By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Roberto Gerard Nazal Jr. and wife Sheila, owners of the country’s pioneering and leading aesthetics medicine – YSA Skin Care Corp. – believe that, indeed, beauty starts from within as they move towards a holistic approach in the overall wellness of their clients.
As they conquer and open more boundaries, they also seek to share the business and teach others to become entrepreneurs themselves.
YSA was founded in 1986 by Dr. Isabel Nazal, an obstetrician-gynecologist by profession, but who branched out into the derma practice. Her son Roberto, who got married to Sheila, came on board to help her mother’s business and professionalize its processes.
They spun off the YSA Skin Center while Dr. Nazal maintains her own clinic catering to the more upscale market. All their medicines and applications were formulated and prepared by Dr. Nazal to ensure they only have the best quality and standards of their products.
“We are doing well because everybody wants to be beautiful because that is the first defense before you can see how shallow the individual is,” says Sheila, who finished business management at De La Salle University. It is a fact though that the physical appearance of an individual or anything for that matter is the first thing the other person will notice on first encounter.
To date, Nazal Clinica Dermatologica and YSA Skin Care Center are considered one of the pioneers in the aesthetic medicine, well recognized in the beauty and wellness industry. Throughout the years, with a group of certified medical professionals and well-trained skincare specialists behind, they have an array of loyal clients for skin care, body treatments and aesthetic procedures.
Meantime, the family’s Health Wellness Lifestyle, Inc. is the maker of the “Superbrand” awarded nutraceutical products such as Glutamax, Glutamax MEN, Nice day coffee and Anagen. These products are distributed in all supermarkets, groceries, department stores and drugstores nationwide.
After years of operation, Sheila said it is time to rebrand with updated logo and all its systems in preparation for franchising. So far, YSA has 20 branches with 8-10 staff and skin advisers and at least one nurse.
They have spruced up their 80-100 sqm clinic and even calling it a “lounge”, which can accommodate 8 to 10 clients every single time.
“We are moving towards a lifestyle lounge where you feel at home because all the staff are nice and they know you by name. It is a place where you can bring your friends and loved ones for bonding moments,” she adds.
YSA caters to the broad B and lower A markets or the mall going crowd. They don’t spend for marketing, but they thrive on the word of mouth from their happy patients and online campaigns that create conversations and debates.
YSA also offers membership to clients with treatments and packages ranging from P10,000 to P100,000. These packages are easily consumed because the principal member can pass on that package to her dependents.
“So, it is easy to become a diamond member,” she adds. Some could already use up the P100,000 package in just less than a month. YSA members also receive year-round perks like discounts of as much as 40 percent and other freebies. They have creative packages for birthdays and family packages.
“Friends or family members can stay in one room together while undergoing treatment. So, it is also kind of relaxing time for our customers,” she adds.
YSA consultants and doctors also go around their clinics to conduct procedures like Botox, threads, fillers, among others. They are equipped with lasers, anti-aging and slimming machines.
So far, the skin whitening services and products account for the single biggest income contributor to the company. They also offer semi-permanent make-up because it would save time for the busy women.
“It may sound shallow, but we are doing everything for you to become more confident in facing your peers, we are giving that option,” says Sheila.
With its growth, YSA Aesthetic & Wellness is up for franchising. YSA is strengthening its franchising model via the help of Francorp, the country’s authority in franchising.
“We improved the franchise package and manual,” says Sheila.
The franchise packages start from P8 million inclusive of franchise fee of P800,000 for 100 sqm clinic. The franchise is good for 5 years, complete with inventories and basic equipment for basic services. It is a turnkey project with ROI expected in two and a half years.
“We look for franchisees with the same passion as we do. We would like them to actively participate in running the operation because if their performance is bad, it will also reflect on us. So, we are strict in accepting applicants,” she adds.
Sheila expects to have 5 franchises open by next year and double it soon after. They have existing branches in Iloilo, Davao and Tuguegarao.
Since YSA’s market is primarily the mallgoers most of their outlets are mall-based, making it very convenient for mommies, who do a lot of chores in the mall.
“Definitely, this is a big industry,” observes Sheila, citing the big marketing expense of competitors to promote their services. With the stiff competition, YSA is always on their toes to come up only with the best service to customers at very affordable rates and very effective treatments.
Some of the challenges in this kind of business could be losses from pilferage. “We really need to monitor all employees that they follow protocols,” says Sheila.
They also encountered a few issues with customers, but which had been addressed immediately.
“That is why we tell our employees or our skin advisers not to over promise because it takes time to see the results and it is also on a case to case basis,” she adds. In addition, it also takes both sides to make the treatments work.
For instance, Sheila said that in the slimming treatment the recommendation is for the patient to also go on a specified diet. “We have to work together. We do our part, you also have to do your share,” she adds.
Despite the challenges, Sheila said that the number one proof of success is the fact that they have grown their outlets over the past 34 years.
