I've worked in the skincare industry my entire adult life. I started as a receptionist at a high end day spa at 19, then became an esthetician at 24. The industry was a lot different then. There were no chain spas or waxing salons at the time. If you were fresh out of school you really had to prove your worth, and I worked hard to prove myself at some of the best spas in NYC. I was a fast learner, but once I mastered something I grew tired of it.
Seven years ago I decided to become certified in yoga, just to mix things up. I started teaching a couple classes a week at a yoga studio with a treatment room, and the owner asked me if I wanted to start doing facials there as well. I didn't want to invest in a product line at the time because I thought that would be expensive, so instead I decided to make my own products. My clients liked the products and wanted to be able to purchase them to use at home – so starting Alchemy Holistics was sort of an accident.
I started with humble packaging and homemade labels that I would print myself. For fun, I started selling the products at local craft fairs in my Brooklyn neighborhood. The real turning point for me was when I noticed how the natural skincare industry was really changing. These little "craft fair" brands were beginning to step their games up with sleek packaging and the industry was taking notice. What frustrated me was the common thread of all the founders of these brands: none of them had actually ever worked in my industry before.
Still, I wasn't ready to make that big leap just yet. I had been working part-time at the Aveda institute as an esthetics educator, and when they offered me a full-time job teaching, I accepted it. Here I was all of a sudden with a stable day job with insurance, something an esthetician rarely sees. And I was bored.
What I did have was more money, so I decided to invest in my hobby more. I got sleeker packaging, started an online store, and advertised through social media. I also rented out a small studio, taking the business out of my kitchen. Upper management at Aveda began to catch wind of what I was doing, and because of this, I was let go. I was completely devastated at the time, but now I know it was the best thing that's happened to me. With no ground beneath me, it was time to make this little hobby of mine into a real business.
In less than two years since this all happened, Alchemy Holistics is now available nationwide, and the list of stockists keep growing. Although the online business has grown dramatically, I still enjoy doing the local craft fairs.
Alchemy Holistics is still just me. I still do everything from the formulations and the packaging, to the labeling and the shipping. The labels were designed by my best friend, who is still the person I turn to anytime I need some sort of graphic design or computer help. I know it's OK to start small and I like that I am growing organically, taking those bigger steps when it's necessary.
Today, I'm still teaching yoga (mostly private sessions now), and seeing clients for facial services out of a yoga studio (Usha Veda Yoga) in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. All the things I loved about teaching has led me to begin doing skincare workshops as well, where I can share the knowledge I have obtained over the years.
About the author: Gina Pulisciano is an esthetician and founder of Alchemy Holistics, as well as a yoga instructor. For more information, check out her website, Alchemy-Holistics.com.