Featuring: Lauren Barber, GLO Laser & Body Studio
"In a small town somebody is always someone's mother or sister; everybody's connected pretty well and I love that about South Delta.”
Making people feel beautiful and helping them regain their confidence is all in a day’s work for Lauren Barber, owner of GLO Laser & Body Studio. Lauren ventured down the entrepreneurial path about 10 years ago, when she left the telecommunications industry; she’s now been operating her business in Tsawwassen for two years. Curiousity and fortuity landed her in the medical aesthetics industry, and she’s been on a mission to redesign the space from the inside out ever since. We linked up with Lauren to learn how she went from feeling like an outsider to owning her space in the field. The body sculpting & laser technician has worked hard at building an inclusive community where her values – integrity, honesty, trust, accountability, and commitment – are at the forefront. Education is a key pillar of her business; Lauren shares her knowledge with the community through no-obligation consultations and intimate events, and also offers certifications. Her fun-loving energy lights up her South Delta studio, where she welcomes a diverse clientele. Lauren feels grateful she’s able to intimately help others target problematic areas and overcome challenges through vulnerable conversations and non-invasive medical aesthetic treatments.
Tell us about your mission for GLO and explain how it’s different from other studio environments.
I wanted to open an inclusive space where everybody felt welcome, regardless of their race, gender, size, or sexual preference; I also wanted the services to be affordable.I entered this industry on a whim; prior to that I never really felt like I belonged or knew much about the service options. My vision was to create a welcoming environment for others who felt the same. My goal is to help all kinds of different people feel better about themselves, and I think we’re doing that. I have all kinds of clientele: women in their 20s and 50s, and men in their 50s and 60s, for example. I service a large population of the transgender community as well.I extended an invitation specifically to the transgender community last year because I heard about a huge lawsuit where somebody had gone to a spa and the practitioner realized they were in transition and kicked them out. This person went on to be kicked out of a total of 13 spas, which is unbelievable. I welcomed the trans community last year and now I have people traveling from Vancouver and Maple Ridge to come to GLO, which feels great.I also like to think of us as a place that helps people grow professionally. We do training and certification programs for lash lifts and extensions and that kind of thing. I like to see people succeed, so that's part of my goal, too.
Tell us more about your services.
When I opened GLO it was actually Oasis Tanning, so I initially opened it with tanning beds because that’s what the space was set up for. We also have basic aesthetics, like lash extensions and lash lifts. But the biggest part of the business is the medical aesthetics side; we have a laser and a body sculpting machine. They're both medical-grade machines by Venus, which are higher-end aesthetic devices that plastic surgeons and doctors use.Laser hair removal is one of our most popular treatments. We also do veins, sun spots and age spots with the laser; those are called IPL treatments. We do NanoFractional resurfacing for skin, which a lot of people do on their face, but we also use it to reduce scarring. And we do acne treatments to kill cystic acne. Then, moving over to the body sculpting machine, we do radio frequency treatments. The machine breaks down fat cells so that you use them for energy and then flush them out of your system. The radio frequency will also do skin tightening. It triggers collagen and elastin production; basically the treatment gives your body an injury response, which makes it reproduce collagen and elastin to repair the skin, which can give you firmer skin and take you back five-to-10 years, depending on your response to the treatment. I do all of those treatments and then I've got girls that do the tanning and aesthetic side of the business. I also do the training and certifying; my sister Stephanie, who owns Beauty Babe Studio across the street, is part of that, too.
Is there something specific that's kind of your niche?
I think laser hair removal is the one that I do the best and the most. I’ve been doing it for five years, and my skill set and experience using the machine means I can make it very painless. Typically, treatments used to feel like bee stings; it's painful and it sucks. It also takes a long time. I'm able to get really good results within the recommended eight treatments and keep it relatively painless and really quick. The results are usually about 95% hair removal but the five per cent that's left is sporadic, baby-fine hair; you don’t really even see it. During the process your hair actually changes its coarseness. As it grows back, it comes in finer and finer and lighter and lighter and most of it dies off.That said, the body sculpting for focal fat reduction and skin tightening that I do is really gratifying. It’s the treatment that clients come in with the most insecurities about and they're usually really happy with the results. I think it is because of the way that I do it as well as the device; so I think I'm most proud of that. It’s ideal for targeting problem areas, so if somebody's coming in and they're overweight, they're not going to see massive results but they may lose an inch or so. It’s a treatment that’s best for somebody who has a really good lifestyle. For example, they're working out and they aren't quite getting the results they want. You would use this treatment on a specific problematic area to break down fat cells so the body knows to use those cells for energy rather than keeping it as storage fat. People will say “I do this, and I can't get rid of this bottom part of my stomach or the inside of my thighs, when all I do is work out non-stop!” Or “that never goes away, it's been there my whole life!” This treatment kills off those minor things. It's a non-invasive way of doing something similar to a mild liposuction treatment – but with no downtime and no pain.
