Jessica Marie is never short on ideas to grow her business, whether it’s during a slow period or a pandemic. Tune in to hear how she plans to reopen and what she has been building during quarantine. Her passion and drive are sure to inspire your skin care business. You gotta love a girl boss!
Jessica Marie has always had a desire to help people. She spent nearly two decades in the medical field in a wide range of positions and settings, including as a nursing assistant, medical assistant, phlebotomist, medical thermographer, and EMT. She entered medical esthetics to help people in a different way. After spending years as a certified cosmetic injector, Jessica decided to go to esthetician school so she could help her clients from start to finish, beginning with skin care all the way up to injectables. She is passionate about working with people with cancer given her background in oncology, and she is certified in permanent cosmetics and 3D areola pigmentation. Jessica is the founder of J Marie Skin Studio in Longmont, Colorado, and J Marie Signature Skincare and Makeup. Jessica won ASCP Skin Deep’s Avant Garde Makeup Challenge, and is also the proud recipient of ASCP’s 2020 Esthetician of the Year Award. Jessica continues to mentor others in the industry and is currently working on expanding her business with a third location in Atlanta, Georgia.
00:00 Tracy Donley: You are listening to ASCP Etsy Talk, where we share insider tips, industry resources, and education for estheticians at every stage of the journey. Let's talk 'cause ASCP knows it's all about you.
00:16 S3: Hi, guys, and welcome to ASCP Etsy Talk, Back to Business, Let your Setback be your Comeback. And I am your host, Tracy Donley, the Executive Director of ASCP and today, I am so thrilled, we have with us today our 2020 Esty Of The Year, Jessica Marie. Hi, Jessica.
00:36 S3: Hi, everybody, good morning.
00:38 Jessica Marie: I am so happy to see your beautiful face, girl.
00:42 S3: I am so happy to see your face and you got your lipstick on, which is, you're famous for now. So, I'm rocking a smokey eye this morning, I've been doing that every day since I've been in quarantine, so it's great.
00:55 JM: Well, I'll never forget the first time I met you, I think you told me that you do a smokey eye just to take out the garbage. So that's perfect.
01:01 S3: I totally do. And high heels and stilettos.
01:04 JM: That's great, I love it. Well, let's jump into it. I know everyone is dying to hear what your thoughts are on all this craziness, this unprecedented time in our lives, that hopefully we will look back on and think that it's changed us for the better. But let's just jump into some questions. So what have you been doing to be keeping income in the door right now?
01:32 S3: So to keep income, I know that we're all really stressed, we're all really nervous, we're all really worried about cash flow and things like that, and that's normal, right? So, like I said in the article that I did, I said, "It's okay to cry and scream and take some time to just do nothing but then you gotta get back to business and you gotta get back on the saddle. So we did all of those things, right? So we are now working on selling products online, so we have built an e-commerce site, which was a pretty big task, and something that's actually been on my to-do list for the last two years.
02:11 JM: Wait, I just have to back up. So you just jumped in and built an e-commerce site during quarantine?
02:19 S3: Yeah, totally.
02:20 JM: Wow, I love that.
02:20 S3: When else am I gonna have the time to spend a solid week building the site and making sure it works correctly and it talks to all my other programs and do all of that jazz? We did an inventory which desperately needed to be done, and then we got everything up on the site and we had that going live after about a week, so that's a really...
02:40 JM: Wow, that's a quick turnaround.
02:41 S3: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. All of our products you can purchase online.
02:47 JM: Great, so yeah, so how did you communicate that then to your clients? What... Tell me about some of your communications during this time period.
02:55 S3: Yeah, so we've been doing a lot of live events. So we've been going live on Facebook and Instagram at least two or three times a week, and really connecting with our vendors to say, "Hey, go live with us, help us be the expert on this panel so that way we can help you in your business as well." So it's really cool because most often it's hard to get your vendors to sit down and do these events with you and things like that. So we're going live, we are doing a ton of email blasts, I do a ton of networking.
03:32 JM: So when you were reaching out to your vendors to have them help you in putting on some of these events and participate in them, were you reaching out directly to your education director for those brands or... How did you coordinate that?
03:46 S3: I'm just connecting directly with my reps.
03:49 JM: Okay.
