Lift Skin Health and Laser was just hitting full stride as a relatively new business in Maple Ridge when the global COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Dawn Bickle and Melissa Orser are family by marriage, both had a background in the medical spa business, and both have an entrepreneurial spirit. Sometime after “one of those over-Thanksgiving dinner conversations” they decided to partner in a business in their hometown, and they opened in December of 2017.
“After six months we were feeling pretty good about it,” said Dawn. “But like any business, the first two years were a little nerve wracking.”
The main part of their business is laser hair removal and cosmetic injectables, done by Dr. Len Hatlelid with nurse Amanda Zeglinski. They also offer microneedling for skin, microblading treatments for eyebrows and a long list of treatments, generally aimed at healthier and healthy-looking skin.
They lasered through those first two years, and then the world began to learn about the Coronavirus and a looming pandemic.
“In early March, we started to feel uncomfortable – like everyone else on the planet,” said Dawn.
The partners made a tough decision to close up shop in the middle of the month, and went through the get-wrenching process of calling clients and cancelling appointments. They were just a bit ahead of Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s medical health officer, because by the end of that week, the province was shutting down.
They were closed for 10 weeks, and it was a scary time.
“There were points where I was worried about our business, and I didn’t know how everyone was going to pivot,” said Dawn.
It has not been easy, but the industry has gone to online learning, online selling, and generally Dawn is proud of the way the entire industry has adapted.
Eventually they were able to reopen, just in time for summer 2020.
“Fraser Health and Worksafe BC were very good in giving us direction, but they also gave us the respect and autonomy to build our own plan,” Dawn said.
Because they work with medical practitioners doing sterile procedures, masks, gloves, sterilizing and 80 per cent of the safety measures they would need to keep staff and patients safe were already in place.
Now they remove touch points, eliminating makeup testers and making other necessary changes.
Appointments are longer, and there are fewer each day, but they are still serving customers.
“We have a very loyal customer base, that really supports local business,” said Dawn.
They enjoy being in business in Maple Ridge, and find a business community that is supportive. The feeling is that if there is a successful local business environment, everyone can do well.
“My feeling is that a rising tide raises all ships,” she said. “It’s not that it’s not competitive here, it’s jut not cutthroat.”
They miss aspects of the business that have been lost in the pandemic, and like most people are following the progress of the global vaccination effort.
“I’m definitely looking forward to a return to normalcy.”
Part of their business includes quarterly social events for their clients, and they haven’t been able to host any for the past year.
“That part of the industry – it’s great for business, but it was just fun. And I didn’t know how much I was going to miss that,” said Dawn.
“Man, I just want to have a party!”
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