There's no doubt that beauty is big business, here and around the
world. The magazine The Economist says it's currently a $
160-billion-a-year industry worldwide,spanning every product and
service from make-up, skin and hair care and fragrances to cosmetic
surgery, health clubs and diet pills.
All this spending isn't
done in in vain, as being good-looking "confers enormous genetic and
social advantages," The Economist adds. Among others things, attractive
people are deemed to be more intelligent and better in bed; surveys say
the beautiful ones earn more and are more likely to marry. Charles
Darwin, he of the evolutionary theory, underscored this when he wrote
in his autobiography that the human species has a "universal passion
for adorment," often involving "wonderfully great suffering."
or not, Filipinos pamper themselves as much as any other race, and are
also adept at beautyfying others. so it was but natural that Pamela
Santos and Dr. Claudine S. Roura capitalized on these realities to
launch their own businesses just recently.
Lifestyle into Business
a full-time job and a limited start-up capital, Santos has still
managed to turn her lifestyle into a business, Spoil Me Nail and Body
Studio- a "mobile spa" that offers nail and spa services right at a
client's home or office.
Santos, along with her mom and sister, is a frequent customer of nail salons and spas.
is a regular bonding time for us," she says. "I used to try almost
every new nail salon to see which one provided the best service. I also
love having regular body massage and scrubs, Because of this, I though
of having my own spa, and probably savings a lot from not having to go
to other spas every week and spending a lot of money every visit."
transformed this fondness for relaxation and beauty into profit by
launching Spoil Me, which provides a complete spa experience at
affordable prices since all materials needed are brought to a client's
home-bed covers, towels, massage pillows, foot tubs, and aromatherapy
Rates of spoil Me's services range from P 70 to P 1,200.
They also pamper kids 12 years old and younger with their kiddie
manicures and kiddie hand and foot spas.
can be booked either through a phone call or a text message. This is
exactly the reason why Santos created this mobile spa in June 2009
instead of a regular day spa. she explains: "A mobile spa is deal for
those who cannot run the spa business full time. It requires very
little supervision. All you have to do is to have someone accept calls
and dispatch the therapist to the clients."
Learning into Enterprise
Santos deals with pampering the body, Dr. Roura is an expert in
reshaping it. A dermatologist by training, her calling card now is
advanced liposculpture-the most advanced form of liposuction, which
Filipinos are already familiar with.
A dermatology and cosmetic
surgery graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, Roura residency at
the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila. In 2005, she won a
grant to study in the United States under the Dr. Walter de Groot
Phlebology Fellowship of the American College of Phlebology, and later
became a fellow of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.
when she turned from her studies in the Us, Roura still practiced in
local hospitals, which she thought "was not a place for cosmetic
patients; they're not sick." So she and two partners put up Contours
Advanced Face and Body Sculpting Institute in November 2008 using,
Roura says, "an eight-figure capital"- at the Paseo de Magallanes
Complex in Makati City." I decided to put my studies to work,"she adds.
Building a Client Base
a pool of regular clients is one of the first problems Spoil Me mobile
spa encountered. Santos explains: "Since we are a mobile spa, we highly
depend on calls for bookings and service appointments. It was a
struggle at first, and we really had to do varoius marketing efforts
like regular texting of friends and relatives, distribution of flyers
to residential and commercial ares, and placing of marketing ads in
But with all these efforts, Spoil Me has slowly
built a pool of more than 60 clients who regularly call in for service
appointments. Within four months of operation, Santos and her brother
RB. who co-owns the business, recovered their startup capital of
Spoil Me's Primary expenses included initial stocks and
materials, transportation costs, and the training and salary of
therapist and technicians. Santos also put a premium on researching the
offerings of other spas, which helped her decide which specific
services she would eventually offer.
