Skincare 101, Beauty Expert, Entrepreneurship
Meet Founder of beauty brand, The Skin Girls, Lisa-Marie Blair. Alongside her partner in crime, her eleven year old Boston Terrier, she now warmly welcomes clients to the tranquil Yale-town space she opened in June 2017. After years of working undercover as one of Vancouver’s top facialists, Blair is finally stepping into her much-deserved spotlight. Since leaving the film industry (she was a stunt performer) more than a decade ago, the Montreal native has seamlessly transitioned into the beauty scene, becoming the skin guru for stars who come through Hollywood North. What began as a mobile medi-spa service, making house calls for exclusive clientele, turned into a full-time beauty shop operating out of a top-secret location in Gas-town in 2015. Blair worked discreetly, never publicly sharing the exact address of The Skin Girls, which made receiving one of her luxurious facials that much more special. Here is her success journey!
Tell our readers a bit more about yourself ; how did you go about launching your beauty empire?
It all started in 2006. I’ve always been obsessed with skincare. I moved from Montreal to Vancouver with three suitcases, two of which were filled with skincare products. I’ve always been obsessed with skincare. I started off as a client in a medical spa and I loved the industry so much that when they were hiring for the front desk I was like, “I want to work here.” I started at the front desk and I fell in love with it. I did my medical aesthetics and never looked back.
I used to be in the film industry. I used to do stunts and acting and I used to get treatments to maintain my skin. I think that’s where it all started, as a client and as an actor, I wanted to take care of my skin and I wanted it to look fresh on camera.
Walk us through your journey into this space.
I worked for tons of clinics where every week we were having sales meetings where it was about numbers. Anybody who came in you had to sell them two products, minimum, whether they needed them or not. And that was never really my thing. Even now as a business owner, none of my girls get commission on sales of products because I don’t ever want people to be pushed stuff that they don’t need. We’re all about educating our clients. It was one of those things where I just didn’t feel like I fit in. Obviously, everyone wants to make money as a business, but I will never recommend or push a product on someone who doesn’t need something. The same thing with treatments. If you come in and your skin’s perfect and you’re like, “Oh, I want to do this resurfacing stuff,” I would be more likely to recommend maintenance as opposed to something corrective.
What sort of struggles have you experienced in your business?
COVID has been hard for everyone. Luckily, I’m in Vancouver. I know that a lot of my business owner friends that own medical spas in Toronto were shut down for two years. Same thing in my hometown of Montreal. I don’t even know if they’ll be able to come back from that, to be honest. And we’re still struggling. People have lost their jobs and the cost of living has gone up. So I think it’s affecting everyone’s businesses. And so that has been really hard. Luckily, we have loyal clients. And we try to have very fair pricing so that people are still able to come in and do the things that make them feel good. But COVID, for sure, has been so difficult for so many people.
When we were closed we had a lot of online promotions for products. We had people from all around Canada and the US ordering products from us, which we’re so grateful for because it kept our business afloat. We were only shut down for two months, compared to other places that were shut down for years, so we were lucky for that. And then, trying to stay on top of wearing masks and taking temperatures and all that so that people feel comfortable coming in. We’ve always worn masks for facials, even before COVID, just because you’re breathing on someone’s face and they’re breathing on you. So, just upping our game when it comes to that and making sure that people feel comfortable.
Did you have any beauty mentors or inspirations in the industry before launching?
There are so many amazing facialists out there. Shani Darden is one of them. Celeste Rodrigues is another one, we’re both out of California. Savannah Boda is the Dallas Esthetician who everyone follows. And Candace Marino is the LA Facialist. She’s someone I really look up to and hope to meet one day. There’s also this guy whose company is called The Beauty Sandwich. He travels everywhere and gets models and actors ready for red carpets. If you got all of those people in a room, I would pay any kind of money to sit down and pick their brains.
And then, my parents backed me. I still owe them, literally, my life. They lent me the money to start my business, which I’m really grateful for. They pushed me and believed in me. Because we all doubt ourselves and we always question, “Can I do it? Am I able to?” Having them back me and lend me money, I didn’t want to let them down. My mom was like, “You can do this. You run everyone else’s business and have made them successful, you should be doing it for yourself.” So, just having them in my corner was huge. They’re definitely the reason why I went into business. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them, to be honest.
Looking back, what advice would you give to your younger self?
I think it’s important to surround yourself with people who believe in you, people who inspire you, and people who uplift you. You’ll always have some haters and people that doubt your capability, and being able to surround yourself with people who love you and believe in you is key.
What kind of offerings do you have for women?
We do everything from medical facials to customized peels and body contouring. We have three amazing doctors that come in and do Botox and fillers. We help boost people’s confidence. I feel like, as women, we’re a lot harder on ourselves than men are. My dad’s balding and has wrinkles and he’s like, “I’m perfect, I look amazing.” And as women, I think we’re just so much harder on ourselves. I’m providing a safe place where there’s no judgment. People can come in and do whatever treatment it is that they feel they need or want.
What does success represent to you?
I think success is being happy in every aspect of your life, not just being happy in your business or your personal relationships, but being happy all around. I think that is true success.
When it comes to manifesting, what is your vision for the future?
I launched a skincare line with only two products, it’s called SkinEdition. I would love to expand that product line. The two products are doing really well. I’m currently going into the lab and working on a couple of other things, so that would be huge. And then, I’d love to open a second location. That was in the works before COVID. And now it’s been such a shift with everything, I’m just waiting it out. I was thinking of LA but the laws are different there. Here, I’m allowed to use lasers, and in LA, you have to be a nurse to use a laser. Maybe another Vancouver location or a Toronto location would be fun. That would be a dream to have a second location.
What do you recommend for entrepreneurs who would like to get into your industry?
Education is key. And learning from experienced colleagues. I never would have opened a business right out of school. In school, you learn a lot of theory, but a lot of the stuff you learn is hands-on. Collaborating with other colleagues who have a lot of experience teaches you a lot. Never stop learning, the industry is forever changing. Stay on top of what’s new and hot, what’s going on, and new products and services, and try everything. I literally try every single service. Before buying a device, I’ll go and do the service elsewhere to try and see if it worked and if it’s really worth it. Because you want to offer things that work and things that you believe in. Just because it’s new, it doesn’t mean that it’s great or that it actually works. Definitely do your research.
How do you find inner balance and peace?
To be honest, work always comes first. It takes precedence over traveling, going out, and seeing friends. I’ve always put my business first, and I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. My husband and I were trying to have kids and I think I waited too long. I’m in my 40s and I wish I made different sacrifices. But work has always been number one and I feel like I need to find that balance somehow. I haven’t figured it out but I’m trying really, really hard. I feel like now we’re in a world where we want things right away. I have a lot of productions that I work with, so a lot of casts come in. Their hours are crazy. They’ll text me at 10 or 11 at night, “Can you get someone in tomorrow?” And I need to be available and respond, so it’s something I’m working on. I’m not great at it. Luckily, my husband’s super supportive and he knows that work comes first. Sunday is the one day when I try really hard not to work.
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