After working for others in her industry for many years, Svetlana Shnayder opened her own skincare studio 10 years ago… and has never looked back.
For providers of technical or professional services, starting a business can be intimidating. But, by drawing on her work experience and closely watching how other entrepreneurs ran their operations (including what they were doing wrong), Svetlana was able to make it work.
That’s not to say there weren’t any hiccups along the way. We talk about how she overcame the challenges she faced, what she considers to be the key elements to steady business growth, and more.
Tune in to find out…
- The strategy she used to transition from employee to manager
- The value of continuing education – and where she finds it
- Why she says she’s not a “boss”
- How she uses social media and live events to connect with mentors
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Jay Sparks: Hello, this is Jay Sparks, your host of Finding Unique Value, where I interview business leaders that have found unique value in their business or industry that others have not yet seen or explored. I’m really excited today to be joined by Lana Shnayder, who is Russian by birth and American by choice. She’s the owner of Superior Skin Care and Electrolysis and she’s got a very interesting background.
She’s certified in clinical oncology aesthetics and her skin care studio has won multiple awards several years in a row. And she’s found a way to combine her medical background along with an artist eye for beauty. And in doing this I think she’s created some value for her clients in a very unique way. So with that, please welcome to the podcast, Lana. It’s great to be speaking with someone as talented as you today.
Svetlana Shnayder: Thank you so much Mr. Sparks. My name is Svetlana Shnayder or “Lana” as most of my clients call me. I am the owner of the business and electrologist of my studio Superior Skin and Electrolysis in Wellesley. I have been in the country for 25 years. I am a registered electrologists and a licensed esthetician with more than 20 years of experience in the area of the] skincare industry.
I have worked for several dermatologist in the Wellesley area and extended my knowledge to something applying to different skins or conditions. About 10 years ago after a series of certain events in my life I actually had an opportunity to open my own studio, which I absolutely love right now. This was the best decisions that I’ve ever made and now I have a chance to create memorable experiences with positive results that bring more confidence and success to my clients.
Jay: That’s incredible. I have many, many questions about what you very casually just went over here. Many things you’ve done I think a lot of people would be thrilled to be able to accomplish and you’ve done all of them and sounds like you’re getting ready to do many more things. But, let me just start with starting a business, because sounds like you were someone who was in the kind in the business world.
You were a technician, you were very good at, at certain things in the dermatology field and somehow you figured that you could start your own business, which a lot of people think about, but very few people actually do cause it is very, very hard as you found out. Where did that idea come from? Did that idea come from when you were younger or did it just at some point in your medical career did you decide I want to be the owner and I want to decide how this business is run.
Why Svetlana Decided to Start Her Own Business
Svetlana: Yes, absolutely. Actually over the years that I’ve been here. I also was very comfortable working for somebody else and having all this experiences and learning from amazing people that were surrounding me. But, then as I said, the separate duties became, including some of the… well I am a cancer client. So it kind of worked out the way that I had to step up and take care of my health and then a separate duty that came from me to open my own business and I’ve decided that I’m going to go for it and it’s been ten successful years and many more to come and I absolutely love every single second of it.
Jay: Wow. Well because there’s two points in your life, actually a couple, but the two in particular, that you just went over that a lot of people struggle with and have a tough time moving forward on. So first of all, 25 years ago you came to the United States from a different country, which is very difficult, right?
And, you became a citizen but you also left the kind of the employment/employee world and became an owner, which is also a very, very difficult transition. You’ve done both of these. Was either one more challenging or did the first one to help you with the second one or is it all just the same to you? It’s just you just want to keep moving forward and getting better.
Svetlana: So all the experiences that I’ve learned from everybody, all the schooling that I’ve done, the dermatologist that I had the chance to work with, it was all a lot of learning experience. So when I decided to go on my own, it was absolutely life changing experience in the different way. Everything that I’ve learned from them. It was kind of one step at a time, definitely didn’t get all my clients overnight but never gave up and advice for that is just to not to give up and keep moving forward then. Kind of looking at the just picture of it.
Jay: Mm-hmm. So how did you, once you made the decision you were going to open up your own business, how did you learn how to structure the business, how to manage people because you have people that work with you, right? And you –
Svetlana: Yes I have.
Jay: – have business processes. Yeah. So that’s very different than being an employee.
Jay: So just because you’d be a good employee doesn’t mean you can manage people, so how did you learn that or are you a natural at that as something that you didn’t struggle with?
