By Sandra Louise  |  March 15th, 2015  |  Editors Pick,Interviews,News

What began as a small anti-ageing medical spa, Eternel Medspa soon flourished into a recognized leader in aesthetic, medical and laser that catered to clients in a bespoke manner.

Initially the idea of having an anti-ageing clinic began in 2005 with Muwaffa Lahham and another partner. Mai Assaf took over the management and ownership of the clinic in 2008.

Mai is partner at Eternel Clinic, one of the most reputable aesthetic centres in the UAE. Prior to working at Eternel, Mai worked under the direction of Shaykha Manal bint Mohammed Al Maktoom, at Dubai Ladies Club as the Marketing Manager, facilitating a range of marketing and communication activities at the club.

Mai obtained her Bachelors of Science degree in Child Development with a minor in Business (emphasis in marketing), then earned her Master’s Degree in Human Development from a private university in California.

I initially met Mai Assaf a number of years ago when searching for ‘the perfect job’ in Dubai. To be honest I didn’t expect to meet such an open, honest and affable business-savvy owner with such an enormous passion for life, education, family, travel and work. In an industry that has generally chosen money over client safety and welfare, speaking with Mrs Assaf was like feeding my dehydrated soul that had lost faith in this industry a long time ago.

Even as I write this many years later, I’m reminded of the fact that after only our first conversation, Mai had restored my faith in the Medispa industry in Dubai, in women successfully, compassionately and competently running a thriving business. In short, I am a fan and Mai allowed me some time to ask her some questions about the rapidly expanding beauty industry in Dubai.

While there are a lot of entrepreneurial ideas floating around Dubai, there are few that remain guaranteed success. According to the Khaleej Times, Dubai’s external cosmetics trade posts all-time high, “The rapidly substantial expansion in the development of the cosmetics market has created an increased stature in Dubai’s external trading in perfumery and beauty products, with a total value of Dh16 billion in 2012 from Dh15 billion in 2011. It has consistently increased, posting Dh12 billion in 2010 and Dh11 billion in 2009.”

Due to such figures, those considering a potential business, many consider the world of beauty an easy business. It seems that every other block of Jumeirah Beach Road is lined with beauty centers, spas, medical spas and aesthetic clinics.

Because Eternel Clinic never fell prey to the myth of believing that any business is guaranteed success, they were able to survive the market and remain in the lead for so many years. Eternel’s clinics success was a result of their owners’ western graduate education, and core Middle Eastern values which meshed harmoniously.

What are the minimum qualifications an Aesthetician needs to perform laser and peels? How do you vet their skills e.g. trade tests, international qualifications referees etc?

In order to even be considered qualified for hire, our Aestheticians must be licensed through DHRA, Dubai Health Regulation Authority, or be a candidate for licensure. DHRA requires at least one academic year of education through a proper aesthetics school, and will then evaluate whether an international license is transferable (or if more education is required).

In addition to the proper education, all aestheticians are required to have two years practical work experience in the related field. Once all of DHRA qualifications are met, Eternel Clinic requires all our aestheticians to speak English fluently; this is for the safety of our clients to avoid miscommunication. All of our aestheticians once hired go through three to six months’ probation where they undergo in-depth training on all out products and treatments.

We believe quality aestheticians will pay for themselves and at Eternel Clinic we will never hire an under qualified aesthetician to cut our bottom line. In addition, throughout their employment at Eternel, our aestheticians go through a constant training and retraining programme. Besides technical training, they also receive customer service, sales, and wellness coaching to assure that we have the most unique and most highly qualified staff in the region.

Do you believe unqualified technicians are a growing trend in the UAE just to save on salary?

The hiring of under qualified aestheticians and doctors to cut costs, or to save on a business’s bottom line is a growing concern worldwide, not just in the UAE. If a client has any concerns or doubts, always ask to see your aesthetician or doctors DHRA License. A properly certified aesthetician or doctor will have no concern in showing the correct documentation. A client can also ask to see their certificates of training on certain machines and products used in spas and clinics. At Eternel Clinic, all of our machines are either FDA or ECE approved units.

How important is home care/follow-up when a client has a treatment? i.e. face peel, Botox or laser hair removal.

Home care is very important! Many clients see this as their aesthetician overselling to them, when in reality it is the aesthetician insuring their time and effort is preserved.

Considering a client sees the aesthetician only one day a month (or possibly twice a month) and the other 29 days they are left to their own routine, the expected results may not be evident. A treatment shouldn’t end when a client leaves the clinic, it should continue with proper home care prescribed by our skincare expert. Proper home care will also save money down the line on the need for more aggressive treatments, and reduce the amount of treatments required. Always follow-up with the treating doctor or aesthetician- this is not only to ensure you are satisfied, but for client safety.

When considering non-invasive procedures such as Botox and fillers, do you have a portfolio that endorses/recommends your doctors’ work?

At Eternel Clinic we pride ourselves in doing most of our business on referrals. We also have client feedback on our website and posted through social media feeds. Our most effective marketing tool/ endorsement come through word of mouth marketing.

If you have a dissatisfied client do you have a procedure in place to ensure that the issue is resolved immediately?

We implement a strict service recovery standard at Eternel Clinic. As many business owners know it is much less expensive to keep your current clients happy and coming back than to run a campaign to attract new customers. We keep this in mind any time there is any complaint, regardless of how small.

How common is it to have clients that display traits of BDD (body dismorphic disorder) and have you ever had to turn them away or even refer them to see a psychologist?

Our Doctors complete their own assessment while doing the consultation and turn clients away if necessary. They have been doing their jobs long enough, and have enough integrity to know whether or not they should proceed with the treatment. The evaluation comes by default with every conversation they have with a client. Both the medical director and the doctor have turned away clients that they felt were better helped with a counselling session, rather than a beautification treatment.