“We have mushroomed while others have closed shops. We believe in our brand so much that even if we don’t spend on advertising, we have a good referral system because of the word of mouth from our customers,” says the hands-on executive.
The couple now employs 80 people including those at the clinics and the head office.
“I trust my managers and they are empowered to settle issues at their level, but they can always consult me. They are also very efficient,” says Sheila, who conducts unannounced random checks of the clinics.
“To a certain level yes I am strict, but for my trusted employees I have a very personal relationship with them,” she adds.
While Sheila is more focused on the clinics or the lounges, Robert is more active in the promotion and marketing of their Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).
According to Robert, they now have a total of 64 FMCG products, including 24 items already out in the market including Glutamax and Nice Day Coffee. Some 40 items are available in the clinics. He was responsible in pushing for this spin-off.
“We’ve been selling these products in the clinics, so why not in the supermarkets,” says Robert, who revealed that her mom was the first to concoct the papaya soap in the country. They were already producing papaya soap long before the big papaya soap names came to the market.
With its distribution company, they were able to break the barrier to entry.
“You have to know who talk to and you must have a unique selling proposition that will really attract the mall owner to allow you to carry your products,” says Robert, a product of Ateneo De Manila University.
While YSA is already a one-stop shop beauty facility, the couple would like to raise the bar higher by providing a holistic approach to wellness.
YSA is introducing food intolerance test for an overall holistic analysis of one’s health. Robert took the test himself. The test results will determine what food you should avoid.
“What you eat causes acne, weight gains, dry skin, etc.,” he adds.
“We are addressing the issue from the root. So, when you go to the clinic, we do not just make you look good, but make you feel good,” says Robert.
Their specialty coffee, for instance, is consistent with its mission to provide overall wellness as it whitens and reduces weight because it cleanses the toxins inside the body. Toxins will manifest in the color of a person’s skin.
“It is easier to address skin issues if you start from within,” says Sheila noting that glutathione is actually a medicine and the radiant fair skin is just one of the net effects from taking this medicine. That is why, one can tell the health of a person from the color of his complexion.
The couple noted that the Koreans are now becoming global benchmark when it comes to beauty and they see a big market in the Philippines. Most of YSA facial masks come from Korea because it is proven to be more effective.
In fact, some of their machines are imported from Japan and Korea and they also get doctors from these countries to train their staff aside from the US and EU professionals. “There is so much to learn from the Koreans that even the Caucasians wanted to look like Koreans,” says Sheila.
“Koreans can address all issues regarding beauty and their innovation is so fast,” adds Robert noting that the trend now is towards less invasive procedures, less downtime and faster results.
But he also cautioned against fake products. “There are cheap products in Divisoria that promise 7-day effect but those are fake,” he adds. Some of these products are sold in major online shopping platforms.
He said that a fast-whitening product from China was found to cause permanent skin damage because it uses mercury.
“What makes me happy is when my customers are happy because they see an improved version of themselves. That makes us feel good that we’ve contributed in a way to the well-being of our clients,” says Robert as he stressed that vanity is not just the confines of the distaff side, but it is also for the men.
Robert noted that when people have problems, they pamper themselves by going to the spa and beauty salon.
“Some patients are nursing broken hearts from cheating husbands or boyfriends and they feel ugly. We may not be able to solve their problems, but they can unload a little bit when they talk to us. We also try to make their burden lighter by making them feel and look good about themselves,” says Robert.
“Sometimes, it sounds shallow but it just makes people feel good so it becomes necessary,” says Robert, who delegates tasks to his people, but he is hands-on when it comes to setting direction.
“I allow them elbow room to move and to share their ideas because I don’t know everything. The reason I hired them is for them to contribute to the company’s growth.”
Most of all, Robert pointed out that this beauty therapy is not only for the rich. Those who cannot afford the treatments just buy their products because looking good is aspirational. “They don’t mind spending money to look good and feel good about themselves,” says Robert.
To make its business truly holistic, the couple has been helping children in Mindanao, especially those from Basilan through value formation. Sheila cited a beautiful Muslim girl whom they weaned away from the lifestyle of guns.
“We have an advocacy of teaching them the right values and what peace is all about,” says Sheila. They also gave out school supplies for Marawi. They are also involved with the clean-up and beautification activities.
The company is expected to launch a refreshed YSA Aesthetics & Wellness within the year or early next year.
This supports the efforts of YSA to go beyond skin and body treatments but towards a self-care holistic wellness. YSA aims to become the confidante, who understands your unique lifestyle needs and aesthetic goals.
The future looks even brighter. There is a good potential to bring the brand and FMCG products to Southeast Asia in the next five years.
“We have inquiries from Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar to put up centers there. Dubai also looks very promising,” adds Sheila.
And as they franchise their products, Robert hopes to share and be able to teach others how to become entrepreneurs themselves.
With YSA, achieving your most beautiful self is just the beginning.