It has been six years in my new space and 29 years in business total, but it all started with a dream! This dream started because of my mother, who was a great influence in taking care of yourself.
Being born in 1922, she grew up in a time where women sacrificed themselves a lot. She taught me to always take care of yourself because, “if you don’t value yourself, no one else will.” Self care and attending to how we feel about our appearance is one of the most wonderful parts of being a woman, so initially my dream was to work with other women. Over the past 30 years, that has expanded to work with everyone, regardless of gender, because it is important to take care of ourselves.
I grew up in Australia, and when I was 18, I suffered from severe acne across my cheeks. It really affected my self-esteem, so I went to see an aesthetician weekly to clear up my skin. This is where my skin care journey truly began.
After getting my skin cleared up and having the experience of going and working with an aesthetician on a regular basis, I knew that this was something I wanted to do as a career. I went to school here in the United States. I got my license in Portland and then I started learning, learning, learning. I believe that the schools in America give you a license to learn, and that becoming truly skilled at this craft is something you have to continually work on. I was lucky to have worked under some really good aestheticians, like a woman from France called Silvia Arsenault. She taught me a lot about skin and about European skin care.
Finding the Right Brands Was a Journey
My first love was with Yonka. The smell of the essential oils, phytotherapy, and the results that I was getting from using Yonka on peoples skin was outstanding. Each year I continued to learn, take classes, and go to trade shows. I’ve been using Yonka for almost 30 years, as well.
The next line that I took on was SkinCeuticals. I felt using a balance between cosmeceuticals, aromatherapy, and phytotherapy would benefit my clients. The science and technology behind vitamin C that Dr. Pinnell had put out there was just something that I knew my clients needed to have. I was fortunate enough to speak with Dr. Pinnell and learn more about how to get ingredients down into the skin so that they are beneficial, as well as what technology could do that. In our industry there are a lot of claims about what’s good and what works. It’s exhausting. We see some new fad pop up on TikTok or Instagram every month, and what it’s doing is often disrupting people’s skin. All other vitamin C serums use the patent that Dr.Pinnell developed, so it’s pretty clear that SkinCeuticals is the gold standard in that sense. Counteracting skincare misinformation has become a big mission for me in helping our clients to get the best skin care that will work, and to make sure that we are matching it to the right skin in the right condition.
“I hope that Bellini’s can make a positive impact in our clients’ lives.”
My next line that I brought on was Phytomer and Vie. Every year I went to the trade shows, I couldn’t help but notice how incredibly beautiful all the staff’s skin was. I started doing more research on the company, and the fact that they use seaweed and seawater from their own research and development lab really intrigued me.
I recently visited Phytomer’s labs in September, 2022, and was blown away at how much they had grown. I got to see firsthand their bio technologies lab and groundbreaking science in the skincare industry that they are the only people to have. Many brands come to Phytomer for their ingredients, which only are for sale once Phytomer has developed something better. With a large percentage of the ocean undiscovered, I can only imagine what new science Phytomer can uncover. I was also impressed with their commitment as a company to the environment. Their labs had grown over three times what I saw 20 years ago, and I was in a room of great minds: biologists, chemical engineers, and cosmetic chemists. We have a few posts about this trip that you can read in depth:
Today, I am still very happy with all these lines. They each have their own technology and they are each renowned for their own science. I believe that using a variety of technologies on the skin, and by rotating out which products you use from a brand and when, is what gives the best results over time. One thing that is definitely true is that what works for one person doesn’t work for another person. By being able to have the skills to understand skin, having the right brand products, and using science that we trust, we know we can definitely get the best results for your skin. In my heart I know that we can, have, and will make a difference in people’s lives. Just like when I was 18 and my aesthetician changed the course of my life, I hope that Bellini’s can make a positive impact in our clients’ lives.
I Traveled the World Seeking Something Undefined
After spending so many years smelling wonderful essential oils and seeing how the essential oils and aromatherapy have an impact on people's sense of well-being, I became fascinated with scents and their ability to impact mood. This led me on a journey back to Australia, where I visited the biodynamic farms of Jurlique. Being from my home country, I was interested to learn what differentiated them from other companies. While at their farm, I saw where they grow everything biodynamically and use alchemy in the process of extraction. Having a biodynamic farm means that every aspect of the farm feeds back into itself, and officially requires a biodynamic farm to produce its own fertility as much as possible through the rotation of crops, with no outside inputs. They utilize and preserve their natural pollinator friends and care for the whole as a unit to create a healthy farm. You can smell the plant as though it was alive in the products. Again, care for the environment was always at the forefront.
