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Spa Skin Care: Q&A with Renée Rouleau

Posted: February 5, 2008
Renee Rouleau

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Rouleau: I first entered the Texas market in 1996 when I opened in Dallas. After eight years, I relocated to Plano, a suburb just outside of Dallas. I am now opening up my second skin care spa [in] January 2008 in downtown Dallas. Like so many estheticians who enter this profession, the ability to improve someone’s skin, their appearance and their self-esteem is so rewarding. My grandmother was in the beauty business and owned her own beauty salon, so as a child, I was exposed to this. I saw firsthand what it was like being in a profession where you improve how people view themselves. She loved it, and I knew I would, too.

What have been the milestones thus far in your career?

Rouleau: Milestone #1: A business partner and I opened a skin care salon in Wellesley, Mass. in 1991 when I was just 21 years old. I was young, full of energy and enthusiasm and was completely fearless. Our business thrived, and even though I sold my half of the business to her in 1996 when I ventured out to Texas, she is still one of my dearest friends.
Milestone #2: Starting my life and my business over in 1996 when I moved to Dallas—I was longing to live in the South—yet, I did not know anyone when I arrived. Again, being young, enthusiastic and fearless.
Milestone #3: My AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel won the 2007 Allure magazine Best of Beauty award. I was there with some big companies, and it was such an honor to be recognized. There is still room for a small sized company like mine to compete in the marketplace. I know I have a unique concept and editors do love it. We’ve gotten great press.
Milestone #4: I’ve always said that I would never open a second location, but after almost 12 years, I’m going to take the plunge. The demand for our services—largely from celebrities who stay downtown when they are visiting—and the tremendous expansion going on in the city is bringing us downtown. It’s very exciting and will definitely accelerate our growth.

Who is your business role model?

Rouleau: I enjoy reading about other women in the beauty business and the successes they are having; Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier, Laura Gellar, Marcia Kilgore and Sally Herschberger. I’m ready to take my company to the next level, so I’m trying to figure out what the right growth strategy is for my company and I follow their stories for inspiration and incite.

What is the key to balancing your business life and personal life?

Rouleau: For me, I don’t have a lot of balance, but I do have joy. I love working on my business, it’s all that I want to do. So as long as I have happiness in how I spend my time, it works for me. But my husband and I do enjoy traveling and riding our motorcycles, when we make the time.

How do you relieve stress?

Rouleau: Exercise is the best stress reliever for me: a good five-mile run, and I’m cool as a cucumber.

How would you recommend your clients relieve stress at your spas?

Rouleau: We always let our clients know that it’s so important for them to take care of themselves. Many women will put everyone else’s needs before their own, so we like to encourage them to focus on themselves, too. Facials offer benefit both inside and out.

How do you believe the spa/beauty industry is changing, and what news or trends do you think will be important for professionals to pay attention to in 2008?

Rouleau: Having been in the industry for 20 years now, I’ve seen tremendous growth and change through the years. When I first started, facials were for rich women with a lot of time on their hands. Yet, dermatologists would say facials were a waste of time and washing with bar soap and water were just fine. Fast forward 20 years [and] facials are considered part of anti-aging and skin health management; dermatologists have embraced our industry and are now a part of it. In fact, we get many referrals from doctors and dermatologists who send their patients to us to maintain their results after cosmetic skin procedures. But with all of the awareness brings more competition, and you have to find your niche to make sure you stand out. I recommend being cautious about following the trends. Yes, you must be aware of the trends, but you must find your own way to be noticeable in the crowd. I’ve recently read a fabulous book called The Inside Advantage by Robert H. Bloom. It’s a must for anyone wanting to beat to their own drum.

What are projects on your roster now, and what are your future professional goals?