For aesthetician Melissa York, community and relationships are a big part of her life and career.
Her clients aren’t just people who pass through her door for a facial or hair removal. York gets to know them, forms bonds and even friendships with some.
“For the most part I develop close connections with my clients,” she said. “I seem to find clients who’ve had tragedy in their lives and they feel comfortable here. This is a safe place.”
York is no stranger to tragedy. She moved to Whidbey Island in 2007 after her brother-in-law was killed in Iraq and she came to help her sister raise her two young nieces. The community rallied around and embraced York and her family during that time, and in turn she says she always tries to pay that back.
“This is a personal relationship business and I worked hard to establish those relationships,” she said.
It’s that mentality that has helped York build a loyal client base as she worked in various locations in the last 10 years before ultimately starting her own independent studio in Oak Harbor. It also may be the reason York was voted best aesthetician/facialist in this year’s Best of Whidbey contest.
In October 2016, York opened her Melisa York Studio on Fidalgo Ave.
“My clients one-by-one have found me,” she said. “I’ve worked for other people, rented from other people and am now doing it on my own.”
York said she prefers a more private, intimate experience and tries to provide that to her customers.
Her studio offers a menu of beauty options from facials and hair styling to the highly-requested sugaring hair removal.
The method involves using an all-natural product made of sugar, lemon and water that is heated to a specific consistency during production. It then is pulled by hand, applied to the skin, pushed into the hair follicle and then pulled out the same direction the hair grows.
York said some clients say sugaring is less painful and the results last longer than traditional waxing.
“When you’re pulling against the grain (like with traditional waxing) you can break the hair,” she said. “I do believe sugaring is better than waxing, but I also believe it is the client’s preference.”
York offers an array of sugaring options for both men and women. Her most requested treatment is the Brazilian, which she specializes in.
“I specialize in them because I had some really horrible experiences,” York said.
Her male clientele continues to increase as body hair removal becomes more mainstream.
“I do get people who have a lot of body hair and it makes them self conscious,” York said.
Currently, York is the only person working out of her studio and to insure privacy, her studio door is closed in between treatments. She also makes it a point to focus her full attention on clients during appointments.
“I really believe they are paying me for my time,” York said. “They’re entrusting me with their body and hard-earned money.”