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Stories of Success… with Monika Machej

Contact Author Lisa Schryver
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Born in Poland, Monika Machej knew from a young age that she wanted to be involved in esthetics. As the founder of New Age Spa Institute (NASI), a CIDESCO-accredited school of esthetics, she enjoys giving back to the esthetic community. We caught up with Machej to discuss the series of events that led her to open NASI as well as what she learned from some of her greatest mentors, including Bioelements’ Barbara Salomone.

Skin Inc. (SI): How did you get started in esthetics?

Monica Machej (MM): At the tender age of 15, I began to show interest in the skin care business. My grandmother was the one to cultivate this interest by sending me to receive facial treatments. In the European countries, it is very common for teens to receive preventative skin care treatments.

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In the early 80s, the technology was not as advanced, and facial treatments took about two hours to complete. This gave me plenty of time to investigate the salon business. As I continued to receive regular treatments, I could see myself as an esthetician, smelling the aromatherapy oils, hearing the buzzing of the machines and seeing the revenue flowing. With the help of my grandmother at the age of 16, I did start esthetics school part-time in Poland while attending high school.

Once I moved to the U.S. in 1989, I wanted to continue my education but there were no schools for esthetics in Illinois. I did pursue my passion and graduated from one of the first esthetics programs offered in Chicago. We have to realize that the esthetics licensing program in the state of Illinois was launched in 1992. Prior to it, there was only a cosmetology program available, which in reality is designed for hair stylist.

SI: Who were some of your greatest mentors?

MM: After getting a leash on my work life, I started taking classes at the Conservatory of Esthetics by Barbara Salomone, industry leader and skin care innovator. Each class I took to further my education helped me feed my passion for becoming an educator. After working at Bioelements, Barbara Salomone saw something inside of me and she started to push me into my next phase of life, which was CIDESCO. Working for the Conservatory of Esthetics/Bioelements Learning Center gave me the opportunity to be exposed to people like Robert Diemer, also known as “The Father of American Esthetics.” Additionally, these people were my mentors because they didn’t put on airs and were very approachable and down to earth. Their wisdom greatly shaped who I am today and the company I built.

SI: What is one of your most memorable moments?

MM: In February of 1999, after passing the CIDESCO examination, I inquired how to complete the requirements to open up a CIDESCO accredited school. Everyone who knows me already knew that I wanted to give back by opening a school that offered quality education and the opportunity to pursue the CIDESCO accreditation. It didn’t happen immediately, but with the help of my husband I was able to open up New Age Spa Institute (NASI) in 2007. After a few years of hard work in 2012, NASI received CIDESCO credentials and the reward was seeing the first group of candidates graduate from the school through the CIDESCO program. I strongly believe that the happiest people in life are the givers, not the getters.

SI: What has been one of your biggest lessons so far?

MM: A big lesson was to pay it forward. Someone saw a light inside me and helped to propel me to the next level in my career. I never forgot those people or what the experience meant to me, so I wanted to do the same for someone else. This gave me the idea to use graduates of the school as instructors. As I was given the opportunity by Barbara Salomone to become a CIDESCO diplomate and nationwide speaker, I use my networking resources to give the instructors at New Age Spa Institute those same opportunities to grow personally and professionally.

SI: What piece of advice would you give to a new esthetician?

MM: Education is the key to setting yourself apart from the average esthetician. Continuing to educate yourself will propel you into a professional and also give you the courage to educate your clients. Education is the oxygen for professional estheticians, and your clients will appreciate you sharing your knowledge with them and will show that appreciation through loyalty of service and retail.

As a professional, think of the cost of taking additional classes as an investment in yourself. So, the thought of “Can I afford to attend this training?” should be “Can I afford not to?” if you want to become a thriving esthetician. Always under-promise and over-deliver to your clients and make others happy because kindness always comes back.

SI: What direction would you give to a new spa owner?

MM: Make both a vision and mission statement for yourself and your business. When making decisions regarding your business, always keep in mind the continued education for yourself through business classes, product knowledge and service expansion. Also, encourage your staff to take regular classes to make for a more successful atmosphere. Personally, I am an eager reader of business, sales, marketing and entrepreneurial books. As an entrepreneur, I also attend many conferences and networking events. Importantly, remember that if money is your No. 1 goal, you will never succeed because you will always hit a wall. There always will be someone who makes more.

SI: If you could go back in time and tell yourself something, what would it be?

MM: I would say to always follow your dreams and passions. Never believe it when someone tells you that you can’t do it. You can do anything with the proper knowledge and a great support system. When you are blessed with opportunities, you have to go for it and just enjoy the new experiences that await. Keep working and believing in yourself!

SI: Where do you see the future of the esthetic industry?

MM: The industry is ever expanding, and the future will bring in a surge of male clients. Skin care will no longer be considered a luxury, but a necessity to individuals. Advancement in skin care ingredients, both natural and synthetic, the power of stem cells and specialized equipment with the proper education will make services for the esthetician easier and produce greater results for clients.

Globally, we will notice a big growth in medical esthetics and a combination of wellness and beauty. No longer will the focus be only on what you put on your skin, but also what you are putting in your body. Statistics have revealed that millennials are already embracing the importance of natural ingredients while the older generation (40 and up) are focused on health benefits. Soon, consumers of all ages will be concerned about chemical compounds of skin care products as well as foods. This leads me to the conclusion that esthetics will expand to a “whole body” experience. Educating consumers will become key. This will be a movement, not a trend for the entire world to open their eyes and realize that better health is an evolution in consumer products.

Photos courtesy of New Age Spa Institute