I then went to the island of Maui, where I went to a place called scents of being. A rare chemist and alchemist who traveled the world using these processes as he distilled oil‘s which had a profound effect on the mood and the chakras. I’m going to sound a little granola here as I had such a bizarre experience. So bizarre that I had to go back a second time to see if what it happened had actually happened. It was true. Through smelling these oils and their energy, I actually had an energetic experience that I felt in my body. This continued my fascination with sense.
In 2008 after the US financial crash, I knew I needed to rebrand, but I just didn’t know what. I took classes in aromatherapy from a company called Swiss Aromatics. They specialize in small batch distillery essential oils grown ethically with no pesticides. They were incredible and I still carry some of them in the shop today. The quality of the smells was just outstanding and ended my search into the olfactive system.
“Memories are written in the subconscious with scent.”
A year or two later, I had some wonderful experiences where I went traveling to Morocco and Amsterdam. I visited Marrakech in March to celebrate a friend's birthday, and I was overwhelmed with the smell of Neroli. The air was pregnant with orange blossoms. It was intoxicating. I also visited the souks in Marrakech, and the quality of saffron and the smell of the spices was just wonderful. These moments of smelling high quality ingredients further solidified my love for scent - now, everytime I smell saffron I am in Morocco, when I smell lemongrass I am in Bali, when I wear Meliora I think about my trip to Hawaii. Memories are written in the subconscious with scent.
I learned that in Marrakesh, in the Atlas mountains in May, they have a festival of flowers to celebrate the rose. Perfumers come from all over the world to distill their wild rose. It’s common at this time to see distilleries just set up alongside the road. There are only a few places in the world where this rose is grown and it is highly prized for its use in perfume making. We have a detailed post about this area and the beautiful rose oil they produce for use in perfumery:
After that trip, I made my way to Amsterdam. While I was shopping around the amazing city, I found a small chain of stores called Skin‘s Cosmetics. They sold skin and hair care, as well as perfumes. I had already begun to make the transition from essential oils to perfumes, and of course I loved the more unusual and rare scents that had a higher content of naturals. The store was beautifully curated and they also did treatments. I felt like this was how I wanted to re-brand.
I Started to Dream Once Again
I wanted my store to feel like you had walked into a small boutique in Europe. I wanted it to be filled with beautiful things that delighted the senses. Perfumes that mix with your own body chemistry that our customers would love over and over and over again. I also wanted it to incorporate the best skin care that I had found through my search throughout the world from over the last almost 30 years. So, six years ago today we opened Bellini’s Skin and Parfumerie. Whereas before I only provided skin services, the store had now evolved to encompass all aspects of beauty. Now my dream has developed beyond what I could have initially imagined. We are happy to recommend unique and unusual sense and beauty products that actually work by staff that know who they will work for. We are committed to making sure that the investment you make on your beauty products is going to get you the results that you want and hope for. Because the truth is life is better when you smell nice, and do we all not want beautiful, plump, smooth skin?
Whenever I have been challenged, I’ve always had to come up with a unique way that will help me through it. This last challenge has been bridging the gap between aestheticians that come out of school with the knowledge of an experienced aesthetician. Unfortunately, there is little education available to aestheticians, and their education to get their license is severely lacking. So at Bellini’s we created an apprenticeship program where it allows young professionals to develop into their career, and to become successful aestheticians that get great results with peoples skin. We are one year in with our three apprentices and they are all growing wonderfully and becoming better and better skilled each day. As I enter into the last part of my career, I would like to leave the industry better than what I found it. So what’s new for 2023? We will begin a small tour to the Brittany region of France for our clients to experience the thalassotherapy in its fullness.
To find my first line of perfume, I went to the New York NY NOW Trade Show. I remember going down aisle after aisle, smelling one perfume after another. I had a headache. I had not found anything, I felt defeated. My nose was very, very tired. Then I came across KVD. They were distributors and they carried Olfactive Studio and Aedus Des Venustas. As I started to go through smelling, it must’ve been at least 14 perfumes to my nose - my spirit was alive. They were beautifully intricate. I could smell the notes with an exuberance to keep going. On that cold, snowy January evening as I left the tradeshow, I knew I had found the first perfumes that I would carry. That relationship has led me on many journeys. From there I went to Millan. I was introduced to perfume makers across France, and the journey still continues.
Over the last six years, I have visited the Esxense Trade Show in Milan strictly for niche and unusual perfumes. Typically, they have a higher concentration of naturals so they mix uniquely with each client’s chemistry. I’ve also traveled to Grasse, France and met with some of the perfume houses that make some of these unusual perfumes. I love the stories, I love the relationships, and I love that my nose has taken me on this wonderful journey.
My best advice for anyone looking to embark on an unknown journey is to take the first step. Sometimes the hardest step is the one right in front of you, but if you keep just taking that one step in front of you, eventually you will look back after having climbed a mountain.