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The California Wildfires and The Spa Industry

By Camille Hoheb
Posted: January 21, 2008, from the January 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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    McKenna Labs, San Diego. McKenna Labs is a private label manufacturer specializing in skin care, bath and body, and personal care products. Located in the city of San Diego, the 60,000-square-foot facility was “no closer than 68 miles away from the fire.” According to Dennis Owen, president, “We really were never concerned about the facility, just the homes of our friends and co-workers. When the wind was blowing the smoke toward us, we chose to shut down for a few days for the health of our employees and to save our hepa filters that surely would have been clogged up and ready for disposal after running in that smoke for a day.” Heather Naef-Owen, vice president, business development, adds, “We were only affected in that our employees were out due to their homes and their childrens’ schools being evacuated.” 

     Girzi Skincare, San Diego. Girzi Skincare is an Italian skin and body product manufacturer with its American flagship headquartered in 22,000-square-feet of space in San Diego. According to Erwin Dank, CEO, the fire was only two blocks away. Much like other business, Girzi was closed for a week but got back on its feet as soon as possible. “Our biggest problem was the smoke and dust … and even weeks later, we have problems with it.” Cleanup at Girzi included power washing the entire warehouse to eliminate the smell and soot. Containers and packaging were a loss, and damage to property continues to be evaluated.
    Dank reported that the U.S. division of Girzi had been in close contact with its parent company in Italy the entire time during the disaster and there are plans to get together in Januaryto assess the aftermath. When asked what was an important message to get out, he boiled it down to three statements. “Stick together. Stay in touch. Try to help wherever possible.” Expanding upon the last point, Dank relayed that most of the Girzi employees volunteered at shelters in San Diego.

Esthetic schools
  The following esthetic school also was affected by the disaster.

     Poway Academy, Poway, California. Lynelle Lynch is president of Poway Academy, a school in California that offers a Master Esthetic training program. Lynch described how the wildfires affected the school, students, staff and community. “Not only did we experience the fires, but we are in the process of a $2.3 million dollar remodeling project that we are completing in three phases. The first one was supposed to be completed soon and due to the fires, we are in the process of moving today.”
    During an e-mail exchange, she says “The school was closed for one week and that was mandated by the governor. Most of us were evacuated for three-to-five days. Our emergency plan is to safely move people to designated evacuation centers. We are providing free services to the families whose homes were lost in the fires. We hope in a small way that we can pamper them and give them a few hours of relaxation. We were part of a large community outreach to raise funds. Our students raised $1,000 to donate to the Fire Victim Relief Fund.”
    In a subsequent e-mail, Lynch had the following to say. “We have had 20 firefighters come in for complimentary massages and approximately 12 families. We have six families scheduled for Friday and Saturday. They are receiving services that range from pedicures to facials to hair services. It has been a wonderful experience for our students and instructors to give back to these families. In addition, we had three students lose their homes and are holding a fund-raiser for them allowing clients to contribute. Our schools did have dirt and some smoke damage, but it was very slight. The community seems to be pulling together.”
    Poway Academy’s mission is, “To enable each individual in their sphere of influence to achieve personal growth—from teachers and students, to customers, partners, and members of our community,” and they have done just that.

Coming together
    In the wake of the California wildfires, the exemplary response of the spa industry and the sense of community that is shared is evident. Volunteerism and genuine concern for staff, neighbors and other businesses has been overwhelming. To find out how to donate to the victims of the wildfires and to learn about how to prepare your business for an emergency, log on to and access this Web-exclusive information. Also, keep up-to-date on the status of spas, suppliers and schools affected during this disaster by checking out Skin Inc. magazine’s Bulletin Board at, where you can chat with peers and give your general good wishes to all those recovering from this disaster.