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About this Episode

In this episode, Sixteen years after becoming a small business owner, Valerie Weber has grown her business into both a well-known studio for permanent makeup and a top destination for permanent makeup education. We visited Dermagrafix and got Valerie’s to take on why she chose to become a master in a specialty area, her conviction for uncompromising quality, and seizing opportunities when they present themselves in order to will dreams into reality.

Episode Transcript

Valerie Weber 0:00
It’s really scary to me because I again that deep conviction of making sure these people are paying me money, you know, they’re going to take this knowledge back to their business. I want them to be successful.

Angela Giovine 0:13
Pop culture has become obsessed with entrepreneurship stories from Silicon Valley, and big startup. But the backbone of our economy is made of small local businesses. Every day, millions of small business owners deliver quality products and services, support the local economy, employ their neighbors and follow their passion. We think their stories are worth telling. I’m Angela Giovine. Welcome to the extra ordinary small business podcast. If you mention the name Valerie Weber, or Dermagrafix in permanent cosmetic circles, you may get a look of recognition or admiration. 16 years after becoming a small business owner, Valerie has grown her business into both a well known studio for permanent makeup, and a top destination for permanent makeup education. We visited Valerie’s Pennsylvania studio and got her take on why she chose to become a master in a specialty area, her conviction for uncompromising quality and seizing opportunities when they present themselves in order to will dreams into reality.

Angela Giovine 1:30
Valerie Weber is an international name in her industry, a talented artist and a savvy business owner. When you meet Val or browse her social media, you will encounter a poised professional and successful artist meets mogul who seems effortless in her delivery. But the truth is, Valerie achieved those things through a lot of hard work and determination. Having made the choice to strike out on her own while settling into a new life as a single mother, Valerie shares her outlook on what it takes to get where you want to go in your career and in your life. Valerie kept the hold of her vision and ambition to make a business and a better life for herself and her son. Today, Valerie is a mother of two, a wife to a loving and supportive husband and an all around boss.

Angela Giovine 2:28
Valerie, you have been in business here at Dermagrafix, permanent cosmetic studio for how long?

Valerie Weber 2:36
I guess you could consider the beginning of the business 2003?

Angela Giovine 2:40

Valerie Weber 2:41
Yeah, it’s when we started up. We were still mobile at the time though.

Angela Giovine 2:44
Still mobile. Tell us how you started.

Valerie Weber 2:47
I’ve always been into makeup. I’ve always done clinical skincare. I don’t do that part anymore but that’s how I started. When I got the idea that I wanted to open my own business, it was because I moved from out of state and I used to work you know for med spas and doing skincare and permanent makeup, but when I moved back home, this is my home Originally, I decided that I wanted to have my own business and when I moved back here nobody even knew what permanent makeup was.

Angela Giovine 3:10
How did you become introduced to permanent cosmetics?

Valerie Weber 3:13
Working with people’s skin, you know, acne, aging skin, I was always doing makeup for them and trying to make them feel better about themselves.

Angela Giovine 3:23

Valerie Weber 3:23
You know, one of the things about makeup is that it washes off. So you know, clients would always talk about long lasting makeup and you know, what can you do to have this stay on? Oh, I wish I could take you home with me and you put my eyebrows on every day and you know, I went to a med spa where you know my boss had mentioned permanent cosmetics and I remember thinking to myself, there’s no way I’m ever going to do that because every time I always saw permanent makeup it looked awful,

Angela Giovine 3:48
Right, like tattoo, like very obviously permanent.

Valerie Weber 3:51
Yeah, smurf blue eyeliner,

Angela Giovine 3:54

Valerie Weber 3:54
the turquoise and I remember thinking to myself, why would anybody want that for decades to come? Like why would you want to wear turquoise eyeliner? Or why would you want you know, the same lip color all the time. But what I didn’t know at the time was that was just poorly applied design or a poorly chosen color. I didn’t know back then that if it was done with the future in mind, yeah. If it was done properly, you know, with right training, it could be something really amazing or even life changing for someone. So when I started to learn a little bit more about that it was interesting to me and I researched it a little bit. I think my boss gave me a couple of gentle shoves in the right direction.

