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Denise Dubois has always been the type of business owner who keeps her eyes on the prize. “I’ve never been the kind of person who focuses on the ‘what ifs,’ ” she says. “I always try to figure out what we need to do, make a plan and then do it. I still function that way.”
Now the owner of Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness in Albany, New York, Dubois started out her skin care career in the early 1980s focusing on makeup artistry. After taking a cosmetics course at the Christine Valmy International School in New York, she became more intrigued with the skin care aspect and started attending esthetic shows. It was then that her love for esthetics was stoked. “I’ve always had a very strong focus on wellness for the skin,” Dubois explains.
Because New York state laws at the time dictated that she would need a cosmetology license to practice skin care, Dubois next studied at the Europa School of Cosmetology near Albany, then moved on to further education at Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics in Woburn, Massachusetts, developing a dedication and style in her techniques and attitudes about skin care.
After completing her schooling in 1984, Dubois began working at salons and skin care centers offering facials and healthy skin treatments, but found the work wasn’t what she expected. “I knew I wanted to be in an environment that focused more on taking care of the skin, and the place I was working at just wasn’t practicing the way I envisioned it to be,” she explains. “So in 1987, I opened Complexions Professional Skin Care.”
At the time, the spas and skin care centers that were around her mainly focused on pampering, Dubois says, so she played to her skin care strengths—wellness and education—in order to start building a client base. “I felt that if I could at least get people in the door and introduce them to the services and the wellness focus, they would come back. My goal was to educate them about proper skin care and help them understand the partnership between proper home care and professional treatments,” she notes. “I really encouraged people to prebook their next appointment, and offered discounted service packages as an incentive. With the focus always about educating them, the clients understood how the treatments were really acting as maintenance.”