03:50 S3: So I did a botox event, and I reached out to my rep and said, "Hey, can you give me some free products? So that way I can educate some folks on botox and then I can bring them back in and give them incentive to join our broadcast." Clearly we can't do any of these services, but I think it's a nice way to just deliver information. And people will know pretty immediately from that broadcast whether or not they wanna work with you, so it does end up saving a lot of time. And we did the same with our product reps, like just yesterday we had our... The founder and creator of Henry+TULA, which is an unbelievable botanical line. She's local, she's in Firestone, and just a Q&A session. And then a lot of our reps will donate products to Giftaway and things, so really offering those incentives, and it's a win-win for both you and the product company.
04:51 JM: Yeah, I love that, and it's just being collaborative. And maybe the time that you don't have before all of this, you're actually making more time to connect on a deeper level with your vendors, not just your client.
05:02 S3: Absolutely, and I think right now is exactly the time when you wanna be putting out videos and content and going live and connecting with your audience, sharing education and skin care education, because you have their attention more than ever, you're never gonna get this opportunity to be able to reach a broad audience this way. So I think starting there and taking full advantage of the fact that people are just at home, as bored as you, and they're hanging out on social media all day. I think that if you're not capitalizing on that you're missing the boat.
05:42 JM: That's the fun stuff. It sounds like you've been busy and having fun. Now, the difficult questions, is what does the future look like? So what do you first think before you get into, which is on everybody's mind is when are you opening? But what is the biggest issue facing estheticians as a whole right now, do you think, during this pandemic.
06:05 S3: The biggest issue facing estheticians as a whole is that we've built our businesses and our career by touching all the faces, right? So there's a lot of questions and things up in the air because I know here in Colorado, they issued a statement that May 1st salons can open, that does not mean spas. So they put us in a different category, and we still don't know. So as estheticians in the State of Colorado, we still don't know when we can open. So there's a lot of people going, "Well, I'm an esthetician in a salon, so I can open 'cause the salon can open." And that's not actually true because you're still in the spa category, and the thing is really touching faces. The virus is transmitted through the mucosal lining, so you can't do a facial with a mask on, you can't do lip fillers or chemical peels or facial massage with a mask on. So I think that probably more towards mid-to-end of May is a little bit more realistic for us. So, again, just taking those opportunities to restructure your business and re-organize your business, so that way when you do come back, you are coming back at the top of your game, everything is functioning like a well-oiled machine.
07:25 JM: I know that you have some contract workers and employees since you're a bigger spa and not just a one-lady operation. How is that looking? Do you think that it's gonna be easier to hire people in the future if you need to hire more people, do you think less estheticians will want to be doing their own business because they're gonna start seeing the difficulties?
07:49 S3: Yeah, I think it's gonna be a little bit of both, unfortunately in this time, and in any pandemic really, it's gonna be survival of the fittest, right? So maybe those estheticians who are in a one-studio, just solo practitioners in a single-room studio, they might find it a little bit more difficult to keep their doors open. So I think that there's definitely gonna be room for bigger spas to attract some more talent if they need to, and get some really great talent in their doors. However, I also know that people may not be... Or I know that bigger spas, we may not necessarily wanna be jumping the gun to hire because people's spending habits may change, the trends may change a little bit. People are still gonna be antsy and a little bit leary about going out in public, so it'll be really interesting. Unfortunately, I think that there is gonna be a lot of room to hire some estheticians just because so many have had to close their doors.
08:56 JM: Yeah, I think the key is really trying to keep as many estheticians in the industry, and we don't want them to leave the industry, and I'm hoping that we can really make room for everybody and everybody's talent can still shine, and do what they love. Okay, so when do you plan to open your doors and start seeing clients? I know that...
09:19 S3: Yeah, I don't plan on opening my doors until I am legally allowed to open my doors.
09:24 JM: Right, but let's say that, so we're in Colorado. So let's say Governor Polis comes in and says... We've actually been... ASCP has been talking quite a bit with the state board and local government in trying to help them with what we think it should look like if they opened up spas, and just giving them the best ideas for protocols and such. So do you feel that once they say, "You're welcome to open," are you gonna open right away? What does that look like for you?
