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Driven and Passionate

By: Abby Penning
Posted: December 31, 2009, from the January 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Combining her passions, Petrak dove straight into chasing her esthetics dream—including owning her own business. “My dad was a business owner, and he told me, ‘You’ll never be happy working for someone else,’ so I’ve always taken business classes and worked toward having my own business,” she says.

To supplement the skin care knowledge she continued to accrue, in 1997, Petrak also received her bachelor’s degree in art from Cal State, Long Beach, where she specialized in biomedical illustration. And as her knowledge about esthetics grew, she also focused on the more practical side of treatment applications, as well as the logistics of business. “I’ve always tried to learn everything I could about running a business. There’s so much more to it than just treatments—there’s marketing, finance, operations—it’s a lot,” she says.

After earning her degree, Petrak began renting her own rooms at various salons and spas. This allowed her to gain hands-on experience in the business realm, and, pulling her accumulated skills together, she opened The SkinSpa Institute in Signal Hill in 2003.

The spa offers a range of skin care services, but it is best known for its focus on acne and ethnic skin. “It’s a place where clients can come for specialty treatments that provide results,” Petrak says.

To keep her business firing on all cylinders, she has worked to put together the right staff, finding team members who are highly skilled and interested in continued growth. “We have monthly meetings to discuss what’s going on at the spa, and I try to keep everyone involved in the decision-making process,” Petrak explains.