While Spa Space was still under construction, I met Indira during an interview where she sought to become an esthetician for the soon-to-launch business. She had only recently graduated from esthetics school, her English was shaky, and she was incredibly nervous and skeptical about her chances of landing the job. She wasn’t technically qualified for the position, as I was seeking only experienced professionals to help the young business launch. However, Indira came to the interview armed with an incredible history and some prophetic documents that would shape her future.
Indira arrived in Chicago by way of Bosnia, where she and her family were forced to flee during wartime. She and her husband had hoped that they could raise their newborn son in their familiar and comfortable home, but the climate of the time would not allow it – basic necessities such as jobs, food, and personal security were rapidly disappearing in Bosnia – and they were forced to sell all of their belongings to pay an untrusted individual to drive them to the border so they could make their way to Austria. Her small family’s life was at risk, but it felt safer to go than to stay.
Because they would have to make much of the trek to safety on foot, Indira could bring only her passport. As she and her husband would be traveling with an infant, she convinced him that they should bring some cloth diapers as well. Despite the fact that she had to walk away from everything she owned in the world, she tucked into her small diaper pouch something that most would find strange — an article that she had torn from a magazine about the anti-aging benefits of microdermabrasion and enzyme treatments. To this day, she doesn’t know what prompted her to do that, perhaps some feeling that it was somehow connected to her future, which was so deeply uncertain at that juncture.
Her small family’s journey included a very long trek through woods and across unmanned borders into Austria and eventually Germany, where she took work cleaning a home for a family she came to adore. However, she would not be allowed to stay in Germany for long, and returning to Bosnia was not an option. The German woman for whom she worked told her about a program for Bosnian refugees in the U.S., and although Indira had never dreamed that her journey would take her overseas to America, they quickly decided that this was their best option. They did not speak English, and had no sense of what life would be like in America. But they were determined, and Indira started to think about how she would make a living in this unfamiliar country.
Upon coming to Chicago, Indira decided to try to become an esthetician, as she always had an interest in skincare. However, in order to be able to participate in the classroom and take the necessary tests to get a license, she had to be proficient in English. She spent 18 months, 5 hours a day in language classes before she was able to enroll. When she graduated, she was bestowed with a rare letter from the director of the esthetics school, who implored prospective employers to give this extraordinary new graduate a chance, assuring anyone who did that they would be getting the most dedicated student she had ever seen.
At the interview, Indira presented this letter to me, along with the extremely worn-edged skincare article that she had kept with her throughout the entirely of her journey. While she was undeniably nervous and a still a relative novice with English, she radiated warmth, passion for her field, and a desire to work and succeed that was palpable. I took a leap of faith and hired on the spot, and while she hugged me in excitement and gratitude, I knew that the good fortune really belonged to Spa Space in finding this amazing woman.
In the early days of Spa Space, business was not exactly booming. It didn’t help that shortly after its launch, the events of 9/11 unfolded. During these slow times, much of the staff of Spa Space would work “on call’ — go off and do other things while waiting for a call to come in for a client. Not Indira. She was determined to be immediately present and available for any client who walked through the doors. There was a lot of downtime. Sometimes she would be there all day, and perform only a single brow wax. But Indira never once complained — she remained entirely optimistic and used the downtime to study and learn about advanced skincare techniques and products. She could always be found in her treatment room with an open textbook or skincare magazine.
Her devotion paid off. After nearly 15 years at Spa Space, Indira’s appointment book is full with requests from loyal clients (some who have been coming to her since the very beginning), who adore her as a human being as much as they are addicted to her corrective facials and expert waxing. Indira is the epitome of a successful esthetician, and she is now (along with her husband and son) a full-fledged U.S. citizen. Her son is grown and accomplished young man, and she and her husband have a full life centered around family and work. They are truly the best of the American dream.
Indira, thank you for being such an important part of helping shape Spa Space into the business it has become — your contributions, amazing spirit, hard work and dedication mean everything to me and everyone you touch at Spa Space!
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Q & A with Indira:
Q: What is your personal skincare regimen?
A: In the mornings I cleanse with Simply Clean by SkinCeuticals. Then I apply
two different serums: peptides based firming concentrate by Kiehl’s and
vitamin C antioxidant gel, Phloretin, by SkinCeuticals. I finish with SPF
20 by SkinCeuticals. At night, I use the Clarasonic brush with Simply Clean cleanser. Then at alternate nights, I use Retinol and Emoliance
moisturizer both by SkinCeuticals, and peptides based serum by Kiehl’s and
A.G.E. interrupter cream. Around my eyes I use A.G.E. complex by
SkinCeuticals. Every month, I get microdermabrasion or glycolic acid facial. Sometimes
it’s even a combination of both: micro and then peel.
Q: What could most people do differently in their skincare regimen that would
produce the most benefit/results?
A: Including a high-caliber sunblock into your everyday skin care regimen would
produce the most benefits/results. It is much easier to prevent sun damage
than to correct it. Remember that in our 20’s we have skin that we are born
with but in our 50’s we have skin we deserve.
Q: You started off as a new esthie at Spa Space. In what way have you evolved
as an esthetician over the years?
A: After almost 15 years of experience as an esthetician at Spa
Space, I can say that I have built my professional confidence very well.
That is something that clients can feel. They can rest assured knowing that
I know what I’m doing and talking about.
Q: What is something really important that you’ve learned about yourself in
your years at Spa Space?
A: In my years at Spa Space, I have learned how important it is to
have a dream and chase it. I gained interest in this field at an early age
as I was dealing with skin issues myself. I finally fulfilled my dream of
becoming an esthetician shortly after coming to America. I love what I do
for a living and it does not even feel as work to me. I enjoy the social
aspect of this profession; interacting with different clients on an
everyday basis feels like a social life to me as well.
Q: Something funny that has happened at work?
A: I can clearly remember a funny situation that occurred when I
started working at Spa Space. At that time my English was not as good as it
is today and I was pretty nervous giving a facial to one of our very first
clients. While I was analyzing the client’s skin, I kept complimenting his
flawless complexion. I told him that I would describe his skin type as
being “normal”. Then I asked: Do you agree that you are normal? He took off
his eye pads, looked at me and laughingly said: “I hope so!”