For Karen Albright, improving people’s lives through beauty and skincare has become a calling. She is the Owner and Co-Founder of BodyLase Skin Spa, the first free-standing medical spa in the Triangle.
BodyLase Skin Spa offers the traditional day spa services such as massage therapy, facials, and microdermabrasion, but is unique in also offering medical-based cosmetic treatment services which include laser skin rejuvenation, laser skin hair removal, laser vein removal, fillers and injectables.
Albright started her company in 2002 together with her husband, Daniel J. Albright, MD. Since then, BodyLase Skin Spa has grown from a small medical spa with one laser to a multi-location, award-winning medical spa with several lasers and dozens of aesthetic treatment offerings.
Going into the field of skincare was quite a career leap for Albright.
“I was a lawyer and had given up law to be home with my children for five years,” she says. “At the five year mark when I was thinking about whether I wanted to get back into law or do something else, I learned about laser hair removal as being a popular treatment in other states and bigger cities, and decided that I would try to bring it to Raleigh. We opened the first stand-alone medical spa in the Raleigh area in 2002.”
Albright says she enjoys the fact that her business is one that boosts people’s morale and self-image.
“My business is a great one, I think, because we help people feel good about themselves, so it’s really a life changing type of experience a lot of time that people have when they come to see us. Yes, it’s a business but it’s also a very happy place, and it builds self-esteem for our clients and I think for our staff, too. They love doing what they do.”
The typical clients of BodyLase Skin Spa are females between the ages of 30 and 45, with some younger and older as well. Ten to fifteen percent of the clients are men.
“It’s usually women who are already very attractive and take care of themselves, are concerned with their appearance, but don’t like perhaps the aging that’s happening to them and want to do something to slow that down a little bit.”
BodyLase Skin Spa opened its Raleigh location in 2002, followed by a Cary branch in 2004. The company has around fifteen employees total. Albright says ambitions to grow quickly did catch up with her some at first.
“Probably that was one of my mistakes, expanding a little bit too quickly, because I had a lot of growing pains. We’re through it now, but it was quite stressful at the beginning having two locations. I didn’t realize the jump going from one to two. I didn’t have my processes really down pat. I do now, but my systems and processes were still evolving then, so it was challenging. It’s much easier now that we’ve got our operations manual, our protocols, everything is down.”
Albright says she worked hard to fill in the gaps of her business knowledge and to stay on top of the newest information available.
“For me, initially, the biggest challenge was I didn’t have any business experience,” she explains. “I was a lawyer so I didn’t know basic things like spreadsheets and financial statements. I didn’t know how to read financial statements. I didn’t know what a profit and loss statement was. I just had no clue, basically. That has been a learning process for me, and I’m constantly taking classes and seminars to familiarize myself with that.”
Reading up on business and self-awareness books has been another valuable tool for Albright. She likes E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber and Your Unique Ability by Catherine Nomura and Julia Waller. From the latter she says she applies the lesson of assigning tasks to her employees based on their individual talents and preferences.
Albright says that some of the best advice she’s received centers on promoting growth and new knowledge.
“Invest in yourself,” she says. “Take coaching classes, which I do and I think that’s been really helpful for me. Invest in yourself and invest in your business. I’m very focused on educating my staff. I like to send them to different seminars and conferences so they can learn and grow.”
Giving back to the community is also a source of enrichment for Albright. Her company periodically works with the Food Bank and the SPCA, and continually donates to silent auctions and fundraisers.
Though it was a winding road that brought her here, Albright says she’s found her place in life. She hopes to continue growing BodyLase Skin Spa and eventually add more locations.
“This is it,” she says. “I love coming to work and I love what I do. It took me a while. I did a lot of different things, being in law school and after I got out of practicing law, I dabbled in little home businesses and things that I feel were all in preparation for this. I’m really happy about our business and I think we affect and change a lot of people’s lives for the better, so it feels good.”