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The Evolution of a Spa Owner

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: February 24, 2010, from the March 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Evolution is a mind-set for Martha Vucsko, owner and president of La Look Inc., a day spa in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

Vucsko starting as a model in high school, where she became interested in the makeup artistry that took place behind the scenes. That love of makeup evolved into a desire to go further in the field. “I decided I wanted to get into the industry, so I studied esthetics and cosmetology at Ohio State Beauty College in Cleveland,” she says. “I loved the makeup end and became licensed in 1983.”

Then, in 1992, after having worked in a few salons as a hairstylist, Vucsko decided to open a distribution company, Sachmode International, that sold cosmetics and skin care to other beauty salons. While working in this capacity, Vucsko began to notice times were changing in the beauty industry, but in talking with some of her salon clients in Ohio, she found they were still primarily focused on hair care. “Many of the salons were trying to branch out into skin care, but it wasn’t taking off for them,” she says.

After spending almost four years without a hands-on role in the industry she loved, Vucsko decided to keep Sachmode’s doors open and get back into the game in 1996 by opening La Look. “I decided not to offer hair services at all. When I opened, we did facials, massage, waxing, nail services and body treatments. At that time, it was very rare not to have a hair salon,” she says. When she opened the spa, she reached out to former hair clients, advertised, and relied upon her active role as a fitness and aerobics instructor in the community to drum up business.

“People looked at me like I was crazy. Many thought I would never make it without doing hair because no one knew what a day spa was back then,” Vucsko says. After about two years though, she noted people were growing more familiar with the concept, and in three years, she expanded the business, growing from 1,000 to 5,000 square feet. During this time, Vucsko’s focus also evolved, and she began offering medical spa services. “At that time, only 3% of spas were medical spas, so we were on the cutting edge,” she explains.