09:57 S3: Absolutely, I will open up the second I am able to open up, and right now, I personally, given that I have spent a great deal in the medical field, I get it, I have studied viruses, I get it. And personally, I think it's too early to open up, just given where we are with the climate, but also, I'm a business owner, and I know that if... Let's say they say, "May 1st, you can open up." If I am not open and my competitor is open, it doesn't matter how great of an esthetician, I am, how much better I am than my peer, or the quality of my service versus theirs. They're gonna want... They wanna get out of the house, they're eager to get out, so they might go ahead and go to my competitor and spend that dollar there versus waiting to see me because they are antsy, and they are feeling haggard and they are feeling like, "I need to do something for me," so...
10:57 JM: Screaming out from the mountaintop right now, I'm feeling the same.
11:01 S3: I'm feeling it. Man, I'm looking at these Zoom calls going, "Oh, this one's [11:05] ____."
11:07 JM: I know.
11:09 S3: Yeah, so I feel like I don't have a choice but to open. And with that being said, I need to make sure that I do my due diligence to keep myself and my family as safe as possible along with my staff.
11:22 JM: During this time, as well as keeping the wheels on the bus, doing all the great retail at-home product sales that you're doing, what does preparing for your doors to open look like, what have you been doing or what do you plan to do now?
11:39 S3: So what we have done to prepare for that day is we got no-touch thermometers. So I do have a licensed EMT on staff, so he will be taking temperatures of every single person before they even enter my facility. Number two, we're gonna make sure that our staff is... They're all wearing scrubs, they are all wearing gowns, they are all wearing N95 masks, a regular mask you make at home won't do, and face-shields on top of that because...
12:08 JM: I'm so happy to hear you say about face-shields because that was my one big thing. And if people couldn't find face-shields I feel like, "At least be working maybe with the mag lamp always, always right there," 'cause it's one more barrier.
12:24 S3: Exactly. And I thought that that would be most appropriate because I'm thinking to myself. Well, my clients can't wear masks when I'm doing a facial, so how am I gonna protect my eyes, how am I gonna protect my nose and my mucosal? And a mask will cover this part but a face-shield will take care of this. So we're doing both. And I know that it's gonna be really difficult for some people to open up because they may have donated all of their stuff, and now they can't get their hands on those things. So we've had to pay the prices, and a lot of people are price gouging. We bought a case of masks, 20 N95 masks for $170, where normally we might pay 30 bucks for them. So the cost of doing business is also going to go up. So we've had to adjust our pricing to...
13:09 JM: That was gonna be my next question actually, too, was, how have you... What does that look like from a price per treatment? And then I'm sure you probably... Not only from the PPE that you're gonna be including, you probably are gonna need a little more time in-between clients.
13:25 S3: Exactly. So we set up an extra 15 minutes in-between clients to make... On top of what we're already blocking to turnover the room, to make sure that we can sanitize our doors, our tables, everything in our room, and our common-area space in the bathroom. So we're doing that, and then we also are making sure that we don't have any more than 10 people in our facility at one time, so we've had to adjust our schedules. And...
13:54 JM: Share with everybody though how big your facility is? 'Cause that sounds like a lot of people, but I think...
14:02 S3: Yeah, I have six rooms and five aestheticians and a licensed EMT. So yeah, we had to really make some adjustments because normally we'll have about 15-20 people in my spa, and I'll see about 40 to 50 people a day. So we've had to make some huge adjustments, which is also going to mean that we are making less revenue. So our staff are working longer hours to be able to see less people, and that's something that we've had to do as well. And just yesterday, we went into the... Or I went into the studio, and I rearranged the facilities, so that way, my seating... Nobody is sitting closer than six feet next to each other. I've removed all of the decorative pillows, all of the decorative blankets. Anything that can be paper and disposable, we brought all of that in. And I also used a professional cleaning company to come in and sanitize everything. So they sanitize everything down to the paper clips, anything that's in their reach.
15:05 S3: And then they fog the place with Ozones. So it's expensive, all of those things are expensive, but I think that it's important and it's necessary to make sure that we're not putting anybody in danger, not just for the sake of keeping people safe, but in terms of reputation management. If people go into a spa and they feel uncomfortable and they feel like, "You know what? This is just a hazard and I'm putting myself in harm." They're not gonna wanna come back.
