The ingenuity of the small business owners who use Skype never ceases to amaze me. It was particularly exciting recently to hear about an entrepreneur who’s trailblazing an entirely new business category thanks to Skype.
When we read about Renée Rouleau in The New York Times, we were nothing short of impressed. Renée provides skin care coaching via Skype video. According to the article, she’s part of a new wave of professionals who advise clients on caring for their skin, yet don’t work in doctors’ offices.
Renée has devoted her professional life to skin for twenty-five years. She runs two skin-care spas in Dallas and sells her own eponymous line of products.
“I’m a celebrity esthetician,” she explains. The famous clients listed on her site include Sofia Vegara, Jessica Simpson and Demi Lovato.
Renée brought in technology from the start. Long before blogging and email blasts, she used the Internet to market her business. In 1998 she launched ReneeRouleau.com as an e-commerce site to sell her products.
It was clear to Renée that technology would shape the direction of her industry.
“When I did consultations on the road, my customers would ask me, ‘will you come to Sydney? Taiwan?’ It got me thinking: what if technology could let me be everywhere?” she says.
A few months ago, Renée launched MySkinPrescription.com as a way to offer coaching via Skype video.
“What I love about Skype is that it gives us a face-to-face connection with our clients. It allows us to have an open conversation,” she says.
“We’re not trying to see every detail of someone’s skin on a video call. We work with female consumers who want serious skin advice from a trusted source, from someone who’s licensed. When you go to a department store counter, it’s mostly about selling products. Our sessions go in-depth. We talk comprehensively about nutrition, sun care, what’s she’s done in the past, that’s worked and what hasn’t.”
So far, Renée and her team have completed about two hundred 30-minute video consultations, mostly with women who are fans of her product line. About 80 percent have been in the U.S., and the rest overseas.
“The estheticians who had never used Skype before felt really empowered when they learned how to do the video calls,” she says.
The team uses iPads for the coaching sessions. They conduct them from the education and training section of Renée’s spa, called the Institut de Beauté, where they also do their in-person consultations.
“The bottom line for business owners is to think about how technology like Skype can help them work smarter, not harder,” says Renée. “I think business owners need to take time to research tools that are available and think about how to integrate them into their businesses.”