We were lucky to catch up with Ari Chibbaro recently and have shared our conversation below.
Ari, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Parents can play a significant role in affecting how our lives and careers turn out – and so we think it’s important to look back and have conversations about what our parents did that affected us positive (or negatively) so that we can learn from the billions of experiences in each generation. What’s something you feel your parents did right that impacted you positively.
I love talking about my wonderful parents. I grew up with a military dad and a stay-at-home mom, with 10 siblings (8 biological + 2 adopted) and about a dozen other people in need who lived with us at different times that my parents helped to raise. When people read or hear this story, they assume that we grew up poor & sad. It’s totally the opposite, I remember we grew up happy, watched each other closely, learned to share and most of the time we’d come together as a team to support each other.
For extra income, my parents rented a kiosk in a market, and we all took turns to help, being rewarded with snacks. Dad taught us how to farm chickens, care for the chicks, cover the coop at sundown, and turn on the light to make them warm. We sold the eggs and learned how to butcher and spice the chicken. We grew fruit in the yard and our mom taught us how to make fruit candy for our snacks and to sell. Our dad taught us how to clean and organize. In the evenings, everyone sat in the family room to listen to dad’s made-up horror or funny stories. He knew how to entertain us. Meanwhile, one of us will massage mom & dad’s feet or walk on their back – we did acupressure & shiatsu massage intuitively!
Dad always reminded us to play away from next door to avoid comparing our house with the neighbors’. We cannot buy stuff like them or go on fancy vacations because we were different! I always remember that life on this earth is a short trip. Dad never took the constant bait to become corrupt because that dirty money will flow in the blood of him, his wife, kids, grandkids and so on. To be happy in life, appreciate what we have because that’s our limit, and that will help us sleep soundly every night.
This is how I learned to have thick skin, always look down to see those below me, and help raise them up. I also learned the meaning of “enough” because my parents taught me if I can make someone smile, I am a rich person in this world.
This is the reason why 100% of my income from my business goes to supporting 7 orphanages & many others in need in Indonesia. Currently I help over 850 people and I can do all of this because of my biggest supporter, my husband, who understands that we have a purpose in life to help and support others. I cannot imagine doing all of this without all of my clients who support my philanthropic work!
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
I have worked full-time as a Licensed Esthetician since 2005. After working for several spas in Maryland, I opened my own studio in Rockville, MD in 2018.
When my siblings and I grew older, my mom opened a Javanese spa in Bali. She involved us in this business, from open to close. She took us to marketing events to teach us how this job is hard but fun.
I adopted my mom’s traditional techniques and combined them with modern treatments into my own unique signature style. New technology allowed me to take classes online to learn new techniques or new skin care products based on my client’s needs. They frequently express appreciation for my unique services and individual attention to their specific needs. I am thankful for mom teaching me that “You can get a recipe from anyone, but your own hand is the key”.
I offer waxing and customized facials for every skin condition. Everyone is special and every time a client sees me, they bring something different; it can be good or not so good. I suggest that clients rebook every 4-6 weeks based on hair & skin cycles. During those interim weeks between appointments, clients have different activities & emotional issues. I take this into account when suggesting treatments on each visit. Sometimes I do more extensive treatment or downgrade the treatment. People say “that’s not how you do business, you will lose money if you reduce the treatment!” They are correct strictly from a monetary standpoint, but money is not the important part if I touch someone who trusts me and I know they don’t need to spend extra for a treatment. They can use the extra money to purchase something else to make them happy.
This job is personal to me because I create a safe place for people who come to see me. There are many personal stories they share with me; I open my ears & heart to listen and guide as much as I can. I also benefit from their stories that I can forward to others who have similar issues. This is when my magic work starts – if we can’t heal what is inside our body, the effect will show on our face. Time with me helps make the skin look & feel better, in addition to relaxing to heal what may be holding them back. On my website, people can see many pictures of my clients hanging on the wall in my treatment room. When they tell me how they get compliments from friends & families, I feel I am a rich person in this world!
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
Just before opening my own business, I worked at someone else’s spa for over 3 years and brought in many new customers. During a vacation, I got a text from a client of mine who told me that my name disappeared from their booking system so she couldn’t book with me. My husband and I were laughing when we found out that I couldn’t access the system and was removed from the website without even being told! From those years working with her, I can see her behavior and I knew that she removed me on purpose! After our vacation, I didn’t reach out to her, telling myself that she must need the money more than me.
Within a week, I met so many clients at stores, restaurants, and music events. They were all upset with me because they requested me but I was unavailable when they arrived at the spa. The owner took over my clients! I explained to them the situation and they wished me luck. Life is amazing, I was surrounded by many good people who steered me towards opening my business from scratch and 3 months later I found a place to sublease from one of my regular clients. I put countless hours into this business, including paperwork, making renovations, obtaining permits and inspections, designing the menu and creating my own website – all while we moved & renovated our new condo! That was my best time to lose weight (LOL).
After almost 4 years as a small business owner, the lack of sleep in the first year, and surviving the pandemic, business continued to improve. I closed for 5 months during Covid19 and relocated my business to a bigger room. On this journey I met old clients who found my website, and new clients referred from current clients & friends. I am thankful for lessons I learned from bad employers. Life is not easy but will get harder when we don’t see small things that bring happiness & learn to appreciate them.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
We just celebrated our 18th anniversary. I grew up in Bali, Indonesia, and moved to the United States to marry my beloved husband in 2004. Everything was new for me, including learning how to drive on the right side, navigating the streets & landmarks to stores, doctor’s offices, etc. (before GPS), and translating from my native Indonesian.
The biggest challenges were being away from my large family and transitioning from my successful office management career that I had cultivated since 1990. It was difficult for a formerly independent woman to become dependent on my husband. I lost my ability to independently provide financial support to those less fortunate, especially my preferred beneficiaries of orphans and orphanages.
When I moved here, my husband suggested that I start a career that I like and give myself time to adjust and learn about the U.S. I am very lucky to have a husband who has supported and helped me out from the beginning of my life here. I chose to become an Esthetician because I had the fortunate opportunity to learn about traditional beauty treatments from my mom, who owned a Javanese spa in Bali, Indonesia.
I went to Esthetician school and worked part time at a mall to build my credit score. This gave me a real perspective about the people and business, how to communicate and marketing. After graduating, I worked at both large and small spas. For over 13 years, I saw both positive and negative aspects of spa operations, how different owners run their business, and various approaches to client treatment (both technical and personal). I combined these experiences with my prior 15 years of experience in office management to create my own approach to my business.
Many people approach me about running a business because from the outside it can appear easy. This is because I enjoy what I do, not because it is easy. Honesty, integrity, organization, consistency, and life-long learning are the keys. To all who want to start a business, my advice is “be realistic”. What looks shiny on the outside isn’t necessarily shiny behind the scenes. Expect a lot of work, bumps in the road, and even some failures during the journey. Make sure to have a backup plan and good support system.
- Website: https://www.ariwaxskin.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ari_waxskin/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ariwaxskin/
- Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ariwaxskin
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/ari-wax-skin-rockville