In this episode of ASCP Esty Talk, we chat with skin care expert Farida about her experience growing up in Chennai, India, and how the importance of skin care has played a significant role in her life since the day she was born. We discuss how esthetics education in India compares to education in the United States, covering everything from differences in client concerns and various techniques used to regulations and certification requirements. Farida is not only a forever student of skin care, soaking up as much new knowledge as she can wherever her path takes her, but she is also an educator who has had the unique opportunity to teach esthetic students in India and licensed esthetic professionals in the US. You don’t want to miss what this skin care expert has to say! Tune in to hear her one-of-a-kind perspective and her honest yet inspiring words of encouragement for estheticians who may be feeling discouraged about their career choice right now due to COVID-19.
Farida was born and raised in South India near the pristine beaches of Neelankari. She was schooled in natural skin care methods by her mother and sisters from an early age, and after attending an ayurvedic college, she became a skin care educator at Pivot Point Academy in Chennai. For five years she trained legions of young estheticians, fueling the booming day spa industry in India. Farida migrated to New York in 2011 and graduated from Dermalogica Academy two years later.
Farida was recruited by the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa and promoted within one year to the skin care division lead position and certified as a Red Door Educator. At Red Door she developed a team of expert skin therapists skilled in her unique skin treatment protocols, thus providing their guests an experience otherwise not available in the market.
When the Red Door Company closed all of its locations as a result of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Farida lost her job. But out of the crisis, a brand was born. The Farida Skin Care Studio was launched in downtown White Plains, New York, as a destination that provides each of its clients with a custom-designed journey to healthy and beautiful skin.
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0:00:49.8 EM: You are listening to ASCP Esty 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.
0:01:05.4 EM: Hello everyone, and welcome to ASCP Esty Talk. I'm your host today, Emily Morgan. I am a licensed aesthetician in the states of both Massachusetts and Colorado, and I'm also the membership program manager here at Associated Skin Care Professionals. We share all kinds of great information on this podcast from insider expert tips to resources on all the topics you can't get enough of from ingredient deep dives to business tactics, and sometimes we are just here for some Esty real talk from one aesthetician to another. Today, we are joined by Farida. Farida is a licensed skin care therapist and educator who is schooled in natural skin care methods from a very early age. After attending an Ayurvedic college, she became a skin care educator in Chennai, India, where she trained legions of young estheticians fueling the booming day spa industry in India. She's also worked for the infamous Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, where she was very quickly promoted to a Red Door educator due to her expert knowledge and passion for skin care. In more recent events, and as a result of COVID-19, a brand was born from the ashes like a phoenix, the Farida Skin Care Studio. We are so excited to hear Farida's journey and story, so please welcome my friend Farida to the podcast. Hello Farida.
0:02:33.5 Farida: Hi, Emily. Thank you very much for a nice intro. I'm so excited to be here today.
0:02:39.8 EM: Oh, you are so welcome. It speaks for yourself, and we can't wait to hear all about how you've begun your journey and where you've gotten to be where you are today. So before we get into everything that you're doing now, I would love to hear a little bit about where you grew up and how you first really came to fall in love with skin care.
0:03:00.1 Farida: So I'm originally from South India, Chennai. I fell in love when we were super young. I remember my mother, when she used to boil milk, she will take the cream from the top of the... The cream which forms on the top of the milk, she will remove it, she will keep it aside, she will put it on our face. When she uses lemon, she will keep the half of the lemon and she will give us to apply it on the knee, rub it on our elbow or on our face to make our skin... Plus, she used to go to a store called Pansari store where you get all the herbs, all type of spices, like a special store where you can get all these amazing products and all. She will come home with some mixture of turmeric and all those stuff, she will warm a coconut oil, she will mix it and then she'll put it like a mask on our face, and once you remove that, your skin looks like, "Oh my gosh, it's like glowing, and it looks so brightening and amazing." So we were taught to look beautiful, we are taught from our young age to take care of our skin. This all started, I think when the time we were born, we basically loved taking care of our skin.
