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Face to Face: More with L. Saphonia Gee

Posted: March 27, 2008, from the April 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Working in various aspects of the esthetics industry, L. Saphonia Gee, owner of In Your Own Skin Skin Therapy Center in Virginia Beach, Virginal, has definitely accomplished a lot during her career. However, one of the accomplishments she is most proud of is passing legislation on esthetics licensing for the state of Virginia. The following is an account of how events leading up to and the passage of the legislation unfolded.
      The work initially began in 2002 when a Virginia House Bill proposed the need to study esthetic regulation. The study was overseen by the Department for Professional Occupational Regulation and its director Bill Ferguson, and it determined that regulations were needed.
      Work on the regulations continued, and in October 2004, the state industry leaders held a meeting at the State Council for Higher Education in Richmond, Virginia, where Gee and In Your Own Skin’s co-owner Kim Thumel were present to represent the Society of Virginia Skincare Specialists (SVSS) and the Virginia Institute of Esthetics. After debating logistics and goals for the legislation, it was clear different organizations supported different regulations and licensing legislation.
      Contention grew around the subject, with one of the main sticking points being the option of hours required for different tiers of two-tier legislation, with Gee and Thumel supporting 600 basic and an additional 600 advanced. Members ended up splitting from one organization, the Professional Esthetics Association (PEA), to form the Virginia Panel for Esthetics Licensure, and SVSS and the Panel worked to complete writing a two-tier legislation bill that sought 600 hours for basic licensure and 600 additional hours for a master esthetics license, which became House Bill 2510 (HB2510).
      With the bill prepared, the SVSS was able to find sponsorship for it with Delegate Phil Hamilton. Hamilton eventually passed the bill on to Delegate John Welch, III, and members of the SVSS, including Gee and Thumel, met with Welch and his aide, Robert Rummels, several times to explains the intricacies and importance of this type of esthetics licensure.
       In January 2005, HB2510 was introduced to the Virginia House of Representatives by Delegate Welch, and, to support and promote awareness of it, a Spa Day was created to educate members of the Virginia General Assembly. The bill was sent through House’s Health and Welfare committee before it went to the floor for a vote and was approved. It was then sent on to the Virginia Senate, where it once again was brought to and worked on by a committee, before being sent to the Senate’s floor for a vote.
      Members of SVSS and the Panel continued to lobby throughout the entire process for HB2510 and its development of knowledge for estheticians. The SVSS hired a lobbyist to battle for them, spending nearly $50,000, and industry giants such as Susanne Warfield, the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors and Associations, and Lydia Sarfati spoke out about and wrote letters supporting HB2510 along with other grassroots organizations and contributors.
      And finally, in March 2005, HB2510 was passed by the Virginia state’s Senate, making the bill law, and creating a two-tier system in Virginia that required 600 hours for a basic esthetics license and an additional 600 for a master esthetics license, the first of its kind in the United States.
      For more information on the spa industry achievements and aspirations of L. Saphonia Gee, check out the April Face to Face column.