NYIB: Hello Miss Susan! I am so excited for this. Tell us a little about yourself!

Susan: I am so nervous to do this! Well, I am Susan. I moved out to Montauk 5 years ago trying to build myself a career out there. I was in the restaurant business, I bartended for 9 years, but then I decided I wanted something a little more professional with growth. So, I stumbled upon massage therapy, went to school, loved it, loved all the science and anatomy, I am a total nerd. But the bummer ended up being once I got into it that I realized, “Oh man, I can’t do it forever.”  It’s hard on your body. But whether it’s hard or not, your bills still need to get paid, so I started looking again at my future and saying:” okay, what can I do to set myself up the best I can for when I am older when I am 45, 55? 

NYIB: And you ended up deciding to pursue an Esthetics license?

Susan: So, working in the spas, I unintentionally got more into skin care. I was getting facials, and seeing the science was still heavily there- the chemistry, alchemy, and anatomy. And I realized I could still be interested, still do what I want, help people, but at the same time I could preserve my body a bit better.

NYIB: Out of all the additional services and licenses, why Esthetics?

Susan: Esthetics made the most sense. They go hand in hand. I know for me, I like the spa atmosphere, I am not rushing to leave that, so it just makes sense. I like the vibe in spas, I like the relaxation of it all, I enjoy giving people a break. I like the spa scene, so massage and facials are the 2 services that just work there. And with esthetics, when I am doing facials I can incorporate massage into it even deeper. I can give neck rubs and shoulders, I can combine my knowledge.

NYIB: Ah yes, massage hands. Have you learned the back treatment here yet? Whenever our students get to that portion of the program, if there’s a massage therapist in the class everyone fights for them to work on them.

Susan: Ha-ha yes! They all do ask me.  Robert, my instructor, quickly figured it out it was better for him to pick the groups and pairings ha-ha.

NYIB: So, we touched a bit before on your life before coming here, and you mentioned that you decided to examine your career options. Was there anything in particular that caused that to happen?

Susan: Actually yes, I was working in East Hampton and I broke my arm snowboarding.  That was a huge wake up call for me. I missed work, and I had to re-evaluate my life a bit. I had JUST gotten my license! It was a few months after graduating, and boom I got injured. I had to stop and rethink and really say to myself, “What choices can I make to ensure prolonged success?”

NYIB: Well I am sorry to hear about your arm, but I am glad it led you to us! So, this is always an interesting question for students who come from out East since I know we are geographically the closest school to you, but what made you choose New York Institute of Beauty?

Susan: Ha-ha you guys are the closest but honestly – there are other schools I could have gone to. My massage school was further west, so I had done the drive before. At first-it was you. Not to make your head any bigger ha-ha, but when I met you it was such a different experience than what I had when I first went to massage school. If it wasn’t for the fact that I really wanted to do the program, I am not sure I would have stayed.  The people were not the friendliest, there were things I did and saw that I was not a fan of. When I came here, one of my first thoughts was, “Oh my gosh, it’s so big and clean, it’s beautiful, and the staff. Like, you guys really care. Robert is excellent teacher. Angelica, she’s an amazing director. You all care, and you’re all knowledageable! I have learned so much here. Sometimes people turn their noses up, you know, like, “Oh beauty school” but there is a lot to learn! There is still science, business, and it is not easy.

NYIB: That’s part of why I like doing this. That changing of the perception. We don’t just throw lotion on someone’s face! It is so much deeper and bigger than that! And our industry is flourishing. There is no reason why someone can’t excel at this. You have to be motivated, you have to be self-driven, but there is so much out there, so many opportunities, if you are willing to work at it you can have an incredible career!

Susan: There are definitely misconceptions out there about what this really is. Even me, I thought I had a good idea of what I was getting into, but I am seeing that wow you can take it to higher levels, there is so much more you can learn.

NYIB: I am glad to hear that you are figuring out that. We try so hard to make sure you guys understand that yes, we are the foundation, but there is so much more out there. We have to teach you guys that state board information, you know in massage school you had to know what to do to pass your boards. But there is a whole world out there after school. You need more than 1200 hours for massage therapy or 600 for esthetics, you need instructors with a wealth of knowledge and experience, you need a school that is thinking bigger picture for you guys.

