Lucie Missak is a Skin Care Specialist and BeautyTherapy Educator based in Perth, Australia. Born in the Seychelles, Lucie has been involved with the founding of the Indian Ocean Spas Association and has worked as an international examiner for the Perth College of Beauty Therapy. Not only does Lucie runs her own Beauty and wellness centre in Australia, but she has contributed actively in setting up world-class day spas, skin care centres, and beauty therapy training institutes in different countries. Lucie is a certified ITEC (International Therapy Examination Council) International Tutor. In Perth, she has trained many of the top beauty therapists. Cosmocreole wanted to know more about the woman behind Sanctuary Beauty and Wellness and Lucie was more than happy to take time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I left Seychelles for what I thought would be for good in 2002 to start a new life in Perth after my marriage broke down. It was a very difficult time and I needed a fresh start, and Perth seem like the ideal place because from what I understood, it would be easier for me as a single mum to start up and get around as it was not such a busy city like Melbourne where I first lived in 1989. At that time I had a teenage daughter and an 18 months old son.
Moving away from home is tough, what kind of support did you get? One of the deciding factor was that my son’s baby sitter at the time, who was from Seychelles was studying in Perth. My son adored her, would choose her over me anytime and it was a blessing that she was in Perth. She quickly took over and helped me tremendously with babysitting, and offered her home to my daughter to go to after school to rest until I was ready to pick her up. I started off doing different jobs in health insurance underwriting, refreshing and furthering my studies in beauty and skincare. Between work and studying, I was very busy and without her, I think things would have been much harder so I was so grateful for her help.
Walk us through your career journey—did you always know you wanted to work in the beauty industry? I think my sisters would love what I am about to say! Yes, I was always intrigued by skin and acne or pimples and never believed they should be on any skin. My family was middle class with a very tight budget but my siblings and I would get pocket money each week for lunch and snacks but I never spent mine. Instead, I used it to bribe my two younger brothers so they would let me fix their skin, I was probably about 12 then. When we got home from school I would extract any blackheads and pimples or just massage their skin. I would do without my morning snack just for that pleasure of doing their skin after school.
My older sister however had a different experience, to this day she has a damaged nail from me digging too deep into it while cleaning her nails, I was 10 and didn’t know any better. I could not stand imperfect nails so I would use whatever was at my disposal to fix her nails. Unfortunately, I disturbed her nail bed and she never got her perfect nail I promised her. Now, whenever I visit home, I try to bring my nail implements and products to make it up to her and fix her nails for a few weeks. I definitely know better now!
What made you decide to start your business? Honestly, I never intended to start a business again after I left Seychelles in 2002. I wanted to give my children more of me, something my 15-year-old daughter had missed out on her whole life due to me working and having a business at the same time. So when I moved to Perth, I wanted to study further so I could work and earn enough, then go home and be with my children.
However, I returned to Seychelles in August 2005 after leaving my teaching job at the Perth College of Beauty Therapy, I wanted to keep teaching but there was no beauty school in Seychelles. I was then contacted by a friend to see if I was interested in partnering with her in a holistic beauty business. It was a great opportunity to set up my clinic with a teaching room in there. I set up and launched the Beauty Academy in Seychelles in January 2006. I was teaching three days and running the clinic three days a week. It was an amazing concept where students had the opportunity of gaining real-life experience doing their workplace attachment working on clients at the clinic.
After the first year, my business partner decided to move on from the beauty school and set her holistic and Raiki business so I bought her out from the Academy. The demand was quickly growing for our graduates, and more businesses and individuals were enrolling in our courses. We started accommodating students from Mauritius and South Africa. In 2008 when the great recession happened, and with the Seychelles still at the peak of the foreign currency crisis, I decided to move back to Perth and set up my current beauty and wellness centre.
What challenges would you say you had to start a beauty business? In Seychelles, I would say bureaucracy was a big challenge—the foreign exchange shortage and the devaluation of the local currency made it very difficult to bring in materials and products in the country. It was a near-impossible task to operate a business under these circumstances and still make a profit. I started finding myself in debt that was building up such as rent arrears and students were also struggling to pay their fees, so there were a lot of contributing factors for my Seychelles business having to close its door.
Back in Perth, the great recession saw the collapse of many businesses, less work, harder employment conditions and property prices collapsing. The timing was really bad for me as I was also going through a divorce settlement. So timing was totally against me and the first year of business was very hard financially. I kept at it and things were to turn around the following year. I had a lot of people who believed in me and saw far beyond what I was seeing then. They pushed and supported me and in 2010 my business started to take a remarkable turn for what was to become a great success. The challenges were huge but I was never on my own.