Angela Giovine 4:28

Valerie Weber 4:28
I’m pretty sure that she even put me through school I ended up having to pay her back, of course, but I think that’s really how I got started. You know, I didn’t have a lot of faith in the process right away. I didn’t know enough much like probably a lot of our clients, but when I got into it, and I really felt like I had you know, a knack for it. Keep in mind one thing I didn’t cover I was an artist as a as a young kid, so sculpting and painting and charcoal drawings and portraits, that was something that I was always into. So this was sort of a natural transition when I got into doing makeup.

Angela Giovine 5:00
You had the ability as well, I’ve seen you have artistic artistic ability.

Valerie Weber 5:04
Now I appreciate that, but I enjoy doing that. It’s an outlet for me. I definitely I feel like I need it in my life, but doing this for work, I think anytime you get into any sort of profession, you have to do what you love. Right?

Angela Giovine 5:16

Valerie Weber 5:16
So doing that, I think, you know, it all tied together. But yeah, I mean, that’s basically the start of it. And once I figured out that, it was an artistic thing, and I started doing it and I loved it and I was getting great results. It made me want to go learn more like I started digging deeper and deeper and trying to learn as much as I possibly could. Eventually I gave up everything else that I did, just to do permanent makeup.

Angela Giovine 5:41
That’s a common thing with people who are business owners. They have a lot of different interests and a lot of different business ideas. What made you want to concentrate on the one thing?

Valerie Weber 5:51
I had a very large following for skincare. Clients came to me regularly for that sort of thing. So it was very hard to turn away but the reason that I did that is because I had a big desire to teach other people I felt like I had so many permanent makeup clients coming in, who either didn’t know enough about it, they were getting diluted information from technicians that weren’t really they didn’t enrich themselves and what they did. You know, I’ve always wanted to, you know, teach other people how to do it. So I was certainly waiting at least seven eight years into my career before I even felt like I had the skills to be passing on more knowledge to someone else. But once I decided I wanted to do that a little part of me felt a little convicted that I I really shouldn’t be teaching somebody else, not only without having the experience behind me, but I felt like I needed to put all of my passion, my devotion my time my efforts into doing nothing but permanent makeup day in day out full time, and I was already full time, but part of those hours were devoted to doing skincare. And while that may seem like a really good background for tattooing, skincare and permanent makeup tattooing are two separate industries. It’s good to have the knowledge of skin but it doesn’t prep somebody to tattoo. So I had to make a very tough choice, cut my business in half basically.

Angela Giovine 7:05
So now at that point, were you still mobile? At what point did you go, so I’m assuming you went from working inside somebody’s shop into your own? Or how did that evolve?

Valerie Weber 7:14
So basically, I started out being mobile meaning out of five days a week, I spent one day at a different Med Spa or doctor’s office

Angela Giovine 7:22
and you would do skincare and then?

Valerie Weber 7:24

Angela Giovine 7:25
Oh just pemanent

Valerie Weber 7:25
No, I did skincare out of one facility at the time, which was a plastic surgeon’s office. And the other four days, I traveled to four other locations where I strictly only did permanent cosmetics. Let’s see, I did that for about a year and a half, two years and then I decided I was- nah maybe it was almost three years. Then I decided I was going to open my own permanent makeup and skincare center. And that’s where I was doing both.

Angela Giovine 7:49

Valerie Weber 7:50
but it was when I moved to my next location, and I decided I was just going to teach and you teach permanent makeup, do permanent makeup, give up skincare, give up everything else. And that’s the way it’s been ever since then. It was a really great move, that’s allowed me to be very successful, very passionate, very knowledgeable about what I do. And it really draws a lot of students and clients here, because I think they see that. You know, we’re not diluting our efforts into doing laser hair removal at you know, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that somewhat, the one. The one thing is permanent cosmetics. We do other things that relate to permanent cosmetics, because it’s part of what the client is trying to achieve for a look that they’re going for, or convenience.

Angela Giovine 8:28
Now, you alluded to the fact that you have both a direct to consumer permanent cosmetics business, but you also spend a great deal of your time teaching other professionals in the industry. Tell me about that decision to have two sides of the business.

Valerie Weber 8:44
I think when I first started doing that, it was it was really scary to me, because I again, that deep conviction of making sure these people are paying me money. You know, they’re going to take this knowledge back to their business. I want them to be successful. You know, again, it felt a very great heavy load. I didn’t realize it at the time. So it just seemed like a really inspirational thing, a helpful thing, but then once I got into it, I was like, wow, this is really serious.