0:04:21.6 EM: Wow, so you have pretty much never known a world without beauty, without skin care, it's like you were just raised from it, like with... From day one.
0:04:33.8 Farida: From the day one. Yeah.
0:04:35.4 EM: Wow, that's amazing. So obviously, you were brought up with it since you were really, really little with your mom, with some kitchen skin care. Now, what was your school experience like? Because you went to aesthetic school in India first, right?
0:04:50.0 Farida: Yes, so I went to school in India, and even when I came here, I went to the school here too, so there's a such a big, vast difference when you take the schooling experience there versus here. In India, basically you go to a beauty school where you can learn hair, skin, nails, waxing, massage, it's all in one umbrella. It's just like cosmetology here, but once you graduate cosmetology, you can get specialized in anything you want, like you could become a hairstylist or a restitution. But in India, you can get a diploma and you will do all the services when you joined. So basically, you go get a diploma, you can open a beauty parlor, which we call beauty parlors, or you can even open a beauty parlor without a license if you know how to do it, because it's not regulated by a state in India. And what was in the schooling when we learned is that the concern of the consumer was so different. In India, 99%, it is all about brightening. We starts every facial with the bleaching the face in India. In India, we are taught, we are told since the time we were born, that if you wanna get a good job, you wanna get a husband, if you wanna have a better life, that you should be fair. The biggest product sold in India is from Unilever, a product called Fair & Lovely. Now, they have renamed that product as Glow & Lovely. So that product is like a billion dollar industry.
0:06:53.7 Farida: I don't know whether you have watched it. It's a very, very popular series in Netflix called Indian Matchmakers. The matchmaker lady, her name is Seema, she will trying to match in a proposal. So she will go and ask the groom like, "What type of girl you want?" One of the criteria is that she should have a fair skin. Even the former Miss America in 2014, Nina Davuluri, she was from Syracuse, New York. She was the first to win a Miss America. The Times of India said, "She will never win Miss India. She's too dark." So the biggest, biggest concern, and we always focus and address was the brightening in India. Of course, everybody wants to look younger, that's always there, but the brightening always we focused, we did our facial around brightening, brightening and whitening in India.
0:08:03.5 EM: So that's so interesting because I would say that in the US, the main concern really is anti-aging. Of course, there's a lot of other things that people wanna focus on. I would say acne is also a big one. Acne, brightening, hydration, anti-aging, but that's just so interesting that the main key focus in India when you're learning aesthetics and skincare is just solely about brightening and about lightening your skin so that you can look fairer. It's just such a contrast.
0:08:37.6 Farida: Such a contrast. And even hard wax, I never heard of hard wax before. We can use one metal spatula to do an entire waxing. Here you know how we have a hygiene factor where you cannot double-dip it. So those are the things that's not been followed there, it's... Even now, I think the hard waxing is just getting to launch in a big corporate spa settings. And even machines are not mandatory, it's not regulated by the state. So therefore, you can use any type of modality in the facial. You can use lancet or you can do basically anything you like. It's not at all regulated.
0:09:36.3 EM: Hey guys, stop. Let's take a quick break.
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0:10:10.9 EM: Let's get back to the conversation. Just going back to what you said real quick, so with the waxing, you said a metal spatula, so there's no disposable tongue ____.
0:10:23.6 Farida: There is no tongue, no.
0:10:25.9 EM: Wow, that's so... It's like if you're using one metal spatula, you must be double-dipping and...
0:10:33.4 Farida: Oh, yes.
0:10:34.1 EM: Or strip wax only if hard wax really hasn't come through to India, so that's how you learned really.
0:10:41.9 Farida: Majority is all soft wax, there's no hard wax. And hard wax is... I haven't seen in the whole Chennai that they have hard wax, and I have visited the most luxury spa in Chennai, but I haven't seen anyone use a hard wax there.
0:11:03.0 EM: Wow. And like you touched on a little bit just after that, that the regulation, are there... Is there an hourly requirement, or is it just you go into a program and you go for as long as you decide to and then when you get your diploma, you can pretty much do anything and then you just go off and do it?
