Guy Ehring and Mariet van der Starre are CEO and national training director, respectively, of Thalgo America. Ehring, whose background includes manufacturing, distribution, and consumer services, decided to join the high-end skin care industry and purchased majority ownership. Starre, from the hospitality industry, joined him a few years later. Both have been working together managing the business ever since.
Ever since joining this industry, we have been constantly training and keeping up-to-date with its changes. Our company has annual innovations that keep us on top of the developing trends. The development of the United States market has surprised us the most. When we entered the industry, Europe and Asia were so much ahead in terms of relaxation and spa benefits. There has been a strong awareness of the impact that a spa treatment can have and how bad stress is with its consequences. Relieving the client’s stress with the overall spa experience is what makes a spa stand out. The best spas will take their client on a journey. It must be a complete experience. The journey must stay true to the concept and tell a story. People come to a particular spa for the quality of its therapists and the personal connection they have with their clients. We would advise someone planning to start a career in this field that they need passion, love, and joy in what they do because this industry is competitive and very time-consuming. A solid education is also important in order to stand out from the competition. Above and beyond a sound business plan, we would encourage a married couple considering owning or starting a business together to give a great deal of forethought discerning each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how they can complement one another and contribute to the common good of the business. Businesses owned by a husband and wife have a great advantage – they work with a degree of trust and loyalty other businesses cannot buy, but loyalty alone does not make a business. When we are not working, we spend a lot of time with our son, Luca. In order to keep life in balance, we really try to separate work time from relaxing time. We have done an admirable job keeping things in perspective – our relationship is more important than the business. Stress is always a factor for us, as well as having to constantly be on top and stand out from competitors, but we love to learn from all the amazing people we constantly meet and enjoy sharing our knowledge with them and passing on the excitement.
Is there a particular moment or procedure where most professionals go wrong?
“When it comes to procedures, less is more. Sometimes professionals are too aggressive with procedures that do not allow the skin to heal itself, which can lead to premature aging.”
Here’s more of our chat with Guy and Mariet:
1. DERMASCOPE: How long have you been in the aesthetics industry?
Mariet: I have been in the aesthetics industry since 2001, when I joined Thalgo.
Guy: I have been in this industry since 1996, shortly before I purchased the business.
2. DERMASCOPE: What credentials do you currently hold?
Mariet: I am a licensed aesthetician and attended Hotel Management School of the Hague in The Netherlands and hold a bachelor’s degree in hotel and hospitality management.
Guy: I hold a bachelor of science in industrial engineering.
3. DERMASCOPE: What various roles and positions have you held within this industry?
Mariet: I have held various roles, but I was always more interested in the training aspect and gravitated quickly toward this specialty.
4. DERMASCOPE: Which of these roles taught you the most or had the most impact on you and how?
Mariet: Definitely the training aspect has had the most impact on me. Being out in the field, meeting all the people who are now lifelong connections, and having to adapt to different situations and personalities have been part of this great experience.
5. DERMASCOPE: Has there been a constant theme that led you from one point to the next throughout your training and career? (as in asking questions, reading certain material, et cetera)
Mariet: The marine world has been a constant theme. I am passionate about the marine environment, the marine ingredients coming from various parts of the world, and the effect of this incredible richness on the human being both physically and mentally.
6. DERMASCOPE: What characteristics or skills set you apart from your peers and enabled you to be so successful so quickly?
Mariet: I think my passion and knowledge of the marine world and my ability to adapt to different situations have helped me achieve my goals in this industry.
7. DERMASCOPE: Do you have any regrets, or is there any one thing you can point to and think, “I wish I would have done that differently.” or “If only I had known then what I know now.” that you can share with the readers? Please explain.
Guy: I have no regrets!
8. DERMASCOPE: How and where do you find inspiration?
Mariet: I definitely find my inspiration in the sea. We are fortunate to live in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. right on the ocean. You can never be bored of the ocean.
9. DERMASCOPE: What do you see are upcoming trends in the industry?
Guy: Definitely instrumental cosmetics are an upcoming trend in the industry. There is so much room for equipment innovation, which opens doors to many new possibilities.
10. DERMASCOPE: Is there a particular ingredient that you feel is a “super” ingredient? If so, why?
Guy: Algae is a super ingredient, of course. These super plants are at the core of our brand. Algae have an unparalleled concentration of marine active ingredients (certain algae can concentrate up to 10,000 times marine minerals) and thus have unrivaled cosmetic potential.
11. DERMASCOPE: Do you have a signature treatment or technique that your clients love – a classic of sorts? What makes it so loved?
Mariet: Our Discovery of the Sea signature welcome massage is a unique combination of breathing maneuvers and rhythmic pressure that allows the client to let go and immerse in a protective marine universe while increasing one’s receptivity to the treatment.
12. DERMASCOPE: What tool(s) would your treatment room (or business) not be complete without and why?
Mariet: I would say that a spa’s in-room signature scent is indispensable in any treatment room.
13. DERMASCOPE: What is the one piece of advice you give to every client you see?
Mariet: I always insist clients practice a proper cleansing every morning and evening. I also recommend hydrating products that are the key to a good skin condition, whatever the age and skin type.
14. DERMASCOPE: Do you or your company support any particular causes or charitable organizations? If so, who and why?
Guy: Thalgo pursues an active approach for the preservation of marine wealth and biodiversity in supporting the “Marine Conservation Society.” Thalgo has also invested in a production site with ECOCERT® certifications with the installation of solar panels, the creation of a waste water treatment station and using recyclable labeled packaging. Thalgo has also implemented an ecofriendly Formulation Charter for the development of its products. We are taking this commitment even further alongside Aurore Asso (three-time French free-diving champion and ranked number two in the world) who works with associations for the protection of our seabeds in an effort to raise awareness of the fragility of our marine resources.
15. DERMASCOPE: What are your hobbies when not working?
Mariet: I like to do yoga, exercise, read, and cook.
16. DERMASCOPE: Do you have a company or personal motto by which you live?
Mariet: My motto is “If you do something, do it right!”
17. DERMASCOPE: Other than your products, what are the greatest assets and strengths your company offers?
Guy: Our solid relationship with our partners is one of our company’s greatest assets.
18. DERMASCOPE: What is the toughest decision you have had to make at your company?
Guy:The toughest decision I ever made relative to our business was the decision to actually purchase the business. Fortunately, I had both enough data and time to ascertain that I had the basis of a sound business plan. In order to be successful, one must be able to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself and capitalize upon that opportunity in a timely fashion.