Today we’d like to introduce you to Emme Diane.
Hi Emme, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Funny enough, I actually started on my own after being fired from a Medispa in Northern California. There were some pretty questionable practices happening that I really didn’t agree with. That being said, I wasn’t willing to compromise on what was right, so I ended up being fired for not being “flexible enough”.
Of course, being fired was pretty devastating, however by that point I had built up a loyal clientele. These clients and my friends encouraged me to start out on my own and although I didn’t have any idea how to do it (or the money to fund it), I listened to them and took a leap of faith.
I think a lot of stories start this way, but it really was a humble beginning. I had to borrow a massage table from one of my friends and was using free products that I received at different trade shows/events for my treatments. And, since I couldn’t afford a studio space yet, I was seeing clients in my 1 bedroom apartment.
During this same time I was participating in fitness competitions, and I gained a reputation for being good at meal prepping. So, to help make ends meet, I actually started meal prepping for other people in my gym at night time after I had seen facial clients all day.
Eventually, I saved enough money to rent a small room in the gym I used. Although it wasn’t even remotely glamorous, it was a step in the right direction. About 1 year in as I started to settle into being on my own I realized that I was feeling out of integrity with the products I used on my clients as well as what I recommended they use at home.
Regardless of which products I tried, I couldn’t seem to find anything that worked on my client’s skin, or my own skin (I’ve struggled with acne since I was 11!). When I investigated further, it always seemed to come down to either the ingredients or a formulary mistake with all of the products I came across.
I decided to stop trying to make other products work and instead focused my attention on creating my own formulas. I connected with a cosmetic chemist and went to work on my first ever product, Clarifying Serum, which is actually still a staple for most of my clients today.
I wish I could say creating that formula was easy, but it was actually one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. Looking back on it, I’m not sure I would have it in me to do it all over again. But luckily my stubbornness paid off and I stuck with it. I continued to create new formulas slowly but surely as I was able to, and it became a bit easier each time.
These custom formulas were originally developed for the clients I was seeing for facial treatments, however, word got out and that’s really when the growth started. One of my clients had shared her results with her cousin who was living in the Midwest, and she ended up reaching out asking if I could help her too. It was new to me to not see someone in person, but I said I’d try!
I had her email me photos of her skin, details about her concerns, and some additional information regarding her diet and lifestyle habits, which is similar to the online consultation my clients still take today. We communicated virtually and after using the products and following my recommendations we were both pleasantly surprised to find that it worked!
Things really took off from there through word of mouth and I began doing more virtual consultations for clients across the country. It’s interesting because this was before skincare quizzes were trendy – it was just something that fell into my lap that ended up being viable!
During this time, I ended up moving to Orange County after meeting my husband. I opened a new location there but was still seeing clients in Northern California, rotating which space I was in weekly. Eventually, my husband wanted to explore his own venture, so we moved to Scottsdale.
For a short while, I juggled seeing clients in all three locations, and the online consultations, until I eventually started seeing clients in Scottsdale full-time and closed down the other studios.
Since then we have grown into a multi-million dollar business, and although the process is a bit different, our online consultations are still a key component. Each submission is still sent to, reviewed, and answered directly by me. This means every client’s consultation is completely personalized instead of computer-generated, which I think is what really sets us apart from the competition.
Additionally, with the growth of the business, I found myself lacking enough hours in the day, so I had to step away from seeing clients in the treatment room. It was a bit of an adjustment at first to redirect my focus, but we had an amazing esthetician join our team and she now sees all of our local clients.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
As I mentioned before, I think my stubbornness is really the only reason that I was able to stick with my business! There were so many challenges, especially with formulating my own products.
I felt like I was really just throwing darts at a wall. As a trained esthetician, I was used to working with certain ingredients and I knew the percentages that worked, as well as what ingredients worked cohesively, so that served as a good baseline for me. But, understanding how to put together a complete formula that was stable, effective, and safe was a different story, so I really had to lean on the lab I was working with.
In addition, developing the formulas was a huge investment. Early in my adulthood I learned a few valuable lessons about credit cards and living above my means, so I was very adamant about only moving forward with projects I was able to independently cash flow.
This made the process a bit slower, however, I am proud to say that we are still 100% owners of the company. Although it’s probably not a very popular opinion when it comes to scaling a business, I feel that staying debt-free and never overextending myself is a key component to the success we’ve seen today.
Another challenge with creating the formulas was that I wanted everything to be 100% acne-safe since I worked mainly with clients suffering from adult acne, and I myself have dealt with acne since I was 11. This meant non-comedogenic ingredients only, with no exceptions.
Unfortunately, the labs I was working with were also formulating products for some pretty big brands and if I wasn’t able to use a certain commonly used ingredient that was comedogenic, it was tough to get them to bring in an alternative option just for me since I was such a small company in comparison. After all, labs are a business too and they have their own profit margins.