You said you entered the industry on a whim. Could you tell us more about that?
That was kind of a weird situation for me. I’d worked for Telus for 10 years and I was living in Salmon Arm when a medical spa became one of my clients; I installed a voice over IP phone system throughout their whole business. I got to know the doctor and his wife and understand the spa and how it worked. Once I got to know them and felt welcomed, I became more interested in the industry. At the time, I’d apprenticed under my sister to do tattoo eyebrows and microblading. The medical spa actually had a room for rent, so it all just lined up at the same time. I ended up renting the room, working there doing tattoo makeup, and ultimately bringing them more clients. When the doctor asked if I wanted to train to be a laser and body sculpting technician – and said he’d pay for the courses – it was really nice! So I did that and ended up working for them and having the room rental, which gave me a taste of running my own business.It was funny because I actually owned a condo down the street from that spa; it was so close that I could see it from my window. Salmon Arm is a very small town. I would drive by the spa every day, but for maybe four years, I never once entered it. I mean, I was intrigued. But, like many new to this space, I didn't know what to ask for. The idea of looking at their brochures seemed overwhelming. I had no idea what any of the services were, and I didn’t want to be in a room where I was going to be told I need all of these things at a price of thousands of dollars. Because that was my impression before my career in this field, it’s motivated me to educate my clients and alleviate any intimidating factors.
So how are you breaking down those misconceptions or barriers?
I do laser parties or events that are educational with no obligation. Usually it’s a referral from one of my clients; we'll have a night where they'll bring in five of their friends who might be interested but don’t know enough about the services we offer. These are usually people that would never just walk in and ask. I cater the parties with charcuterie and wine, and I go through our brochure and do in-depth explanations of the treatments, including how and why they work. After I go over everything we offer, I let people ask me questions. I encourage them to ask me anything – even things that they think are stupid, to put it bluntly.I also encourage them to ask me specific questions about their skin and anything skincare, even if it's something that we don't offer; I'm pretty educated on what treatments and services are available in the industry. Then after that, I do a private consultation with each of them one-on-one. And I do it in a way that is not pushy, letting them know that I won't recommend something that I don't think that they need. When I do those nighttime events I like it because I get to actually explain to people what body sculpting feels like; it's actually a very nice treatment. It’s warm, and it feels like a massage! You come in for 30 minutes once a week, and you see the cumulative results week-to-week. It's honestly something that people actually enjoy doing. The industry has come a long way and there are so many innovations. Laser hair removal, for example, used to be awful; it has a bad reputation for being really painful. I know people who used older devices in the past, and they’d just drop out of their sessions halfway through because they couldn't handle it – but that’s not the case anymore.Every time I do an event, I usually gain some long-term clients because they felt welcomed and were educated, and there’s a level of trust that goes with that. My goal is to give people a chance to just come in and talk to me; that’s why I offer no-obligation consultations.
What keeps you focused and committed to your South Delta business?
I mean, when you grow up here, you have a big network of people who want to support you. People here want to keep local businesses going. COVID has been really bad for some businesses, so I’m grateful that we were able to stay afloat. I work really hard to create a comfortable environment. GLO is not only welcoming, friendly, and inclusive, but people need to know that it's safe; we take all cleaning protocols very seriously. And I love doing business in South Delta; it’s a small town where people truly want to support small businesses.I like the way that providing services makes me feel and I like how it makes others feel, which is all kind of related. I know when somebody leaves the treatment room, they always feel better. They've had a really good experience and they also feel better about themselves, which makes me feel better. You know, when somebody comes to see me, they're coming to me and baring big insecurities – to a stranger! Because usually I'm a stranger at first, if not afterwards. It’s a big thing. GLO is my business and I love it, but obviously sometimes there are days that I don't feel like going to work; but, knowing what a difference I make for my clients drives me. When they thank me, it makes my whole day.
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