For some people, it seems success is just in their destiny. Elina Fedotova, owner of Elina Advanced Skin Care, with locations in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Chicago, and founder and formulator of the Elina Elite Organic Skin Care Collection, is one of these people. “I never really have written a business plan,” she says. “I just had it in my vision, and I feel like I was guided throughout my whole business career.”
Growing up in Russia, Fedotova learned the link between beauty and wellness at a center of natural healing in Moscow. “I am a trained cosmetic chemist in Russia, and homeopathic medicine and herbology are widely accepted there as a part of the conventional approach,” she says. With a background that already included a knowledge and passion for natural skin care, Fedotova brought her unique vision to the United States, moving to Midland, Texas in 1991, then to Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1993.
During her first few years in the states, Fedotova was focused on being a mother, not on her skin care career. But little by little, she began to reignite her passion. After obtaining her American esthetic license in 1995, she worked for a plastic surgeon, treating post-operative patients, and soon realized she wanted to get back to her naturalistic, herbal roots.
So when her husband, professor of music and renowned viola player Igor Fedotova, got a job at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, she saw her chance, as well. Upon moving to Michigan in 1998, Fedotova created a line of organic products, and then started offering services to clients at Elina Advanced Skin Care. “I opened a very small practice,” she says. “I was the only person who worked there, doing the facials and making the products.”
However, the business didn’t stay little for long. Following her holistic path and getting involved with her clients, Fedotova soon discovered her treatments offered something many people seemed to be lacking. “I want to deliver very personalized, individual skin care treatments that enhance not only beauty, but health as well. I don’t believe they are separate,” Fedotova says. “Beauty is not just skin deep; if someone is stressed, unhappy or insecure, she can’t feel beautiful. Plastic surgery won’t make people happier because it’s just an alteration of appearance. Only by working with a person using a holistic approach of body, mind and spirit can we bring a real, visible result.”
With her attitude focused on dedication to her clients, Fedotova continued to develop her business, attracting even more loyal customers. “We even have clients that will fly in from LosAngeles or Boston monthly for an herbal facial on a regular basis,” she says. “They know the treatment will always be completely customized, and know the quality of care they will receive.”
And with that type of popularity, Fedotova knew she could only grow more, setting her sights on the city across Lake Michigan. “I am from Moscow, and I’m a big city girl,” she says. “I think Kalamazoo is wonderful, and I love the people here and am very thankful for all the support I have received from my clients, but when I went to Chicago, I knew I wanted to be part of that city, too.” The second Elina Advanced Skin Care opened on Oak Street in downtown Chicago in 2006 and—not being able to be two places at once—Fedotova sent one of her best estheticians from Kalamazoo to lead the second location.
The Chicago facility and its staff quickly came to develop a following of its own. “When I hire people, I look at personality first. Can they listen and empathize?” Fedotova explains. “I believe practitioners walking into a treatment room should leave their personal life outside and focus only on the client. I would prefer to train a caring professional fresh out of school than hire a more experienced esthetician who is self-concentrated.”
Now, with two locations to oversee and a product line she personally creates, Fedotova splits her days between working in the lab and spending time with clients, leaving her busier than ever. It hasn’t diminished her passion for the industry and its people, though. “I love building these long-term relationships. People are bringing me their life stories,” she says. “I feel fortunate when clients trust me to take care of their children’s skin and later, those children bring their children in for consultations.”
The industry’s trend of holistically inspired services has her more thrilled than ever about the future of skin care, too. “When I came to the United States in 1991, the beauty industry did not include much about wellness, but more about makeup to cover up problems,” Fedotova notes. “I am very excited to see this revolution in the conscious environmental choices of clients and professionals. Beautiful skin is healthy skin, and I believe more and more people are beginning to see that connection and apply it to their everyday lives.”
Many of them can trace their inspiration for doing so back to Fedotova.