Spa owner aiming to teach skin care

Published 11:43 am Thursday, February 8, 2007

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES – A law proposed Tuesday by Rep. Neal Nitz could open the door for an esthetician school in Niles.
Nitz, R-Baroda, unveiled House Bill 4172 to allow the issuance of a limited school of cosmetology license to schools teaching only skin care services. Currently, esthetics licenses can only be obtained through general cosmetology programs, which focus mostly on hair and nail services with limited time spent on esthetic education.
"This issue was brought to my attention by Susan Sakara, owner of Lipstick Jungle, who is looking into opening a skin care-only school in Niles, and yet current law only allows for cosmetology licenses which include a much wider array of services with less focus on esthetics," Nitz stated in a press release. "By allowing for this more specific license, it gives students the opportunity to learn from someone who is highly trained in a specific area – giving them important and very marketable skills to help them find good-paying jobs in a very competitive field."
Sakara said if the bill passes, she plans to open an esthetic school in Renaissance Place – the former Four Flags Hotel – the same location of her health and beauty spa, Lipstick Jungle. Only Arizona has schools offering esthetic licensing programs that are separate from general cosmetology schools, and Sakara said her program would draw out of state students to Niles to earn a chance at being licensed.
"This would put us on the map as the second state in the country to have a free-standing esthetics school," Sakara said. "That's going to bring business to Michigan, to Niles."
Sakara holds an esthetics license in Michigan, Indiana and Arizona, and, before setting up her business in Niles, worked for more than 13 years in top-quality health spas out west, including Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, La Quinta Resort in Palm Desert, Calif., and also a few destinations owned by Ritz Carlton.
The first separate esthetics licenses were issued in 1993, Sakara said.
"The field is growing so fast with resort spas, medical spas. There are virtually not enough estheticians out there to fill those jobs," she added.
Sakara currently offers a 450-hour apprenticeship esthetics program at Lipstick Jungle, and she said she sees her potential esthetics school requiring 1,000 hours of student work. The program would also allow student hands-on training with Lipstick Jungle customers, which would in turn keep prices down at the spa.
"They will be fully prepared to get a job in any field … whether it's in the medical side or the spa side," Sakara said.
Beth Leep is Sakara's first esthetics apprentice and there are two more students lined up to start in the spring. Leep, who started in late September, worked 30 to 35 hours per week and will take her state licensing exam in March or April, said she was a business and sociology student at the College of Holy Cross and Indiana University South Bend before beginning her studies under Sakara.
"I think she's just a great teacher and she's very patient," Leep said, adding the one-on-one learning has excelled the learning process.
The next step for HB 4172 is consideration by the House Committee on Regulatory Reform.