Neighborhood: Sherman Oaks, a mid-to-upscale, urbanized district in the San Fernando Valley
Hook: Housed in a 1940s-era movie theater, offers high-end aesthetics treatments in a chic and modern interior space
When DAYSPA first profiled Blue Medi Spa back in 2004, it was a relative newcomer, one of a growing number of spas that were jumping on the medical-level treatment bandwagon. At that time, owner Ronda Nofal (then Hawara) had already achieved an admirable level of success providing a combination of laser services, Botox and Endermologie treatments in addition to conventional facials, massages and even nail services. And she’d done it despite considerable roadblocks.
“We’d been in a smaller part of the building [900 square feet] and I wanted to expand into the larger space [6,000 square feet],” Nofal recalls. “It took 15 tries for me to even get the landlords to take my calls, because I was up against a bunch of heavy hitters vying for the square footage. After meeting, though, they decided, ‘She’s really going to take care of the space.’ Today I’m like the little sister they watched grow.”
Grow indeed. I sat down with Nofal to catch up, and she shared the amazing news: Nine years after that first DAYSPA article, the single-location, 12-treatment-room Blue Medi Spa is a No. 1 player on a national scale. Nofal reports that her spa is a top account with pharmaceutical suppliers like Allergan (maker of Botox), and “the” go-to place for medical-grade aesthetics services in Los Angeles.
Not that it has been an easy, or direct, ride to success, Nofal readily admits. First, she needed to get clear on her spa’s identity. “Eventually we shut down nails,” she says. “I realized that I was dealing with high-end, delicate treatments requiring lots of energy and customer service, and people were coming in with chipped polish. We used the former nail space to build more offices. Then a year ago I dropped massages—we’re hip, we’re fast-paced, there are phones ringing and heels clicking, and we can’t walk on eggshells.”
Blue continues to offer a full range of skincare treatments, medical and otherwise, but the thrust is “outcome.” “Look, we’re not relaxing,” Nofal says. “We’re clinical and results-oriented. OK, your face feels like an atomic bomb happened to it, but I know it’s going to be great. If you want that blissful spa experience, I recommend Burke Williams.”
Seventy percent of Blue’s services consist of injections, but there’s still a lot of laser work, facial treatments and body sculpting taking place under the supervision of double board-certified Los Angeles plastic surgeon Daniel Yamini, the spa’s medical director since 1999.
What’s “L.A.-ish” about Blue? One need look no further than the clientele. “We have Beverly Hills ladies, we have lots of industry people, though privacy laws preclude me from saying who.” And Blue’s medical aestheticians are known for doing their homework where those famous faces are concerned. “For some actors, the needed results are very specific,” explains Annie Temple, the spa’s beauty concierge. “They may say, ‘Don’t take this line away because I’m a character actor!’ We study these people’s work beforehand. In general, we stay away from that ‘over-done’ look.”
“I take a lot of pride in over-training my staff,” Nofal admits. “As a result, clients are pleasantly surprised by our methods. We even have special tricks to minimize discomfort during treatments: small electric fans during a chemical peel, or a device to vibrate the chin while the forehead is being injected—we’ve found it distracts from any pain.”
Competition in L.A. is fierce, and Nofal’s location represented a big hurdle; in Los Angeles, “the Valley” has always been considered separate from the L.A. hub, a region with nothing to offer “people in the know.” Gradually, the influx of hip new businesses, and the movers and shakers who frequent them, is changing this perception. But Nofal has always had to stand up against big-name Beverly Hills medical spas and famous physicians’ practices.
Chief among Blue’s hurdles is the issue of expectations. Notes Temple, “There’s often a disconnect with clients as to what’s possible and what isn’t. Non-invasive procedures take time to yield results.” A client’s commitment of time and money means the staff must stand ready to educate before, during and after treatment. “We use the term ‘full correction’ a lot here. We tell clients, ‘If you want full correction with injections, for instance, we may need to build up a base under the skin. Don’t be surprised if you have to put down two or three thousand dollars.” In turn, Blue offers top-notch treatment in a uniquely chic atmosphere, perks like a customer rewards points program, payment schedule options and same-day appointments seven days a week, even for injections. In the end, says Temple, “Our biggest competition is the need for instant gratification.”
It’s a competition that Blue seems to be winning. “I think the number of years we’ve been in business says a lot,” Nofal reflects. “We regularly surpass expectations.”
Note: Nofal was kind enough to invite me in to experience one of Blue’s popular chemical peels—my first. Read about it in my blog, “My Chemical Romance”, at dayspamagazine.com! —Linda Kossoff
Blue Medi Spa
Size: 6,000 square feet
Facility: 12 treatment rooms, 2 waiting areas, 5 offices, staff lounge, 4 bathrooms
Staff: 30 total (including manager, bookkeeper, marketing director)
Most popular treatments: Injectibles (rates vary)
Average service ticket: $300
Products used/retailed: Fenix, Intraceuticals, Metagenics (supplements), Skin Medica, Vivite
Featured technologies: Endermologie, chemical peels, cortisone injection for acne, dermal fillers (Juvederm, Perlane, Radiesse, Restylane), IPL FotoFacial, laser hair, tattoo and vein removal, Laser Genesis, Latisse lash treatment, microdermabrasion, oxygen facials, Pearl Laser, Titan skin tightening, wrinkle relaxers (Botox, Dysport), vitamin shots, Zerona fat reduction