The Women in Wellness Awards: Rising Star Winner

Graphic by Kara Magliaro

The first category we're announcing of our Women in Wellness Awards is the Rising Star. This newcomer to the industry is making an impact with her passionate and exciting ideas.

WINNER: Siai Faataui-Morales, licensed esthetician; CEO, Matalasi Skincare and Makeup.


Bullied in school for having eczema, Siai Faataui-Morales spent her last two years of high school learning about makeup and working on her self-esteem. Since then, she has been passionate about providing others, especially teens, suffering from various skin conditions with makeup solutions. Getting her start in the industry in 2012, she has since been a pioneer and trailblazer in the Polynesian community. After embarking on getting her esthetician’s license, she soon after opened Matalasi Skin Care and Makeup (San Bruno, CA). There, she shares a balanced and holistic approach to skincare that focuses on supporting, repairing, and strengthening the functions of the skin. In addition to being a licensed esthetician, she is also a licensed medical assistant and phlebotomist. Owning the first Samoan-owned skincare facility in California, she is an inspiration and motivational speaker for youth and women in business. According to Faataui-Morales, her philosophy is: “Aspire to inspire, even when all odds are against you.”

FINALIST: Marie Benson, Microblading and permanent cosmetics specialist, The Laser Lounge Medical Spa; advanced permanent cosmetics instructor, Nouveau Contour Academy

While working as an esthetician and massage therapist in a resort spa, Marie Benson became increasingly interested in pursuing a career in permanent makeup. She eventually enrolled in school with money left to her by her great aunt, who had passed away from breast cancer. With four certifications in areola tattooing, she has since performed more than 150 pro bono areola procedures for cancer survivors in her aunt's honor. “Marie is continuously learning the latest techniques to enhance her skills,” says Joyce Brown, medical esthetician at The Laser Lounge (Fort Myers, FL). “She is extremely consistent in her treatments and provides her clients the best customer service experience. She surpasses all expectations.”

FINALIST: Trevor Cates, ND, The Spa Dr.

Author of the best-selling book Clean Skin From Within (Quarto Publishing Group, 2017), Trevor Cates, ND, was the first woman to be licensed as a naturopathic doctor in the state of California. Appointed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to California’s Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine Advisory Council, Cates became known as “The Spa Dr.” after working in a number of well-known spas, such as Remède Spa at The St. Regis Deer Valley (Park City, UT) and the Waldorf Astoria Spa (Park City, UT). Based in Park City, UT, she helps patients from around the world to age gracefully. In addition to having her own PBS special, “Younger Skin From Within,” she is also host of The Spa Dr. podcast and has been featured on “The Doctors,” “Extra,” Mind Body Green, and in First for Women. Believing that the key to healthy skin is inner and outer nourishment, Cates launched The Spa Dr. skincare and supplement lines, both of which are formulated with natural and organic ingredients.

FINALIST: Elisabeth Shim, M.D., founder and president, Verdure Botanoceuticals

A dermatologist based in Los Angeles, Elisabeth Shim, M.D., saw a need for a dermatologist-developed skincare line focusing on healthy botanical ingredients when she was unable to find effective, yet natural products for her own sensitive skin. As a result, she launched Verdure, a custom-formulated line for herself, her patients, and her physician peers, in 2007. Verdure, which translates to greenness in French, is one of the first dermatologist-developed brands with a focus on natural ingredients. Shim also gives back by donating a portion of the profits from Verdure to charitable organizations with an emphasis on education, environmental preservation, and animal rescue.

FINALIST: Kristina Valiani, CEO, The Beauty of Hope

Knowing from a young age that she wanted to work in the spa industry, Kristina Valiani immediately enrolled in esthetican school after high school. After working in the treatment room for two years, she realized she wanted to transition to the business development side. She attended IECSC Las Vegas and landed an education position with HydroPeptide. She then went on to become director of sales for another brand. It was at ISPA where she realized her calling after hearing the founder of Toms share his story of turning a pro table business into a mission-focused brand. In 2016, Valiani launched The Beauty of Hope, which are handcrafted soy-based candles for prestige boutique and resort spas. Ten percent of the company’s revenue is donated to non-pro ts working to help victims of human trafficking.

Congratulations to all of our finalists and our Rising Star of 2017, Siai Faataui-Morales. Check back here on American Spa online tomorrow, September 19, for our finalists and winner of the Visionary Award.


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