Ep 43 - Black History Month (Pt 3)—Listen. Learn. Trust

Crystal Ngozi, Beauty Business Coach

In this episode of ASCP Esty Talk, we continue our discussions with Black estheticians on how race and skin color play a significant role within the esthetics industry and in our everyday lives. Crystal Ochemba-Powell explains how to expand your esthetics knowledge in order to treat a wider range of diverse skin types, discusses what all estheticians should be keeping in mind when treating clients of color, and much more. The art of listening is a big theme in this episode—listening to what the consultation form tells you about your client, listening to what your clients tell you during their treatment, and also listening to what your clients might NOT be saying. Each topic discussed in this episode will help you learn how to develop a trusting relationship with your client, and will give you the tools you need to provide the best and most informed treatments possible, especially to clients of color.


Author Bio: 

About Crystal Ochemba-Powell:

Crystal is an experienced licensed esthetician, makeup artist, business coach, and licensed continuing education provider with a combined 10 years of experience in both business marketing and the beauty industry. In addition to her esthetics license, she holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in advertising and marketing.

During her career, Crystal has used her knowledge and experience to successfully build her own beauty business as well as the beauty businesses of other creative entrepreneurs, including barbers, cosmetologists, estheticians, and more.

When she is not servicing her own clients, Crystal enjoys training and coaching other beauty professionals on how to use proven marketing techniques to increase customer acquisition and conversions. She feels that her biggest asset is her ability to intersect her passion for both marketing and beauty with her signature training courses.

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0:01:28.9 S1: 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. 


0:01:46.2 Emily Morgan: Hello, everyone, and welcome to ASCP Etsy Talk. I'm your host today, Emily Morgan. I am a licensed esthetician in the state of Massachusetts and Colorado. I am 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 the topic you can't get enough of, from ingredient deep dives, to business tactics, and sometimes we're just having some real Etsy Talk from one esthetician to another. And today, we are joined once again by the wonderful, Crystal Ochemba-Powell. Crystal is an experienced licensed esthetician, a makeup artist, a business coach, and a licensed continuing education provider. She's got a combined 10 years of experience in both business marketing and the beauty industry. When she's not servicing her own clients, she enjoys training and coaching other skincare and beauty professionals on how to use proven marketing techniques to increase customer acquisition and conversions. So please welcome Crystal to the podcast. Hello, Crystal. 


0:02:48.5 Crystal Ochemba-Powell: Hello, again. How are you?  


0:02:49.2 EM: I am doing well. I know, hello, again. We're a frequent flyer on this podcast now. [laughter] So Crystal, today, we are discussing something a little different. You've been on our show in the past, and you are our go-to marketing expert. We love it. Listeners love you. And we've talked about how to become your own boss, what small things you can do to build your business. So if you guys haven't already listened to those two episodes with Crystal, we will include them in the show notes here so that you can check them out. They're amazing. And we also have some really exciting tidbits coming up for all of you in our annual ASCP Skin Care Summit coming up in May. So stay tuned for those fun little marketing tidbits there on that full day of education. 


0:03:38.3 EM: But today, it's a little different. I'd like to talk about something a little more personal. Black History Month is this month, month of February, and it's an incredibly powerful time to reflect on, and most importantly discuss what incredible feats women and men of colour have achieved despite all of the racially motivated violence, and obstacles, and injustice that have been thrown in their paths for decades even today, even now. What's so unique and special about our particular fields of expertise being in the aesthetics industry, is that we have the opportunity to study skin of all backgrounds, all colours, all types, and all skin care conditions. As estheticians, we're so hyper-aware of skin in general on a multitude of levels. And now Crystal, you are an esthetician and a Black woman. So for you, how has learning about skin care at such great depths affected how you feel about your own skin colour?  


