Lisa Murphy, owner of Sanctuary European Day Spa on Hilton Head, has built her business the old-fashioned way-with an emphasis on the basics. Honesty, consistency and hard work form the foundation, while the pillars are nothing less than European standards. In an industry where trends often overshadow the tried-and-true, Lisa keeps her sights set on giving clients results.
"My focus is on what works, not what the latest thing is," said Lisa, who is originally from England. "Most of our treatments come from Europe, so they've been around a long time. Everything we do works, otherwise we wouldn't do it."
Lisa has been an aesthetician for 22 years, having trained in England to learn the arts of makeup, electrolysis and other spa essentials. She worked as a spa manager for Royal Caribbean cruise ships before moving to Hilton Head 13 years ago and opening the Sanctuary.
"It was exciting, something I'd always wanted to do," she said. "I'd managed spas for other people for so long, so it was exciting to be able to do the treatments I wanted to do and have the products I wanted to have."
Lisa has preferred to go the non-invasive route, featuring services such as massage, light therapy facials and ionithermie for cellulite reduction. A gentler approach that will prevent having to take drastic measures later on is the European way, she says.
"People here don't take care of themselves with spa services as much as they do in Europe," said Lisa. "They pop pills and look for a quick fix; but if they took better care of themselves they'd probably have less need for face lifts and all the other dramatic things that they do."
As far as products go, Lisa is of the persuasion that quality beats quantity any day. "The way the beauty industry is now, with magazines like Allure and Cosmo running lists of top 50 products, people get very confused," she said. "They end up with the wrong product, or they're using the right product incorrectly. They go into Walgreen's and buy a facial treatment product for $10 because they don't want to pay $30 at a spa. But then they end up buying four or five products and none of them work so they've just wasted fifty bucks."
The solution, according to Lisa, is simply to spend the money and have it done by professionals. For example, instead of trying to get a super deal buying makeup off the QVC channel, which you can't get a proper look at until it's too late, go to a place where experts will not only help you choose the right colors, but show you how to use them as well.
All in all, it seems that Lisa's approach has worked. Sanctuary was named the 2007 Small Business of the Year by the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, and perhaps more importantly, Lisa derives personal satisfaction from her work. As a busy mother of two, she's especially appreciative of the support she gets from her tight-knit group of employees.
"If you're really passionate about what you do, you can make it happen," said Lisa on the challenges of starting your own business. "It's not easy and it's never really going to get any easier, but if you love your job like I love mine, it's worth it."
Mother of: Erin, 9 and Liam, 7 Hobbies: reading, travel, watching movies and hanging out with her kids Current read: Spa Vacation, by Theresa Alan Favorite movie: the original Affair to Remember #1 spa treatment that all women should get: massage Words to live by: "If you believe you're doing the right thing, good things will happen."