Dara Levy, 58, began her career in 1985 as one of a handful of female members at the male dominated Chicago Mercantile Exchange. When the Chicago-born entrepreneur’s husband passed away from cancer, leaving her with two children and a frustrating, non-creative career, her life changed instantly. Following her passion and drive for success, she opened a high-end med spa in 2009. “I discovered dermaplaning many years earlier and it became the backbone of my personal skin care regimen and ultimately the foundation of all services offered at my spa,” she said. “Five years and 6,000 treatments later, I had an epiphany: all women want smooth, radiant, younger looking skin, yet many do not have access to a spa that offers dermaplaning.” After acquiring key outside strategic investors, DERMAFLASH, the at-home, sonic, dermaplaning device was launched in 2016. Since then hundreds of thousands have sold over the years and tons of QVC TSV spots have aired. The product is now carried in Nordstrom and is offered at more than 150 spas. This month the brand launched its next generation of the award-winning at home device — DERMAFLASH 2.0. And, Dara recently hired a new CEO. Somehow, she found time to talk with CEW’s Beauty Insider for our 5 Minutes With… feature.

BI: What made you hire a new CEO and what do you hope he or she will bring to the company?
DL: We are at a tipping point and it’s clearly time for the business to explode. I realized that I needed a strategic operator, a rock star, who can be my partner and lead us to the next level of profitability and growth.

BI: What kind of market shift have you seen over the past year?

DL: We are continuing to see the category expand as consumers become more educated and comfortable using devices to solve their beauty concerns.

BI: What are some specific strategies you’re using to reach a younger consumer?

DL: While our primary consumer target is women 35+, we are acutely aware that younger women are starting earlier than other generations to prevent and treat the signs of aging. That said, we are connecting with her on social channels and social advertising (Facebook/Instagram/You Tube). Our next big product launch is actually specific for a younger consumer…more exciting news to come over the next few months.

BI: What’s the marketing strategy behind Dermaflash?

DL: Our strategy is educate, connect and delight. We have a comprehensive approach that includes digital and social media, in-store demonstrations, on-line education, key opinion leader [KOL] engagement and personal, girlfriend-to-girlfriend communication with our customers. One of our strategies for brand communication in 2019 is strengthening our relationships with KOL’s in skin and skin health. This includes dermatologists, plastic surgeons, estheticians and make-up artists. We actively engage each of these groups of experts for their feedback on our products to share the value of dermaplaning with their clients and to provide insights on future product development.

BI: What are the biggest opportunities for growth at Dermaflash?

DL: While many women are aware of laser treatments and chemical peels to improve the look and feel of their skin, many are still unfamiliar with the magic of dermaplaning. Raising this awareness and informing women that there is an at-home solution is our biggest opportunity. Education, education, education.

BI: How has the brand approached dealing with investors?

DL: We consider our investors to be our partners. As an entrepreneur, I have a vision for my business but I also recognize the importance of surrounding myself with people who have different expertise than I have and who can add value and provide guidance.

BI: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?

DL: If it can go wrong it will.You have to be resilient and stay focused on delivering the best product and experience for your customer.

BI: Greatest accomplishment thus far?

DL: Our growth trajectory since launch is trending ahead of Clarisonic, which was arguably the most successful device launch to date.

BI: Biggest mistake you’ve made?

DL: We did not put the original device in the hands of enough consumers for in-use testing before we launched and missed some confusion first-time users had when they interacted with the original device. As a result, we had to go back and retool the device to solve for these issues. The good news is that Dermaflash 2.0 has been very well received!

BI: What product (not your own) is your favorite and why?

DL: I am addicted to SK-II Facial Treatment Essence and have been using it for years. I don’t even know why I love it, I just can’t imagine my skin without it.

BI: Best advice for newbies entering the business today?
DL: Stay focused on your vision and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

BI: What’s something no one tells you when starting a business?

DL: Starting a business is all consuming.I have eaten, breathed and slept DERMAFLASH for the past three years. Fortunately, I have a loving and supportive family and team that have stood behind me each step of the way.

BI: What’s a mantra you live by?
DL: The word ‘can’t’ doesn’t exist for me. I believe “If you say you can, you will, and if you say you can’t you won’t.” Everyone has the power to manifest their own destiny.

BI: If you were to write the note found in a fortune cookie, what would it say?

DL: Be positive, believe in yourself, you can do it!