Coming from a family of teachers, Diane Young always believed her future would involve teaching. However, as a teenager growing up in San Antonio, Texas, she became known as the "beauty expert" in her neighborhood. She was often asked by friends and neighbors to do their hair and makeup for special occasions. Her reputation carried over to the University of Texas in Austin, where on Saturday afternoons, lines of coeds could often be found outside her dorm room requesting makeovers.
After college, Diane taught for a short time at a school in Houston and then accepted a teaching position at prestigious private school in New York City. However, her fascination with the beauty world continued and she soon resumed providing her special beauty techniques to close friends who were caught up in New York's busy social scene. Though continuing to teach, she completed graduate school at Fordham University and soon decided that her heart and her future really belonged in the beauty field.
"I had spent my whole early life going to school and teaching school, which I really loved, but I felt that I had to follow my dream and give the beauty world a chance professionally," she said.
Realizing that many of the "basics" had yet to be learned, Diane sought out the corporate beauty field. She was hired into Clairol's Salon Division, one of the industry's most desired management training programs. A series of promotions in several sales positions soon followed. Recognizing her talents, Clairol promoted her to national accounts manager and national beauty school manager. She was responsible for developing innovative training programs for the nation's leading beauty salon chains in these positions. As a result of her success, Clairol then moved Diane into marketing where she became the product manager for bonding products.
During this time Robert Oppenheim, president of Clairol's Salon Division, and one of the "deans" of the salon industry, kept encouraging her to go to beauty school to acquire a technical credential as part of her business experience.
"When he first raised the subject, I thought he was out of his mind. In those days, it never occurred to me that I would ever be giving beauty services professionally, and I didn't see the need for this training to help me further my corporate career. Finally, after two years of Mr. Oppenheim's persistence, I relented and enrolled."
That was this decision that would eventually lead to Diane's their and most outstanding career.
"It was during beauty school, which I attended nights and Saturdays that the idea developed for a special kind of skin care salon. I soon realized that the concept of a holistic approach to solving skin care problems from the inside as well as the outside was the key to the future." This seemed like such a logical idea that she kept saying to her future husband, Bob, which she couldn't understand why it hadn't been done before. He responded, "if it is such a good idea why don't you do it yourself?"
With Bob encouraging her, Diane decided to resign from Clairol and go to England where she took advanced training classes in skin care at the Bretlands Beauty Centre in Royal Turnbridge Wells outside of London. Back in New York, she opened her salon in an east side townhouse near Bloomingdale's, employing a nutritionist, dermatologist and aestheticians.
"I was so excited about opening my own salon and felt so strongly about my holistic concept of solving skin problems that I failed to concentrate on one major aspect of this business: How was I going to attract customers? I had spent my entire budget to get the salon open and had a little left for advertising."
Realizing that she had to develop credibility for her new concept, Diane sent press releases to the beauty editors of the major women's magazines along with gift certificates for facials. Her first response came from Harper's Bazaar which called her for a phone interview and gave her salon a small, one-line mention. Diane reprinted the article and with her small staff, sent out 10,000 letters from a borrowed mailing list to prospective clients. The response was small but a least a few new clients were soon booking appointments.
"I knew that if I could get the beauty editors to come to my salon to have our treatments, they would write about this new way to approach skin care. I was not going to give up until they came to me. I called them. I wrote them."
Finally, determination paid off and one of the editors from Self magazine came to the salon and had a consultation and facial. She liked the salon and treatments so much that she sent two other Self editors for treatments. Then things really started happening.
This was Diane's first big break. The health, beauty and nutrition editors at Self joined forces to do a major story on Diane's salon and her total approach to skin care. Seven months after she opened her salon, Self devoted six full pages exclusively to her salon in the July 1983 issue. The package contained full-page pictures of Diane and her staff and raves about her new concept.
"I was totally unprepared for the response we had from the Self article. The phones began ringing constantly. The mailman was bringing stacks of letters to our door from women who wanted information about our products and services. We had 300 new customs in six weeks. This was the real beginning of the acceptance of our concept and the success of our salon business."
Stories soon followed in Mademoiselle, Town & Country, Glamour and Vogue. Harper's Bazaar continued to be supportive and interviewed Diane for several articles during the following months.
"The first year I was in business was a combination of total panic and high excitement. I was worried that my fledging business wasn't going to survive and then overwhelmed by more business than I could handle. During this time Bob was enormously supportive. He had founded his own law firm years before and understood what it took to launch a new business. I couldn't have survived without his wonderful encouragement."
Diane and Bob were married one year after the salon opened and she now had a new business, a new husband and a ten year old step daughter, Samantha. The salon was growing but Diane continued to develop her beauty training by traveling to beauty shows, skin care seminars and conventions in this country and all over Europe.
As a result of her ongoing education and staying abreast of new developments in her field, the beauty editors constantly called her to find out what was "new" in the world of beauty.
Diane then was approached by the Dr. Scholl's company to help them launch a line of beauty-related foot care products. They wanted a New York aesthetician to help explain to the public how caring for the skin on the face was similar to caring for the skin on the feet. Dr. Scholl's was impressed with her credentials and sent her on media tours to more than 30 cities throughout the country to do television, radio and newspaper interviews and to speak at various press conferences on the care of the feet.
A major public relations firm heard Diane's successful public appearances and asked her to talk about skin care for their client, Proctor & Gamble and specifically the re-launching of Camay soap. They sent her to thirteen major cities.
"While I loved doing television and radio interviews, my heart was really in the salon and trying to improve the quality of our services and products. I decided that the one area of the business that needed improvement was our make-up services because I had never really concentrated professionally on makeup. So, with a group sponsored by Dermascope Magazine, I went to Paris to study at the Christian Chauveau School."
When Diane returned from Paris with her new makeup skills, she approached several prominent New York plastic surgeons with the idea of assisting them with camouflage makeup for their patients after surgery. These doctors soon began sending a stream of clients to the salon for help with camouflage and post- surgical makeup. The Learning Center, an adult education program, then asked Diane to teach a makeover class for them at her salon. Hundreds of women enrolled.
Diane's salon, with its six treatment rooms and small reception area, was now overflowing with clients and it was time to expand. In July 1989, Diane moved to Manhattan's prestigious East 57th Street between Madison and Park avenues and opened a new salon with 10 treatment rooms and space for growing clientele.
"In 1990, I was asked to join the Board of Governors of Cosmetic Executive Women and head up their philanthropic committee. I had always wanted to work with disadvantaged women and through this organization was able to help set up image workshops. For these homeless women in the shelters, I felt we could build their self-esteem by teaching them how to look better and feel better about themselves. For two years this program has continued to grow and has been one of the most successful projects of Cosmetic Executive Women."
In the September 1991 issue, Harper's Bazaar selected Diane as one of the world's best experts in skin care, praising her for her down to earth advice and skin care regimens. Her busy salon now has a client base of thousands, and she has often appeared on "Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee," the "Sally Jessy Raphael Show" and the "Home Show" television programs.
After nine years of having her own salon, how does this busy lady feel about the future?
"Women in the ‘90s want specific answers to their questions and individualized solutions to their beauty problems that can only be found in salons. They need to be taught how to care for their skin and how to apply their makeup. They want products that make changes in their skin they can see. The future of the beauty business will belong to salon professionals who are highly educated and can communicate their knowledge to their clients. I guess I'll always be teaching!"
Editor's note: Diane Young will be the mistress of ceremonies and will be a speaker at the Aesthetics' World Expo ‘92, July 25-28 in New York City.