Sustainability has come a long way in the past decade, as more and more consumers look to be better global citizens by being more environmentally conscious in their lifestyle. It is much easier now than in decades past to be green, but it still is not EASY, challenging green leaders and business owners with the hopes that their heart compells them to move forward despite adversity.
Jenny Duranski, founder and CEO of Lena Rose Day Spa, is one of those business owners. After her experience with chemicals as a nail technician, she learned about sustainability in the spa and was fueled to make a difference in the industry.
Skin Inc. visited Lena Rose Spa and sat down with Duranski to learn more about the steps she takes to run a green spa, her 2020 initiative to reduce her plastic usage and how she believes more businesses need to understand that sustainability is about progress not perfection.
Skin Inc. (SI): How did you get started in the industry?
Jenny Duranski (JD): I moved to the city when I was 19 because I wanted to gain more life experience, but I could not support myself working minimum wage jobs. I had friends who were going to beauty school, but I did not enjoy doing hair. I did enjoy doing nails, so I found a program that only focused on nails. About four years into my career of working in a traditional nail salon, I developed allergies and sensitivities to the products I was using. In 2009, I volunteered for an ability study designed for nail technitians by the State of Illinois’ Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They tested things like my balance and lung capacity. Suddenly, a light bulb went on. I came across this organization called The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which had connected personal care product ingredients with the health and safety of the service providers. This opened my eyes to everything that was going on. I became angry and frustrated at the thought that no one was trying to protect us in this work force. At the time, no one was shining any light on this. I developed this need to leave the industry better than how I found it, so I started Lena Rose. After I found a space, I started by turning and burning nails. I was offering free manicures all the time to try and build my clientele list and share my story. People didn’t necessarily understand, though, because the nails didn’t stick or last a long time, and people preferred the chemicals that kept their nails lasting. At first, I didn’t offer no-chip, because there wasn’t a product on the market I felt comfortable using. The moment I added no-chip to my menu, the spa really changed. The first year opening was extremely hard, but we pushed through.
SI: What made you decide to be a green spa?
SI: What efforts do you take to keep your spa green and sustainable?
JD: We are launching an initiative to reduce our plastic packaging by at least 50% within the next coming year. Our goal is to be a completely plastic-free retailer by 2024. We have an entire campaign that encompasses the sustainable packaging of our products and making sure we place bulk orders to reduce our carbon footprint. We are trying to apply for B Corp Certification this year, which will be important to our social impact of the business. We have a partnership with TerraCycle, which will have personal care product recycling here on site. It’s really about being very conscious of the lifestyle of our product and its usage at every single point.
SI: How did you create your spa menu?
JD: I’m inspired by food. I love following chefs and food bloggers and seeing the creations they have for actual food menus. Now, I focus on creating a menu that is different. I’ve always felt that Lena Rose is the “GAP” brand, where we are in the mass market that isn’t the bargain beauty or the luxury beauty, but it’s somewhere in the middle. To reach everyone, you can’t be polarizing.
SI: What made you decide to expand?
JD: We desperately needed more space. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my business though. Growing is harder than starting, and it was a huge learning curve. You have to have a viable business that can fix and balance itself. The goal is to grow and touch more people and reach more people.
SI: How do you train your staff?
JD: As a small company, we tend to use Skype because we can’t afford to fly brands over here for training. We have been getting new brands in, and with scheduling, we can’t shut down and do a half-day training with the new brand. We have to do these training as we go and share this information with each other. The training has been challenging, and part of the growth plan is to really put together a soundproof onboarding process.
SI: How do you market your spa?
JD: Everywhere. Anywhere. Howevewhere. We do a ton on social media, but we’ve tried all types of marketing. Recently, we put money into the PR company, but we are still figuring out what sticks for us.
JD: I love competitive research and working with data a lot. I always try and keep a good pulse on the industry because I want to know what’s happening, so I can pivot the business if I have to. I invest in a lot of continuing education for myself as well as business development. From a green beauty perspective, there is no one that really compares to us. There is no retailer and spa combined that does it all, which makes us extremely unique.
SI: What is your most unique treatment?
JD: Our Moon Cycle Body Treatment is unique. Herbs, plants and flowers are incorporated into the treatment to help with your period.
SI: What do you think is most important to running a successful spa?
JD: I’m still trying to figure that out, but I will say being flexible with the ebb and flow that will happen in your career is important. Pivoting will get you success not slam dunks.
SI: How do you set the ambiance of your spa?
JD: It’s not intentional. Everything was a mix and match of things, and we just made it pretty. We DIYed the whole space that really made it more homey.
SI: What made you decide to launch an in-house brand?
JD: It’s a very slow experience, which is frustrating. I wanted to launch the brand because it would open up a different opportunity for us with press, and now our brand can reach more people. We can also use this as a marketing tool for brand recognition. I don’t really have a desire to compete in the product world, but as a revenue arm, I think it would be silly to not diversify our revenue model.
SI: What advice would you give a spa/brand looking into green beauty?
JD: Look into the Green Spa Network for sure. There is a plethora of information there. I would also say when people are launching sustainability initiatives, take a look at the top three things you consume the most and see how you can reduce that usage by even 20%. In a spa, that 20% would be a huge impact on the environment. It’s important to remember that it’s about progress not perfection. We need a lot of people doing sustainability imperfectly not just a handful of people doing it perfectly.