Angela Giovine 9:06
Did it start because people just started asking you to help them? Or How did you become interested in teaching?

Valerie Weber 9:11
I think there was a couple people that saw my passion for what I did. And you know, how I teach my clients, and the way I educate them, each consultation as an educational experience here, it’s not just you walk in for a price. So I think along the way, I’ve had people say that to me, so it was just a thought of vision. And you know, you dwell on visions for a while until they become reality. That’s, that’s pretty much how that went down.

Angela Giovine 9:33
Right. And at this point, that part of your business has really grown.

Valerie Weber 9:35
Absolutely. In fact, after we’re done today, I have students that are coming in from out of town to spend some one on one time with me today, I’ve got training tomorrow and again the next day, I also teach out of state, there’s some other permanent makeup studios who will bring me in to teach their staff or sure local professional, so I’ll go and travel to them.

Angela Giovine 9:52
Now. Have you noticed permanent cosmetics become more understood, since you’ve started your business? Or is it still the same educational ramp, if you will, to get people up to understanding what it is that you do.

Valerie Weber 10:05
I think it’s a bit of both. I think the number of people coming up in permanent cosmetics has caused a peak in interest for consumers. I do think that there’s a lot of misinformation still being circulated. And part of that has to do with very little regulation to have to be trained, so if you have to be trained in something, there should be a minimum requirement of knowledge. There’s definitely people out there who love what they do, and they go and get training, whether it’s required or not, but people love it. I think the people that are fearful of it probably have come into contact with the people that I came in contact with over, you know, 20 years ago who had ugly permanent makeup.

Angela Giovine 10:40

Valerie Weber 10:40
You know, most people have a pretty good idea that permanent cosmetics are a life changer, but they’re not sure just yet where to go because I think even some consumers do know that there’s places you go, places you don’t go. Obviously somebody is doing it out of their house or a hotel room.

Angela Giovine 10:55
Yes, possibly not the most professional

Valerie Weber 10:58
Right. Probably not.

Angela Giovine 10:58
And this is being 2018 right now, microblading is obviously become very popular. I imagine that is like a gateway into permanent cosmetics, if you will, in a good way and in a bad way I think.

Valerie Weber 11:10

Angela Giovine 11:10
Like you said, there’s not a lot of regulation around it. So there’s there are people who are more educated about it than others, I suppose.

Valerie Weber 11:17
Oh, yeah. Well, it’s like that with anything. The one interesting thing about permanent makeup is, at least in Pennsylvania, there’s not a state license. There’s not a state license in just about any state, I think there’s only three or four out of 50 states that have a state license. And while some people you know, listening to this might be thinking, Oh, my God, that sounds dangerous. Actually, it’s not a bad thing to not have a state license. A state license to me, means anybody with a checkbook can sign up for this particular profession. And I do think there should be barriers to entry. Basically, if you don’t have any artistic background, or this isn’t something that comes easy to you, when you pick up the tools to do it, you really shouldn’t be permanently doing anything to somebody’s face. And just because you can pay a school to teach you, doesn’t mean that you should be doing it And I always qualify students who sign up for classes here. You can’t just sign up for a class here, you have to have, we interview you, we actually have our students perform sketch drawings as part of their qualifications for entry. But tattooing is actually regulated by the city.

Angela Giovine 12:16

Valerie Weber 12:16
So each city is different in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, you have to have three year apprenticeship, plus, you have to use apprentice under a licensed tattoo artists and also a licensed studio before they’ll even let you touch a person, which is actually a good thing, but the lack of regulations are for the people who don’t get the proper training. You know, so you can order a tattoo machine and pigments off Amazon and call yourself a permanent makeup artist or tattoo artists. That’s a little dangerous. So I think for those people for those situations, we need to have some regulations and also for safety in the workplace. You know, if you got a lot of staff members working in a particular establishment, let’s just say a hair salon. I see a lot of microblading happening in hair salon.

Angela Giovine 12:57

Valerie Weber 12:57
You know all those staff members are actually exposed to blood borne pathogens. And by law, they’re not even required to take a blood borne pathogens class. So I actually met with our state representative a couple weeks ago, there was a bill passed. I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing this legislation take place soon. But it’s going to require minimum health and safety standards for employers, business owners, and probably some simple licensure, but I don’t think it’s going to require schooling that, like I mentioned before.

