If you’re ever in Switzerland, do us a favour and tell Jose Macuroy, aka Jojo, we say ‘hi!’ Or do yourself a favour and make yourself an appointment at his European esthetics studio, Jojo Esthetics, in Basel.
Had Jojo’s life happened the way he planned, he might be getting beauty treatments in between dance performances but an injured knee seemed to project his life onto another path filled with skin care, makeup, and nails. Though he originally planned to open a space in Germany after studying in Vancouver, Jojo is now happily nestled in Switzerland proving that the life of an Esthetician can be found anywhere in the world. With more plans for his studio than he can even put into words, Jojo is ready to tackle life and esthetics in Switzerland. And if nothing else, his work in esthetics has upheld the tradition of him being outnumbered by girls, “I was the only boy in school but I never care about that. I’m the only boy EVERYWHERE!”
You’re living the dream—you’ve got your own Esthetics studio, Jojo Esthetics, in Switzerland! How did that happen?
I never planned to live in Switzerland, actually! I always thought I would come back from Canada and Blanche Macdonald and open a studio in Germany where I had been living, but my partner got a job offer and so I thought “Why not?” We got this home with the perfect extra room to make into a studio so I’ve really put work into it so it feels comfortable for the client.
Can you tell us a little about your town, Basel, and the clients you typically see?
Basel is best known for its international museums but it’s also the centre of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as the home of many international banks. My clients are a mixture of Swiss people and the people who work in those industries which means they travel fairly often. A lot of people come here to work from Germany, France, and Italy.
Was it hard to get set-up there?
It’s definitely different! I had to learn the rules, the culture, and what people want in a European Esthetics Studio but I just started slowly doing my research and getting to know the country and once I got started, it wasn’t really that hard! Now I love Switzerland so much.
How did you promote yourself in a new country and get clients?
I do a lot of posting on Facebook and I also constantly network with people! I use social media to connect with people and find projects I can join in on that fill my schedule. Building a client base is a big job. But I make sure that every client I have now leaves loving their treatment. Positive word-of-mouth is the only promotion that will definitely bring other people in!
Were you nervous starting your own studio?
Oh my god—I was feeling everything! It really was a mix of every emotion. Mostly a fear of failing, that it wasn’t going to work out, and the opinion of other people. But really, it’s about me and my abilities and what I want to do. I still have my moments but I’m always pushing myself to think outside of my fear and not let it scare me.
OK—let’s go back a little. You were living in Germany, what made you leave and come to Canada?
Well, I’d grown up in Vancouver and I was studying to be a professional dancer. I took dance, I taught dance, and I thought I was going to be a professional dancer until I hurt my knee and couldn’t train anymore. After that I was kind of lost. I met someone who was from Germany so I thought I would give that a try. I was working at Starbucks and so I put in for a transfer and moved to Germany. Once I got there I realized that I still wasn’t very happy. It kind of felt like “This cannot be ‘it’.” As it turned out, I had to come back to Canada when my dad passed away and I was in Vancouver for a month seeing my family. There’s a friend of the family who had a cosmetic studio of his own and he was nice enough to take me to his studio and show me what he did and everything his day entailed—I loved it! The whole way back to Germany, all I could think was how much I wanted to do what he did. I just loved the creativity of it.
And so what led you to Blanche Macdonald’s Esthetics program?
I just started searching the internet for schools. And then I decided that I wanted to study back in Canada because it would be in English and I wasn’t that fluent in German. So I was searching for Esthetics schools and Blanche Macdonald came up as the first result. I loved everything about it right away. I read all the ratings, success stories, reviews, the course descriptions and everything else I could find. Everything was just so much better than every other school—even the images. So I came back to Canada and scheduled a visit with [Admissions Director] Jill [Wyness]. She was so nice! She showed me everything and explained the program so thoroughly – when I left I was like ‘I have to go here!’ I called her back a few hours later and enrolled for the soonest possible date. I would like to thank [Esthetics Director] Simona [Gozner] and all the wonderful teachers: Christina, Chika, Min, Barbara and Amanda; as well as my classmates that became my friends for an incredible program and my success now.
Did you enjoy the program?
Oh my god—it was one of the best times of my life! I really wish the program lasted longer because I didn’t want it to end. I loved the teachers and all the girls in my class. I was the oldest and the only boy but I never felt weird for even a second. There was a group of five girls and I who got really close during the program and we all still keep in touch. It really was the best time. I looked forward to every single day and I never missed a class. Everything I learned in the program I do in my studio now—facials, waxing, nails, and makeup.
So what services do you offer?
I do waxing, massages, manicures, pedicures, brow lifting, lash extensions, tinting and makeup. Everything I learned in school plus some things that I picked up here in Switzerland!
That’s so good to hear! How was getting work and experience here? Did you connect with the Esthetics Career Department?
I did! We also had all different companies, spas and hotels come and present to our class to interview and recruit people a few times during our program which was so amazing. I went to every one to network and make contacts. I ended up getting a job at Absolute Spa in North Vancouver and meeting Michael Beresford of Moor Spa—whose products I now carry in my studio!
Oh, what do you like about Moor Spa’s products?
I’ve loved them since I met their products. I was using it on myself for a long time and then I got in touch with Michael and said ‘I want an account with you guys. I’m going to open my own spa.’ And so I’ve had my account since then so they just ship it to me in Europe now.
What’s something you find yourself telling your clients often?
That’s actually one of the main differences in culture between here and Canada. In Canada, people always wanted you to tell them things and advise them. Here it’s not like that. My clients talk a lot about what they want and how they want things and so I listen a lot. The best thing to do is to really listen to them and what they’re saying every single time they come in. If they want to know something, they will ask and that’s how you gain respect. If they don’t ask, it’s best not to advise them. I just listen as much as I can so I can have as much information as possible about what they like and want.
That’s very different from Canada! Is there a lot that is different from Canada?
Oh, so much! Culture, people…everything! I think one of the things that seemed so different to me was the mindset. It’s more simple here. More just doing what makes themselves happy and going on with life – less worry all the time about everything. Everyone mostly lives on their own from the age of 18 and up so everyone has their own life they’re trying to sort and plan. It’s a way different culture. Also, people don’t wear a lot of makeup here at all. It’s very natural always, other than maybe special events or occasions but even then, it’s still more natural than North America.
What are your goals for your studio in the coming year?
Growing my client base always! But I’d also like to do more weddings. I’m booked for a few this summer already but I’d love that to be a big part of my business. I like to do shoots as well—I’m basically always trying to fill my schedule with services or makeup jobs – I feel lazy if I don’t! I have so many big plans for my studio but I don’t want to give it all away either! But mainly, my focus is on being there for my clients and being creative with their services. I love Switzerland so I’m going to stay here and watch the seeds that I’ve planted start to grow!