School President Guides the Future of the Industry

Deedee Crossett, president, San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology
Deedee Crossett, president, San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology

She has a background in sports marketing, once worked as a promotions director for thoroughbred horses and claims she is not a touchy-feely person. These things considered, it may be hard to believe Deedee Crossett is now a licensed esthetician and founder of the San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology (SFIEC), which recently celebrated its six-year anniversary.

After graduating from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, with a degree in communications and emphasis in public relations, Crossett spent approximately eight years working in marketing and sales promotions for both public and venture-backed companies, including a position at Kinko’s, now a division of FedEx. While at Kinko’s, the company transferred her to San Francisco, a move that led to her enrollment in beauty school and transition to a career in the spa industry.

Although she was making great money in the corporate world, Crossett says she couldn’t have cared less. She’d always wanted to find a career that she felt passionately about; one that would allow her to wake up every morning excited about going to work. “I’ve always been inspired by the Mary Kay story or Mrs. Fields Cookies story,” Crossett says. “Like many estheticians, I didn’t have great skin growing up, so I was encouraged to get in it for that reason, too.”

She was interested in beauty as a high school student, but knew that attending beauty school wasn’t an option that would make her parents happy. Nonetheless, Crossett found her true calling as a beauty industry professional and educator, and says she works in the “best-kept secret industry.” “Everyone is happy to see you, you don’t have to take your job home with you, and you can make your own schedule,” she says.

While in beauty school, Crossett worked at the service desk at Nob Hill Spa, an upscale spa located in San Francisco’s lavish Huntington Hotel. She says this was a great way for her to learn about the business. She also worked as a corporate trainer for BABOR Cosmetics and really connected with the service side of the beauty business. “I was so amazed at how people would tell me anything after five minutes of them lying down,” she says.

Crossett’s mom played a large role in encouraging her endeavors, and, within the esthetic world, she draws inspiration from Derma-logica founder Jane Wurwand,ingredient guru and YG Laboratories’ Rebecca James Gadberry and Repêchage founder Lydia Sarfati.

Crossett strives to keep the atmosphere at SFIEC very professional. Her team consists of a solid group of esthetic learning leaders—a few of which are graduates of the program who have returned to teach.

When asked what aspect of her job she finds most rewarding, Crossett says, “Watching women become empowered to financially take care of themselves, and start their own businesses. I don’t want to run into a student at a bar and have them ask me my drink order; I like to run into them at a coffee shop and have them tell me they’re on the way to an advanced training class,” says Crossett.

She hopes to see more diversity among estheticians. “I would love to see more women of color get into skin care, and more estheticians practice continuing education,” Crossett says.

This esthetic go-getter thinks more people are entering the beauty business as a second or third career, coming from backgrounds in marketing, nursing and even the culinary world. “It inspires me because it’s going to shake up our industry and bring more knowledge,” she states.

As for future plans, Crossett plans to open a second institute in New York, likely by the fall of 2010. “Having the two locations will be a really great opportunity to connect the two coasts,” she notes. A long-term goal is to open a hands-on skin bar where clients can interact with products. “We want to create an environment like what you would have if you were at a bar—instead of ordering a cocktail, you would order a treatment or have the opportunity to try something yourself.

“We’ve got so many killer graduates out there,” continues Crossett. “I like the idea of having a business somewhere so we can stay connected.”

Crossett notes her road to success was a hectic one with many sleepless nights. “Usually, whenever the crazy stuff happens it always works out in a weird way,” she says. “You needed the mishap in order to get to something else.”

It’s fair to say this ambitious beauty leader has proven her devotion to the industry and has inspired many to pursue their goals in esthetics. Her energetic personality and desire to send highly trained graduates into the spa world foreshadow her positive future. And as she takes a moment to reflect on her path to success, she says she would only do one thing differently: Get more sleep!

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