From Dermascope Magazine
“Excellence in education” has been a guiding principle in Annette Hanson’s life and the school she founded, Atelier Esthetique Institute of Esthetics, a New York licensing aesthetics school and post-graduate facility. She studied face and body treatments throughout the United States, France, Germany, and England and is determined to never stop learning. Her professional experience in skin care spans more than 30 years as an aesthetician, salon manager, product innovator, aromatherapist, distributor, instructor, writer, and consultant. When Hanson is not working, she enjoys traveling and experiencing other cultures, and she can never be caught without her red lipstick.
My parents owned a drug store in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. My father was the pharmacist and my mother managed the beauty counter, mainly offering DuBarry cosmetics. I inherited my love of skin care from her. She taught me all of my customer service and retailing skills, starting when I was six selling penny candy. When I arrived in Paris for three years of aesthetics study at the famous Carita Institute on the elegantly fashionable Rue de Faubourg Saint Honore in Paris, I knew I was living my dream.
What have you learned about yourself through running a business?
I am only as good as the people with whom I surround myself. As much as I would like to, I cannot do everything. I hand-picked my team and without them, I would never have gotten to where I am today.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
I have lived two lives in this industry: as a distributor and as president of my company.
I was a skin care equipment and product distributor where I lectured in schools, salons, and at tradeshows and conferences across the country and abroad. It was Rebecca James Gadberry, a cosmetic chemist and the most respected cosmetic ingredient educator in our industry, who taught me about product development and inspired me to create my own two product lines – Simple Solutions with GHK Copper Peptide Technology and AquaSanté Spa Products from France. She coached me on how to achieve excellence in my presentations and helped me acquire the confidence to speak to audiences small and large.
As the founder of Atelier Esthetique Institute of Esthetics, I was inspired by Dorothy McKinley Soressi. She was always there to guide me on how to operate my school using best practices. We met in New York in 1990, when she was vice president of a prominent school chain. She helped me keep my school in compliance with all state and federal rules and regulations and was always there to share her expertise. She was my trusted adviser with so much knowledge and experience.
Without these and other mentors in my life, I do not think I could have achieved what I did in my career. Mentors are so important to success.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Opening Atelier Esthetique Office and Training Center on the 34th floor of the Empire State Building in 1985 without one single customer. When I first came from France, I was unaware that New York State did not have a separate aesthetics license. I had to go through the phone book and call every spa and ask to speak to anyone doing facials. I built my client base by word of mouth and I became very active with the New York State Cosmetology Association.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I keep up-to-date with the latest scientific findings about aging, as well as procedures to delay the process while building skin’s health and radiance. Anywhere in the world that I travel, I make sure to visit local spas to keep Atelier Esthetique’s education current and forward thinking. I continue to speak at school association and spa conferences. And, I make it a point to visit my graduates in whatever city I find myself. I care about each one’s success.