In the spring of 2008, Skin Inc. magazine launched “The Making of an Esthetician,” a blog that followed the education of two very different corporate-culture women journeying into the world of esthetics. Colleen is a fun-loving 20-something who decided to set aside her English degree in order to pursue a career in esthetics. As a 2007 graduate of Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois, Colleen had chosen English as a major because she was good at it. She’d always considered having a career in beauty, but had to overcome expectations and fears to take that first step and enroll in esthetic school.
Her co-contributor, Sandra, is a 40-something who decided that nurturing the soul was more important than spinning the numbers. She became a part-time esthetic student while also a full-time assistant controller, which she has been doing for eight years. Sandra is engaged to be married and is switching careers midlife.
During this blogging experiment, Colleen and Sandra offered insightful and candid posts, sharing their successes and failures with an audience of concerned and helpful spa professionals. Now, almost six months into their time as licensed professionals themselves, Skin Inc. magazine has asked Colleen and Sandra to share some of their favorite posts, as well as the comments they found to be most helpful in their rookie year in the industry.
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Colleen has decided to remain at her full-time job at a retirement planning company, but also is involved in two separate esthetic ventures. “I am working for two hair salons that have spa rooms in them, and it’s been so wonderful getting to know all of the other employees and also getting to do a little bit of hands-on training. One of the salons has been around for 14 years, and the woman who is training me is a licensed cosmetologist who gives an amazing facial, and we take turns practicing on each other to help me learn. I have successfully picked it up and I am now taking clients!” says Colleen. “The other salon opened at the end of summer 2008, and the stylists, the massage therapist and the other esthetician have come from other places, so they brought over all of their clients to the new place, which is great for me. They introduce me to everyone and it allows me to chat with them, get to know them and let them know what kind of treatments I can offer in the spa room.”
Looking back, she says she received many great comments, especially on the post “The Importance of Home Care,” which details Colleen’s own battles with acne and the scars that resulted from past extractions. In the post, she explains how working with good products at home helped her overcome her skin concerns, and she reveals her desire to help clients choose the right home care products, as well.
In this post, Nancy commented, “I encourage you to tell your clients what they need to do for a home care regimen for their skin ... Also, for me, a visit to an esthetician is like a visit to the doctor; when I go for a facial, the estheticians I trust the most tell me the truth ... I also love it when they recommend (but not push) products to me that will help with the problems I have. It’s all in the delivery, and the personal concern you show for your clients … and it is what will keep them returning to you.” According to Colleen, “Nancy’s comment was so helpful, honest and insightful, and I really enjoyed reading it. In the treatment room, I have learned that it really is all about how you deliver information and how you approach your clients.”
Lizz gave the following advice on the same post: “Tell the client that, ‘In any given month, I see you and you use my products on your face one time. You’ve come back several times, and I’m glad to see that what I am doing is working for you. Think about this, however: Chances are you wash your face and apply products approximately 60 times during that same month. What do you think will have a bigger effect, the one time I use products or the 60 chances you have to improve your own skin at home?’ ” Colleen says, “I mean really, this is an excellent point that Lizz brings up.”
Comments on one of Colleen’s last posts, titled “How Can I Stop Feeling So Stressed?,” that explained how crazy she was feeling in the days before graduation have helped her focus on her career. Donna commented, “Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh, but if this amazing career path is what you really want, focus, focus, focus. Turn down some of those dinner invitations and study. You won’t regret it.” Colleen says, “She was exactly right. As much as I didn’t want to hear it, that was all I needed to do to keep me focused. Some things are just more important.”
Sandra is still working full-time for Allured Business Media as assistant controller, but has plans of moving on in the near future. She has recently started working part-time at a salon, building up her clientele. The owner hasn’t had an esthetician before and so far, the response has been positive. Sandra is looking into renting a room at another salon as well, and hopes that between the two locations, she will be able to eventually become a full-time esthetician.
Sandra’s very first entry was titled “Something Positive,” and she wrote about how her mom’s death really affected her and made her think about things in her life. “I was going through such a major change,” says Sandra. Once she made the decision to go to school, she was nervous about being 43 and starting a new career. The comment that most impacted Sandra was from Maureen, who wrote, “What a inspirational story. It was the death of my own mother that lead me back into the wellness industry over 10 years ago. There is something very healing about the whole process of giving to others at a time in your life when you are grieving; that’s how most foundations begin. Good luck with everything.” Sandra says, “I received many more comments of encouragement and advice about how many spa professionals had also switched careers later in life, with success. It made me realize it wasn’t too late.”
In the post “I’m Scared and Overwhelmed and Need Advice,” Sandra details her concerns about not having a spa job when she was about to graduate. At the time, she was feeling completely overwhelmed, and Linda said, “Honey, don’t be afraid. I know getting out of school is a big change.” Sandra says, “It made me feel better knowing that other people could relate to what I was going through. Most of the comments said to continue my education and seek out other sources of information, such as trade shows and business-to-business magazines.”
One of Sandra’s posts, “How Do I Get Started After School,” brought about comments that helped her approach the daunting challenge of finding her first spa job. Patricia said to keep an open mind, and Laura advised her to keep her options open. Sandra says, “I received great advice. I didn’t know if I wanted to rent space and wasn’t sure how to even get started. I am currently following Laura’s advice and keeping my options open.”
A new career
Both Colleen and Sandra are forging ahead with their new careers in the spa field and feel the advice they received through the blog has been instrumental in their success. “I was given realistic advice and was told what a wonderful career path I was choosing. Everyone really seemed to love what they do and that made me so excited to begin,” explains Sandra. “I couldn’t believe all these people—who I didn’t even know and who didn’t know me—were reaching out to help me.”
Colleen agrees, saying, “It was such a great experience being able to post my concerns, questions and real-life situations on this blog because the feedback I received was so real and from professionals who have already been through all of these things that I was unsure about. Writing entries for the blog and getting comments from the pros has definitely helped me in my esthetics career now.”
The experience Colleen and Sandra had through the blog is just a magnified example of one of the things that makes the spa industry such a special area in which to work. The level of support and care that is imparted to clients and co-workers alike is unmatched in any other career, and in times like these, support and care are more important than ever.