Angela Giovine 13:21
Right, that’s great that you went so far as to meet with a government official, because, you know, a lot of people would just leave it at I wish you had, would change but not actually make a change or work towards making a change.

Valerie Weber 13:33
Well, yeah, I care. And the other thing is, because I’m a trainer and a leader in the industry, and in my community, I feel like it’s kind of, I don’t want to say it’s my particular place to do that. But it matters. And I keep seeing people walk in with the poor work. I’ve had two people come to me in the last year, that told me they had microblading done somewhere and the person didn’t wear gloves. I mean, that’s kind of fundamental knowledge. Even if you haven’t had any training, I feel like it’s the one thing that you would know to do. So how that’s happening. I have no idea, but people don’t have to worry about that coming here. I don’t want to scare people.

Angela Giovine 14:03

Valerie Weber 14:03
Most places, you know

Angela Giovine 14:05

Valerie Weber 14:06
if they’re professional they care. I think you can kind of tell.

Angela Giovine 14:08

Valerie Weber 14:08
If you have a look at their website, you look at their Instagram pages, you can kind of get an idea of how they practice, how clean it is because there’s pictures. Thank God for social media, we kind of get a right window of what’s going on inside.

Angela Giovine 14:19
Speaking of that, we’re sitting in your recently renovated new office and studio you have grown substantially over the last several years. So you started from working inside other plastic surgeons offices to you went to, I guess, a smaller studio here. So what how many square feet are we looking at here?

Valerie Weber 14:39
Well, today we’re setting in about 3300 square feet. We have five procedure areas, two consult rooms, our main waiting room, our office, my staff finally has a break room. We have two training rooms which can seat up to 20 students if needed. And we house international trainers, trainers from the US that come in and use our space at times as well. But you know, back when I first started, I was the cleaning lady, I was the advertiser, I was a person that did the services. I was the person that answered the phone. I would go door to door to you know, local salons and doctor’s offices and show them my portfolio or I used to you know, I remember sitting down and printing my own before and after pictures, we didn’t have social media. You know, I don’t even think I could afford a website back then. You know, so when

Angela Giovine 15:24
You know, quick website Squarespace whatever be able to put up a quick website?

Valerie Weber 15:29
No, I didn’t do the startups that some people do like kickstarter. What are they call it?

Angela Giovine 15:32
I was I wanted to touch that subject with you because you are a small business owner and it’s not a subject that a lot of people talk about. Did you self fund yourself?

Valerie Weber 15:41

Angela Giovine 15:41
Did you go to a bank? Did you have friends that invested in you? basically, this

Valerie Weber 15:45
Basically, this was a really rough time when I started my business. I was at the beginning of a divorce. I literally left my husband a month after I signed my first lease which was very scary to me. My son was five years old getting ready to start kindergarten and here in our county, there’s no full time kindergarten.

Angela Giovine 16:01

Valerie Weber 16:02
So it was part time kindergarten, and I had to pay in order for me to work a full day.

Angela Giovine 16:06

Valerie Weber 16:06
So I not only was I having my own household expenses, but having to pay for a business. I don’t know what people know out there about having a business. But if you don’t have a business, having a business is like, having a whole nother household expense, if not more. So that was really tough. And I think one of the reasons that I became successful is not just because that’s who I am as a person, anytime I do something, I always do it 150% it’s just the way I am. I don’t want to sign my name to anything, unless it’s going to be great, which is one of the reasons I turned some clients away when they come to me sometimes, you know, that’s totally off the beaten path of what we’re talking about. Sometimes people come in and they want something, if I just don’t feel like I can get them to the expectation that they’re working for I would rather not do it at all. So with that, you know, I had a son to raise, you know, I didn’t have any help, you know, my family lived out of state, you know, my father was sick with lung cancer, you know, things are tough. So it was a sink or swim.

Angela Giovine 16:59

Valerie Weber 17:00
Sink or swim. So I don’t think I had any luck, per se. I think it was perseverance. I think it was a lot of patience, dedication, hard work, and sticking it out. For going some things that I wanted to do, in order to make things happen. I remember there were times that I have to make a choice, you know, you’re either going to do this, you’re going to do that. And I’d have to make a tough choice. And I have to make those choices very quickly at times, right.