Susan: I agree! I am so fortunate to have Robert. He is the best teacher. He makes me wants to come to class every day.  He just knows so much information, and hearing his stories and advice- I find it all really helpful!

NYIB: He is wonderful! With everything you have been learning about, what has been the most interesting?

Susan: So much! My favorite might have been the ingredients so far. I am starting to get curious about maybe formulating my own products someday. And I never thought that would be a thing I would want to do, but now I am like, “Hmmm.” You read these words, they’re a paragraph long, but when you learn what they truly are, they’re so simple.  Oh, it’s just silicone! Ha-ha. I want to build my brand, I want to build my career. Maybe that will include a skin care line, who knows?

I just can’t wait to graduate and get out there and do all of this. I want to get past being new, I want to have my regulars, I want to see where I am in 5 years and hopefully I am just killing it.

NYIB: Tell me more about that. 5 years from now. What do you want to see?

Susan: I want my own space. I want to be offering a variety of services, doing it all on my own.  And then maybe in like 10 years, who knows, maybe have a staff, a bigger space. I could hire others, grow. This is why I picked this industry. It is always going to be there, it is never going away. I can do this forever.

NYIB: Absolutely! What people may be looking for changes, their goals, but the beauty industry itself will never cease to exist.  I have said it before-if I talk to a graduate, and it’s been a few years, and they tell me they’re not making any money in this industry- I am sorry to tell you that it isn’t the industry. Let’s talk, let’s figure out where it’s going wrong. Have you learned any new skills? Are you continuing your education, are you marketing yourself properly? Something is amiss because this is a profitable industry to be in.  And saying that is not meant to be offensive. You, as someone who is into formulations- definitely consider creating your own line. Organic skin care is popular right now, and I see it getting better. You’re out in the Hamptons, people will pay for quality products. That may be your niche too, you know?

Susan: Oh god yes, they will ha-ha. I see tons of clients with sun damage out there, so I have already felt that treating that will be something I see myself being able to do a lot of. I think I will have a big market for that.

NYIB: Absolutely! You have sort of two markets there. Over all, people are taking better care of themselves, they are protecting themselves from the sun, but it wasn’t always that way. So, you will have the people who are trying to make amends for their bad tanning choices in their teens and 20s, and you will have a younger demographic looking to be preemptive and protect themselves from the go.

You are going in to full time clinic tomorrow, which means client time!  Are you excited?

Susan: Yes, I can’t believe I made it!

NYIB: This means you are over halfway done with your program.

Susan: I know I can’t believe it.

NYIB: Are you nervous

Susan: I am. I don’t know what to expect but I am ready to get into it. 

NYIB: You’ll be fine! You have the background of understanding clients, building a book.

Susan: I hope it helps! When you’re first starting out you’re nervous, you don’t talk. I remember being like that with massage school. But clients are just people! You have to talk to them, you have to make them feel comfortable. Check in with them. Remember your clients. They will be what makes you successful. 

NYIB: Susan, to end this chat let me ask- Do you have any advice out there for someone reading this?

Susan: I say if you’re thinking about it, go for it but its not going to be easy. Nothing in life, especially something worth having, is easy. You have to just think big picture. You can’t let little things get in the way. I drive over an hour every day, I fight traffic, it’s hard, but I have to remind myself that this is only for a few months. In the grand scheme of things, when I am in my 40s and looking back, this is 8 months. It is nothing.

NYIB: Thank you again to the lovely Susan Lupia for sitting down with me. I am so excited to see where her career as both a licensed Massage Therapist and eventual Esthetician will take her! If you have been contemplating joining the beauty industry for the first time, or are already in it and want to expand your career options, give New York Institute of Beauty a call today at 631 582 4737. There are no limits to what you can achieve, and we would love the chance to help you follow your passion!

Interviewed and written by Megan Leitch, L.E., NYIB Admissions Representative.