0:11:23.3 Farida: So usually, what happens is the course says three months course or six months, it depends upon how much are you gonna learn just the basic. They will say, "Okay, we will cover the basic in six months. We'll cover your advanced in nine months." You have to understand that the beauty, they have to cover the facials, manicure, pedicure, waxing, massage, everything. So if you get a diploma, you will be able to perform and you are expected to perform all the services. So you are not an aesthetician in the spa, you're not a nail tech in the spa, you are a beauty professional who can do everything. So therefore, it depends, like in Pivot Point where I used to train, we had 50 students from Malaysia. So they brought a lot of, like 50 students from Malaysia to Chennai to our school, so we can train them hair and skin, beauty. So they stayed there for six months, it's like a crash course. So they learned advanced hair, skin, beauty, everything within six months, so they had a... We had arranged this place for them to stay. It was solely they came to India to learn the beauty.
0:12:54.2 EM: That's so cool. I feel like when I think back to when I went to school, I was in a 600-hour course. It was just for aesthetics. Of course, we learned the facial massage, but it was just strictly aesthetics. And to think how many hours it would take to learn cosmetology and all those hours, and aesthetics and all those hours, and massage therapy and all those hours, and nail, that is so many hours to think that you have to squish that all into six months, that's a lot of information that you have to take in, in a short amount of time.
0:13:30.3 Farida: Definitely, but you have to understand, even when we do get trained 600 hours here, the main knowledge you gain is only when you start working somewhere.
0:13:42.8 EM: Yep. When you're in the real world.
0:13:44.1 Farida: When you're in the real world and in India, here you have hours you work Monday through Friday, you come 9:00 to 5:00 but in India, we work Monday through Saturday. So we work long hours. So we have two days class, and then we had one day practical in between, where they will bring their relatives, friends, family, so they can do what they learned. And then, we have another two days of classes, and then they have another day, they will bring their family. So they're learning, they're practicing, they're learning and then they're practicing. It's kind of like we're not letting them, time goes by. So that's how we did our protocol in India. So... And then, we worked so many days from morning 'till night. Sunday is our only day off.
0:14:38.2 EM: Right. So you get your Sundays, but every other day...
0:14:41.7 Farida: Every other day, we worked.
0:14:43.6 EM: You're living, breathing skin care. I love it. So switching gears a little bit, obviously that was your education experience, but you have also been an educator in both India and here in the US. So what were those experiences like, switching from student to now an educator and teaching these new soon-to-be aestheticians and beauty professionals?
0:15:10.0 Farida: So in India, training them is... They're brand new. It's kinda like they want to learn something new and exciting. They are like a clean slate, like a wet clay. You mold them however you want to. In India, the teachers are called Guru. We receive the utmost respect when you're teaching. There, I had 30 students, sometimes I had 40 women as a student. So basically, I'm teaching this big crowd and sometimes I have workshops where we conduct we... When we launched a new protocols, a new product line in our company, we will have a big workshop, which we invite all the salon and spa owner, they can come and they can learn all this new and creative, amazing techniques. So that was a different type of teaching back then. When I joined the Red Door, I'm actually training the aesthetician who already trained and have the license and have the experience. My job in Red Door is not only to train the Red Door protocol, but to make sure that they're successful in the practice when they're working for Red Door. To make them understand the skills are important, that's why they got hired.
0:16:51.3 Farida: It's very important, but to be a successful aesthetician, to make them understand that skill is important. That's where they got hired, but more than skill, there are so many things to be successful. To teach them that giving a client a memorable experience and giving them unexpected and amazing, exceptional experience that will bring back to them, making sure that the client come back, that's only when they're gonna become successful.
