Ep 63 - Niche Down and Stand Out

Award-winning Face Reality Skincare has an emphasis on one thing: acne. With proven protocols and education and a founder who knows firsthand how acne can adversely affect people’s lives, it’s no wonder Face Reality won the ASCP Skin Deep Readers’ Choice Award for top acne line. In this episode of ASCP Esty Talk we sit down with Laura Cooksey, owner and co-founder of Face Reality Skincare and Acne Clinic, to discuss how she set out to become a renowned acne expert and the advice she has for others starting their career.

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Author Bio: 

Laura Cooksey is a renowned licensed esthetician, owner, and co-founder of Face Reality Skincare and Acne Clinic. She brings over 28 years of experience in working with acne clients and educating skin care professionals about safe and effective ways to treat acne. She shares her knowledge in her acne specialization online course, as well as in numerous articles and speaking engagements for the skin care industry.




0:00:01.8 Speaker 1: 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. 


0:00:16.7 Maggie Staszcuk: Hello everyone, and welcome to ASCP Esty Talk. I'm your host today, Maggie Staszcuk. I have been a licensed esthetician since 2006 and I'm the Advanced Modality Specialist 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're just here for some esty real talk, from one esthetician to another. Today, we're joined by Laura Cooksey. Laura Cooksey is a renowned licensed esthetician, owner and co-founder of Face Reality Skin Care and Acne Clinic. She brings over 28 years of experience in working with acne clients and educating skin care professionals about safe and effective ways to treat acne. She shares her knowledge in her acne specialization online course, as well as numerous articles and speaking engagements for the skin care industry. So please welcome Laura Cooksey to the podcast. Hello, Laura. 


0:01:19.6 Laura Cooksey: Hi, Maggie. How are you? Thank you so much, I'm so happy to be here. [chuckle] 


0:01:24.0 MS: How did you get into esthetics?  


0:01:26.1 LC: Well, that's an interesting question. I had really bad acne. I was getting into my mid-30s, and I realized that I wasn't gonna... I wasn't going to grow out of this. And I was a massage therapist at the time, and there was a woman that was coming to me for a massage who said she could get my skin clear. And so I went to her, and sure enough, she had a... She got my skin clear. And I decided from that point on I really wanted to do this work for other people, it was like a calling for me. I became an esthetician in 1990. And I, like I said, I just set out to learn everything about acne that I could. And after been... Having been a sole practitioner for many, many years and kinda being all things to all people, I really wanted to focus on acne, 'cause nobody had really done that yet. And I was... So in 2005, I had the opportunity to open up an acne-only clinic. And I knew that it was scary to niche-market and have a very specialized service, but I just knew in my heart so many people needed it and I really wanted to get the word out to help people. 


0:02:38.9 MS: In the '90s, esthetics was just emerging and not as prevalent as it is today. Did you find it was challenging to find the courses you needed to establish your business or hone in on acne?  


0:02:49.4 LC: There was one doctor, Dr. James Fulton, who had written a really great book about clearing acne. And so I started studying with him and basically used that protocol. And it... Yes, we now have more ingredients, active ingredients, to use in our protocol. But it really wasn't about... So much about the products, it was how the products were used that made the difference. 


0:03:15.5 MS: How did you build your protocol?  


0:03:17.8 LC: Well, to me, it was all about... Testing the skin and finding what strength the skin could tolerate, and starting off slowly with those products. I use what's called a titrating system or a system that accounts for the... The skin's ability to adapt to products. So that's how I use my products, and it just was very successful. 


0:03:44.2 MS: I've heard you say that over time the skin becomes used to the products and ingredients. So over time, do you change up the protocol?  


0:03:51.7 LC: Yes. So it's kind of... I always equate it with working out at the gym. So you go to the gym, and you just do the same workout all the time, the body won't... You won't get much stronger, you'll kinda stay about the same. Well, the body... The skin is the same way. So if you just use the same routine all the time, your skin's not gonna change that much. It will change to a point, but it won't go beyond that. So you have to find that fine line of pushing the skin to clear, but not so much that you're going to irritate it and dry it out. If you do that, then you just back off a little bit, it's just... It's a fine balance of pushing and pulling back and pushing and pulling back. And this is basically what I teach the estheticians and skin care professionals that wanna become acne experts. 


