Lina Kennedy | President and CEO of Alexandria Professional

With a passion for excellence and the gift of inspiring others, Lina Kennedy has become a leader in the skin care industry. As a top 10 finalist for Professional Beauty Association’s national Beauty Pitch and a nominee for the 2015 Niagara Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, Kennedy has been featured in numerous beauty, spa, and aesthetic magazines and is a sought-after guest speaker for beauty tradeshows across North America.

Why do you think people go to a particular spa?
When people choose to be loyal to a particular spa, it is usually because that spa exhibits excellence in customer relations, has built a trusting relationship with the client, specializes and excels in a particular treatment, and shares their expertise and knowledge so that the client is well informed.

What tool would your treatment room not be complete without and why?
Sanitizer! More people should be paying attention to the importance of keeping a medical grade sanitizer in their treatment rooms. Any tool used for a treatment should be sanitized by code after each treatment. The rest of the room should also be sanitized before the next client. This step is one that should be integral to the way your treatment room is prepared for each client. Safe aesthetics is not a trend – it is a responsibility.

Untitled-2You wear so many hats in this industry. What is your secret to keeping life in balance and enjoying the journey?
I have always wanted to learn how to dance, but never managed to find the time. This year, I made the time. Salsa helps me to release all the tension from the day and really stops the thought process of the business world. I dive in the minute I arrive to my dance classes. The balance has been a journey of learning to always bring myself back into the present moment. I simply
love life!

What one thing is needed to keep the skin healthy?
There really is not one step or product for keeping the skin healthy. Hydration, exfoliation, encouraging collagen to replenish, and skin rejuvenation are the reasons we are all in the skin care industry. It is all relevant. But, if I could choose one culprit to a lot of unwanted skin conditions, it would be stress. Stress affects everything, including breakouts, hair loss, eczema, psoriasis, hives, and more.

Here’s more of our chat with Lina:

Untitled-3How long have you been in the aesthetics industry?
I have been in the aesthetics industry for 25 years.

What various roles and positions have you held within this industry?
Over the years, I have held several positions within the beauty industry, including practitioner, salon owner, educator, sales representative, and currently international beauty market developer.

Which of these roles taught you the most or had the most impact on you and how?
Actually, supporting the education I created for professional sugaring had the most impact on me because it took a lot of tenacity to keep supporting something that I know is beneficial to the consumer – all the while, others are cutting back on education as if it is irrelevant.

Has there been a constant theme that has led you from one point to the next throughout your training and career? (as in asking questions, reading certain material, etc.)
Never make a decision for another person, including suppliers, salons, schools, aestheticians, and consumers. Essentially do not assume that one person will or will not be interested, that a supplier will not negotiate your needs with you, or that a salon will not be able to afford to take your classes. Your job is to effectively share information with the individual you are communicating with. Let them make their own decisions.

What characteristics or skills set you apart from your peers and enabled you to be so successful so quickly?
Caring about the integrity and quality of what I am doing, helping people and making them feel good, finding ways for others to understand what I am trying to teach, and using humor to get through tense situations, when it is appropriate, are all skills that I tap into almost on a daily basis.

Untitled-4Do 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.
I have fully enjoyed and appreciated all that has come my way. I would not change anything because I actually like who I am and don't think I would be the same person had I not lived through all of my experiences.

What adaptations have you made over the years to stay relevant in the industry?
Updating packaging to keep it fresh and current; applying new ways to improve and encourage education in our products and treatments; satisfying market changes, such as hearing the voices of vegan and gluten-free advocates; and researching and implementing different ways to include as many consumers as possible into our family.

What has surprised you most during your professional journey?
I do not take the need for education for granted and the want to learn and master something is part of a person’s being. I am surprised when people do not want to spend the time on education; instead they want to just grab on and run with it. Safe results depend on skills and intellect.

What are the greatest pressures, strains or anxieties in the work?
Nothing is greater than having financial strains because with money, you can solve business situations. As a manufacturer and exporter, staying current to the international law requirements for export, as well as our ever-changing national requirements for product manufacturing, can be challenging at times. The other anxiety is when the dollar goes up so high that we have to find ways to be flexible with our offshore partners.
Of course, one of our other biggest challenges is continually catching and stopping other companies from plagiarizing my work!

How did you decide that your current career is the right one for you?
I didn’t! The prayer that got answered was the deciding factor. Read all about the story in my upcoming book, “Sweet Revolution,” due to be released in the first quarter of 2017.

logoHow and where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in two ways: meditating and looking at all the funny animal-, child-, and good deed-related posts on Facebook. That is a quick fix for me and I share it with everybody! They really leave me with a lighter, greater feeling!

What do you see are upcoming trends in the industry?
I think it is clear that we are in for more innovation that assist with the reproduction of collagen, an integral part in helping to slow down the appearance of aging. It is not something we will be giving up on anytime soon. I also believe consumer awareness of manufacturing processes and ingredients will keep growing. Consumers are continuing to show an increased desire to utilize all-natural products for reasons ranging from wanting to use gentle ingredients for their bodies to helping the ecosystem.

What can professionals alter in the treatment room for a better result?
In a treatment room, the professional’s first priority should be to understand their clients’ needs and skin conditions before ever beginning to recommend a treatment. The second priority should be to ensure that they share all of the pertinent information relating to the client’s safety, which in the end, leads to better results.

What do you believe separates the best establishments from the rest?
Excellence in customer care. Excellence in results.

