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A Down-to-Earth Spa Industry Legend

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: September 25, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Lydia Sarfati headshot

It is virtually impossible to be a skin care professional in the United States and not know Lydia Sarfati, one of the most influential and respected leaders in the industry. Sarfati’s dedication to skin care through its events, associations and seminars makes her both visible and accessible worldwide. Her rise to success, coming to the United States from Poland and opening one of the first day spas in Manhattan in 1977 that grew into the Spa de Beauté concept, as well as her leading professional skin care product line, Repêchage, was chronicled in her book Success at Your Fingertips (Allured Publishing, 2005).

When asked if she ever dreamed of becoming the success she is today, Sarfati fondly remembers a conversation she had with one of her teachers in 1994 during the first trip back to her native Poland since she relocated to the United States.

“My teacher said that she remembered an essay I wrote when I was no more than 16 years old. I wrote that I was going to be a very important person, that I would have a global company and that I would be very successful,” Sarfati laughs.

Achievement may seem as though it’s always been in the cards for Sarfati, but the road hasn’t been without obstacles. The lessons she learned during the hard times are those she passes on to struggling spa owners today.

“I’ve had a few unpleasant curves thrown my way, and I needed to figure out what I could do. I’ve got a lemon. Now what do I do? Do I make lemonade? Do I sell it on the corner? Do I add water to the juice?” she says, acknowledging that, in these tough economic times, spa owners may need to re-evaluate how they do business.