How many years have you been involved in the spa industry?
I started suki skincare strong safe solutions for your skin problems and sensitivities in the woods of Massachusetts in my kitchen about 20 years ago, but incorporated formally a bit later.
What was the path that led you into the spa industry?
A long and winding one! Struggling with skin problems and sensitivities throughout my life, trying every pharma, derma, synthetic, pseudo-natural, and anything I could get my hands on type of product out there, while being pricked with needles near constantly for my other health issues had inspired me in my twenties to start exploring a holistic lifestyle. I started by making my own salves, tinctures, and basic herbal remedies and traditional medicinal treatments. What I learned was how typical topicals merely touch symptom-care and often with toxic and irritating, inflammatory side effects, as well as long-term disease potential!
I began educating myself on the true nature of skin problems, premature aging, and combination skin, which is really about what goes on beneath the surface. In addition to learning about how our system functions, systemic imbalances, inflammation (a huge source of problem skin), bacteria, oil imbalances, allergies, immune systems, etc…I realized not only that my core consumer was…me! With that if you treat only the symptoms of a skin problem or AFTER you develop a wrinkle, you merely engage a frustrating cycle. No wonder no one expects much out of their skincare while secretly hoping they’ve found the fountain of youth at the same time…a strange but very real thing in our culture.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of being in the spa industry?
As a small company, helping consumers and especially dermatologists understand the brand has been most rewarding. As science has evolved, we are much like a supplement line for the skin. Just like with food or sports, supplements– the problem is with marketers who have not adapted to the scientific process. Marketers do not understand the science of skincare, so they keep consumers in the dark about how skincare science has evolved, which means product owners don’t know anything about the ingredients in their products (because most of the time they aren’t formulators like me). Typically, most products are staying in the same prehistoric selling philosophy of “oily, normal, sensitive, anti-aging, and dry” skincare product categories, increasing their product offerings by simply changing a few ingredients and boxing them up as “for dry,” “for oily,” “for normal,” which we’ve had since the 60s.
It’s such a shame that while other sciences has evolved, skincare truly remains the same. The same three steps: cleanse, tone, moisturize. When really it’s about treating the whole body, creating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, paying attention to the air we inhale, decreasing inflammation to the body, and making the necessary changes in our skin by the use of topical products. But the formulation must be correctly delivered through concepts with clinically proven results, and of course it must be 100% pure.
Additionally, staffing has always been particularly difficult when you have success and need higher levels of leadership in a particular industry. Getting to the point where you can trust the people you empower who actually care about the business in any way like you do, which of course is silly – no one ever will. Another challenge I have found was as a woman in the business world, it is true that you get underestimated, misjudged, and misunderstood constantly. I mean there’s a reason more women go create their own companies because of the lack of truly infinite growth that can occur for us in traditional business settings.
What has surprised you most about working in the spa industry?
How passionate people are. I’ve been so moved by individuals and how intensely loyal they have been once they have actually tried the line.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
When I started, it’s an understatement to say I had high ideals. Heck, I always have had ideas and goals that other people think are either insane or impossible. I started with no money and literally no experience in any of this. It was my goal to take all the knowledge that the skincare business had to offer me and prove wrong pretty much every scientist and chemist I talked to. They told me the idea of creating a truly 100% pure product first of all was impossible to stabilize, and that this product could then contain actual actives that would not have ANY effect, much less become an OTC skincare solution product, clinically-proven effective in real 3rd party trials to outperform most synthetics out there.
When I actually, finally landed my formula…when I finally did it…I solved and cured my skin issues, and found a way to do it without harming people and meeting all my ideals! I knew it wouldn’t be just me researching, but there would be tons of other people as well, and it’s filled me with great pride that this original sense of purpose will always be met because I created my very own formulas. Not to mention, I am proud that I’ve stuck to my philosophy of always staying true to myself and my ideals, and I know that I always will.
Where do you think the industry is heading?
The overall trend toward buying “naturals" continues to grow so I foresee more brands trying to move into this niche category, sadly though, they often try to move into it by misleading an uneducated mass public, which is why “know your beauty” is my tagline. We must become our own: doctors, plumbers, healers, landscapers, whatever it is, since we can only know the truth if proven ourselves.
What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?
A “duo” massage at a great spa in Santa Fe…this man and woman “team” – it was actually not so much “bizarre” at all but amazing! For an Easterner or Midwesterner (whichever I am now), the treatment is so sensual and strange. The first time I did it, I was doing 2 ½ hours of yoga a day and had a great body I have to admit, I was not self-conscious at all…the next time…eh…not so much….two people massaging you with tons of oil while moving you around the table up and back and all around. Listening to this tribal music…it’s was wild…really wild!
What new spa treatment would you like to try?
I’d like to do those paraffin foot and hand dips, I also wish my state had lash and brow tints.
Tell us two things about yourself we don’t know.
I launched my biz pre-internet, so I actively went to the library to get editors and magazines contact information to do my own pr. By sending free products and press releases out, I got a lot of my own placements, which helped launch my company! Oh yeah…I had spent weeks at the library…the whole reason I started ballroom dancing (having done other styles in my youth) was because of my lifelong love of Gene Kelly and the Music of Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Cole Porter, etc.
If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would it be?
How would you sum up your personal philosophy?
Be honest to a fault…in fact, I have recently discovered I have almost no filter…on my face, my words, be it when joyful, snarky, angry, elated, whatever…and I’ve always thought complete honesty was the most important thing (of course this is connected to childhood – go figure). I’ve also been practicing how to relax my mind more lately and not having to be so perfect and not trying so hard all the time, which is super hard! I’m not sure what I think about the honesty thing yet. I’ve been greatly hurt by honest comments and on the other side, hurt by crazy, dishonest comments. So, which is worse?I’d have to say probably the honest ones. Those are the ones that sting the most because we know we have to change, face ourselves, we are exposed, etc. However, without the bravery of a loved one telling us something honest that might hurt, maybe we wouldn’t realize something we need to? Not sure. In the end, I get to the same place…I do believe it’s VERY important to be honest.