For Cecilia Valdes, born and raised in the bustle of Mexico City, an opportunity presented is never untaken, especially when it involves a business plan and a venue through which to share the healing powers of natural products.
“For me, it is the key element. The market in Mexico is only starting to be more aware [of the benefits of natural ingredients]. We are a little bit behind on that, but I feel that it is important. A line that gives you great results and is natural? Well, I think that’s the best combination.”
This winning combination comes in the form of Moor Skincare which, thanks to Cecilia’s phenomenal entrepreneurial spirit and head full of fresh know-how from Canada’s Top Spa Therapy School, is now an established favourite in her home city, sold in her lovely Moor Spa + Nails locales.
“After graduating from Blanche we came back to Mexico City, in November, and by February we had opened the spa. So everything was very fast!”
And it’s been shooting up from there. In only three short years since Cecilia and her husband opened the doors to the first ever Moor Spa, they have laid the foundations of a botanical skincare empire with three buzzing locations, including one nestled in the prestigious walls of Saks Fifth Avenue. This growth may seem incredible, until you meet with her fiery sparkle and you realize that Cecilia is a woman for whom words of ‘okay’ or ‘good enough’ simply do not exist.
“You do the right things, you have the right personality and the right location… but I think the most important thing is the service you offer. As an esthetician we have to give our clients the best – not just a facial, the BEST facial they have ever had. We have to give them our whole selves, and I think that is the key element to being successful.”
For Cecilia, the best could only be found in the Esthetics and Spa Therapy program at Blanche Macdonald. Having studied Business Administration in Mexico, the foundations for her dreams were set, and it was time to hone in on the industry in which she would set the passion for her goals to shining.
“My dream was always to have my own business. I looked into just about everything: Subway franchises, laundromats, drugstores, but then I thought, why not a spa? Why chase a smaller dream? The original idea was to have a small hotel; my husband was to handle more of the restaurant, the rooms and all of that. We got married, we moved to Canada, he took a Hotel Management course, and I came to Blanche as I wanted to have my own spa at the hotel- that was the goal!
As an esthetician we have to give our clients the best - not just a facial, the BEST facial they have ever had.
“It really was a great experience [at Blanche Macdonald]. It was funny, because I was the oldest but I learned so much from the younger girls as it’s a different culture here. I was very far from home and was learning to take the skytrain in the rain and in the snow. It was very different living in Canada but it gave me more confidence in myself. I liked the other girls, and I liked learning from them. I have so many good memories.”
Undoubtedly the memory that shines brightest was the day that she met the Owner and President of Moor Spa, a regular and well-loved guest at the Blanche podium.
“One day I remember, Michael Beresford came to Blanche, and as he was showing us the product. I fell in love with it. I liked that it used 100% natural ingredients. That day when I went home and told my husband that we should bring the line back to Mexico, he said, ‘well why don’t we open a spa?’ We started on the business plan right then.”
Michael, on his part, remembers her too; it’s hard to forget the daring and determined spirit that took the Moor line to a country that up until then, knew nothing of it’s fabulous healing properties.
“We had to push a little bit… a lot, to be honest. Moor is a great line but it wasn’t well known in Mexico. We had to work hard, but it was worth it. Once people tried the line, they made the switch in their beauty care and stayed with us.
It’s a great career because you get the chance to be all that you can be.
“One thing that I’ve felt to be very useful is to be positive and optimistic. The minute I thought ‘we’re about to open a spa’, I was super afraid, I had to start from zero. ‘How will I find a supplier? How many files do I need?’ Then I thought, ‘I have to be brave, I have to start from somewhere – from myself’. And that’s what I did.”
The Moor’s botanicals were not the only goodies that Cecilia packed in her suitcase home; her knowledge gained at her time at Blanche was to propel spa practice in Mexico to new heights.
“Nowadays we use the same skin care analysis and we perform the facials in the same way as I learned at Blanche in all the Moor Spa + Nails locations, and I teach my team as I was taught to always give home care advice to our guests.
“Now, at Moor Salon, we do it the Blanche way!”, she laughs.
Though she is usually kept busy keeping clients smiling, networking and chatting up the media (“we have been lucky to appear in Glamour and on MTV. It’s been really great for the business!”) Cecilia rests easy knowing that this savvy has taken root and is now flourishing in her spas.
“I’m happy that I learned everything; I have the right knowledge and was able to hire the right people, and I’m able to know if they’re doing it the right way.
“Now I sit back and there’s no need to worry, and I know that if I’m not there, the spa will run perfectly as my team is perfect, I can take a vacation and everything goes well”, she says, which has certainly come in handy in the last two months, having given birth to her first little one, a beautiful baby girl. “I’m very grateful for this.”
Being able to bring this knowledge back to her country, and create jobs for her home town is a true highlight for Cecilia, and her voice audibly sparkles when the talk turns to her team.
“There are many [favourite moments]; one that I really enjoy is when I see the face of a happy client, and another that I like the same or maybe even more, is when I see my team happy – when the girls are happy at work.
“We have pretty much the same team as when we opened three years ago so I feel that we are like family, and that makes me so happy. It feels like home. I love it.”
This warmhearted and supportive well that Cecilia has created with her ‘girls’ certainly spills over to her guests in Moor Spa’s lounges and nail bars, making for what is always a personally engaging experience.
“We give wellness to people and make them feel fine; we’re like a therapy. Sometimes they just want to feel fine and loved, and we can give them that at the spa. I love my work.”
Sometimes therapy means a few quality hours spent with friends and family, and Cecilia has this up for offer as well with her ‘Sparties’, a unique feature that has set her apart from the other spas in her area and has made Moor a veritable hotspot for every occasion to be celebrated.
“It’s super fun! We do at least one a week. You book the spot in advance and we close the place for you, set up decorations, give you cappuccinos, wine, champagne… the girls love it! We get everyone from young to old, to men, and even whole families.
“It’s a nice way to chat with your friends and to pamper yourself. We make it your place. You don’t have to dress up, you’re with your friends, and here you have the opportunity to chat, relax and laugh!”
We use the same skin care analysis and we perform the facials in the same way as I learned at Blanche in all the Moor Spa + Nails locations, and I teach my team as I was taught.
She wastes no time in insisting that we come ‘Sparty’ with her the next time we find ourselves south of the border, and receiving her warm and scintillating invite it’s not hard to see why Cecilia has done so well for herself with Moor Spa + Nails. Though, her dauntless strength of will and courage in the unknown of new possibilities couldn’t have hurt either.
“If I were to give any advice, I would say that it’s good to take the risk. If you have a chance and an opportunity it’s always good to say yes to everything. Then, you just try your best.”
“It’s a great career because you get the chance to be all that you can be. You can be an employee, you can decide to be your own boss. If I can be successful, then I don’t see why anyone else could not. Anyone can!”