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A Passionate Professional

By: Abby Penning
Posted: June 2, 2009, from the June 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Valentina Chistova's photo

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Then, after a seven-year stint as the spa manager, director of education and head esthetician at Avanti Salon and Day Spa, now Avanti Day Resort, in Manalapan, New Jersey, Chistova decided to open her own space. Counting Avanti owner Luda Conti as one of her mentors, Chistova says, “I am thankful to her for giving me an opportunity to grow as a businessperson.” Using those skills, Chistova opened Aquatica Salon & Day Spa in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, in 2001.

“I started from scratch,” Chistova says of her first facility, which focused on the cleansing and renewing power of water. Joined by her younger son Anatoliy as a co-owner, the business became a popular destination for quality skin care due to Chistova’s focus on continuing education and treating clients as she would guests in her home. “Many people are intimidated when they come into a spa,” she explains. “They think these are services for queens and kings, but I want to show them that they are for regular people. A spa should be so comfortable and cozy that it feels like home.”

Aiming to grow her success even more, Chistova next opened Aquamedica Salon & Day Spa in Long Branch in 2006. Eventually she sold Aquatica to focus on her new business venture, bringing with her Anthony S. Lombardi, MD. Lombardi, a plastic surgeon, became involved after simply stopping in Aquatica to buy a gift certificate and found himself entranced with the friendly atmosphere of the facility. “We bonded while building the new space,” Chistova notes, and now, along with a range of skin and body care treatments, the spa’s clients can also receive noninvasive aesthetic treatments as part of this partnership.

“My goal was to bring my skin knowledge to clients not based on books, but on observation and experience,” she says. “The personal touch is so important.”

Perhaps this is the reason working with clients is Chistova’s favorite aspect of the business. “That’s my relaxation. I like difficult facials, when I can help clients and suggest different things. I love working with someone one-on-one, with her coming to me because she believes I can help her,” she says.