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Good Hands: Stepping Up for Success

By Annet King
Posted: May 23, 2008, from the July 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

You've all heard the expression, "Be careful what you wish for." This has special significance for the professional skin therapist. We start out wishing so intensely for something that we literally dream about it while sleeping, obsess about it while washing the thousand and one towels during a day’s work, fret over it while riding the train to work and even think about it while drinking a cup of tea at the end of a long week of work. What we wish for is excellence, in technical terms—hands that know what they’re doing even before we do, skills that are polished to perfection.

This is what classical violin and piano prodigies wish for, too, for their neurons to remember the proper technique flawlessly and be able to repeat the practiced patterns without fumble or stumble. Great ballerinas dream the same, as do great athletes. The goal always in mind is the moment when twitching nerve fibers and synaptic brain connections, trained by endless repetition, transcend mere sweat and motor control to become pure grace.

The sales reality

But here’s the hard truth: Art does not pay the rent. Even classical violinists and ballerinas have stage mothers, promoters, agents and managers. Someone sells the artist to the public—otherwise, the artist won’t be able to afford violin strings, toe shoes or, in your case, new towels.

The same is true of the gifted skin therapist. Your technical skills are wonderful, but you need to be able to sell these skills in order to get clients walking through the door and the cash register buzzing with excitement. Having mastered effleurage, petrissage and all your other spa abilities, the skill you’ve probably developed the least so far becomes the most critical: selling, as in selling yourself as a professional and selling your professional services.

As a novice, you required mentoring. Now in order to create a truly dynamic future practice, you may need re-centering, and the new center of your practice must become self-marketing. This means proactively presenting and packaging yourself and your services to potential clients, primarily through networking and word-of-mouth. Often, this is not easy for estheticians and skin care professionals. Just as we may shy away from aggressively retailing products, we often don’t sell ourselves very well, or at least not at first.