ISPA Academy Articles
A space with low temperatures where the body is cooled and open pores are closed. Upon entering, one walks and occasionally pours cold water on oneself or rubs the body with crushed ice.
The spa industry is known to be a welcoming and inclusive community. To that end, an ISPA Town Hall in September explored anti-harassment and discrimination policies and training procedures to ensure our transgender and nonbinary guests and employees feel safe and comfortable within the spa. Panelists included Brennan Evans, senior vice-president of operations at Trilogy Spa Holdings; Jessica Swartley, spa director at The Spa at Spruce Peak; Catherine Warren, vice-president of strategic partnerships at Arch Amenities Group; Kristen Eber, owner of The Rosefinch Spa; and Heidi Smith-Mullen, director of Life in Balance Spa at Miraval Resorts. ISPA Chairman Patrick Huey joined as moderator.
KRISTINE HUFFMAN for Pulse: You became an esthetician later in life. How did you get there?
LISA HART: When I was in college, I had the opportunity to be a White House intern and was fortunate enough to serve both President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. Then, when “H.W.” became President, I coordinated their travel and accompanied them all around the world. I’ve been to almost all 50 states—just missing Alaska, which I hope to visit someday! Then, I had a family and when my children started high school, I thought, Okay, now I can get a job—but, I couldn’t find one. I felt as if I were subject to age discrimination in my early 50s. So when I was trying to figure out what to do next, my sister suggested I look into skincare, because it’s something there’s a need for and she felt I’d be really good at it. And funny enough, I found that my age benefits me in this career: Some women prefer someone older to explain to them their aging skin issues because they can more easily relate.
KRISTINE HUFFMAN for Pulse: How did you find yourself in the resort world?
DAVID CHESWORTH: My interest in fitness started in my junior year of high school. I asked for a weight set for Christmas and I ended up getting hooked on working out. At that same time, my dad had a rotator cuff injury and after surgery went through physical therapy. I discovered a passion for working out, and I saw a real-world application to help people.
Then, with my degree in exercise science, we had to do two internships. First, I got to experience work in a strength and conditioning gym at Bowling Green. For my second internship I discovered Hilton Head Health and I fell in love with wellness tourism.
I’ve been here now for 10 years. I started out leading a variety of classes: fitness classes, personalized stretching, recovery sessions, personal training. I got a look at how the marketing department did things, guest services. I’m now in a place where I am bringing in specialists who are truly better than me at certain things to create the programs. But I can always go back and do the things I’ve done before as a fill-in.
Staff recruitment and retention are perennial headaches for spa owners and directors. Spas have the typical hurdle of most service industries—work hours that fall outside of 9 to 5, Monday through Friday—as well as sometimes intense physical demands on practitioners. Anyone observing the industry for more than a few years knows an additional obstacle is tied to spa culture: the itinerant nature of spa specialists, who tend to move frequently not only locally between spas, but even across the country or around the world. Adding to the staffing challenge for employers are the unique requirements of the spa world’s many specialist positions. Each role has its own training and certifications and position responsibilities. And career trajectories vary widely, meaning it could be a big benefit to understand how staffers in different positions may evolve professionally. Recently, former ISPA Board member Kristine Huffman spoke with Karen Rutschmann, who shared wisdom about massage therapists gained from a lifetime in the field.
KRISTINE HUFFMAN for Pulse: You started out in the industry as a nail technician. How did you decide to take that as a pathway?
KERRI MIGNEAULT: When I graduated from high school, I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I wanted to do for college. I had a friend who was in cosmetology school, and I was her model for her state boards. That introduced me to that world. I didn’t want to go to school for hair, finger waves and perms. So, I opted to go to school for nails.
Pulse: How did your career evolve from there?
KM: When I was in school, my instructor was adamant about having goals. He always said if you don’t have goals, you’re never going to move forward. I got the amazing opportunity to work at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa & Salon. There, I decided that I was going to take every opportunity that came my way. My answer was always Yes! Next, I was offered an opportunity to work in Miami at The Noble House as part of the opening team.