Santos is focused on growing
Spoil Me's clientele in their service areas of Quezon City, parts of
Manila, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela. They are aiming to
add more services like waxing, threading and other kinds of massage
like hilot and ventosa. The siblings are also looking into opening a
new branch next year, which would cater to the sourthern Metro Manila,
particularly the Ortigas area in Pasig and the Cities of San Juan and
Contours, meanwhile, get 80 percent of its clients from
abroad, taking full advantage of the Philippines' position as a top
medical tourism of destination, Roura says," Mostly they are Americans,
but we've had everything (every race) from black to white," she adds.
word of mouth helps lead local clients to her, Roura says she attracts
clients mainly through the website contours.com.ph, through which she
offers five "medical holiday" packages complete with a stay at a five
star hotel, a city tour or out of town trip, airport transfers and
hotel to clinic transfers. The packages are inclusive of Roura's fees
and that of her staff.
"Specifically, if the patient is a first
timer to the procedure and to the Philippines, we can house and hotel
them and arrange for pickup, all at contracted rates," Roura says.
her Web savvy, Roura says she maintains the website and personally
answers every e-mail sent to her. She is also learning SEO (search
engine optimization) to help make her site come out on top of Google
searches, and admits the Internet is still the most cost-effective way
of getting the word out about her business.
August was a "ghost
month" for Contours as it coincided with the summer vacation of
Americans and Europeans, but Roura says business went well from January
to June."Even in July we were doing good." she adds, nothing that
cosmetic businesses usually pick up during the "ber" months and peak
from February to March.
has gone well enough that Roura says she has brought out one of her
partners, also a doctor, and now owns 70 percent of Contours. A silent
partner holds the remaining 30 percent, she adds.
and Roura believe their businesses can only grow further with the
beauty industry booming in the country and around the world. Roura
says:"The hardest part of a business is making it run. We (in the
beauty indusrty) work in a very price-sensitive market. On my part,
compared to "regular" lipo, Vaser liposculpture is more expensive, but
there's no denying this is a very lucrative business."
meanwhile, has faith in her coun trymen. She explains: "Filipinos are
known to be patronizers of beauty and wellness businesses, because we
love to treat and pamper ourselves after a day or week of hard work and
stress. It is also our simple way of rewarding and spoiling ourselves,
as well as a bonding moment for most couples, friends or families." By
Michelle Cortes-Luciano and Jimbo Owen B. Gulle.
WHAT IS LIPOSCULPTURE?
there are scores of liposuction clinics around the country and doctors
who can perform the procedure, Dr. Claudine Rourais proud to say she is
the only cosmetic surgeon in the country to date who specializes in
Vaser high-definition liposculpture, using a special ultrasound machine
and a method developed by famed Colombian plastic surgeon Dr. Alfredo
Like "regular" liposculpture removes fat from a patient's
body, but the surgeon also "re-sculpts" the overlying skin above the
area where the fats was removed. This improves the defintion of the
muscles underneath the skin and fat and makes it appear that more fat
was removed than was actually extracted, which is usually less than 10
pounds (five kilos), says Roura.
Liposculpture is deal for peolpe
who are already physically fit but want greater definition of their
muscles, in contrast to regular liposuction that aims to trim away fat
to make a patient slimmer. Roura says the procedure "can change the
perception about liposuction and should be viewed as an adjucnt to a
fitness program, and not as a failure to treatment."
NO SUBSTITUTE FOR A GOOD LOCATION
Location has played a big part in Contours' success, says Dr. Claudine Roura.
setting up shop, Roura says prospective clients would shy away from
seeing her when they learned she practiced froma clinic at a hospital
in Las Pinas City, which they deemed was too far south of Manila. But
getting a location in Makati her clinic occupies 200 sq m at a building
inside the Paseo de Magallanes commercial center, which is near EDSA
and South Superhighway and thus accessible solved that problem.
the future, Roura says she would like to expand Contours to locations
in Pasig, Quezon City and upscale Alabang. But she has tempered these
thoughts for the meantime owing to the hands-on nature of her work.
Contours Advanced Face and Body Sculpting Institute
2F South Park Plaza Paseo de Magallanes Commercial Center, Makati City
(02) 556-4878; (02) 489-8526; 09151163911