0:04:37.9 CO: Yeah, so becoming an esthetician, of course, we study the history of skin, and things of that sort. So I feel like on the surface level, even when I first started to study to become an esthetician, learning about different skin types was extremely interesting to me, and learning how my skin is actually different than someone of a European or Hispanic descent was actually really, really amazing to me. And then there's this notion that we're all the same. And in terms of products and treatments, I think this spills over into daily life. When a lot of people, estheticians included, kind of treats all skin the same when everyone's skin is different, and that's okay. So I definitely feel as though learning about the different skin types and learning about my own skin has been beneficial for me personally, and in my career, and has been able to help me service my clients better too. 


0:05:39.6 EM: I love that you started talking about being the same, not all skin care is the same. And I think when people think of the word equality, you're probably thinking, "Oh, they need to be treated the same." And of course, but equality doesn't always mean the same. Equality can also mean treating people the same way despite their differences, and celebrating their differences. It's just very interesting how that term can be used, and how it's like... Learning about skin, it is so different, and we should really be celebrating all the different types of skin. And also, how boring would it be to just learn about one skin type? And it's just like, "Lame." 




0:06:25.7 CO: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. I think we as a people, and I mean as in humans, we're amazing. And there's different facets to us as well, including ethnicities, and backgrounds, and skin types, and things of that sort. So I think in this world of aesthetics, we actually should use that to our advantage to be able to treat all sorts of skin. Of course, I know in school, we learn different types of skin, but I think once we graduate and we go into our own practices, sometimes we kind of get stuck into this rut, and we're only seeing or treating or paying attention to one different type or one type of skin type. 


0:07:07.6 EM: And I've gotta say honestly, that's part of the reason why I am very anti-team generic facial. You just have a menu of, "The anti-aging facial," or, "The sensitive skin facial," "The acne facial". Because even within those categories, depending on what type of client is coming in to see you, that should be different. Of course, whatever their condition is or whatever their concern is, you're gonna wanna treat that, but there's no just one menu item, one type of list that you follow for every single person 'cause every single person is different and should be celebrated differently. 


0:07:46.8 CO: Most definitely. 


0:07:48.3 EM: So in addition to your coaching business, as we are hopefully all familiar with here now, you are also still seeing clients for skin care and makeup services on a fairly regular basis. So what does it mean for you when a client of colour walks into your treatment room to receive a service from you? Does your deep knowledge of skin care along with your own personal experiences as a Black woman have any sort of unique impact on you when you're treating another client of colour specifically?  


0:08:21.0 CO: That answer is kind of two-fold because initially, I think maybe people do come to me because I look like them. I think on a general sense, people choose service providers who can relate to them, and that's just not with skin colour. So this holds true with hair, such as I have locks and natural hair, so I chose a professional to maintain my hair who actually specialises in natural hair and locks. So I think more so people come to me just because of my specialty and because I can relate to them, not necessarily my skin colour, if that makes sense. I think and what I've found is that my clients gravitate towards me because of what I specialise in, and because of who I am, and maybe the fact that I'm a Black woman and she's a Black woman might resonate with her, but I don't really think that's the same across the board. I definitely feel as though, like we mentioned before, it's very important to study all types of skin types because I actually... While my client base is full of people who just so happen to look like me, I think my business... I didn't necessarily go after that market. I think the market went after me. Sometimes your business kind of evolves and it becomes its own monster, but I do have other clients who are other skin types, other Fitzpatrick types and backgrounds as well, and I think they chose me because of my expertise. 


0:09:45.4 EM: Well, I would have to say if I was in the Atlanta area, I would absolutely go to you. 


0:09:51.5 CO: Awesome. 


0:09:52.4 EM: I know how amazing you are with your clients and your treatments, and I would just be so honoured. I'm gonna put it on my bucket list. 


0:09:58.2 CO: Yes, please do. You're always welcome in Atlanta. 




0:10:01.9 EM: So on a similar note, I personally am very, very curious, are there things that estheticians who are not considered people of colour, so White estheticians like myself, are there things that they should be keeping in mind when providing treatments for our Black clients aside from just whatever is on the consultation form? Obviously, that's incredibly important still, but is there anything in addition to that that White estheticians maybe should be keeping in mind?  