A Business Owner, but Not a Boss
Svetlana: Well, believe it or not, I’m actually, I always say I’m a hands on person, I’m not a boss. But, I always, I’ve never stopped learning up to this date. I follow very interesting, very important people in the industry. I always take courses. I always if there was a chance for me to fly out of, to go to different States with different workshops, I’ll do online webinars and different things like that.
I always learn and being a business owner, hands on business owner, I have so many things that I have to cover. So again, it’s always learning always and I do have people who helped me absolutely, I can not do it all by myself. But the best thing is to always invest into yourself and to keep learning. totally. Absolutely.
Jay: Well you said you get help. And again, I don’t know any successful person has done it by themselves. Right? Just some people are smart enough to take advice and some people aren’t. I know I’m not always smart enough to seek out help when I need it, but did you have any mentors that were particularly helpful or people that you could kind of go to over a period of time to help make sure you were doing the right thing or that you can run ideas by?
Svetlana: Of course. I have a few severely, let’s put it this way. Being an electrologist and being an esthetician, I have few different groups of people that kind of that we support each other. Being an electrologist, I do belong to an association. There are workshops, there are conventions that we go to, and I belong to a few groups that if we need to help each other, we always run ideas off each other and there are always some with questions, and I have my certain people that if I need help I can always text, I can always reach out.
The same with aesthetics. I do have two or three very, very important people in my life that I follow constantly. Like on Instagram, all the social media, social business events that if anything comes up, those are the people that give the sound advice and I continue learning from them. Absolutely.
Jay: Yeah. Who were the two people that you follow? Are they friends? Are they just people are in the industry or leaders in general?
Svetlana: and I think a lot of, well most of the aesthetic people should know their names. The first one is Lori Cree. She’s in California. The second one is Daniella Bubbert. She’s overseas right now. She’s in Washington DC., I believe. So when these people create their events, if I have a chance I go and I go, I see them live. I fly out of the States to go visit them. It’s so amazing.
Jay: So what is it about these two women that resonated with you? What are they both similar or are they have different approaches to what you’re doing.
Svetlana: They are both hands on estheticians, but they also help too. They’re also business coaches and they also explain because they know how we work in the room inside the room. They understand how the business works and they understand what we have to do to create the best environment for our appliance. So their set set of minds is very helpful to keep going and to kind of create the business that I want to create for my clients.
Jay: Sure. So based on what you learned from them and what you’ve learned yourself, what do you see as the kind of biggest mistakes that estheticians make when they’re either trying to start the business or as they’re running their business?
Svetlana: Not reaching out to others and to think that they have competition. We all bring the best of ourselves to other people. There is very… We all bring something unique and different that can help each individual clients. And I believe there are people, there is no competition. and the thing, I look at my other estheticians how I can learn from them or things I can avoid. Not to bring to my business. But there’s all this I look at as a learning experience.
Jay: Mm, interesting. Now do you do contact other estheticians and just to pick their brain or learn from them?
Svetlana: Absolutely. Absolutely. I also, luckily enough, I actually worked with my sister, her office is in Brighton and she is also an esthetician, shes she’s my rock. She does amazing job. So a lot of times we actually go to these events together. Well we ask each other questions, we support each other and we definitely have our community of girls that we can kind of reach out and ask questions.
Jay: That’s great. So what types of questions do your clients not ask that maybe they should just switching a little bit. So if somebody is really going to be able to fully take advantage of your services, are there any things that the people don’t do that they should or questions that they should ask but they, but they don’t?
Asking the Right Questions
Svetlana: So a lot of, well let’s do it a little differently. A lot of, sometimes when a new client comes in, they are asking how much is your fees? And a lot of times we actually tune this to a differently and we started to, a lot of our fees and a lot of our skin care is very customized because there is no two skins that are the same. They’re not two people that are the same. So we turn in a different position we ask them a lot of questions and then we customize everything. So what might work for you might not work for your friends or what clients, what your friend is using as far as the skin care might not be the same as what you’re going to be using.
Svetlana: So we never take two clients and treat them the same. It’s also very always a very customized approach to every single person that we do.
Jay: Okay. No that’s great to know. Because I think that your industry is like many others that everyone thinks they know. Well what to do and what works. So let me ask you this. It sounds like you have a very varied kind of customer base. What is your, do you have a typical customer or do you serve all sorts of male, female, young, old; or is there just a certain type of person that tends to really value what you do and how you do it?
Svetlana: Sure. Of course. So the different, in this case again, that I work for my total deference, I actually work, there’s two different types of clients. So I work with regular clients who for vary from young teenagers, they started getting, ones that appear at a certain age to any age stuff we take.
