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During the twenty-five years, Marion Simms, has spent in the skin care industry, she has been a business owner, facialist, consultant, writer and educator.
Through these collective experiences, she has developed a keen interest in the concepts of wellness – that overall state of balance that keeps our bodies and minds healthy and alive. Her on-going education has also instilled in her a deep desire to pass on the latest and most beneficial information to her clients, and this reflects in all the treatments and products she offers at SkinSense.
MO: What influenced your decision to open SkinSense back in 1984? How dramatically has the beauty industry changed since then?
Marion: Up until 1984 I had been teaching advanced esthetics to licensed facialists both in England and here in the US. Esthetics training in this country at that time was extremely limited. In the UK we train for between 1-3 years, and so I had a lot of additional knowledge to share. (The state licensing for estheticians in this country is still very minimal and most facialists opt for some sort of advanced courses or an apprenticeship after getting their licence.)
After traveling around the country and seeing how new the concept of a day spa was at that time I decided to open up my own business. My hairdresser wanted to branch out too so we pooled our resources and opened a day spa on La Cienega, near Melrose in Los Angeles.
Since then I have moved to another location in the same neighborhood and now work independently with eight staff. The changes in the industry during this time have transformed the business. The advances in cosmetic chemistry allow us, as both professionals and consumers, to truly reduce the effects of aging. Great skin care products, coupled with advanced facial protocols – electrical and manual – make a huge difference to the skin’s appearance. The growth in awareness of the skin care industry as a legitimate business over the last two decades has also helped. When I first came to the US, there were just a handful of salons that offered skin care and these were located primarily on the east and west coasts in the larger cities. Skin care was definitely not mainstream and not really recognized by the business community as a potentially profitable business option.
MO: What aspects of your extensive experience and background in the skin care industry did you draw from the most when first developing the company?
Marion: As I just mentioned, the training I received in the UK was extensive and I worked in Europe and South Africa as a facialist before coming to the States, so I had some salon and some managerial experience before opening my own business. My training and prior experience definitely gave me an advantage. I also took a couple of business and marketing courses at LA City College so that I was a little more familiar with the business climate in this country. Both my parents had been independent business owners and over the years I had observed how they ran their operations so they definitely deserve a lot of credit for the influence they had on me. Apart from that, I drew on my passion and interest in skin care.
MO: What are you offering to your clients that they’re not getting at other spas?
Marion: Apart from very competitively priced services (which I feel is an important factor in the current economy) we are constantly educating ourselves about the latest developments in our profession. We are not faddish and check everything on ourselves and then a few select clients, before launching into anything new. We are also selective retailers. By that I mean we sample first and sell if the client sees benefits. You will not have a treatment at SkinSense and come to the checkout to find $500.00 worth of products lined up ready to purchase….unless of course you have asked for them!! The other benefit is that all my technicians are truly dedicated to their specialty and have years of experience. In other words, we offer lots of education and exceptional service in a relaxing environment that is unpretentious and welcoming. We are also open seven days a week, which is great for the working professionals that seem to be our main demographic.
MO: Your approach to aging and skin maintenance is all about simplicity and discipline and you also take a very broad look at diet. What foods would you recommend we consume more of, or less of for improved skin quality?
Marion: They say in skin care that hydration is everything, so let’s start with fluids. Fluid intake should comprise mainly of water and herbal teas. Coffee and other fully caffeinated drinks should be kept to an absolute minimum ( I would prefer no coffee intake – too dehydrating) and sodas should be eliminated (too much sugar.) Red wine in moderation is okay and can actually have some advantages but can aggravate conditions like rosacea and acne. Plenty of fresh, whole fruits and vegetables are essential for good skin ( anti-oxidants) and very low intake of dairy products. Cheese can cause milia and clogging, and rather than cow’s milk, almond or hemp are better for the body and skin. Hemp is a great source of the anti-inflammatory omega 3. As we age, inflammation is a huge issue. It causes disease, chronic pain and wrinkles. This comes from the high levels of sugar and fat in the American diet. High fructose corn syrup and all white foods turn to sugar immediately so whole grains and well sourced lean meats and fish are best. We recommend probiotics, fish oils and a good multi-vitamin and mineral supplement for our clients on a regular basis, and we also discuss the pH balance of the food we eat. This is a complex subject and there is a blog on my website www.skinsensewellness.com that discusses both pH balancing and the importance of probiotics in great detail. Nuts supply good fats to keep skin lubricated along with olive, avacado and grapeseed oils, and lentils and other pulses are a healthy protein source that helps to keep skin firm and elastic.
Outside of diet, are there any tips that you can give our readers for a better complexion?
My approach to aging and skin care is focused on complete wellness. Even with all the great protocols and products we now have at our disposal, it is still up to the client to use the education and home care regimes we customize for them on a daily basis, morning and night. A commitment to a healthy lifestyle is paramount if we want great looking skin at any age. This includes regular exercise (3-4 times weekly), plenty of rest ( our skins work while we sleep) and a positive attitude towards the aging process.
MO: You’re currently using social media as your main marketing tool. Which social media outlets are you using and have you seen a change in business since implementing them into your marketing plan?
Marion: Oh yes!! For the last five years, I have been using Yelp to promote my business – the last three as a paying subscriber. It has been extremely beneficial. Clients take notice of good reviews. I also find the website a useful anchor ( I am in the process of upgrading it currently) and in the last year started a blog. Facebook and Twitter drive established clients back as well as attracting new ones. We will continue to build our following on both of these outlets this year. I use a monthly Google Analytics report to check my SEO. and send out monthly e-mails to established clients through Constant Contact to promote new services and products. I feel that using social media is essential in today’s technological world. It is a constantly changing entity and therefore, learning process and at first I was resistant. But now I enjoy it.
Over the years I have been in the skin care business I have come to appreciate the strong connection between self esteem and our appearance. Clear, radiant skin is an important part of that. A glowing complexion boosts our confidence and self worth. Rightly or wrongly, in our present day world and particularly in Los Angeles, we are often judged first by our appearance. So whether it is a teenager suffering from acne or an older woman returning to work after raising a family, concerned about wrinkles and pigmentation, it is a delicate issue.
I find this one of the most satisfying aspects of my work. I love to see my teenagers able to make eye contact and have a social life and I love to see my older clients succeed in the work place in part because they like the way they look. (I also blogged about this. See “Skin Esteem” on my website.)
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