0:17:30.5 EM: Well, and that totally makes sense, 'cause if you're a student and you're brand new and you're just... Like we said, a sponge for learning, I mean, you're just open and wanting to take in as much information as humanly possible. Once you've gotten someone who's been around the block a little bit, they've gotten a little experience, then starts to come in all of those other life stress factors of having a career, "I need to make money, I need to make these sales, I need to hit these quotas," and I can clearly see how that can really start to impact your customer service, and the facial experience in almost a negative way when you're focusing on just making money, making money, your focus is no longer on the client and what's... Doing what's in their best interest. And I think you almost have to un-train them to then train them, right?
0:18:24.5 Farida: Un-train them. Yeah. It's hard.
0:18:31.1 EM: Another thing that has been very difficult for everybody across the globe has been this pandemic. So this pandemic has really thrown a huge wrench into the careers and the livelihoods of millions of people, never mind thousands and thousands of aestheticians. So how has the pandemic affected you personally?
0:18:57.5 Farida: So I worked for Red Door for more than six years. Even last year, I was... I always wanted to have my own business, so I was thinking of opening up my own studio. I did have a non-compete with Red Door, so I couldn't pursue it because I just didn't want to do anything wrong. I always follow by the books, I just like, "Okay, I'm not gonna mess it up. Let me just stay put for now." But it was always that I always wanted to open, it was not like an idea which just popped right up. But then pandemic happened, we were said, we are closing for two weeks, like other businesses. We were closed for two weeks but then, I got a phone call from my boss, saying that in two days Red Door is filing for bankruptcy, that we'll be shutting down all the location permanently.
0:19:54.0 EM: That's so heart breaking.
0:19:55.5 Farida: It was hard, and it was early in the morning when she called up. And she was telling me, she was all upset and she was crying, and I couldn't even process it. And I was like, "No, I don't think so. You're wrong. You got the wrong information, I don't think we are going to be shutting down."
0:20:13.4 EM: You're like, "I'll be in on Monday. ____, I'll see you."
0:20:18.0 Farida: Yeah. "What are you talking about?" Then once I hang the phone, it took me a while to realize, "Oh my gosh, it's true. I think it's real." And then, we got an email the next day. Then it was like, "Oh my gosh, it's real." So when I read the email, I literally started crying. I was like, I was really successful. I was one of the busiest aesthetician there. I started crying. I'm like, "Oh, my gosh. Number one, I lost my job. I have no job. And number two, my guests in Red Door, they are like my family. They're... I'm from India, I'm here, and I wake up every day and I go, I take care of them." It's every day was exciting for me to go and see them and taking care of them, and I'm not going to. It's like, I woke up one day, everything is gone and my team. So I cried for two days. And then third day, I'm like, "Oh, my gosh." My mom always said, "If you're crying, nothing is gonna change. You need to do something."
0:21:31.2 Farida: And then I was like, "Yes, it's true. I always wanted to open, so just what could be better time than this?" So I said... I troubled my husband. I didn't sleep. I'm like, "I want to open my own business." He's like, "Honey, we are in the pandemic. Everything is shutdown." I said, "I don't care. I want to open my own business." I said, "When the government allows us to open, I want to open a business. I don't want my guests going anywhere." Beauty industry, we were allowed to open June 23rd, and I opened my door to my guests on June 23rd.
0:22:14.2 EM: I love it.
0:22:15.4 Farida: I said, "I want to be open," and I did... We did open June 23rd. It was hard, but we did it. And this is not just a location, this is not just my one tiny spa which I opened now. My plan is to grow, this is my brand. At least three location in New York area, and then I want to develop even a skin care product line in the future. In fact, my ultimate goal, my dream is to open my brand in my hometown in Chennai in India because I learned a lot in India. I used all of my knowledge, my expertise, and I help everyone in US to achieve their skin care goal and now, it's give back time.
0:23:15.9 EM: That just warms my heart so much. I love, love, love that you have just been through this whole skin care journey literally from the day you were born and have been hit by this hardship and just didn't know what to do, but you knew that you had these goals in mind and just what an inspirational story to hear especially now when things were shutting down and there was just so much unknown and stress to be like, "You know what, this is a moment of opportunity where I can really do something to not only give back but to start achieving my dreams." I love that you're creating this brand. From the loss of your position, from the idea that you were gonna lose touch with your clients, you really... It is like the story of a Phoenix. It was just like one thing ended, but from those ashes, a brand new brand and idea was born.