Walk us through a typical day running your business? My working days typically begin at 8 am and most days I leave work past 8 pm. Sometimes a 12 hours working day! A typical day involves briefing staff on what we must do, ensure all resources are available in the treatment rooms and equipment ready as we offer a variety of services. I do face to face consultation with clients as well as answering phone queries. Typically from around 6 pm, I would be doing skype or virtual consultations with across the world, from Seychelles, to South Africa to Germany. Then there is the writing of prescriptions, progress notes and follow-ups on previous days invasive procedures. Sometimes I may be in bed and a customer is feeling hot and stingy from their treatment and will message me, and I’ll message back them for reassurance and support. For me, work is until I switch my phone off.
What is the most important advice you will give a woman about her beauty regime? It must begin with a good skin care routine. Unlike makeup, healthy skin does not wash off. Your actions of today will be the consequences of tomorrow and this is true of your skincare. It is much easier to keep your skin healthy than to neglect it and try to fix the damages of ageing later. The good news is most skin issues can be reversed. The irreversible conditions can at least be slowed down by a good beauty regime.
Beauty and skincare is a lifestyle and a commitment. Think of your skin as a grape. A healthy grape, nourish and hydrated, you need products that hydrates your skin. A grape that is dehydrated and not cared for becomes a raisin— dull, multitoned, wrinkled! The only way to be happy in your own skin is to understand your functional skincare formulations, what they do and whether they are right for you. Protect your skin from daily aggressors such as UV from the Sun, HEVs( Blue Light and High Energy Visible Light) from devices such as mobile phones, I pads, computers, by wearing your SPF and HEV protection every day. Take your beauty supplements. It helps you stay fresher, your hair, skin and nails love collagen, and rebuild from collagen supplements. Essential fatty acids help strengthen cell membranes, therefore it should also form part of your beauty supplements.
What are your favourite products to use? I have too many but if I was to pick a few for myself, it has to be Mesoestetic DNA Intensive day moisturiser, my HA Densamatrix and AOX Ferulic Serums. Eytone from DMK and Collagen 360 Eye Contour from Mesoestetic are also my personal favourites. For my hands and nails, my polish is from Gloss and Co, I can give myself a manicure in 15 minutes, it is fast and it lasts! It comes off with normal remover, all very fast. As for my hair, I love the hair growth Serum from Mesoestetic. And finally, for my lips it is the Mutiny lip balm from Medik8, however for winter, the DMK Seba E is my go-to.
How do you think social media has changed the world of beauty? I cannot even imagine that when I started in the beauty industry social media or online purchase did not exist. Now you can find anything at the click of a button and it gives women choices the fact that you can get reviews on products and services. I think social media has completely turned the world of beauty around for the best. A lot of our businesses are from social media recommendations.
Do you have any advice for aspiring beauty entrepreneurs on how to break into the industry or start their own business? Speaking from an educator’s point of view, be yourself. Walk the walk and talk the talk, so appropriate for our Industry. Ongoing education is vital. Things change exponentially in our Industry so dedicate time to learn and stay on top. You should always be willing to learn and grow with your business. Appreciate yourself and be happy that you even have the ability to recognise what you want. Planning and reflection are two of the most vital disciplines to ensure you are undertaking tasks you need to for a successful outcome. My team always work on a treatment plan. We call it our 369 plan. It is a guide and plan that keeps us in check to see where we are at after or expect to be in 3, 6 and 9 months. Take every challenge as a gift to learn.
Embrace competition as it forces you to forge forward to stay on top. I believe in collaboration and that your competitors are not enemies. It is ok to learn from others, take their ideas and make them better. Ask for help and reach out to others. I am happier helping anyone who wants to grow and build their career. It is what I do and love.
One other important lesson I have learnt is that nothing is worth saving more than your name. Your name will go with you everywhere until the day you die so be willing to make sacrifice sometimes because a
good reputation is invaluable in all aspects of life, but more so in the business world. Life has become busy and everyone is time-poor, clients want two hours reduced to 20 minutes so be proactive and learn new ways of doing things. Women especially want the latest always! And so we should.
Finally, value your staff. I always make sure that all my staff are happy and that I address their needs and concerns. It is most important that staff feel safe at work. One of the things that clients always say is that we are a happy team. My staff are like family, we greet each other with a hug in the morning and we hug goodbye before going home. They treat and respect the business like their own.
Finally, Beauty is? Beauty is from within, and no beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart: every size, every colour and every race.