The latest skincare store to open its doors on Montana Avenue has brought a lofty goal to the upscale shopping district: the democratization of facials.
“It’s your face! It’s what the world sees every day. Why shouldn’t it be part of your regular schedule?” said Face Haus cofounder Jennifer Worley. Worley says the concept for single-service skincare came from a ‘collision of ideas’ after the founders took their preteen daughters to get facials at a spa. Everyone had a great time until the moms got the bill – the facials cost $150 each.
“We were just chatting, ‘why is it so expensive?’ We wondered how much it would really cost if you stripped down all fluff,” Worley said. By fluff, Worley is referring to the traditional spa atmosphere: aromatherapy, zen music, private rooms and a hand massage.
Instead, clients at Face Haus sit in chairs side by side, as their faces are blasted with oxygen, their pores picked clean, their temples massaged. Pop music plays through overhead speakers.
It turns out, a facial sans ‘fluff’ runs $65. Worley and her fellow female entrepreneurs hope the price point means customers can afford to fit a monthly facial into their beauty regimen. So far the idea seems to be working, as the company expands with two new stores: a shop near Dry Bar at 1426 Montana Avenue and another in USC’s University Village.
Worley and her co-founders Karey Burke and Dawn Olmstead all came to the skincare industry from television production. Burke is the Executive Vice President of Programming and Development for Freeform. Olmstead was the executive producer of Prison Break, Tru Calling, and Point Pleasant as the co-president of Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios. Worley oversaw the development of feature films at Radar Pictures.
The mother-of-four says her experience translated well into starting a business – meaning she knew to call the right people to get the concept off the ground. Right off the bat, the founders recruited industry experts, nabbing dermatologist Dr. Harold Lancer as their consulting physician. Lancer’s list of celebrity clientele includes Ryan Seacrest, Ellen DeGeneres, and Kim Kardashian.
With nearly ten years of experience, esthetician Michelle Smith said high-quality products and the innovative concept lead her to Face Haus. The stores stock Hungarian-based Eminence Organics products, which source all natural ingredients from organic farms (Meghan Markle is reportedly a fan of the skincare line). Smith says hotel-affiliated spas typically charge three to four times as much for facials using the same products.
“Even though it’s an open format, it still feels very private,” Smith said. “It’s open but it still feels intimate.”
Smith said regular skin care is particularly important in Los Angeles, where faces are exposed to the sun, dry air and pollution nearly every day of the year.
“We’re putting our makeup on top of it, so having a good foundation is going to set you up for everything else to look good,” Smith said.
Founder Worley says ditching the spa surroundings and lowering the cost has diversified their clientele. Thirty percent of their customers are men and a large portion of teenagers.
“We have 13-year-old boys coming in with helmet acne from football,” Worley said. She hopes north Santa Monica will be the perfect area for her business to thrive. “We love those neighborhood blocks. We love being part of a neighborhood with residents.”