0:10:32.8 CO: Yeah, so I was reading a couple of books. And when I first got into aesthetics, of course, I took a lot of multicultural skin courses, and I did a bunch of reading. Because unfortunately, there's not a ton of information out there, so you really have to go out there and dig. But I would urge everyone to take a multicultural skin course or read a couple of books because it does go deeper than just the surface level. And what I've found very interesting is sometimes you have to look at culturally speaking, what are some things that your clients may be doing or what they may believe in in terms of skin care? So for instance, my mom loves to use... Don't cringe, she just uses shea butter on her skin, and she uses that to moisturise. Most of the time as an esthetician, I cringe. I'm like "No, not just... No, mom, you need a moisturiser, you need a toner." But for a lack of a better term, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. 


0:11:33.9 CO: So what I've learned is that a lot of my more seasoned African-American clients, they kind of lean towards the "old school" way of doing skin care. So it's the shea butter, it's the cocoa butter, all the pore clogging ingredients, but they don't have a lick of a breakout and their skin is amazing. So think about what are some things that you can do so you may not sell them on skin care products right off the bat, especially if they don't have any issues, visible issues with anti-aging at the moment or any issues with pore clogging, and things of that sort. So I think, not even necessarily with the consultation, but really having that conversation with your client to see what their goals are. I came from a marketing and sales background, and one of the things that I was taught in my training is, "You have to pick up on what the client is not telling you, and you have to dig a little bit deeper." So yes, please go through your facial consultation form, but also talk about what their goals are. 


0:12:41.1 CO: And it's funny because you may look at a client and they may visibly have dry skin, and they may not even realise that their skin is dry or dehydrated. Prime example, I'm thinking like... Oh my God, this just popped into my head. So I work with primarily acne clients, and I get a lot of people contacting me and saying, "Help me with my dark marks or hyper-pigmentation." Sometimes they use layman's terms. So dark marks or whatever, "Help me with my dark spots, my hyper-pigmentation." And then they come in, and I see that they have ongoing acne, but their first goal was to get rid of the hyper-pigmentation. And so a lot of times, we can't necessarily just go off of... I mean, by all means, you need to fix their acne first, but also take care and take interest in what their goals are as well. 


0:13:32.2 EM: And I've gotta say with everything that the Black Lives Matter movement has been doing, and especially everything that was going on late spring, early summer last year of 2020, I feel like a theme is just listening more, especially for those of us who are White. We encourage you to have those conversations with people of colour. Open yourself up, be vulnerable and listen more. And I love that what you were saying was, "Listen to what your clients are saying, but also listen to what they're not saying," and I think that's really important. And of course, go based off of what's on their consultation form as a nice base, but really communicating with your client is not only gonna make them feel more comfortable in your hands in receiving treatments from you, but you're just gonna get a better understanding of people and humanity, other humans as a whole, and it's just gonna help us grow as people and as humans a little bit more. 


0:14:34.7 EM: And I would love to throw some books and courses that you were mentioning for a multicultural education, I think that that would be great. So we will make sure to put in a list of some things that we recommend here in the show notes as well because that is a wonderful idea. And moving forward, on the topic of education, I think that that is something that has been ever evolving. I think if you were to talk to any woman of colour, any Black esthetician maybe 10 years ago, they'd probably be like, "Education? Man, you're a slacker." [laughter] We have got some work to do, but I think that it is improving. And so where do you see the future of skin care education going, and what would you like to see more of? Have you noticed or experienced any changes in more inclusive skin care?  


0:15:28.5 CO: Yeah, so I would love to still see more training. There's still not a lot out there. I can maybe think of three to five off hand, and I've probably taken them all. I feel like there could be more. But on the flip side, what I am noticing, and this is just through just listening on social media, is that now with... I think before when they put the multicultural skin courses and books out there, it's not just for Black estheticians. I think everyone should really dig deep just because you never know when that next... Your next client, they may not look like you. And I think it might be easier to treat skin that looks like yours, but what if it doesn't? So how can you tackle it then? So I think it's just best to be prepared and to absolutely be more well-rounded. 


