We had the good fortune of connecting with Corinne Ambrose and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Corinne, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’d describe it as a slow simmering of ideas over a 3-4 year period of time that was ignited by having kids and wanting to create something that 1) might give me more flexibility with my schedule 2) could give me a paycheck without having to work for someone else, and 3) could be sold at some point making it worth any time, effort, and money I invested. I thought of starting a bi-lingual day care (too much liability), a K-8 bi-lingual charter school (too much red-tape), buying a kids hair-cut franchise (too limiting), starting a fitness studio (wasn’t passionate enough). During this time I had an appointment with a Medi-spa that was such a great experience I thought that was the niche for me, so I found an Eshtetics school and got a license and began to put some effort into how I’d approach beginning this kind of business.
During this time I remembered what a difficult time I had as a teenager with acne and wondered if there were any other ways to address acne without prescriptions, and found a few key professionals and businesses that have found great success in helping clients with acne…and it took off from there. I guess the “thought process” was initially wanting to create “something” and yet was open to figure out what that something was. Once I found what I was looking for, my thought process became more focused on how to create a business that could be bigger than myself. I then began to think through the name of the business and the visual branding with the intent to communicate to men and women of all ages that my business is gender and age neutral, clinical, professional, accessible, and totally specialized. Then I got busy writing a business plan, perusing the marketing section of bookstores to get ideas for branding…then stumbled upon the right place at the right time, then said to myself “now or never”.
The culmination of all these thoughts and plans was a grand opening in Sept 2012 with just me, myself, and I. Two years later I was blessed with an Office Manager. In 2015 I was blessed with an amazing Esthetician, then another in 2019. Today in 2020 we are four estheticians and an Office Manger with two locations, Lafayette and Cherry Creek with plans to grow toward Ft. Collins, Lakewood, and Omaha NE!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We specialize in acne. What that really means is that we specialize in strategic skincare that gets results. Clients with acne want clear skin and often look for help when they feel that “nothing has worked”. We specialize in the education, advice, and skincare that gives our clients the confidence that clear skin brings, and the confidence to know how to keep their skin clear.
We specialize in the strategy of skincare: using the proper products for the unique client’s needs, and guiding the client through how to use the products and treatments in the optimal ways to get optimal results. Our niche are clients/families who are aware that the Medical Model (antibiotics, diuretics, Acutane, and/or harsh topical skincare) ins’t a healthy approach (and is rarely successful) and they want better alternatives. We help clients/families understand the obstacles with acne that must be addressed to be successful and explain how we work with our clients over time to give them all the tools (knowledge, skincare products, treatments, skincare schedules, etc) to get clear skin without prescriptions.
We set ourselves apart as a niche where people are able find us easily by our name and our reputation. We are beginning to branch out into locations that make it easier to work with us but we have always provided support remotely through email, phone calls, and video conferencing so that we can work with clients nationwide and world wide (we have a small group of clients that have moved internationally and we still work with them to get the results they want).
Starting a business is never easy, but I had great resources with the Denver SBDC where I took classes on writing a Business Plan, met with counselors regularly to answer topical questions of the day (bookkeeping, pricing, marketing, branding, budgeting, etc). I also took a year-long class through the SBDC on how to grow your business based on the concepts of The Rockefeller Habits, then worked with a few financial specialists from the SBDC who helped me secure a loan with a private bank and the SBA to purchase our building. Today I am part of EOA (Entrepreneur’s Organization Accelerators) which is a support group of small businesses that focuses on education and accountability to grow and thrive in the market of the day, and today’s market is certainly even more challenging! Owning a business requires many hats, many of which we reluctantly wear but are necessary and essential. Knowing what resources are available and utilizing those resources was-and-is necessary & essential for me to be able to keep all the pieces together so that I can do what I really love, working with clients directly.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would like to think I’m an “off the beaten path” kind-of-friend and do, myself, prefer finding more quirky places and venues to enjoy and to share. Here in Lafayette there are a few great coffee destinations (Simpson Coffee, Stam, Otis), breakfast (Deli-Cious Z’s, Tangerine), lunch (Eats-n-Sweets, Reel Fish, Taco Wagon), and dinner destinations (The Post, Community, Ras Kassas, Teocalli, William Oliver’s) as well as great shopping (Vintry Honest Goods, Thalken, Just Dandy, Embelishments) and Drinks (Odd 13, On Point Distillery, Romero’s – doggies and beer!)…there’s more than a few days worth of things to do in my own back yard!
Further from home there are some pretty easy-to-access views of the front range going up to Chautauqua near Boulder or even the Westminster Dog Park which is a big space with great views of the mountains and some doggies to play with along the way. Keeping on the theme of animals there is The Denver Cat Company, a cat-themed cafe that serves coffee & pasteries, with adoptable felines lounging around! The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keensburg is really special as well. This organization is a wildlife refuge for lions, tigers, bears, and wolves. Going further I would always try to choose destinations that could prove to be a fun road trip, a small(er) town, and could end with hot-springs (Wiesbaden hot Springs in Ouray is on my list of places I’d like to go)!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The initial Shout Out goes to Laura Cooksey, the Founder of Face Reality Skincare in California. She had written an article for Skin Deep (an industry publication) about acne and I contacted her to ask if she could point me in the right directions to gain even a fraction of her knowledge and skills. She had already designed her business to not only work with clients directly but also to be an educator for our industry. I was able to purchase her training videos and materials to get me started, and was able to work directly with her via phone and email which gave me an enormous foundation to build from. Laura created an incredible business model that generously shared what she had learned and encouraged estheticians to specialize in acne. To date, I don’t know of many companies in any industry to share their proprietary knowledge as generously as Face Reality does.
Along the way, Katt Leverette from Clinically Clear Skin Rehab Center was more instrumental than she would ever know, but she dropped everything and called me one afternoon and talked with me for over an hour answering questions I had about acne and getting better results with various products. Both of these ladies had spent time with Dr. Fulton who wrote the book Acne Rx and founded Vivant Skincare in FL. His book and his insights into acne offered truly foundational knowledge, written to educate the end user (the client) to be able to have incredible success without prescriptions.
Then I must give Carolyn Nalezney (my first Office Manager) and Angel Loukonen (my first Esthetician) an enormous shout out, because without them I might have quit from exhaustion. They both believed in the value of the work we could do and shared in the vision that we can do more! Now I have to include Erica Jenkins (our new Office Manager) and Meghan Barajas (our newest Esthetician) who both add a passion for the work they do helping to make The Acne Lab a Brand, not just a small business!
1) logo, 2) Corinne Ambrose, Founder & Esthetician 3) Lafayette building 4) Angel Loukonen, Esthetician, 5) Erica Jenkins, Office Manager 6) Meghan Barajas, Esthetician