Angela Giovine 17:23
Right. Right now, the fact that you have grown, it’s hard for small businesses sometimes to understand when is a good time to take that investment? Hire that new employee, build the new studio? What were some of the indicators for you that it was time, to keep taking those next steps? How did you stop yourself from just being complacent and staying in a small studio or not taking a risk in expanding your business?

Valerie Weber 17:47
Well, I do believe in taking risks for sure. And I do believe in educated risks as well. So I don’t think at any point I just did something on a whim, I think when I started to have that feeling I believe that we all have, you know, something inside of us that sort of motivates us for whatever reason, maybe it’s your purpose, maybe I don’t know, I’m not trying to get too deep here. But, you know, for me, I do feel like there is some sort of inner purpose. And I think we all have a path in life. You know, some people might call it your business vision, could be your personal vision, whichever it is, I knew that, wherever I was, it was very difficult for me. So I knew that I couldn’t stay in that difficult place for too long.

Angela Giovine 18:28

Valerie Weber 18:28
I needed to evolve from there. So it was always about what’s the next step? So always looking down the road about what’s the next step? And then I would play with that idea for a little bit. I did think about it in my head, I’d pictured in my mind, what did it look like? How did it feel? What how would my circumstances be different. And then I would take it a step farther. I’d start researching i’d investigate. For example, I remember when I had my first shop in Warminster, I began in Doylestown. I couldn’t afford Doylestown, so I looked for places to rent in Warminster because that was more in my budget. And I knew it wasn’t too far for my clients to travel. So I did that. You know, I remember saying to myself, I will be opening a facility in Doylestown.

Angela Giovine 19:08
You had the vision

Valerie Weber 19:08
Had the vision and it was just a matter of researching it to figure out when was it going to be realistic. And it wasn’t realistic at the time. But I think there was some things that I had to put in place. You asked me if I self financed I did. And the way that I did that was I just started acquiring, as I saved up enough in my business, I would start acquiring new pieces of equipment and I would store them in a training all kinds of stuff until I was able to, you know, make lots of connections and just do a lot of research until that pushed me over the edge to make the final step and the way I am as I’ll gather all the information, and I’ll make sure that I have all my ducks in a row so that when that opportunity hits I’m able to strike.

Angela Giovine 19:47
So you know exactly what it is that you’re going for. You’re just waiting for the right climate, the right circumstances?

Valerie Weber 19:53
Sometimes and sometimes I have to not wait for that.

Angela Giovine 19:56
Sure. So you have to make it make the climate, make the circumstances, sure.

Valerie Weber 20:01
So for this expansion, I remember I was already in this space, but I was only in the front office here, which was about 1000 1200 square feet behind me was an attorney’s office. And for the first five years that I occupied this space, I always would walk down this long alleyway down the length of the building to get to my car. And I remember looking up at all the windows and passing by window window when it just was so long to me. And I remember thinking to myself, it would be really cool if I had the whole first floor one day. And I was like, but that’s probably so far away. And those people behind me are never going to move out. And, you know, I didn’t want to be too negative, but I thought, if it happens, I’ll do it. And it just so happened, that opportunity presented itself. I wasn’t even prepared for it in terms of mentally. Financially, I think we were but it wasn’t even something I was thinking of at the time. And I heard you know, whisper down the lane through other people in my building that they were moving out and I immediately contacted the landlord and I said, we got to have this space.

Angela Giovine 20:55
Tell me about that what you just said about being prepared mentally. When something comes to you, or something seems like it might be coming into view, but mentally it isn’t what you pictured right then and there. How do you get yourself there? How do you get ready and change your your focus?

Valerie Weber 21:13
I don’t know, I don’t know how I mentally was able to make that shift. But it was immediate. The second that I thought about it, I immediately had to change everything that I was working on at the moment. And I don’t think I had that many things going on at the moment. And I love big projects anyway. So I think it fell into my lap, but I think it’s because I also willed it into

Angela Giovine 21:34

Valerie Weber 21:34
I’m serious. I really do believe in the law of attraction. And I really I had walked that walk so many times and thought that same thing to myself so many times. And I just was, I was waiting, but I just didn’t think it was going to happen when it happened.

Angela Giovine 21:48

Valerie Weber 21:49
And I thought it’s now or never because I mean literally It was a beautiful space and you know, if I didn’t take it someone else was going to But I do think that if we dwell on these things, and we think positively and we you know, try to do the right things, it will present itself. I think you have to have your eyes open, when it happens.