Svetlana: Also, I’m very proud to also work with a transgender community and once they feel comfortable they pretty much become friends because people… my two oldest clients spent a lot of years with and not, especially if they’re transgender clients and I get them ready from, there’s some facial work that’s being involved that they need to get ready for. There were some, I also get them ready for their different surgeries and they have to feel very confident and very comfortable with the person that they go to. It’s just very personal and a lot of them actually laugh because once we would get to know each other and once they’ve spent a lot of time with me, we talk a lot. Then I’m also almost like their therapist, so they’re like, they love that they don’t have to pay me double for the therapy session.
Jay: Yeah, yeah, yep.
Svetlana: They are amazing people, absolutely. Absolutely amazing! And I try to be part of the community. There are different events that I tried to go to, to support them as much as I can.
Jay: Yeah. Well that makes sense because if you’re taking a customized approach, anybody that has anything out of the ordinary is really going to be able to take advantage of that flexibility. Right?
Jay: The average person, it may not, they may not value it quite as much. Well that’s interesting. And how, I mean, you share with me before we started recording that you’re a cancer survivor and how has that changed your approach or is that something that you are able to draw on when you’re giving some of these therapies to people?
Svetlana: That was a very eye opening experience. Something that of course you never asked for to be sick, but it happened and everybody who knows me, they always, they know my personality. It happened, I took care of that. I moved on. I never allowed myself to be sad or just think that something isn’t going to work. I always kept moving and always kept working. And actually I did look through all of my treatments and now honestly, every day is a beautiful day, even if it’s a rainy day it’s still beautiful.
Svetlana: And of course, I mean that gave me chance to work to bring a different, a little bit of a different approach, to my oncology clients. I am a certified oncology esthetician. I think my experience just allows me to understand the depth of what the oncology clients is going through. So besides being an esthetician, I also volunteer for the Look Good Feel Better Program. So when I work with oncology patients, then I do understand very deeply and it’s really close to my heart what they’re going through.
And so hopefully some of these license that I’m allowed to give them, but there’s certain things I’m not allowed to talk about, certain with grants that we, I am able to tell from my personal experience and while their explaining what’s happening with them I unfortunately can understand what their going through. But again, both of my allow me to give them the best advice that I can.
Jay: No, that’s great. And, it’s interesting that you bring that up because all the very successful people that I’ve, they’ve studied, they’ve, all of them have had some sort of really major obstacle that they’d have to overcome. And what you went through in that case is a good example and you can either use that as a way to propel yourself forward or you can use that as a reason for you not moving forward.
And you chose to, as you said, look for the positive. Where do you think that came from for you? Because, everyone has the ability to do it. What you did, but not everyone is able to do it at that time. Cause it’s really difficult, dark time for many people and it’s hard to move forward. Is there anything in particular that was helpful to you or anything that you told yourself or somebody told you that was helpful?
Svetlana: Well, I want to think of myself that I have a positive person in general, but I also have the amazing support of my family and fans. Everybody was so helpful and so, and I just didn’t want to be that person because I was surrounded by greatness and they just want us to just so much more. And life goes on and there’s, we can see sun is shining today. That’s so beautiful.
Jay: Yeah. Yeah, no that’s great. I mean, it’s a great example for all of us, right? So, also it just shows why it’s so important to make sure you surround yourself with people that you love and that love you. Right-
Jay: Because you never know. Yeah-
Svetlana: I did do a little bit of the cleaning, let’s say, in my life. So I only allow positive people in my life right now. I don’t allow any negativity. I did have to clean out some of the friendships, but it’s what it is. And again, I have the best people to surround me right now.
Jay: No, that’s fantastic. So just switching topics a little bit. You are so many things: you’re a medical professional, you’re an esthetician, you’re a therapist. How do you organize your time and you are a business owner, right?
And so how do you organize your time to get everything done? Cause that’s one of the challenges for business owners is you always feel that you can never get to everything because everything is kind of on your shoulders, at least the responsibility. You don’t have to do everything, but your job is to make sure everything gets done. Are there any tips or tricks that you use to help you stay focused and organized and not, don’t let you feel overwhelmed on a regular basis?
How Lana Manages Organization and Time
Svetlana: For sure. I do have to say that as of right now, I do work six days a week. I know it’s a lot, but I absolutely love every single second of that. But what I’ve learned to do is still ask for help. As I said, I do have some amazing people that’s helped me to do kind of, to keep my website, and my social media running. And, also I invest in myself. I do allow myself to go on vacation. When I go, I really go and I enjoy myself. And of course making time to workout, making time to go outside too. Being healthy makes a huge difference. And keeping your mind healthy makes your day go so much smoother.
