EO Member Renee Rouleau in Dallas Business Journal


Renée Rouleau brings her high-end skin treatments to the Dallas Arts District

Renée Rouleau brings her high-end skin treatments to the Dallas Arts District, while growing her online products business

BIGGEST PROBLEM

To go retail or stay independent? That is the question that Rouleau has faced numerous times, as multiple opportunities to put her products into retail locations have come up. Ultimately, the prospect of expanding beyond a brick-and-mortar location did not appeal to her, and Rouleau decided to focus on growing her business by using an online portal.


Renée Rouleau has always done what she wanted, sometimes to the concern of her family.

“I don’t have any college education,” Rouleau says, sitting in the quiet confines of her new skin care salon on the lobby level of One Arts Plaza in the Dallas Arts District. “People are used to the formal, traditional ways of education. My parents, for example — when I wanted to open up my first business at 21 — were just terrified.”

The high school Rouleau attended in Massachusetts was one of the most prestigious in the state, and she estimates that 99% of her classmates headed on to higher education. “I was the 1% that didn’t go, because I knew what I wanted to do.”

Her career choice has resulted in accolades in national periodicals such as Allure, InStyle and Cosmopolitan, a dedicated clientele that includes celebrities Jessica Simpson, Michael Urie and Lisa Rinna (among those she is at liberty to disclose), and an established, thriving online business.

Rouleau’s passion as a beautician began early. “My grandmother was a hairdresser,” Rouleau says, “so I grew up in the business. She had her own hair salon, and so she was an entrepreneur back in a time when women weren’t really entrepreneurs.”

Right out of high school, Rouleau started a day spa in Boston with a friend. The business was a success, and Rouleau was able to sell her half when it was time to move. “I just wanted a change of scenery,” Rouleau says, and she decided on North Texas.

She raised the money for her new business by drawing on personal resources and taking out loans from the bank. “No investors,” she says of her startup strategy. “I don’t want to be obligated to anyone. It’s bad enough having to repay the bank.”

She opened her first salon location, in Plano, to a warm reception. Amy Powers, a Plano resident, first tried Rouleau’s spa five years ago. “I thought she might be able to solve some of my skin issues. It was, hands down, the best facial experience I’ve ever had,” Powers says. “The thing that strikes me about her is that her No. 1 focus is skin. I think you have to be really careful about who you let touch your skin.”

Her custom skin care approach, which identifies nine different skin types and targets treatment accordingly, has driven much of her spa’s growth. Working with 11 other estheticians — who hail from countries all over the globe, including Iran, England and Mexico — Rouleau specializes in treatments that target a client’s skin type. The costs of the treatments — which range greatly, from about $50 to hundreds, and even thousands of dollars, depending on the length and frequency of the treatments — include an intense premium on privacy. Clients can come to the small salon downtown, let themselves in and enjoy their treatments in a quiet, secure environment that is only accessible to the esthetician.

Her success continues online, where half of her company’s revenue is generated through a Web site that was established 12 years ago, in the earliest days of e-commerce. Rouleau attributes her success there to getting online early — “My brother is a developer, and he helped set up the Web site in 1998,” she recalls — and to an aggressive social media strategy that has really taken off (which she credits for increasing her online revenue by 60% last year). “I tweet four or five skin care tips a day,” Rouleau says, noting that she has more than 2,300 followers on Twitter (her address is twitter.com/reneerouleau). She has even reached out to some of her online followers and enlisted them in testing her new products.

Rouleau expects that she will be growing her business for as long as she can: “Despite not taking the path expected of me, I’ve done well.”

For information, visit www.ReneeRouleau.com

Read more: Renée Rouleau brings her high-end skin treatments to the Dallas Arts District - Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal:


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