Angela Giovine 22:04

Valerie Weber 22:04
I think if I told myself you’re not ready to do that, that opportunity would pass by somebody would have signed a 10 year lease and we would we wouldn’t have it.

Angela Giovine 22:12
Sure, there’s that saying, whether you think you can or you think you can’t. You’re right.

Valerie Weber 22:17
Yeah, I completely agree with that.

Angela Giovine 22:20
Yeah, for sure.

Valerie Weber 22:21

Angela Giovine 22:21
For sure. Now you’re a sole proprietor, meaning you own the business fully. You don’t have any partners. As a fellow small business owner, that can be emotionally draining. The highs are the highs, and the lows, There is not really someone to bounce that off of. Tell me about how you deal with the struggles the bad days. Are there peoples that are network you reach out to? Are there certain activities that you do, how do you ride out the highs and the lows?

Valerie Weber 22:50
It’s hard when you’re in the striving years of your business and you have children. I mean, I have a son that we’re sending off to college and a young one who’s going to first grade so there two different paths, they have different emotional needs. And then I have, you know, the staff, they all have their personal life or, you know, we try to mentor them here, and then our clients, and then students who constantly need direction.

Angela Giovine 23:14

Valerie Weber 23:14
So it’s a lot, it really is a lot. And the best thing that I can d,o is take charge of my time, and take a minute to just quiet my mind. And there is such a thing as turning things off, you have to be able to turn things off. I know a lot of small businesses. I remember people telling me all the time, Oh, you can’t have a small business unless you work on weekends. I don’t work weekends, I haven’t worked weekends and forever, refuse to work weekends, because as many times as I have clients that tell me I can only come on weekends. I hate to lose the business, but I would rather do that than lose my family.

Angela Giovine 23:47
Sure, you made the choice.

Valerie Weber 23:49
Yeah, it’s a choice. And it’s hard sometimes, there are times we have to, you know, make compromises on things but I think finding that quiet time to regroup, refocus, like right now, I’ve got a lot things going on. I’ve had to I’ve had to refocus a little bit on some of our projects, you know.

Angela Giovine 24:07

Valerie Weber 24:07
getting spread too thin. So I don’t, I think just taking the time for yourself mentally, and then always reprioritizing whatever is on your, your list of things to do, because you’re never going to finish everything, especially if you’re an entrepreneurial mind, you’re always going to want to do 100 things.

Angela Giovine 24:22
Right, you have to focus it in. So do you have any business advisors or people you turn to for advice?

Valerie Weber 24:28
I talked to my attorney probably on a weekly basis.

Angela Giovine 24:31

Valerie Weber 24:30
Yeah, you know, we have other things going on and not not just you know, business stuff, but you know, I talk to him about advice in terms of you know, things things I want to do, ideas I want to do and the legalities of it, the dangers, you know, risks and so forth that we might come in contact with. And then of course, I talked to I have a business coach and advisor that, you know, I bounce ideas off of, he gives me food for thought and just helps to keep my perspective clear. It helps me to recenter you know, I do things like meditation or massage therapy. And believe it or not even spending time with my family not thinking about work and just sharing fun things. That’s a fulfilling part of life that I feel like if we didn’t, you know, for me anyhow, I feel like if I didn’t have that, kind of feels empty.

Angela Giovine 24:31
So you touched on the fact that when you started, the social media wasn’t as big as it is today. How has the change in technology affected your business?

Valerie Weber 25:22
International connections, is one of the biggest things for me. So I’ve made relationships with artists from all over the world. I’ve been invited to speak at conferences internationally, as you know, subject matter experts. You know, for business, I think it’s good for education, as well. It’s nice to see what people are doing in other countries. And maybe it’s either not as good as what we’re doing here, or maybe it’s better than and I think it’s great to collect that knowledge and bring it back, for my staff, for our clients. Social media has allowed clients who would not otherwise have access to services like this in their tiny small home town, maybe they don’t have anybody. Like breast cancer patients, I can’t tell you how many breast cancer patients had no idea, that areola and nipple three dimensional tattooing was available to them because either their plastic surgeon or reconstructive surgeon didn’t know, or never mentioned it. But social media has made this possible. Same with alopecia clients, a lot of these alopecia clients are buying, you know, wigs, scarves, hair systems, going to their dermatologist for cortisone injections, but nobody knew that scalp micropigmentation was an option for them.