15:37 TD: Hey guys, stop, let's take a quick break.
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16:28 JM: Let's get back to the conversation. How are you going to communicate to your clients those things, and to prove and show and demonstrate that your place is safe? And all the...
16:43 S3: Yeah, so we have been, again, communicating with them online. We have been sending out e-blasts, so, I use MailChimp. You can have about 2,500 contacts on there for free, so it doesn't cost you anything to just start...
17:00 TD: Nice.
17:01 JM: Yeah, share this information, get the information out for you in your business, and it doesn't cost you anything to start up that program. So use MailChimp and send them updates. And one really cool way that I've been getting clients to open up those emails and things is, I don't just send their inbox and overwhelm it with COVID updates because I think we're all sick of that, right? I've attached some value to that email and said, "Okay, well, here's what we're doing with COVID, but here's a really cool video and a recipe for some kitchen-counter beauty. So make sure that you're not just spamming them, that you're also adding value to that. I think that's gonna make you stand out from other people in your group.
17:44 JM: I love that. Well, talking more about clients, is there any kinda protocols or precautions that you're gonna ask them to do before? I've been talking to some other estheticians, and some are saying they might have to take their shoes off at the door or they might not be able to come in until five minutes before their appointment. We're gonna put locks on the door. What does that look like?
18:06 S3: Well, for us, we're having our clients obviously taking the temperature will be important because if they do have a temperature they can't come into our facility. Once we let them... We will only let them into the facility with a mask. Now, when they get into a treatment room, they can then remove their mask and we can go on with our service.
18:25 JM: Are you requiring them to bring their mask in? That's gonna be part of... Like when they book their appointment, you'll be letting them know that they must wear a mask?
18:32 S3: Yes, and if they don't have a mask or if they forgot it at home, then we have a few boxes there, so that way we can make sure that they're masked, just because if there is people in our common-area space, then we need to make sure that they feel safe there. And then we're making sure we put terminals in each one of our rooms, so whether it be a cell phone and a square reader or an iPad, so our clients are now checking out in the room, so if they need products, we go out to the common-area space, they check out in the room and then they're in and out of our facility. So no hanging out and chit-chatting and things like that. And that part does make me sad, but again, right now we have to just do things a little bit differently.
19:14 JM: Is there... I guess the other thing that I'd like to ask you is, since you do have employees, and this is probably a two-part question, what are you doing to prepare your employees or help them work through maybe any stress or anxiety that they might have about returning back to work? And then even to... So that's the first question. And then maybe stress and anxiety for your clients as well.
19:40 S3: Yeah, so certainly a lot of my staff, and especially the ones who have children at home. I know that my EMT, he has a son with asthma, so he's in a high-risk category. So there are concerns, so again, you have to be able to provide all of that equipment that's necessary to keep your staff as safe as possible. You have to provide them education to say, "Okay, this is how the virus is spread and this is how it's transmitted and these are the things you can do to protect yourself." So if you are not knowledgeable in that area, you don't have a medical background, seek out someone who is, and who can get on a quick Zoom call, and educate your staff. Zoom is also a free program, you can do 40-minute sessions with your team, you can do virtual consults for free. So this online... Our online presence out there, it's gonna be a new way of doing things and it's gonna be our way of life for a long time.
20:41 JM: Are you formally going to put that into some services that you offer for clients, is it... Whether it's value-added, or is that gonna be an ongoing service that you offer?
20:53 S3: Absolutely, it's gonna be an ongoing thing. We've already added virtual consultations to our menu of services, and we're getting a tremendous response. We're still sending out $2,000-$3000 worth of products every single week. So those things are really valuable. So connect with your clients, they wanna connect with you. And they aren't shopping as much as they used to, so where they used to go out and go to Walgreens or go to Whole Foods and buy their skin care products, they're staying home, so they want someone a ship or deliver products, and they're more apt to go for a professional grade line versus grocery store line. In terms of my staff, too, just connecting with them, I've connected them to different networking groups that I'm a part of, and just allowing them platforms or giving them platforms to talk about their specialty and what they do, and just make them still feel like, "Hey, you are a part of this, and this virus and what's going on around you does not define you. You're still an awesome esthetician, so continue spreading the word and telling people about it."
