EF Medispa founder and entrepreneur Esther Fieldgrass reflects on her success as a multiple clinic owner in aesthetics
As the owner of four clinics across London, two franchises and a career that spans more than three decades, Esther Fieldgrass’ approach to aesthetics has been unique, particularly in comparison to others in the specialty. It all began in the 1970s with training in beauty therapy, but since then she has developed an award-winning business in medical aesthetics. So how has she become the successful entrepreneur that she is today?
“In 1971, I opened and managed my first hairdressing salon before opening the second in 1973 where I decided to incorporate beauty rooms. It was then that I went to train in beauty to get my qualifications. I’ve always loved making people feel good about themselves so adding this service was the perfect addition to my offering,” she explains. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that Fieldgrass’ interest in antiageing and aesthetic treatments really rocketed. She spent 13 years living in Hong Kong from 1983, where she was introduced to traditional Chinese medicine, which focuses on ‘inner health for outer beauty’, a motto that she now lives by.
Fieldgrass says, “When I came back from Hong Kong I was that little bit older and became interested in how to make myself look younger and feel better. My background in manual beauty was never enough for lifting and firming the skin, and having travelled extensively, I soon realised that there was a lot of technology coming out that I wanted to learn more about.” Whilst working in beauty, and renting beauty rooms in Kensington, she noticed that there were limited places for patients to go who wanted to combine both non-surgical and surgical cosmetic procedures. In 2006, Fieldgrass opened the very first EF Medispa, where she explains medical professionals such as doctors, surgeons, nurses, as well as therapists, could collaborate to help a patient achieve all of their aesthetic goals. Fieldgrass explains, “My vision was to make the public more aware and more accepting of medical aesthetic treatments and to do this I recognised that I needed medical professionals working in my clinic, as well as therapists, to do so. In the early 2000s, the public lacked knowledge and education on the types of procedures available, as well as the practitioners that should be performing them. Although there is still an element of this today, I wanted to bring aesthetics to the high street and make it more reputable.”
She continues, “I believe that only medical professionals should be performing facial injectable treatments, like Botox and fillers, as they have extensive knowledge of the anatomy. Even the doctors that work with me have to have at least five years’ practise before they touch any of my patients’ faces.” Fieldgrass employs 70 practitioners and emphasises that she couldn’t succeed without them.
“I employ a whole range of professionals, such as plastic surgeons, gynaecologists, dermatologists, nutritionists and many more. They are a huge asset to my practice and because of them I am able to offer a complete holistic approach to my patients,” she highlights.
Fieldgrass shares that when she decided to open her second clinic, it was in the middle of a recession and everyone around her expressed concern. She explains, “Everyone thought I was absolutely crazy, but I just felt in my gut it was the right thing to do. You have to have confidence in yourself otherwise no one else will.” When asked what the key skills are to start and grow a successful business, Fieldgrass simply says, “Communication and education.” She elaborates, “First of all, you need to be completely passionate about your area of expertise. Continually educate yourself and be open to adapting with the ever-growing industry. I also believe that everyone needs a mentor. For me, that person was David Hicks who was head of a large aesthetic distribution company; he really helped me at the beginning with business advice and I don’t think I’d be here today without him!”
Fieldgrass adds, “To grow your practice, be confident that you have excellent senior management and recognise that you cannot do everything. Your management team should understand your ethos and be adept at training to maintain exceptional standards. As you open each new clinic, you begin to divide your attention and you need to make sure that each clinic maintains the same high standards across the board; a strong management team will help deliver this. Remember, a business is only as good as the people that work in it.”
Whilst managing a successful chain of clinics is one of her biggest achievements, Fieldgrass is also proud of other accomplishments and opportunities that have presented themselves to her, making her the entrepreneur that she is today. Not only did Fieldgrass own a lingerie shop in 2013, but she recently started a patient-focused podcast called The Beauty Biz. She says, “I love my podcast, it just felt so right to do it and is so refreshing. My husband refers to me as a serial entrepreneur! I love the quote, ‘An entrepreneur is someone who jumps of a cliff and builds a plane on the way down’. I can relate to that.”
Fieldgrass concludes, “When I look back on my career, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride. It’s been a huge learning curve, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”