November 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
Today we are getting personal with Modern Lady of the Month: Miss November, Lisa CEO of Sugar Me LA. We’re talking about business, personal struggles and even social media. What’s an interview now-a-days without a little Facebook talk?
TIB: Did you always know you wanted to be an aesthetician?
LISA: No. I actually started out my office career in investment banking in mergers and acquisitions.
TIB: Wow, that’s very different.
LISA: I’ve always been very artistic. I came from an artistic family. In high school I always did everyone’s make-up and hair. Someone asked me if I wanted to become a hair dresser. I couldn’t stand the thought of working on hair. As I’ve since learned, I like killing hair not making it look better. So I started a long search.
TIB: Investment Banking?
LISA: Yeah, I got out of Investment Banking. I was really unhappy with the way my life was going. This was about 7 or 8 years ago. Bounced around, worked for a software company. At one point I was talking to a friend of mine who was an aesthetician and a cosmetologist, explaining to her a skin care line I had been researching. She stopped me and asked me why I working at the software company. I had zero training I was self taught, yet I knew more about the stuff than some aesthetician she knew. I was being told the same thing by a friend who owned a cosmetic line. Within six weeks I was in school. It usually takes six month to a year to get into those schools. My friends said that was impossible. But I got in, I was doing it.
TIB: What school was it?
LISA: It was in Concord, California. It wasn’t the best place to train, but I ended up training with nurses and I tried to learn whatever I could from them. It was a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be because it’s an incredible mix of science and artistry. Mixing chemicals and playing with chemicals then turning around and using the artistry to figure out exactly what is causing something. Acne alone, it is very difficult to figure out what’s causing it, food allergies, or what clogs the pores. It’s a wonderful maze my mind gets to work on.
TIB: You’re like a skin detective.
LISA: And I’m still learning. I’m constantly going to seminars and training still to this day. In fact, I’ve been invited to the lab that creates the skin care line that I use. I’m actually going to work with the chemists and learn about the line and the learn more about the chemicals and how it fixes your skin.
TIB: Cool. That’s awesome.
LISA: I know! I’m going to running through this lab like a mad scientist. I can’t wait. It’s quasi medical. It’s a lot of fun.
TIB: When did you make the decision to start your own business? What were the events leading up to the moment you said, “I have to do this on my own.”
LISA: That’s a good question. I was working for a company that pulls aestheticians right from the school. There were a lot of people practicing that didn’t have any real experience. I remember at one point they had brought in all these peels and people were chemically burning. They couldn’t figure out what it was. One of the managers came over to me saying that people were being burned. I told her, most of the people who were coming in use over the counter Oil of Olay, and you have to condition skin before you put this type of peel on them. It’s like running a marathon without any training at all. My manager still didn’t hear anything I said.
TIB: That’s frustrating.
LISA: It is. The next place I worked was at an Equniox spa. The manager there very readily said he had no knowledge at all about skin care. These managers are the people that were making the decisions to what was being done in the skin care department. Basically they were creating a public hazard with the things they would unqualified employees do and the products they would sell. And it was hurting people. I was trying to give my clients the best possible service and not be ripping anybody off. It’s like fixing a car, there’s a lot of science going on it’s not just pushing lotions around on your face. If you don’t know what your doing, you’re going to destroy it. I just got so fed up with having to listen to people who had not idea what they were talking about and asking me to do things that I was legally licensed to do. I also wasn’t going to tell someone to buy a product that’s crap just because my company has to sell a certain percentage of a product. I’m an aesthetician not a sales person. I had a hard time lying to my clients to make money for a corporation. I knew I had to go out on my own.
TIB: What struggles did you face when deciding to go out on your own?
LISA: There was a lot of work involved in it. It’s always 50% harder than you think it’s going to be. That was the problem I ran into.
TIB: But 50% more rewarding.
LISA: Right! I ran into a problem with funding. Starting a business takes a considerable amount of money. Financially it was difficult to start out because you want to have all these great things that you know about but you have to pick and choose what you are able to bring in and do it on a shoestring.
TIB: Did you have supporters or friends that helped you out? What kind of support did you get from them?
LISA: My biggest supporters were my actual clients. They did word of mouth and it grew pretty well just by that. YELP! helped me considerably because my clients went out and posted positive reviews on there. From that I became the only person out there doing what I do with a Five Star review. It was because of those reviews that I go pulled into deals with Lifebooker, Popsugar, and Groupon. That’s my advertising right now. I don’t actually pay for it. I’ve done trades for my clients. My trainer posed for this picture for free. I’ve actually gotten clients because they liked the guy in the picture. So I’ve had support from the people around me.
TIB: Besides YELP! which was pioneered from your own clients, how have the other social media platforms helped your business?
LISA: Twitter has helped although not excessively as say Facebook. With Facebook I can connect directly with my clients. I would like to get a little bit more personal with an email or texting system to let them know about any specials coming up or last minute appointment openings. Part of the issue I’m running into is I’m doing most of this by myself. So it’s finding time. I have clients all day. For me clients are my priority. I’ll work a 15 hours day before I get time to sit in front of the computer and update my Facebook site.
TIB: What advice would you give to someone starting a business like this.
LISA: Expect your business to build over three years, don’t expect it to happen over night. Nobody’s going to be beating down your door. It takes patience and a long time to build. A lot of people will pay more attention to the artistic side and not much to the financial side. After you’re done with your clients you are still working on that, prepping your business for the future. You don’t just get to go home and call it a day when hours are over. Be prepared to work a lot harder than you would for anyone else. It doesn’t feel like work, but the hours are long. But it’s fun and it’s exciting and you get to call the shots and choose who you work with. Water finds its own level. I love my clients. It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it.
TIB: It’s all about the clients.
LISA: I want to give them the best, fix them. I need to. So I guess it’s really more about me than it is about them.
For more from Lisa at Sugar ME LA
Like Lisa and Sugar Me LA on Facebook: Show your support for Modern Lady – November
Follow Lisa on Twitter: For appointment availability and promotions
Sugar Me LA’s Website: Read about additional services and pricing
More reviews on Yelp: Rave, rave reviews. Seriously. See what other people are saying, too good to pass up.