0:16:19.1 EM: I think one thing that I would love to see more of is more inclusive contraindications and what those look like. So one thing that I have definitely noticed is, I'm actually not sure that I've ever seen anything other than what skin that has been irritated by something or what a contraindication looks like. I'm almost 100% sure, I've only exclusively seen what that looks like on white skin, inflammation, even acne. I mean, how acne looks and what you should be looking for, it's maybe a little clearer to see on white skin 'cause it's such like white against red. It's so visual, but it's not like that still doesn't happen on people with darker skin colour. And just any sort of skin condition, I would just really love to see what that looks like more on skin that's not just white skin. That's something that I would personally just... I think that that would be such an enormous step in skin care education. 


0:17:18.6 CO: Agreed. Absolutely. Like I said, I can think of maybe three to five resources and that's it, and it would be amazing if there were equal amounts, but yeah. And maybe there's people out there and they just haven't stepped up. Feel free to write a book, write an e-book. Please share. I feel like we all have something to share. I know what my wheelhouse is, and I can kill it in business and marketing, but someone else may specialise in something else in the aesthetics world, and I feel as though there's something that everyone can contribute. So even just writing an article about your knowledge and your research could be helpful to someone else. 


0:17:56.6 EM: Totally. I think having more access to that, I'm sure, even with these instances, I'm sure you probably had to go out looking for it. I'm sure it didn't just come across your lap, reading through a book and you were surprised like, "Oh wow, that's nice that this is here." It's something that you really have to seek out right now, and it would just be so nice to see it more accessible, more frequent, and less of something that you need to dig through the archives for. So if anyone out there has some great resources, please let us know 'cause we would love to see them and we would love to share them. 


0:18:34.3 EM: Well, thank you so much, Crystal, for joining me on this episode of ASCP Etsy Talk today, and really honestly for just sharing your voice with all of us. You're someone that I really admire and look up to, and I know that there are hundreds of other estheticians out there who are equally as thankful and grateful to you for sharing your voice and your thoughts with us today. Of course, reflection is important, but I feel like it's really conversations, and speaking up, and having talks like these that are really gonna help us move towards progress and change, very needed progress and change. So thank you so much for sharing your voice with us today. 


0:19:13.8 CO: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. 


0:19:16.2 EM: And so now, Crystal, before we sign off, do you have any other closing comments or anything that you would like to share with our audience?  


0:19:24.1 CO: I think that you pretty much covered it all. Just thank you for opening up the conversation and the platform. I honestly feel as though everything that has been going on, and especially things that transpired in 2020, it actually set the stage and opened the door for us to have these conversations openly, and for both, or both of us, or both sides and everyone as a whole to kind of listen to each other and really uncover the needs, not just in the industry, but just period. So I absolutely love having these conversations. I think before, sometimes having conversations were a little uncomfortable, but just stepping out and just opening the door to have these conversations, I think a lot of times people can get a lot more from them. So thank you. 


0:20:13.5 EM: I do think that these kind of conversations honestly still can be uncomfortable sometimes for some people. I feel totally comfortable with you, 'cause we've been chatting for a while, and I love every time that we connect. I feel like we've just got this nice little vibe here. 


0:20:29.1 CO: Yes, yes. 


0:20:32.4 EM: But that's maybe not the case for everybody. But the thing is, is that feeling uncomfortable is sometimes a good thing. If you're going through a growth spurt, that's not comfortable. Your legs are aching and you're like, "Oh God, I'm just sore and stiff all the time," but it's because you're growing and you're growing through change, and that is a good thing. So the things that are uncomfortable are not necessarily bad things. They're signs of growth, and I think that that's really important. 


0:21:00.7 CO: Agreed. 


0:21:02.9 EM: Well, Crystal, thank you so much for your time today, thank you so much for joining me, and thank you to everyone else who is listening in. I hope you are all celebrating Black History Month and having a wonderful month in general. And have a wonderful day to all of you, to you as well, Crystal, and we will all talk to you next time. 




0:21:21.7 S1: 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.

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