How to Run a Successful Chicago Spa

C.I. Luxury MedSpa Owner Dara Levy wanted to create a business that would meet her exacting standards as a customer. So, tapping into her personal preferences, Dara developed a medical spa focusing on effective face and body treatments in Chicago. Here, she shares her experiences seeking the best of the beauty world and why she won’t offer fruit-flavored facials.

What inspired you to launch a medical spa?

Dara Levy: I have always had a passion for skin care and became increasingly frustrated after years of going from place to place in the pursuit of perfect skin: a plastic surgeon for Botox and filler, the back of a beauty salon for facials, etc.

What resources did you utilize to develop your business plan?

Dara Levy: There was no overriding plan. I started with a vision and worked backwards from there. I built cellular intelligence one thought at a time, each step of the way, supporting and reinforcing my original vision. I consider myself to be our ultimate customer. If it is good enough for me, then there is no one that will be disappointed with our offerings. I am the Leona Helmsley of spa. From our meticulous silver and white interior to our state-of-the-art technology, there is nothing in the marketplace that competes with us.

What separates the offerings of C.I. Luxury MedSpa from other Chicago spas?

Dara Levy: We have a very unique model. We have created what we consider to be the next generation of MedSpa. Our amazing team of professionals is second to none. Dr. Brian M. Braithwaite, our medical director who’s a board-certified plastic surgeon, administers all injectables. And Chicago's most talented aestheticians perform our state-of-the-art treatments. This is not a spa to come to for strawberry scented facials and candlelit rooms -- there are no fluffy services, only effective results-oriented treatments.

What marketing tactics have you found most successful and why?

Dara Levy: We have in the past and still do traditional advertising and have dabbled in sites like Groupon, Living Social and Gilt City. We have found web-based coupon sites are consumer-driven and a reality of doing business today. In the beginning, many spas were using these sites to "pay the rent" while hoping to maintain a new clientele from the "deal.” We were early adapters and saw the writing on the wall right away... these coupons could make or break you. We have developed a program that, partnered with social media, encourages the coupon purchaser to continue as a client and to receive services at Cellular Intelligence Luxury MedSpa. In turn we have an opportunity to not only change their skin but to gain a new client based on customer service and results.

What are the most challenging aspects of running a beauty-focused business?

Dara Levy: The beauty and spa customer is fickle … always chasing the latest and greatest. Our commitment to our customer is to continually search for and bring them the latest and most effective results oriented treatments as they become available.

Who are your role models in the beauty, health and wellness industry?

Dara Levy: Tracie Martyn in New York and Kate Somerville in L.A. Both have uniquely set themselves apart from the fray.

What service drives the most business and how do you leverage it to attract new clientele?

Dara Levy: Our signature treatment and what we consider to be the foundation of a good skin care program is our DermaFlash Plus, which incorporates dermaplaning in a triple exfoliation and finishes with an O2 infusion. Skin looks and feels fresh, bright and completely hydrated, and glows as thought lit from within. This treatment creates the prefect canvas for flawless makeup application. DermaFlash Plus also prepares the skin for our other more advanced treatments and ensures exponential results.

What are your goals for C.I. Luxury MedSpa?

Dara Levy: To be Chicago's pre-eminent MedSpa, simple as that!  

Rachel Gillman has an insatiable appetite for dining out and an obsession with the restaurant industry. She's also fascinated by entrepreneurs and enjoys uncovering the story behind building a business from scratch. You can follow her on Twitter @RachelGillman.

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