Jay: No that’s also another the common theme kind of is investing in yourself. Like you said, you know you follow some people, listen to what they say, which you go to their events and you seek out other people even the annual quote unquote “competition” right?
Jay: Because there’s things you can learn which is interesting, right? Not everyone-
Jay: Not everyone does that. Besides the positive attitude which is one of your most valuable assets. Is there anything else you think that has helped you be successful at building a business when so many others struggle? Because probably depending on what numbers you look at, 80 or 90% of the businesses that started when you started are no longer in business. But, you’re still there and you’re growing and you, will grow as much as you want. What do you think separates you Lana?
Positive Affirmations and Law of Attraction
Svetlana: Well, I do believe in law of attraction, that’s for sure. So never giving up and always on being positive and working daily on what your goals are, surrounding yourself with positive, uplifting people. That’s huge for me. People who help you grow for sure. And again, investing in yourself and you know, there are daily things that you can do just to kind of keep your day going, making it brighter and smoother and you’ll wake up the next day.
And I’m always, when I come to my office, honestly, the first thing I do and the last thing I do, I am always thankful to my studio and my clients, to people who surround me when I leave my work. I think the room for the whole day that I’ve had and I’m looking forward to the next day it brings me.
Jay: Wow. That was really beautiful. That sounds a lot like some of the Hindu and Buddhist practices, right? That we’re just now starting to be aware of and in this country. Certainly gratitude is, I think is playing a bigger part in people’s lives because you can’t be grateful and depressed at the same time right? It’s not possible-
Jay: – to have those two thoughts in your head. That’s very smart.
Jay: Because I bet when you see some of your clients walk in the door, they’re probably not feeling good right?
Svetlana: There are days some days of course then I try to in a lot of times I know I’m not at all and there’s new leaders, but when you work so close with people, you almost start to notice saying how they what they look like and how they act, when they walked in and especially doing the facial. So I’ll wait. You know, there’s certain things that I cannot, but if I feel that there is another day, I definitely try keep to a minimum more. If they’re chatty then I chat, if they want to stay quiet, then I do my best to make them as comfortable as possible and that they can.
Jay: Mm-hmm. No, it’s incredible. Well I can see just based on your attitude and approach why anyone that walks in the door is very happy when they leave right? Because you obviously provide the service, but you also provide many other things that are maybe even more important in some ways to some people that you’re serving. Because not only is your attitude important but it’s contagious, right? We know now that these things travel through space, and you can impact the people around you. That’s great.That is really great.
Svetlana: Positive touch is very important. People forget sometimes how important it is to even simply give somebody a hug.
Svetlana: You know, just wish a happy, happy day and just kind of smile to people. It’s definitely contagious.
Jay: No, that’s great. Well, I’m sure that the next person that walks in the door is going to be a going to be very happy given all the work that you’ve put into this, and I’m sure that you’re training the people that you work with too to do the same thing since you’re surrounding yourself with like minded people. That’s great. Well, it sounds like some of the things that you’re really focused on is the perseverance and not giving up and I like the idea of fact you don’t have any competition because ultimately what you’re selling is yourself –
Jay: – and there’s only one you which is I think a wonderful way. So you’re not trying to take, you’re just trying to be yourself. And I think that obviously must come across, which is why you have all those awards. I think that’s –
Svetlana: Well we definitely do the best that we can. Yes.
Jay: Yeah. You must be very proud of that. And then we’re looking for the positive and investing in yourself and being grateful, all those things keep you in the right frame of mind to offer an excellent service. And of course, this is on top of the fact that I’m sure technically everything you’re doing is exactly what it should be. But all these other things are really what separates you and the amazing thing Lana is that all these other things you mentioned, they’re all completely controllable by you, right?
Jay: It’s not something that you have that nobody else has. So you’re also a great example for us for what we know what works. When somebody listens to this and they say, wow, I would like to, I would like to learn more, or maybe they’d like to make an appointment, what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you Lana?
Svetlana: Oh, thank you. We would love to absolutely see as many clients that as we can help. Our website is www.superiorskin.net. The phone number is six one seven nine one three two three seven three. We do have Facebook in the social media, that runs under the same business name Superior Skin Care-
Svetlana: And again, we would love to see anybody and everybody who needs their help.
Jay: Oh, that’s terrific and thank you again for taking the time to share your story and what you do Lana. It was fascinating, and I’m sure many more people will want to take advantage of what you and your colleagues offer and thank you everyone else for listening.
Svetlana: Thank you so much for having me.
Jay: You’re welcome and thank you to everyone else for listening to Finding Unique Value and we look forward to sharing our next guest with you soon. Bye for now.