In 1975, with $200 in her pocket and not knowing one word of English, Tamara Friedman emigrated from Russia, which was known at the time as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), to the United States with her husband and 4-year-old twin girls. Friedman was a nurse dreaming of becoming a doctor, when she and her family planned to leave Russia for a better life. However, she learned that to practice medicine in America, she would need to start from scratch.
Friedman, knowing she needed a second profession, studied beauty at the Moscow Institute of Beauty in the Soviet Union. Once she arrived in Michigan—Friedman and her family chose the Motor City-area for its job opportunities—she received her cosmetology license from the Michigan College of Beauty in Troy in 1975. Being immersed in school helped Friedman pick up English quite quickly. She spent two years working for others as a cosmetologist, but then took the leap, opening her own 600-square-foot spa in Southfield, Michigan. Although critics told her she was crazy for opening a spa after only residing in the United States for a couple of years, she continued to experience success due to her overwhelming passion and determination. Throughout the years, she moved to one more location before finally settling down in a 10,000-square-foot skin care facility with 30 treatment rooms and 42 team members in Farmington Hills in 1991, where her husband, Eugene, and one of her twin daughters, Gabrielle, works with her. They both help Friedman run the spa, and Gabrielle is also a permanent makeup artist. Friedman’s other daughter, Edita, is a registered nurse working in the intensive care unit in the cardiology department at Henry Ford Hospital. Friedman attributes her success partly to word-of-mouth, as well as offering the best possible services to each client every apppointment.
“I love when clients walk in and they’re exhausted and tired, but when they leave they have no worry on their face—they smile—they are so happy,” says Friedman. She asks each client to provide feedback and requests that they never leave unsatisfied. “Unless I know what clients think, I cannot change it. If there is a problem, the same day I will call the client and we will discuss it … they say, ‘It is so nice to hear from you; I never expected your phone call so fast,’” she explains.