Q & A with Alexis Ufland, founder of Lexi Design (New York City) and spa consultant for SpaSocial (Round Rock, TX)

Alexis UflandMeet Alexis Ufland, founder of Lexi Design in New York City and spa consultant for SpaSocial

What was the path that led you into the spa industry?

Health and wellness were a huge part of my childhood. My mother was a yoga instructor in the ‘70s—before Madonna made it cool—and I grew up playing sports. I began working in the fitness industry with Steiner Leisure when I was 23 years old. There, I was introduced to the combination of spa, beauty, and fitness.

What do you find to be most challenging and rewarding about working in the industry?

I work from project to project. I love coming up with a simple idea, developing it into a concept, and bringing that idea to fruition. The hardest part is getting the development team to understand your concept and on the same page. I really like when the concept comes together through the spa menu, spa treatments, products, interior design, logo, and operation to create a true brand.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment is my most recent project, Truth + Beauty (Roslyn, NY). I truly feel that Truth + Beauty is the next generation of medical spa. It offers the perfect blend of care and customer service that clients would otherwise receive at a day spa combined with the anti-aging treatments and results of a top dermatologist or plastic surgeon's office.

Where do you think the industry is heading?

Recently, I have been very focused on anti-aging skincare. I think the industry will continue to develop non-invasive, cutting-edge technology that will erase the signs of aging. Gone are the days of that “over-pulled” look associated with plastic surgery. Today's products and cosmetic procedures make you look younger by filling and freezing fine lines, fading brown spots, and tightening sagging skin without any real downtime. Every year, the technology gets more efficacious with less risk, pain, and downtime. I am excited for the future.

What is the strangest client request you’ve fielded?

Strange comes with the territory in the spa business. I was building a spa and yoga studio for a client who wanted to offer Naked Goddess Yoga Classes. I just thought it was a pretty name for a “female-centric class where you were stripped down of your inhibitions,“ but I soon realized that the women were literally naked. To each her own.

What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?

I have lived all over the world and tried every bizarre spa treatment on the planet, from nibble fish pedicures to bird poop facials. Right now, I am obsessed with the vampire facial, in which the doctor draws blood from the arm with a needle and separates the platelets into a platelet-rich plasma using a centrifuge. The plasma is then combined with dermal filler and injected into the face to stimulate collagen production to create new skin and remove fine lines. It’s so wrong, but I'm obsessed.

What’s your go-to spa treatment?

Acupuncture. Two years ago, I pulled my hamstring six months before the New York City marathon and I thought for sure I was out for the season. My trainer suggested acupuncture, and I was hooked. Not only did the treatment heal my hamstring in just four weeks, but it also helped me in so many other ways. I find it very hard to relax, but acupuncture calms my mind—I sleep better and feel healthier overall.

What’s your favorite skincare ingredient and why?

Any woman over 40 years of age will tell you it’s retinoid. I am currently obsessed with a product range called Zelens.

Tell us two things about yourself we don’t know.

My first job out of college was an aerobic instructor on Carnival Cruise Lines. I used to teach four to six classes a day, from step aerobics to body toning. It was the greatest job I ever had. I was able to travel the world, do what I love, and still get paid. I also own a second company called Sparty, which is an event planning company that throws spa-themed parties. We were the first in the country, opening 13 years ago. It also combines my two loves—hanging with friends and getting spa treatments.

If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would it be?

I love interior design. If I were doing anything other than consulting on the business development of spas, I would focus just on designing and creating beautiful homes.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

My parents always told me if I truly believe in something that I need to trust myself and stand behind my idea 100 percent. This advice has been so helpful in this line of work. Throughout the development of a project, the concept evolves, and there are a lot of outside opinions. I always have to remind myself to stay focused, weed out good opinions from bad ones, and stand behind what I think is best for the success of the project.—Compiled by Jessica Morrobel