For the students in our Esthetics program, one of their most anticipated events is their “Dragon’s Den” day. As part of their Cosmetic Kitchen class, they are tasked with creating a skincare brand and presenting it to a panel of judges that hosts a mix of instructors, program directors, and even a successful past graduate or two. This round, their guest judge was Esthetics graduate, Spa owner, and self-professed “skin geek” Doug Janczyn. Doug is the owner of Victoria based Eco-Certified spa, Manscape Spa, which exclusively offers men’s services in an environment that is from ‘a uniquely male perspective’. “We’re completely trans-friendly,” Doug explains, “as long as you identify as a male, you’re welcome to book treatments with us.” As a graduate of the Blanche Macdonald Esthetics program, a business owner, and an entrepreneur, Doug’s expertise is vast and eagerly anticipated by our students. Ever the generous graduate, he returned to share not only his expertise, but his own story and the path that led him to a career in Esthetics.
Manscape Spa is a unique spa in lots of ways. How did the idea come about for it?
We were pioneers with the idea of Manscape Spa definitely. At the time, there was only one men’s only spa in Ottawa in all of Canada but even still we’re the only one west of Ontario and north of San Francisco. I mean, I’m a man and so some of it was seeing a need in the market and figuring out a way to fill it but the biggest push actually came from [Esthetics Program Director] Simona [Gozner]. She challenged me to do something for men. She gave me the initial concept and then I expanded beyond that.
And how long was it until Manscape Spa was up and running?
Not long at all. I started it two months into my Esthetics program! I was working in it and running it while doing the program. I’d spend two days at school in Vancouver and then the other three or four days I wasn’t in Vancouver, I was in Victoria taking clients at Manscape Spa.
Was Esthetics the industry where you always saw yourself working in?
Oh, no – this is a second career for me – the one I chose. We live on the west coast so obviously you have to make money but I would do this even if I didn’t need to work. My first career was in financial services and I was very successful. But when the recession of 2008 hit, it forced me to take a year off and decide what I wanted to do and that’s when the call of Esthetics came. I wanted to work with my hands but I wasn’t skilled like a Carpenter and math isn’t my thing but I loved science, specifically Health Science. So the combination of working with my hands and science drew me to Esthetics. That and my caring nature, I think, too.
What was your experience in the Esthetics program?
It was great! It was a very in-depth introduction to the world of esthetics. Each and every instructor was so inspiring. When I took the program, I was the only boy but I did see a couple boys coming through the program this morning so that’s really exciting.
You’ve clearly stayed close to the instructors, as well as Simona, to be a guest judge! What was your impression of the program and students from the presentations?
Simona is wonderful, she and I have kept in touch since I finished the program. Manscape Spa’s General Manager is Angie Barnetson, who also is still an instructor here. She was a huge help when I wanted to open Manscape Spa. The program seems to have certainly expanded since I went here but it’s still unparalleled. The best thing about the panel this morning is that no matter what, our feedback helped accelerate their learning and gave them license to think outside the box, which in Esthetics is extremely important. The Esthetics program gives them everything they need to go into the world as Estheticians even if there isn’t a designated class on every single thing. For example, chest hair trims are a service we offer at Manscape Spa. There wasn’t a class or lesson here on trimming chest hair but you’re taught about hair and skin and grooming, so it becomes about taking the foundational knowledge and applying it in the exact way you need to. There were questions I challenged them on that they hadn’t necessarily thought of but were things that I came across in my own life as an esthetician. Things like ingredients in products and shelf life, additives and chemical interactions – we have our own line at Manscape Spa and all of that is so integral when you’re doing it in the real world. Everything I asked them and made them think about was all things I had to figure out when formulating Manscape Spa’s line of products.
Can you tell us a little bit about the experience of creating Manscape Spa’s line and what the product offerings are?
It was so fun. It was a welcome challenge, really. Everything is naturally sourced with custom-made formulations. That’s why today’s topic even, Cosmetic Kitchen, and the theme of creating lines was so fun. We went through that exact thing! There was a certain ingredient I wanted in our foot cream but it just couldn’t be stabilized with some of the other ingredients so I had to let that specific ingredient go because the end goal is a reliable product. It took about a year and a half from ‘Let’s make our own line’ to a finished product on the shelf. We ended up with a body lotion, hand cream, foot cream, body scrub, bar soap, and shaving foam.
Manscape Spa is Eco-Certified. What does that entail?
It’s a voluntary program that basically takes anything that can’t be recycled, like our spa waste, wax strips, etc, and sends it to a facility in Delta and it’s burned at such a high temperature that nothing is released into the atmosphere or left on the earth. At the same time, the steam that is generated powers turbines and so it puts power back into the BC Hydro power grid. It’s an expensive program but it leaves 1/1000th of the footprint that would otherwise be left.
What is your client base in Victoria like? Did you find it hard to cultivate a loyal clientele?
Victoria really is changing and becoming a lot more youthful. Eight years ago when we opened, it was mostly mid-to-late 40s to early 50s but recently it’s becoming more of a mid-to-late 30s to early 40s group of clientele. As far as attracting a clientele, it was easy and hard. Easy because we were the only game in town (and still are!) so for the men who wanted to get services we were there. But men aren’t really conditioned to seek out what we do. It was a pretty huge education curve to get men educated and comfortable with our offerings and why it would be a good idea for them to come in. We did a lot of mailers, flyers, postcards, bus ads, ferry ads . . . we even made special water bottle labels that we’d hand out on busy summer days! Everything we could to get the word out.
So what is a typical day like for you? What are some of your most popular treatments?
I do everything! I do bookkeeping, payroll . . . I’m the owner so I’m responsible for everything. I do most of the services, I’m the Lead Therapist as well. Angie is the General Manager so she instructs on the skin care and nail care and day-to-day operations of the spa; it’s her name that’s on the door and mine on the legal documents. Our most purchased service is back waxing, that’s our bread and butter that get our clients in the door, followed by male brazilians, and beyond that it’s massage and relaxation services.
What part of your job gives you the most fulfillment?
Connecting with the clients. Meeting the client and having them go from zero to wherever they want to be and getting to be the person who takes them there is pretty special to me. Being their service provider, making them comfortable in the space, and then seeing them relax and enjoy the treatment is priceless. When people feel successful in their skin, they are more confident and successful in their life. Being the person who helps them have the chance to present themselves how they want to is so powerful.