22:05 S3: And connecting with others. Like in my networking group, we have a gal who is a life coach who's offered to do free sessions for my staff. We have The Chick Express, which is a local gym here, she's doing free online virtual classes and a lot of... Myself and the girls and the staff have joined those classes together every Saturday night after... Or Friday night after our live, we grab a glass of wine and face-masks and just stay connected as best as we can.
22:38 JM: That's really great, I love that. And I think that's the thing is we have to figure out ways to continue to stay healthy and connected. Unfortunately, I know that this would have been a great time for me to probably jump on a diet and maybe exercise more diligently. But...
22:52 S3: Girl!
22:53 JM: Girl, I think I'm on the COVID carb diet, so it's... Hey.
22:57 S3: I am too, I'm in survival mode, and that consists of me eating all the things. Yeah.
23:02 JM: [chuckle] Me too. I've never been a potato-chip person constantly, and I eat 'em every night, and that's just my thing, at 5:00 o'clock I'm like, "Oh I made it, potato chips."
23:12 S3: I'll tell you what, Tracy, but coming into this, I had a 26-page list of things to do...
23:21 JM: Yeah, I believe it. Yeah.
23:23 S3: Now, I have maybe about eight.
23:25 JM: I know, that is good.
23:28 S3: Yeah, I'm just really trying to look at the positive and I'm really trying to just take a full advantage of the opportunity to restructure my business to get to those things that I haven't been able to do because we're just so busy and seeing clients all day. And I'm also learning to just give myself a little bit of grace. I had one day where I just had a breakdown and I...
23:50 JM: I can't believe it's only been one day because I... Yeah, I've been working probably 15 hours a day at least, and it's been more than one time for me, I'm like...
24:01 S3: Yeah, and I'll tell you what, just sitting down in front of the computer all day like, "Yes, I'm getting stuff done, but it's wreaking havoc on my body." And so I just had a day where I binge-watch Ozarks all day, and then I felt awful. I feel horrible because it's not my nature, I'm a go-getter. I'm like, "Why are you doing this?" And so I'm really learning to just give myself a little bit of grace. It's okay if I'm eating all the food in my fridge to just survive and maybe having way too many sodas and glasses or bottle wine, but it's okay to give yourself a little bit of grace and just get through this. And I sometimes take things minute-to-minute, I sometimes take it hour-to-hour, and sometimes day-to-day. It just depends on the day.
24:46 JM: Such great advice, though, just to be gentle with yourself. And I think all of us, especially women out there, we have a hard time remembering that, so very good.
24:56 S3: Oh, yeah.
24:58 JM: More questions for you. I think all of our members and readers out there really appreciate your business savvy. Have you thought about... Are you gonna put any special pricing together or packages together? I mean I know that you've had to increase some of your prices, and have you shared those with your clients yet? I mean, just give us a little bit more of your business sense.
25:19 S3: Yeah, so I have shared the price increase with my clients via email blast, and a lot of them understand. They're like, "We get it, we know that you have these extra expenses." The cost of our... Even getting products and shipping costs are going up, raw goods and raw materials, all of those costs are going up. So some of my products have increased, so it costs me more money to give a facial than it used to, not just because of the PPE that we have to have. So they get it and they understand. I think that we're not gonna have a problem transitioning there. I think we've built a pretty good client base and reputation that people will spend that extra 10 bucks to come and see us. They're all just responding really well with, "We hope you're okay, and we hope that... Let us know how we can support you." So we've done specials on gift cards just to keep our cash flow running right now, so we did do like, "Purchase a $100 gift card and get $20 on a secondary gift card for a friend."
26:24 S3: So that does two things: One, they're getting value by helping us in this moment, and they feel good about doing so. What I will not do is actually discount, and I encourage a lot of estheticians not to deep-discount right now, because this is a time when people will pay top dollar to go see you. So recoup your losses right now, this is not the time to discount. I've had people calling and saying, "Hey, can you come and do a facial in my home? I'll pay you double. Hey, can you come do my botox in my home, I'll pay you $250 just to travel?" And my answer, of course, is no because I wanna be able to compete with my peers on a level playing field. And if they have to stay closed I have to stay closed.
