04/10/2013 03:23 pm ET Updated Jun 10, 2013

Conversations With Female Forces of Nature in Small Business: Renee Rouleau

Connecting With Renee Rouleau, Founder and CEO of Renee Rouleau Spas and Renee Rouleau Skin Care


I first learned of Renee Rouleau several years ago through our mutual friend Adrienne Cornelsen. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. Adrienne and I were in Dallas doing some work together and one evening over wine I remarked at how gorgeous her skin looked and demanded to know what she was doing differently. If there is one thing Texas women are known for besides our big hair and larger than life personalities, it is our dedication to taking care of our skin. In this area we don't mess around. Adrienne shared that she had been to Renee's spa and was using a new skin care regimen designed by Renee, tailored to her skin. The results of which were incredible so I immediately booked an appointment. The experience changed my entire approach to skin care and I learned so many new tips and insights on how to care for my skin that I actually took notes throughout my session. Since that time I have come to rely on several of Renee's products for keeping my skin in check especially during stressful times and time zone and weather changes as I travel internationally on a frequent basis. For 25 years, Renee Rouleau has built an incredible global brand that continues to innovate, educate, and inspire. In short, she is a force of nature empowering other forces of nature by helping everyone, at every stage in life, look and feel their best. I caught up with Renee recently and asked her to reflect on her business, the lessons she's learned along the way, the takeaways, and insights she'd wish she'd known when she began.

Cari Guittard: What inspired you to start your own effort and what kept you going?

Renee Rouleau: I was busting at the seams with so many ideas in my head that I needed to go out on my own and implement my own vision. I started my first business at age 21. My grandmother was a hairdresser and owned her own beauty salon so I saw early on a female entrepreneur carving out her own path. It had a profound effect on me. I could never imagine working for someone else. Sure, there are times when it would be easier to have a 9-5 Monday-Friday job, but I enjoy working too much so I don't mind putting in the hours to get my desired result.

Cari Guittard: What do you wish you knew then, when you started your business, that you know now?

Renee Rouleau: I wish I would have delegated more early on. I believe a lot of entrepreneurs and owners of their own companies are guilty of this. From day one, you're wearing every hat -- bookkeeper, marketer, manager, receptionist, supply picker-upper, plumber, cleaning lady, you do whatever you need to do to get your business going. You roll up your sleeves and put in that sweat equity. At some point, you learn you can't do it all but it's just easier to do it yourself then take the time out to train someone, or spend the money to pay someone when you can easily do it yourself. As my company has grown, I need to be doing the things that only I can do such as developing new products, filming skin tip videos, making public appearances, working with my celebrity clients. I am the face of the company and need to be out front and not so much behind every scene. It's hard to let go but I should have done it earlier. It's not that I didn't trust that people can do the things I do, it's simply just getting off the hamster wheel and looking at your company from a higher level. After 25 years, I have only started to do this in the past two years.

Cari Guittard: Recently you launched My Skincare Prescription online to help people identify which of the nine Renee Rouleau regimens are best for their skin type. Your approach to educating consumers about their skin health as well as tailoring recommendations of products to meet specific needs is an innovative approach. This is also a massive undertaking with a degree of risk as so many of your customers in the past first experienced your skincare by visiting one of your spas in Texas. What compelled you to expand your business into this space and going forward what technologies are you taking advantage of to ensure that this new model succeeds?

Renee Rouleau: My brother is a developer and built me an online store back in 1998 -- the stone age of the internet. Back then, there were not a lot of companies selling skin care products online as well as sharing skin care advice. My website has attracted clients from all over the world who love ordering our products and educating themselves on how to achieve healthy and beautiful skin. Since we have such a huge client base all around the globe, it was actually a natural next step to be able to be accessible to them via Skype and FaceTime to be able to consult with them about their skin one-on-one. It has been hugely successful since its launch.

Cari Guittard: What is the strangest or funniest story in all your time developing and running this business?

Renee Rouleau: Well, it wasn't funny at the time, but we certainly look back and laugh now. Back in 2008 we got word from our publicist that this one celebrity loved one of our products and it was going to be featured in a national magazine. We didn't know what it was going to say or how big the feature was but my products were regularly featured in magazines so I didn't think much about it. It was Valentine's Day and all of a sudden orders started coming in for this one product. We thought that maybe that magazine had come out but being in Dallas (and the magazines coming out of NY) we hadn't seen the magazine yet and it wouldn't be on our newsstands for days. Throughout the day, more orders were flowing. It was a time of celebration and we were very happy about it. But then orders came in throughout the night and we couldn't believe our eyes when we woke in the morning. It was now a time of panic because if the orders kept up like these, we would be out of the product in no time. And sure enough, within two days we were back-ordered. We had 250 products in stock and they sold out within two days. We were begging our lab to get more product made immediately (and got some in within a week), and we were calling in every family member, friend and neighbor to help us pack orders. All in all, a product that normally we sold 65 a month online, sold 1200 in a one month period. It was a crazy and stressful time, but a wonderful time too.

Cari Guittard: For women travelling non-stop, myself being one of them, what are some of you favorite tips for keeping skin healthy on the go?

Renee Rouleau:

Top Skin Care Travel Tips

In regards to packing, the absolute essentials for every trip will always be your cleanser, toner, daytime sunscreen moisturizer, nighttime moisturizer and facial scrub. These products are part of a basic skin care routine and should be with you wherever you go.

Never underestimate the skin damage you get whenever your skin sees daylight -- especially on an airplane. Keep your skin protected with sunscreen and mineral blocking SPF powders throughout your flight to keep your skin looking youthful. The effort is worth the investment because UV light will age your skin faster than anything else -- even smoking.

Avoid misting your skin with a hydrating spray during flight. Why? Because since the air is so dry, it looks for water wherever it can get it and since water attracts water, when you spray the skin it takes the water from the layers in the skin and gets evaporated into the dry air! The result is even tighter, drier skin. If you want to treat your skin in-flight, it's best to apply another layer of moisturizer on to your face mid-flight to help the skin retain its moisture.


Final Thoughts
I have tried nearly all of Renee's products and wanted to share some of my favorite, can't live without treatments that I never leave home without:

  1. Micro Crystal Cream -- great travel friendly exfoliator
  2. Triple Berry Smoothing Peel -- use once a week to give my skin a boost, mini-facial in a jar
  3. Blue Azulene Cream -- use pre-flight, during a long international flight and post flight to deeply moisturize and calm sensitive, dry skin.
  4. Anti-Cyst Treatment & Daytime Blemish Gel -- both of these are so powerful yet gentle on sensitive skin, no redness or flakiness, they just go deep and work cutting the time of any cyst or zit easily in half.
  5. Vibran C Lip Treatment -- anti-ager for your lips. Never without this and use several times a day, no color yet imparts a subtle clear sheen. Keeps lips plump, moisturized and protected.

For more information, skincare tips and insights visit Renee's website