Aside from that, I think one of my other big challenges was just allowing myself grace and navigating owning a business. I actually never graduated high school and instead pursued beauty school. Although I learned a lot in beauty school, how to run a business wasn’t really part of it, so for a while, I was just winging it and trying to find people to help advise me along the way.
I was very fortunate to have met my husband, Kirk, who has a strong entrepreneurial spirit and is very business savvy. His support, along with the others that have joined me over the years, has really helped grow the business in ways I never would have thought possible.
Even with the formulas and the right people in place, I battled a lot of internal struggles. Kind of like how people say a relationship will really test you, I think owning a business is the same way. It came in waves, but like how clearing acne is a process, operating a business is too.
Some of my more recent challenges have come as we’ve grown the team. Leadership is not a skill that comes naturally to me, and definitely wasn’t something I thought about when I first started out. My tendency was to be the “friend” boss, but then there was a period of time when I had to take a step back and evaluate why I wasn’t being an effective leader.
During this time I ended up doing some pretty intense coaching to help develop my leadership skills. Although I feel that I’m a much better leader today, I do think that being dependable for my team and maintaining good company culture is something that I will always continue to develop and improve upon!
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Emme Diane?
Emme Diane is a skincare company focused on offering custom routines that address the most problematic skin concerns. As a licensed esthetician with more than 20 years of experience, I have really developed a passion for helping my clients through a holistic approach to skincare.
We offer free online consultations where clients answer questions about their skin concerns, as well as other lifestyle and diet habits, then I personally review each submission and create a plan customized specifically for them. In addition, I ensure that everyone I work with is well educated on what causes certain skin concerns and how to best care for their skin because I truly believe that the best and only way to have amazing skin is to become your own skin expert.
Although there are a handful of skincare quizzes available online, ours is not automated. Instead, each consultation is sent directly to me, reviewed by me, and receives a treatment plan developed by me personally. Although this does result in my clients having to wait 24-48 hours for a response, it is much more personalized and tailored to their specific needs. I feel this level of personalized attention truly sets us apart from the competition, and the results speak for themselves.
I’ve struggled with problematic skin since I was 11 years old, so I really found a niche with adult acne. Unfortunately, adult acne still carries a stigma even though it’s actually more common than ever before, so I am really passionate about helping my clients get clear and stay clear.
Of course, there is also so much more that goes into acne than just using the right products, so over the years, I’ve become a well-known resource for helping educate individuals on everything from what is causing their acne to how to deal with some of the emotional impacts.
I also love to make sure my clients know the truth about certain skincare trends, especially those that are flooding our social media feeds so that they know whether or not it’s actually a viable and safe option (which 99% of the time, they aren’t!).
If I could make sure that people know anything
The most important thing to know about the company is that even when it seems hopeless, there is a solution for every skin problem. I believe that everyone deserves to feel comfortable and confident in their skin which is why I am focused on making a real, lasting difference.
I have always been and will always be with my clients every step of the way!
We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
Interestingly enough, we were fortunate to have done really well when Covid-19 first hit. I think this was partially due to clients thinking we might be shutting down and stocking up on products, but we also saw a huge spike in new clients taking the online consultation. I think as people spent more time at home self-care became a much more prevalent part of their lives.
Regardless of the influx in sales, one thing that was really important for us as a company was learning how to work quickly and think on our feet. During the first year of Covid, there was a shortage of a lot of different supplies, one of those being hand sanitizer. Since we had the resources to do it, we formulated our own hand sanitizer and included it free with every purchase in 2020.
Creating the formula, packaging, and distribution of the hand sanitizer was done way quicker than we had ever developed products before, but it was really important to us to do that small part to help, and in turn, it made us much more prepared to navigate whatever other issues were thrown our way in the future.
Like everyone else, we also battled with supply chain issues. Pretty much everyone we worked with for everything from our formulas to product labels seemed to be affected by staffing shortages or supply chain issues, which made it really challenging to keep products in stock.
We previously had our cadence really dialed in, then when things changed we had to think quickly and revisit our logistics. It was definitely stressful but we learned how to be agile and more proactive.
In addition, with all of the change that’s had to happen over the last few years, Covid really started to wear on us. For a lot of business owners, nurses, doctors, teachers, and people in general, I think everyone has felt burnt out. So learning to rest when needed and to go hard when I could, without losing the passion and drive along the way, was a huge lesson for myself and my team.
Lastly, I think Covid really taught us to expect the unexpected. I think most business owners would agree that it can feel like we’re just constantly putting out fires all day, and Covid was the biggest of them all.
I am incredibly grateful that our business was able to weather the storm and I’ve really learned that being creative and staying connected with our customers’ needs and how we can help them is vital to surviving and thriving.
- Website: www.emmediane.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emmediane/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emmediane