0:04:42.6 MS: How are you helping estheticians in and out of the classroom?  


0:04:46.3 LC: Well, with our business, we're doing a lot. Not only do we have the training to teach people how to become acne specialists, but once they sign up with us, and they become acne specialists with us, then we have a lot of support for them. So we have a real close-knit community with our acne experts, and so we really like to stay in tune with what their needs are. And having said that, during the pandemic, when so many estheticians had to close down, we created over 50 training videos to help them transition their business and to help them support their clients remotely, we taught them how to do virtual consultations. And so... And to support that effort, we launched a drop-ship program which allowed acne experts to submit individual customer orders on their clients' behalf, which we fulfilled directly, which helped them a lot. So it really provided our estheticians an opportunity to continue their business while avoiding the overhead cost associated with carrying inventory, and they were able to stay in business. 


0:05:55.0 MS: Can you speak to establishing a niche market and establishing a business focus just on acne?  


0:06:01.4 LC: Well, when we started the acne-only clinic, like I said, it was a little intimidating to not be all things to all people, but I knew in my heart that there were so many people that were in such need that if they knew that there was someone who focused on acne, that they would be more inclined to come to an expert. If you have a problem with your skin, are you going to go to a specialist or are you going to go to somebody who is a jack of all trades? So now there's so much social media that the sole practitioner can really market herself in a big way. Also people who have problems are searching on the Internet, so what I've always told estheticians to do is just make sure that you have good search engine optimization so people can find you. Make sure that you get on all kinds of search engines like Yelp and have your clients write reviews for you on Google, on Yelp. 


0:07:01.8 LC: I know Yelp is a real double-edged sword, however, I still use it myself for searching for things that I need. Really following your passion and your passion to help people and getting the word out in the best way you know how. And if you're not good at marketing, I would say, delegate those tasks. Hire people to help you with your SEO. Hire people to help you with your social media advertising, because once the word is out, you'll be so busy that the next step you'll have to learn is how to hire employees to help you. So that was my experience, and luckily, I had a business partner that had a lot of experience in the business side, how to grow a business, so that's what helped me. I was good at... I was a good technician and knew what to do, but it was really great to have someone who helped me build the business. 


0:07:52.5 MS: What advice can you offer other professionals on how to progress in their careers?  


0:07:57.1 LC: Yeah, I would say really find that service that really speaks to you and makes you come alive and you wake up in the morning and you're excited about going to work and providing this service. What I would say for acne specialists, what I see on our Facebook group, is that someone who's just become certified and they have their first client may come on and they go, "Oh my gosh, I'm so nervous about seeing this first client." But what I'd like to say to them is, "Listen, you're gonna be going to give them... You're going to be giving them way more information than their doctor ever has. You're going to be giving them way more personal attention than their doctor ever has, and your protocol, even though if you don't do it perfectly, it's still going to work." So this is... When people are feeling nervous about it, I'd just remember, "You are the expert. You have really studied this and they are looking to you to guide them, so just take it step by step, use our new Acne Assist program that really helps you determine what their protocol is, use our social media to give you any support that you need, and just know that you don't have to be isolated by yourself in your treatment room trying to figure this out, we're all here for you." 


0:09:11.9 MS: Laura it has been a pleasure chatting with you today, and thank you for sharing your expertise with all of us. Before we close out, can you share where we can find you and learn more about everything you're doing?  


0:09:22.2 LC: Sure. We are at facerealityskincare.com and we have a really comprehensive website that has a lot of information on it. We are on all social media platforms. You can see us on Instagram and Facebook, and we're now even on TikTok, which I love, and on Instagram, we do have a few influencers that it's really fun to read their experience with us and see their before and after pictures. 


0:09:51.7 MS: Thank you so much for joining me, Laura, and thank you for everyone listening in. Have a great day and we'll talk to you next time. 




0:09:58.6 Speaker 1: 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 six skills, join at ascpskincare.com. Only 259 per year for all this goodness. ASCP knows, it's all about you.

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