A savvy businesswoman who worked in the corporate arena at Dell for seven years, Roma Kumar became interested in medical spas after her husband, Dr. Sanjiv Kumar, a Harvard-trained opthalmologist, returned from a conference in 2007 and declared, “I need to start doing Botox injections!”
Botox was developed by an opthalmologist to treat eye movement problems and conditions such as strabismus, also known as cross-eyes. Dr. Kumar noticed that not only was the use of Botox expanding beyond ophthalmology, but that the entire aesthetic medical industry was exploding. This was all Roma Kumar had to hear. She left her job at Dell and began to research medical spas, becoming a full-time student of the business. As Dr. Kumar explains it, “She took a mailroom approach, working from the ground up in every capacity, until she became expert enough to become a CEO.” Crazy as it may be, Roma left her secure and lucrative corporate job for a $10-per-hour gig working at a Smooth Solutions franchise, doing laser hair removal. In 2008, finished with her on-the-job training, she felt ready to open her own business.
Roma Kumar started the business with two employees, two laser hair removal machines and one microdermabrasion machine. It was time to market, and she knew just what to do. Groupon was her ticket to getting and attracting clients. She is proud to say that she was the first business owner in the medical spa industry to use Groupon as a means to get a customer base. Today, most customers find her through social media reviews. Why do they come back? Simply put, “Sonterra Laser Med Spa is all about the customers,” says Kumar. Her experience of building a client base through Groupon made her an absolute devotee of social media as a marketing resource. She also knows how important it is to garner good reviews from clients.
When clients walk into Sonterra Laser Med Spa for the range of services it offers them, they are struck by how warm and welcoming the facility is and how everyone is treated like family. Kumar attributes much of the spa’s success to her loyal staff. She credits the growth of her injection business to her senior injecting nurse, Blake, an R.N. for 17 years, who has been doing cosmetic injections for the last 10 years. Blake never thought about going into injecting work until she had a realization: “I saw people that were so hurt on the inside; they were trying to control something on the outside that they couldn’t control on the inside. And I could help with that.” She describes cosmetic procedures as healing treatments. “They empower people to control what they can. Women here are not looking for total transformations. They are looking for a natural rejuvenation — they want people to see that they look great, but not to know what it is they did to look so good,” she says.
An emphasis on the patient, products and proper licensing
The Kumars are particularly excited about new technologies for skin care such as eMatrix ™, a resurfacing procedure that helps remove brown spots on the skin. They also love the results that they are getting from Coolscultping ™ for removing unwanted fat in a noninvasive way. As Roma puts it, “Who would want liposuction when they can get the same results with Coolsculpting ™ for half the price and no knives?”
While Roma and Dr. Kumar are excited about all the advances in technology that are coming to medical spas, they caution against getting too caught up in the latest technologies. “You might want to be an early adopter of the latest laptop or phone,” Dr. Kumar says, but he warns that getting too cutting-edge too fast in the medical industry is dangerous: “When it comes to your skin, a more cautious approach is a smarter approach.”
By Jennifer Bartlett
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ELIZABETH WARBURTON