Angela Giovine 26:28
Sure, sure

Valerie Weber 26:29
Things like that, spread far and wide and social media has, I think, been a game changer for what I do. And I could totally see for other businesses, you know how it matters. And then of course, then you have the personal connection. You can, you can certainly, you know, talk to people offer advice.

Angela Giovine 26:42

Valerie Weber 26:43
That’s another aspect

Angela Giovine 26:44
Right, I know one thing that you do now regularly is to go live on your social media platforms on a regular basis that helps you connect with your

Valerie Weber 26:51

Angela Giovine 26:52

Valerie Weber 26:52
Yeah, customers and even our students. You know, there’s different avenues which we use it for because we’re a teaching school and also a place offer services, we use it for both.

Angela Giovine 27:01
Sure. So one thing I have learned as I talk to so many business owners and also learn from big business leaders is that the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. But most of the time when I hear these stories, there’s always this, I had this huge failure, but because I failed, I this. I got to that next level. Has there been a time where it maybe you took a risk, and it didn’t quite pan out, for you, the way you thought, but it helped you get somewhere else?

Valerie Weber 27:33
Yes, I took a risk just getting this particular space.

Angela Giovine 27:37

Valerie Weber 27:38
You know, and that was that was really hard for me, but it certainly did pay off for me. And it allowed me to grow. It allowed me to believe in my own vision that I had years ago. I never wanted to be a one man show. You know, and now we’re a staff of six people, you know, and that’s a comfortable number for me. I never wanted to be the only person offering services or training. I’m building up my team to be able to also offer training alongside me or independently. One risk that I, I took was I remember we we brought on a huge makeup line, it was such a gigantic investment at the time, and we used it

Angela Giovine 28:10
buy a lot of product?

Valerie Weber 28:11
Yeah, it was it, you know, back then, that was a big investment for me considering you know, the scale and the size of my business at the time. But remember, it’s thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars and, you know, spending money to host events and gourmet foods and you know, all kinds of stuff we had, you know, like a small wedding and, you know, to launch this this product line and it didn’t work out so well. You know, one thing I learned is don’t do that again.

Angela Giovine 28:37
So, you know, could you have spotted it? If you do go back, would you change it? Or did it help you learn something that perhaps prevented you from making other mistakes in the future?

Valerie Weber 28:45
You know, at the time I was experimenting on what our center focus was going to be, and it seems like makeup would be a great additive to permanent makeup. You know, people want to wear makeup, but honestly when I look at it, it doesn’t meet our vision now. The product line wasn’t organic, it wasn’t vegan, and that’s, you know, something that we have recently publicized and, uh, you put a story out there, but people who are getting into permanent cosmetics, they want to not have to put on all that other makeup. So I didn’t know it then, I’m glad it happened because it it helps me to dial in to what our true vision was. And that was, the core of what we do is permanent cosmetics. And all of these other things, it seemed like it would go hand in hand with it, but it really doesn’t. It really doesn’t

Angela Giovine 29:32

Valerie Weber 29:32
because not only that the particular product I was using wasn’t organic. It wasn’t vegan, maybe they weren’t testing on animals, but again, it was the time and the convenience for the client. They were still having to put it on every day. You know, there’s just all these different things and I was using it as well for somebody who isn’t ready for permanent makeup. We could have this product and honestly

Angela Giovine 29:50
Being everything to everybody.

Valerie Weber 29:51
Yeah, and you just can’t be everything to everyone. You know, this is what we do. We can really help you. We believe in it so much and you know, this other stuff, just you know, I do wear out makeup

Angela Giovine 30:00
Yeah, yeah.

Valerie Weber 30:01
but um you know, I do try to eliminate personally and this is kind of we practice what we preach, I try to eliminate things because you know production of cosmetics is not really good for the environment, the waste products, a lot of these packages can’t be recycled anyway. So permanent cosmetics does help to solve that issue. And it’s better for you’re not putting chemicals and things in your body so

Angela Giovine 30:21
So for yourself, which permanent cosmetic procedures have you had done on yourself?

