebrations, was the perfect match.
      Vaccaro also nurtures a dedicated team of three spa professionals, each of whom offers their own unique talents—permanent makeup, reiki and chakra, and eyelash extensions. Vaccaro provides the majority of the skin and body care services, focusing on acne correction and anti-aging efforts, and is also currently looking to expand by adding chiropractic services, makeup options and possibly even art classes to Ziba.
     However, the personalized service is what has become a cornerstone of the business. “My main objective is to have people come back again and again,” Vaccaro says. “That kind of satisfaction is very important, because it’s what sets us apart—that one-on-one attention.”
     “Everyone’s different, so every time is almost like a customized appointment,” she explains. “It’s not a facial conveyor belt. I encourage clients to call me a week after I do an acne facial to see how things are progressing, and I also do a post-facial high-frequency sanitation, free of charge.”
     It seems that making a difference in peoples’ lives is really the most important part for Vaccaro. She remembers a teenage client who says she wouldn’t have been able to go to prom if it wasn’t for Vaccaro’s help, and keeps in touch with brides who send wedding photos expressing their thanks.
     Because, in the end, it’s always been about the client. “Ziba’s motto is ‘Celebrate the beauty in you,’ and that’s what we really try to do: Bring out the beauty in you,” she says. “Whether it is by accentuating your look, clearing your skin or lifting your spirits, we want you to leave feeling good about yourself, building your level of confidence and developing your personal growth.”

Recent Face to Faces:
Face to Face With Heidi Lamar, The Lamar Everyday Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona by Abby Penning--February 2008