Beauty Mark: Johnstown spa owner stands out in skin care industry
JOHNSTOWN – For SW Skin Care & Cosmetics founder Sherry Wieszchowski, beauty isn’t only skin deep. For Wieszchowski, beauty is her business – and passion – and the true glamor is a client’s smile after gaining confidence from a resolved skin problem.
At her spa and skin care center in the Briggs Street Plaza, the education component of skin care and the tranquility of a spa visit converge as she carries out her business philosophy of “providing better skin care through education and understanding.”
Wieszchowski’s spa is more of a medi spa experience where a facial’s benefits aren’t limited to stress relief, but rather used to customize and teach a skin care regiment for the client. She offers facials to rid skin of dead cell build up, help with acne problems, stimulate collagen production and more.
There’s the European de-stressing facial, and the ultimate facial that includes microdermabrasion and ultrasonic serum infusion and a signature eye treatment.
An array of chemical peels to fight aging, acne and other problems are also available along with nail services, massage therapy, make-up artistry, hair removal and other services at the day spa.
“It’s about changing people’s lives through building confidence. I want them to walk away feeling so good about themselves,” Wieszchowski said.
All that, and she also carries her own line of skin care and cosmetics products. Immediately through the doors of the spa, which has several massage, facial and nail rooms, the light blue walls, sound of indoor water fountains, smell of freshly brewed tea and candles, and relaxing spa music combine to create what Wieszchowski called a “getaway in Johnstown” with an ocean theme.
“We wanted a place where people could come and immediately feel like they belong here,” Wieszchowski said.
Wieszchowski’s business was awarded the Thomas B. Constantino Entrepreneurial Award earlier this year by the Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce at its awards banquet.
The business is entering its third year and since starting in 2010 has grown significantly. Wieszchowski and her husband, Mike, a transportation engineer by trade, co-own the business, which incorporated in May 2011.
First Wieszchowski rented rooms at other local beauty businesses, then she decided to open her own space in the plaza in June 2011, recently signing a lease agreement for five years.
The clientele kept growing, and quickly the best rate at which to expand became a business question for the husband and wife team who split the business 51 percent owned by Sherry, the president, and 49 percent owned by Mike.
For Sherry, Mike was the key ingredient in making her dream a reality. The couple operates as a team with Sherry running day-to-day operations and Mike takes on inventory duties, financial and marketing.
The couple funded their business venture themselves.
“Before we were really in this, she was working at a staffing agency,” Mike said. “She was going to work and doing well, but the only time she really had a sparkle in her eyes was when she was helping people in skin care and cosmetics. Right now it’s amazing to see what she can do and how she feels. It’s just a really good feeling.”
Over the next year Wieszchowski would add more rooms and hire 3 payroll employees – Barbara Bovee, a licensed esthetician and nail technician, Angela Kewley, a licensed massage therapist and the newest hire, Jamie Page, a licensed massage therapist.
Licensed Nail Technician Deb Ellsworth rents space in the spa, as does Linda Papa, a certified technician in permanent cosmetics such as eyebrows, eye liner and lip color.
Ellsworth and Wieszchowski have been friends for two decades.
“I was working for a bank at the time and she came in with a customer,” Ellsworth said. “She was selling Mary Kay at the time, and she kind of got me using Mary Kay. We’ve been friends ever since.”
When Ellsworth’s job was downsized, Wieszchowski helped her reinvent her career.
“I asked Sherry if she thought there was a need in the area for a nail tech, and she said she thought there was and if I got my license she would rent space to me,” Ellsworth said. “It’s been a great experience. Sherry is full of energy and has great passion for her work. Being a part of that has been very energizing and satisfying. She’s got a great group of clientele, too.”
Bovee, who lives in Saratoga Springs, said she loves working at the spa and was impressed by its selection of services.
“I got a lead on her salon from Saratoga,” said Bovee, who was working in the hair care industry at the time. “I came here and I said, ‘Man, she’s got it all going on here. She pulls everything together. It’s what we all went to school for.”
Skin care line
In addition to the spa, Wieszchowski developed her own skin care and cosmetics lines. Her skin care products are cosmeceutical grade, which can’t be purchased in a drug store.
“Cosmeceutical grade bridges the gap between prescription and over the counter grade,” Wieszchowski said. Cosmeceutical grade products have less filler ingredients and feel lighter on the skin. Her products are also long-lasting, she said, since most only require a pea-size dollop.
The makeup is all high-definition and mineral based.
Initially, Wieszchowski said she wanted to develop a line because she couldn’t find one brand that fit all of her needs. She planned to only carry a few products, and began working with the same chemists who formulate department store brand products.
Now she has between 350 to 400 shades in her cosmetic line and just introduced serums in her skin care line in November.
Her line has also reached other salons. Temple of Beauty in West Sand Lake, Rensselaer County, and Hair Creators & Tropical Tanning in Rome, Oneida County, use her cosmetics line for makeovers.
She’s also attracted clients from out of state and as far as Canada.
For Ellsworth, her favorite product is the foundation. Bovee said she’s hooked on the glycolic serum, which produced near instant results.
“The results were like that,” Bovee said as she snapped her fingers. “Smoother softer skin.”
The serum works to boost collagen, which plumps skin and improve elasticity.
“Clients want instant gratification, and here’s something they can use and feel differently,” Bovee said.
The spa also carries a few other brands and products for men.
Wieszchowski was 50 when she graduated with honors from the Aesthetic Science Institute in Latham, but aesthetics has been a passion since she went to the Barbizon Modeling School as a teenager.
She held numerous other jobs before she felt called to open a spa, and before she attended the institute, she had 20 years of experience in the skin care industry.
She was a longtime Mary Kay beauty consultant and worked for Clinique as a business manager. In 1999 she was honored as one of only 22 people in the world selected for the Stars of New York Award, which included a weeklong event where she trained under experts at Estee Lauder.
She also is the New York area trainer for Lamprobe, which is used to remove skin tags, cherry angiomas, fibromas, cholesterol deposits and other skin irregularities.
All of her experience has lead her to a different approach to beauty where it’s all about education.
“We really go through a teaching process,” said Wieszchowski, who can uses Reveal Imaging technology to take photos of skin under the surface and expose sun damage.
“We can look beneath the skin at the texture beneath the skin. It’s geared toward treatment,” she said.
For Wieszchowski, the business is truly a labor of love.
“This is the career I’d be doing if I didn’t make a penny,” she said.