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Facial Boutique and Erika Walljasper: “Self-Care is Not Vanity.”

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Erika Walljasper, owner of Facial Boutique at 1034 E Walnut Street, Columbia, Missouri, has been a licensed esthetician for 14 years. Before opening her business in 2015, she worked at a resort spa learning the art of relaxation, whole body wellness and self-care before moving to a busy dermatologist office, where she worked for over five years. 

These experiences provided extended training and practice in almost every area of esthetics ranging from relaxing facials, chemical peels, laser treatments, makeup and skin-care and knowledge of injectables. This environment also exposed Erika to a wide range of medical skin issues, providing invaluable experience in her ability to better serve clients. “Working in these positions helped me to discover my passion of providing skin transforming treatments while relaxing and restoring the mind and body,” she said. “I love helping others achieve their healthiest, most radiant skin possible.” 

Erika shares that she always wanted to work for herself. “I just needed some years of experience under supervision before I stepped into my own business. I had a full-time job at a dermatologist office and was doing facials out of my home in the evenings and on weekends. I was scared to leave the security of a full-time job and open my own practice,” she revealed. “I was consulting with my friend, a health coach, and she made it clear to me that I already had a business; it just happened to be in my house. From that point, I started the steps forward to opening Facial Boutique. A space opened at KeLani Wellness Spa, and I have been there for the last five years. It has been a great place to operate my business. I work with other therapists, but I am totally independent.”

Prior to becoming an esthetician, she had a landscape gardening business, planting and maintaining flower beds for a few years. “There was a lot of freedom working outside. Honestly, I’m not the best employee,” she laughed. “I do better when I don’t have to work for someone else.”

As an entrepreneur, Erika enjoys the flexibility in scheduling and also in what services she offers. “I get to decide what I want to learn about and offer to my clients. I am passionate about holistic facial treatments and skin care products,” she expressed. “All of the trainings that are available now are exciting. I choose techniques and products that complement each other and continue to build upon that. When I want to learn more or take a class, I can, and I don’t have to ask permission. I get to focus on what I love doing all day. I do very minimal facial hair waxing and I don’t do make-up applications or spray tans. Those aren’t the things I love to do, so I don’t have to do them. If I worked for someone, I would have to do a little bit of everything!”

She considers building a business from scratch her greatest challenge to date. “I have also done a lot of traveling on my own for trainings, which is something I might never have done otherwise,” Erika affirmed. “The biggest accomplishment, though, is how much I have grown and changed as a person. I’m constantly gaining confidence in my abilities as an esthetician. Being a business owner for me is not just about my business; it’s part of my life and encourages me to be better as a whole person.”

As an esthetician, Erika works in a predominantly female industry. “I don’t know that I’ve experienced any particular challenges as a female business owner,” she said. “Most of my clients are female so it might be different if I were in a more male-dominated field. The most challenging thing has been getting over the feeling of competition. For a long time, I think that was a prominent thing in the esthetics industry. I have learned that there is enough for everyone to grow their business. I can’t serve everyone in town, and not everyone wants the type of facial treatments I offer. Knowing who my ideal clients are helps with that too.” She doesn’t take it personally when clients leave for any reason. “It’s going to happen from time to time, and that’s part of business. Instead of dwelling on why this person hasn’t returned, I change it to now there is room for someone new.”  

What’s in the future for Facial Boutique? “I want to get my message out that skin care is selfcare and not vanity,” Erika affirmed. “I want to continue to grow and evolve. I recently started offering Gua Sha and facial reflexology, which are ancient techniques to enhance flow in the skin. Blood flow, lymph drainage and balanced energy: flow creates glow! Microcurrent is another one of my popular facial treatments for age management, and these can complement each other. I love facial massage and any way that I can promote healthy skin in a natural way.  

“Education is important in maintaining good results, so I make sure to inform my clients on what is best for their skin’s health and appearance,” she continued. “I use a variety of treatments and products to protect skin from environmental hazards, combat fine lines, wrinkles, acne and a dull, uneven skin tone. I am always continuing my education as well so that I have the most up-to-date knowledge on skin health, skin-care products and devices, such as microcurrent, that will provide my clients the results they want and deserve.”

To the next generation of female entrepreneurs, Erika has this advice. “If there is something you love to do and want to do it your way, then you should definitely go for it. It takes time to build, though, and it gets frustrating at times. You have to put yourself outside of your comfort zone in order to let people know you’re here. I still have to remind myself of that, but it’s getting easier.”

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