Valerie Weber 30:26
I’ve had my eyebrows done so many times because I just can’t live without them. I really can’t. I touch up my brows probably every two years because I just don’t like them looking super faded, and I’d you know, I’ve tried a variety of techniques on myself. What I have today is called an ombre a powder fill, be in previous years I had microblading, and before that I had what’s called 3d nano, which is a machine done hair stroke. But now I prefer the shaded look, and I feel like it’s soft and it’s longer lasting. I wasn’t going to say this but I I’ll go ahead and tell you a little secret. I am going to be going scalp micropigmentation. Not because I’m old and thinning,

Angela Giovine 31:03
No, you’re not.

Valerie Weber 31:04
I’ve had gray hair since I was 25.

Angela Giovine 31:06

Valerie Weber 31:06
You know just a little bit here and there and it’s getting more as you get older. So in the frontal and mid portions of my scalp right here from like my hairline, to the front of my crown, I’m going to get a density application. So I’m going to have my husband do it. And it’s just going to fill in my scalp a little because as I gray a little bit, it makes me look a little bit thin. And I think I do have a little bit, It’s probably from my business stress.

Angela Giovine 31:28
I mean,

Valerie Weber 31:29
Or my kids.

Angela Giovine 31:29
you have beautiful hair, so I’ll be really interested to see how that

Valerie Weber 31:33
I’m probably going to do it on a live video so people can watch it

Angela Giovine 31:36
Cool. Um, you just touched on the fact that your husband now works in your business.

Valerie Weber 31:41
Oh, yeah, yeah, he’s been here for like a year and a half. He loves it.

Angela Giovine 31:44
How is it working with your husband all day long and then going home?

Valerie Weber 31:47
I wish he was here every day.

Angela Giovine 31:49
That’s amazing. That is an amazing thing.

Valerie Weber 31:51
I wish he was here every day because we actually work really well together. So I enjoy him being here. He’s one of our scout micropigmentation experts and he actually travelled to London, and he trained with one of the top

Angela Giovine 31:54
So he wasn’t in this industry before you?

Valerie Weber 32:05
No, he wasn’t in this industry, but he was always very artistic. He went to school for graphic art and design. So he is an artist as well.

Angela Giovine 32:12
Oh okay.

Valerie Weber 32:13
but there wasn’t any job placement for him at the time. So he ended up you know, working for his neighbor and then at a bit you know, starting his own business. He actually wanted to go to school for theatrical makeup, he wanted to do special effects makeup, for movie sets, and that’s just hard to get into at the time so

Angela Giovine 32:29
But that’s amazing that you can guys can be together, so many hours in the day and and

Valerie Weber 32:34
I don’t really see him though, that’s what helps. He’ll be in one room, I’m in the other

Angela Giovine 32:38
Sure, sure.

Valerie Weber 32:38
We only kind of see each other in the hallway every once in a while.

Angela Giovine 32:41
So I’m going to ask two more questions.

Valerie Weber 32:43

Angela Giovine 32:44
Finish this sentence. I would not be here today, if not for.

Valerie Weber 32:49
Everything that’s come my way. I mean, my family the hard times, believe it or not are what I think builds character. You know, I think faith in yourself and I feel like all of those things have have helped put me where I am today.

Angela Giovine 33:02
What is one piece of advice that you would give your 18 year old self?

Valerie Weber 33:07
I would say, don’t be afraid to shoot for the stars. Like I think a lot of people don’t dream big enough. I think they tell themselves that it’s too hard, too out of reach, you know, don’t think inside the box, you know, they say throw the box away. I feel like that’s probably one of the most motivating things you can say to a young person who’s getting ready to start their career. Don’t think small. And don’t think somebody else is more deserving than you.

Angela Giovine 33:30
On that note, this is where you are in the business, now. Do you have visions that go beyond this?

Valerie Weber 33:36
Oh, yeah, we’re nowhere near done.

Angela Giovine 33:38
Nowhere near done, now that’ sgreat to hear. Valerie Weber, thank you so much for being with us.

Valerie Weber 33:43
Absolutely, anytime.

Angela Giovine 33:46
Thanks for listening. For more information about our show and our company, head to extra ordinary small business dot com. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or Instagram. We would be so grateful, If you could help us reach more listeners. All you have to do, is go to iTunes or wherever you get your podcast and rate, review and subscribe. It would mean the world to us. Ratings, reviews, and subscribes are how iTunes decides which podcasts are worth sharing. Help us continue to bring these stories of extraordinary small business owners to the world. By rating, reviewing and subscribing, you’re helping our small business. It’s free and it takes just a minute. Thanks!