27:09 JM: And it's your reputation, and doing what's right and having integrity, right? At the end of the day, that counts so much. I mean it's huge.
27:17 S3: I have to look myself in the mirror, "Did I do right today? Did I do good? Am I competing with my peers on the same playing field?" Because if I win, I wanna win because...
27:27 JM: You're the best.
27:28 S3: I worked harder and I pounded the pavement harder, not because I cheated you. Yeah, so I think right now people are gonna wanna pay, they're eager to pay, they are either to spend that stimulus check at the spa and the hair salons and the nail salons. So don't discount right now.
27:44 JM: Yeah, and to that point, my next question is, are you already taking appointments, like have you started allowing people to get on your schedule?
27:54 S3: Yeah, my clients have been able to go online and schedule this entire time. And we've just been telling them like, "Hey, get online and schedule because if you have an appointment already set depending on the day, maybe it's the first of May, maybe it's the 15th, maybe it's June 1st, but you will have first dibs when we open."
28:14 JM: I always think to myself, I'm like... Even with my hair people and everyone out there, I'm like, "I want first dibs." I was thinking, "I would pay to get number five in line for the first available appointment." You know what I'm saying?
28:27 S3: Right, exactly. You wanna get in there right away and you don't wanna have to wait... So, right now we're already booked out, each one of my providers, about three weeks, which is good. We're normally booked out four to six weeks, but three is not bad to come on in and know that you can just get in there and make some money. And you don't have all this admin stuff and things going on, you can just really focus on your client because you've spent your time taking care of all those things on the back end.
28:55 JM: What one or two resources would you recommend that our members or listeners check out? And this could be anything that's just inspirational, personal growth, professional growth, anything of that nature.
29:08 S3: Yeah, so I had been doing a ton of podcasts and things like that. So, Beauty Biz Bffs is great, they're just funny, and a great tool and resource to help you just amplify your business. I've also been doing a lot of audio books, so I find like building the e-commerce site, I just have my audiobooks playing in the back on a few... Unfu*ck Yourself is one of my favorite. It just talks about changing your thought patterns and changing your thought... And actually, the biochemistry in your brain that makes you think that you're not gonna be successful, and just stop beating yourself up, so it goes back to giving yourself grace and allowing yourself to be human. So there's that.
30:01 S3: And also, I've been looking for updates on what's going on in my community. The Chamber of Commerce is a great place to go, even if you are not part of the chamber, because their whole goal is supporting small business. So, they're putting out a lot of information on COVID and PPP loans and things like that, so definitely connect with that. If you haven't had a one-to-one with your banker, if you haven't had a one-to-one with your accountant, certainly reach out to those people, and they can help you navigate through these processes.
30:36 JM: That's a really good point, and for sure, even if you've already had a one-on-one with them, have another one if you can because it's just always changing, it's evolving very quickly here. So those are great advice.
30:49 S3: Exactly.
30:49 JM: Okay, Ms Jessica, tell our reader and our listeners and our members where they can find you. What are your social media channels?
30:57 S3: Yeah, so social media, Facebook and Instagram, jmarieskinstudio, and then you can always go to my website, jmarieskinstudio.com. I just recently put up a ton of education videos, and in the next day or two, you will see my kitchen counter beauty series be launched, and we're gonna put it up on the website. So I just pulled a bunch of stuff out of the pantry and just teaching people, "How do you make your own mask?" So, yeah, watch my kitchen counter beauty series. So you can go to jmarieskinstudio.com.
31:30 JM: I love it. Well, thank you so much, and you are always such a pleasure to chat with, so we'll talk to you soon.
31:36 S3: Thank you, and thank you for having me, I'm just really grateful for the support that I've received from you, your team, ASCP and Skin Deep. You guys have just been tremendous in helping me catapult my business, so I'm really super grateful. Thank you.
31:49 JM: Thanks. Talk to you soon. Bye, Jess.
31:51 S3: Okay, take care, bye-bye.
31:54 TD: Thanks for joining us today. If you like what you hear and you want more, subscribe. If you wanna belong to the only all-inclusive association for estheticians that includes professional liability insurance, education, industry insights, and an opportunity to spotlight your sick skills, join at ascpskincare.com. Only $259 per year for all this goodness. ASCP knows it's all about you.