0:24:19.8 EM: And I just... I love that you're going to bring it back home to your hometown in Chennai, and give back there and teach your clients and other aestheticians about what you've learned here, I just... I feel like that's such a heart-warming story, and I'm just so excited for your journey to continue. It's so exciting. Do you have any last pieces of advice for those aestheticians that are feeling... They're feeling disheartened about their career choice in aesthetics. Maybe they're feeling hopeless about being able to turn their passion into a successful career. What last pieces of advice do you have for those who are just feeling like they're down and out right now?
0:25:02.7 Farida: So what I wanna tell them is that technology has eliminated so many job in our economy. Basically, technology has taken over. But personal care services like skin care and massage will always need a skilled technician to deliver the service. People in this modern world, they are so stressful. They need somebody to be loved and taken care of. The pandemic is there and it's not easy, and it's not gonna be here forever. We are going to get through this and there is a light on the other side of the tunnel. If the aesthetician is still very worried, "I'm going to get the COVID, how am I gonna be safe?" I will tell them that if they wash their hands, if they wear the mask and a shield, and if they are following all the protocols, even though the guest is not wearing a mask, they should be fine. I'm telling from my experience because I'm doing facial every single day. But if your guests are concerned about, "Oh my gosh, I'm gonna be in a room with somebody, am I safe?" Then this is the time for you to communicate with your guests. Tell them that it is safe for them if they come to you.
0:26:31.7 Farida: Tell them and explain to them, communicate with them that you're following all the protocols, that you're wearing a mask, you're wearing a shield, you're washing your hands, that you're disinfecting and you're sanitizing everything, you're changing the sheet in between all the guests. I will say communication, communication, communication. And also, I did a safety video. They can watch my safety video in the website. I could tell that it was a big positive for me. My guest actually says that they watch a few times and after watching, they feel like, "Okay, if I go to Farida, I'm gonna be safe." So I make them understand that it is safe when they come and get the service from you. So I feel that aesthetician who out there are scared and worried, that they should definitely reach out to their guests and explain and tell them that it is safe to come to them, and then that they are following all the protocol. And if you have the trust and relationship with your guest, then they will definitely... They'll come back to you.
0:27:46.6 EM: Thank you so much for that, Farida. I'm sure that that is really just gonna resonate with so many aestheticians that just really needed to hear that. So thank you so much for that. This has been such a delight being able to chat with you today, and thank you so much for sharing your expertise and your journey with all of us. I know, I loved hearing it, and I know that thousands of others are gonna enjoy hearing it as well. Before we do close out, could you please share with us where we can... Where our listeners, where we can find you, learn more about you and everything that you have going on. I think that we can also probably put a link to that safety video from your website in the show notes here, so if anyone wants to check that out for their own ideas of what they can do to help their clients feel more comfortable, we'll throw that in there as a resource. But yeah, tell us where we can find you, Farida.
0:28:38.2 Farida: That would be wonderful. So my safety video is in my website. It's faridastudio.com, and they can also find me in Facebook and Instagram. And if they want to hear from me, if they want any ideas or any concern if they have, if they wanna reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org, that's my email ID.
0:29:03.6 EM: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much and we'll be sure to put all of those links to your Facebook, Instagram, website, your email, we'll put all of that in the show notes, too. So anyone that wants to reach out to Farida, she is a wonderful, beautiful person and just has such a warm, open heart, so she would be happy to chat with any of you guys. Thank you again so much Farida for joining me.
0:29:25.3 Farida: Thank you, Emily. I really, really appreciate your time.
0:29:28.6 EM: Thank you. And thank you to everyone listening in. Have a wonderful day and we will talk with you next time.
0:29:36.6 EM: 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 aestheticians 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.