Effervescent is one way to describe Joyce Carboni, owner of Skinsational, a Skin and Body Spa in Carlsbad, California. “I feel like Colonel Sanders,” she laughs, referring to the late-in-life success of the fried chicken icon. “I’m 58 years old and feel like I have my whole life ahead of me.”
The daughter of an Ellis Island immigrant from Lebanon who became a clothing entrepreneur in the United States, Carboni was as subject to her father’s success and business sense as she was to his old-fashioned ideals regarding women. “He believed that women just got married, so there was no sense in investing money in college,” she explains.
After convincing him that she was too young for a wedding just yet, Carboni attended a liberal arts/secretarial school in Boston. Landing a variety of administrative assistant jobs, she soon found herself on the West Coast, wanting more. At the encouragement of a female bank manager, Carboni tested at the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation in Los Angeles in order to identify the type of career at which she would excel. Or as she simply puts it, “I was approaching that critical age of 30 and I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew I didn’t want to be an administrative assistant for the rest of my life.”
After it was identified that she would shine in customer service, she decided upon beauty as a field. After attending Career Academy of Beauty in Seal Beach, California, in 1984, Carboni apprenticed with industry legend Robert Diemer for two years at both the American Institute of Esthetics in Huntington Beach, California, and at his day spa, Personal Formula, in Costa Mesa, California. “At the school, I started teaching makeup and skin care classes, and those made me fall in love with the industry,” she says. Carboni’s next step was to rent her own space in a salon in Orange County, California, in 1987, where she built up a significant clientele.
After meeting her husband, Carboni moved about an hour south to Carlsbad, California, in the early 1990s. “I worked for various beauty salons and most owners were hair stylists or nail technicians, and I didn’t feel that they understood the skin care industry. I thought the salon was way too noisy and people couldn’t relax,” she explains. These issues are what motivated Carboni to open her first business—Skinsational—in 1994. With two treatment rooms, a makeup bar and a retail area, the facility checked in at 550 square feet.
As time when on, the business succeeded more and more, and needed to expand. “We were going through a recession in 1997 and one of the scariest things that I ever did was lease a 1,500-square-foot space,” Carboni says. “I thought, ‘If I build it, they will come.’ I had an established clientele, and it worked.”
In September 2005, she decided it was time to grow once again. “After six years at that location, I felt that I had hit a dead-end. It was either grow the business or become stagnant,” Carboni says. Identifying a desirable 5,000-square-foot former warehouse, she decided to pounce.
“I think that when in your mind and your heart you really know that you can do something, all of these wonderful people come into your life to help you succeed,” she explains. Carboni met up with Charles Compton—coincidentally, also a Carlsbad resident—at an International SPA Association (ISPA) meeting, and he helped her set up her retail boutique. She also worked with Lisa Starr as her consultant, among others. “Fate, the power of positive thinking, whatever—it seemed like an entire group of people came together to help me make this come to fruition. You can’t do a project like this alone.”
Although Carboni has evolved from an assistant to an owner, she never forgot the lessons she learned from her early days. “All of my experience as an administrative assistant brought me to this point. The things I learned helped me make my business grow. I worked for a vice president of construction and learned about finance. I worked for a realtor and learned that it was all about location, location, location,” she says.
Truly using each stage of life as a learning experience, Carboni strongly acknowledges the importance of continuing education. “Learn from the best in the industry, and never lose faith if it’s what you want to do.”
Carboni’s future plans for her spa include an increased focus on wellness services, as well as working with a local physician to provide medical spa treatments. Along with education, her positive attitude has played a big part in her continued success. “I’m a people person, a big-picture person, and I’ve always loved interacting with people. I’m very driven to succeed, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had my moments,” she explains. “If I momentarily see the cup half empty, I don’t like how I feel.”
All in all, Carboni’s life is just gearing up. “I’m so happy with what I’ve achieved. I’m learning to give myself credit for what I’m doing. It’s OK to tell yourself that you’re doing a great job. You know what? I’ve come a long way, baby.”
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