Vanities Spa is the culmination of my life's work. Beginning with my experiences of selling skin care products in junior high school; on to my BIG adventure in L.A. in the 1980's, and then returning to my home of Lexington, KY and creating Vanities in 1991.
I think I have always been in this industry. We have photos of me as a three-year-old putting my hair up in rollers!
My first inspiration came from my Mother. As a child, watching her morning and evening beauty routines, I developed my fascination with the smells, textures and lusciousness of this wonderful world of skin care. Now, many years later, I can see proof of her commitment: she's looking younger every year!
In 1982, during my senior year of high school, I began Cosmetology College (mornings in high school; afternoons at cosmetology - thanks Ms. Gabbard). I earned my Apprentice License, then worked in a hair salon (Command Performance on Richmond Road - for those who remember), for six months until I could take my final exam. During this time I taught makeup and hair at Lexington's Vogue School of Modeling. Previous to that I had been a student at Louisville's Barbizon School of Modeling. Where at an age when the students didn't even have a driver's license, we were painted up like floozies and would walk (clip-clop) through the mall in our short skirts and high heels to eat lunch --- if we could get the food past our intense RED lipstick! (What a funny memory. What stories to tell!)
On February 14, 1984, I was granted a Masters License in Cosmetology and was ready to roll ... literally.
By the end of February 1984, I was on the road to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of becoming a Hollywood Make-up Artist. L.A. was an exotic blend of fun and excitement; extraordinary learning opportunities; and some tough lessons; that when combined together, created one of the most magical experiences of my life. I was SO fortunate to work with and learn from some of the legends in our field - PLUS many celebrities! Interested in a little name dropping? I worked with Tina Cassaday of Beverly Hills, and we drove her Porsche to Malibu to work on Michael Landon in one of his homes! Janet Leigh would come into the salon as would Michael's wife. In other salons, I worked on British comedienne Tracey Ullman, 80's Punk Goddess Dale Bozzio (the Original Lady Gaga!), and actress Katey Sagal from Married with Children. I took professional makeup classes from Victoria Jackson before she launched her mega-successful infomercial. Learned how to do the perfect eyebrow from Michael Westmore - from the legendary film makeup family. Nearly got to work on a movie, but it was shelved before we started filming (bummer.) Did makeup for some Playboy wanna-bees. Met many rock stars and generally had A LOT of FUN being a California Girl for a while.
After nearly five years of my exquisite dream time in Los Angeles, it was time to return home to my family.
It's 1989 and I'm back in Lexington. After a brief stint working as a temp in an Accounting Practice (no laughing, please!), I ran into my first salon boss. While I was in L.A., she had opened her own salon in Lexington (Connie & Co.). We saw each other one evening around Christmas and she asked if I would like to get back into the salon business. I said, "Yes". For about a year I worked out of a treatment room in her salon until one day a client asked, "How would you like to have your own business"? I answered, "I've wanted my own business for the past 26 years"! This was the beginning of Vanities, Inc. After finding the Hartland location that was just being developed, I was able to design and build my true dream. On October 10, 1991, I took my first customer - it was my Mom, but isn't that fitting? My second customer was my Granny! But, yes, I was up and running - and seeing non-family members as clients, too!
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I have been professionally licensed and working in salons since the age of seventeen! Over the course of my career, I don't think there is much I have not done: hair, nails, skin, massage, you name it. I've even been one of those promo girls you see in the mall. My product was the "Epilady" - remember that? It HURT! And I'd be frank with the consumer even then ... "Yes, this does hurt." Can't recall selling one, though!
I have taught make-up and hair. I've done photography makeup. I've done television makeup for KET, and wedding makeup for the wife of one of our Governors. I've gotten on stage at an Expo to promote Vanities - microphone and all! I've been on television twice - once taped and once LIVE (gulp!). I've either sold, researched, or used practically every type of skin care line imaginable. I've been to all the great trade shows and am Internationally Educated. Studied La Stone Therapy in Chicago and was taught by the founder herself, Mary Nelson. That was an unexpected treat! Took a three-day intensive on Thai Massage Therapy taught by Michael Buck of Florida. He's an interesting chap - sort of a Rock God Guru. He told stories of being in an Ashram in India with The Beatles' George Harrison! Traveled to Asheville, NC for a Yoga weekend ... how we as therapists can stay moving well throughout our career. Met and was trained by the founder of the International Dermal Institute, someone who I have the highest respect for and who became my mentor. I once drove ELEVEN-HOURS (each way) to take a three-day course at the IDI. My educational pursuits have taken be back to Los Angeles, to Chicago, Florida, and D.C. ~ with more exciting opportunities looming in the near future!
I feel like I know this industry inside and out. It's fascinating to be sure. And it just continues to evolve. Some evolutions I'm not so thrilled with like Botox and the medical community trying to muscle their way into our space, and EVERYONE (actress, sales clerk, doctor, even your neighbor - and the INTERNET) selling skin care products now --- "GET OUT OF MY SANDBOX!". (Please take your advice from someone who is TRAINED in the subject and who has spend years testing and researching it.) But other advances are just mind-boggling. We - the professionally licensed Estheticians - are now talking STEM CELL research in topical skin care products!
Simply amazing that we've come so far. GONE are the days of "cold cream" ... long gone!
As I approach my 20th year at Vanities in Hartland [October 10, 2011], I reflect on what an amazing blessing this has been. I have met some of the greatest people in the world - people with whom I would never have had the opportunity to get to know had I chosen a different career path, and have made relationships that I will value forever.
July 20, 2012 ... and now for a little bit more ... I'm MOVING! I'm sure I will write more about this, but today is my last day seeing clients at my original (built from the gravel up) Hartland location! It's a BIG DEAL, and I know this large step is the right one. But I am feeling what must be the same nausea as someone giving birth. But my baby has a door and windows. ;D On to something NEW! I'm getting EXCITED!!!!
Thank you very much for allowing me to take you on this little journey of mine.