Competition is high in the spa industry, and both business resources and industry mentors can seem in short supply right out of school. Of course, this is when skin care professionals need them most. This was the reality that prompted Lori Crete to start the Beauty Biz Club and pave the way for future generations of skin care professionals. Having started in the industry feeling alone and unguided, she made it her mission to make sure no other spa professional felt that way. Skin Inc. sat down with Crete to learn how 9/11 let her to this industry, how an employee betrayal let to one of her greatest decisions and why she thinks deep discounting is discrediting your services.
Skin Inc. (SI): How did you get started in the industry?
Lori Crete (LC): I became a flight attendant a week after graduating college, and I continued to work as a flight attendant for 13 years up until Sept. 11, 2001. That day hit close to home, as I lost friends and co-workers on flight 11. Because of this tragic day, I was gifted the awareness that life is short. I knew it was time to quit flying and do something I loved.
This is when I turned to the beauty industry, as I have always been obsessed with skin care. I seriously believe this industry helped me heal from 9/11, and I feel grateful that I ended up with such an amazing career.
SI: What led you to founding the Beauty Biz Club?
LC: Well, I started the club for a couple of reasons. One reason was when I was a flight attendant, all aspects of the job surrounded teamwork. You were supported by your peers and always had someone to turn to when you needed guidance, even at 41,000 feet in the air. I was shocked at how unsupported and lonely I felt when I entered the beauty industry. It was highly competitive, trade secrets were guarded and I searched high and low for help without really being able to find any–I wanted a mentor. I wanted a community, and it was missing. So, I created it within The Beauty Biz Club.
Another reason was that I noticed the vital success-building element was missing in the beauty industry. No one was teaching business and marketing skills, which are so important for professionals to know. Practitioners had the opportunity to invest in equipment, products and fine-tuning their treatment room skillsets, but none of that mattered if you didn’t know how to implement business and marketing techniques. I decided I had to create a community where I would share business and marketing skills, a place where practitioners could ask questions, share trade secrets, give and receive support and learn how to position themselves as professionals by learning how to run a business. The club embodies all of these things that I longed for as a practitioner in the beauty industry.
SI:Who are your greatest mentors?
LC: My greatest mentor is a 27-year esthetician who rented some space at my Los Angeles spa. Her name is Sharon Schauer. Sharon knows the answer to everything. I call her for advice on treatments, ingredients and help handling disruptive clients. She is a single mom who has created a great life for her and her daughter by building an amazing clientele and retailing home care like a rock star. I truly admire and respect her.
SI: What do you love or enjoy most about the spa industry?
LC: I had no idea how much I had positively impacted the lives of others until I announced that I was moving away from my L.A. spa. I got so many messages from clients who shared how I had helped them and their children in ways that I never realized. I had provided a safe place for clients to look and feel beautiful, so this is what I enjoy the most. Nothing beats impacting the lives of others in a positive way, and no industry lets you do it like this industry.
SI: What has your greatest accomplishment been so far?
LC: I love that I have busted through stale beauty industry norms and generated the same amount of income as many doctors, lawyers and other highly respected professionals. Helping other licensed professionals be able to do the same through my teachings is a great accomplishment in my opinion. My mission is to impact the beauty industry with my podcast and teachings that are designed to show others that anything is possible in an abundant industry when you are given the right tools.
SI:Where do you see the future of spa and skin care heading?
LC: I see more human touch coming back into treatment protocols. People are craving touch, and they are now more than ever realizing how healing the human hands are.
SI:What has been one of your biggest lessons so far?
LC: My biggest lesson is an experience I had that surrounded human behavior and betrayal. I had a situation where I taught an employee numerous skills from spray tanning to Google ad creation. After she felt like she had learned what she needed, she left my spa abruptly, opened her own business one mile down the street, copy and pasted my website and made her prices $5 less than mine. This rocked my world for a bit, but taught me many valuable lessons as well. She is the reason I realized I had the ability to help others build a successful beauty business, so ultimately the experience was a blessing.
SI: What is one thing you have seen drastically change in the industry since you’ve been a part of it?
LC: When I first started, clients didn’t expect discounted services. They paid the price and didn’t shop around for a deal. In my opinion “daily deals” started what I call a discounting epidemic and have caused a lot of businesses to fail.
SI: What advice would you give a new spa professional?
LC: Find a mentor. Surrounding yourself with positive people who support your career choice will benefit you and your career tremendously. Find a place to work that feeds you clientele. Know that you will have to hustle and network and prove yourself the first few years. Show up like a professional who is educated, confident and proud of what you do.
SI: If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing what would it be?
LC: I would tell myself not to take things so personally. I would remind myself that business is business and there will be bumps in the road. I would also advise to address the bumps with strategy not emotions and carry on.
SI:What do you like to do in your free time?
LC: I love being outside. I love to hike, sit by the pool and read a good business book. I have recently devoted more time to community volunteer work, and I love the feeling I get from giving back.