Is there a particular ingredient that you feel is a “super” ingredient?
If so, why?
There are so many rich, effective, mother-Earth ingredients that it would be hard to name just one. The answer ultimately depends on what goal the client is looking to attain. Raw shea butter and coconut oil, which both are full of vitamins and very effective at improving the skin’s hydration and integrity, have the nutritional and reparative values.

Do you have a signature treatment or technique that your clients love – a classic of sorts?
What makes it so loved?
Our signature treatment is our L.A. Bikini. One of the reasons it is our signature treatment is because everyone who receives it automatically goes onto our Full Circle of Skin Conditioning Program™, which is what we are really known for. Every client who comes to Alexandria Professional will develop a fundamental skin lifestyle via our Full Circle to improve skin conditions from dry skin to severe eczema and psoriasis.

What is the one piece of advice you give to every client you see?
Be diligent with your homecare regimen. What you do at home to your skin plays an intricate role in the success skin care professionals can achieve with your skin.

What advice do you have for someone planning to start a career in this field?
Never stop learning and never stop caring. Those two ideals alone will carry you far.

Do you or your company support any particular causes or charitable organizations?
If so, who and why?

Alexandria Professional is dedicated to ending violence against women and sponsors two women’s shelters, Gillian’s Place in Canada and Haven House in America. Abused women need to know that there is a way out and that they can receive the support they need. Shelters offer a variety of much-needed services, such as legal advice, counseling, educational direction, and more.

What are your hobbies when not working?
Dancing and cooking for fun. I do not like cooking every day, but I do love trying out new recipes. Long walks and new explorations are also a great way for me to get away, even if it is just for 30 minutes. Whenever I have the time, I love getting together with my close friends. There’s nothing like being surrounded by great friends and excellent wine!

Do you have a company or personal motto by which you live?
Just do it. I said that long before Nike trademarked it! I also like you snooze, you lose!

Can you share something that most people wouldn't know about you?
I can be really dorky, but mostly when I am with my kids!

Other than your products, what are the greatest assets and strengths your company offers?
Education and support in various forms, such as Skype meetings to support groups, telephone calls, and face-to-face meetings.

What is the toughest decision you have had to make at your company?
There have been a lot of tough decisions, as anyone who has been in business for 25 years can imagine, but, one of my greatest character strengths is that I forgive, forget, and move forward with more ease than the average person.

How are you tenacious?
I do not stop or give up until a situation is clear. It is as simple as that! Some people might label that as fanatic, but to me it is tenacious.

Who or what inspires you?
I am easily inspired. I could be sitting and watching someone and hear them say something heartwarming that inspires me. Inspiration comes in many forms, from great leaps with published telltales to the untold stories of so many people. It could also come from something that is so eloquently simple.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from owning your own business?
People are everything and money can make anything ‘a go.’

What has been the biggest change in the skin care industry?
The paraben scare a few years back and double dipping in the waxing industry are two changes that come to mind. One situation was a real concern, while the other one had consumers tied up in a knot for nothing. My chemists and scientist friends from all corners of the world were regretful that parabens received so much more negative attention because parabens are considered to be one of the safest methods of stabilizing formulations.

What is your biggest wish for the industry going forwards?
That regulations here in America become more demanding and more challenging across the board, affecting manufacturers, and aestheticians. This change will allow industry professionals to collectively offer the consumer the schools best, safest, and most results oriented treatments for their money and time.

What goals do you hope to accomplish in the new year?
To create more of a presence in the United States. Alexandria Professional is internationally known and now we want to increase our national presence.

What sparked your interest in skin care?
I saw skin care needs in almost every single client that came to me when I started with professional sugaring and knew that I had to create a system that would achieve results for the multitude of clients who suffered from excess dry skin and ingrown hairs. We achieved it and then some. We are very proud!

Which honor or achievement are you most proud of?
In my personal life, I am most proud of my children. In business, one of my best achievements has been pioneering a professional sugaring system for hair removal that has been accepted internationally, and has brought tears to people’s eyes, due to the results they have been able to achieve.

What’s the number one ingredient for perfecting the complexion?
In our company, it would be the pure Hungarian Wellness Mud™, which is registered by the Ministry of Health as curative in Hungary and contains 60 percent silicon dioxide. Silicon dioxide is the building block of collagen. The Hungarian Wellness Mud is great for detoxifying the skin and offering good dose of silicon dioxide to promote collagen production.

As you grew your company, what aha moments of clarity helped you shape its future and course?
When I figured out exactly what was happening in the relationship between the sugar, skin, and follicle. As a result, I created the Kennedy Theory® and the Kennedy Technique Theory®. By understanding this crucial relationship, I was able to create a system of hair removal that results into skin improvement and permanent hair reduction.

You’re a well-known figure, what don’t people know about you?
That I am a simple person who loves quality, eloquence, and honest results. Our YouTube show, Sweet Talk Around the Sugar Pot, helps viewers to better understand Alexandria Professional and me. I am Alexandria Professional. We stand for the same things.

What are some challenges that you face working with your family?
I work with my two daughters and daughter in law and, if anything, I am more proud of how they are evolving than I am challenged to work with them. There are times outside of work, however, when we agree not to talk about business because one of us needs a break.

Could you ever have imagined that your company would become what it is today?
Yes. I never had a ceiling to my vision and still don't.

If you could treat one person, who would it be?
Phil Donahue! If anyone reading this is a friend of Phil, please take a moment and introduce me. I must thank this man in person because he is a true marker in my life.

What is your top beauty secret?
Not cheating on my cleansing process and regularly using Phenomen-all and Hungarian Wellness Mud.

What is your long-term vision for your company?
I envision my family continuing to carry the company forward and never losing the integrity in our development and, more importantly, never losing the integrity of our patrons.

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