In conversation with Natasha Bourke, CEO at Two Hundred Doors and Founder of Skintopia
A qualified skin therapist and a childhood immersed in the ins and outs of salons thanks to her parents’ business, Natasha Bourke, Group CEO at Two Hundred Doors, has been in the business of beauty from an early age.
Since 1993, Two Hundred Doors (formerly Skin Health Experts) has been the exclusive distributor of Dermalogica, the number one used professional skincare brand globally. In 2019, Natasha founded Skintopia – a first-of-its-kind salon concept with a holistic, results-driven approach to skin. Now, there are five Skintopia locations; two in Wellington and three in Auckland, including the new flagship clinic in Herne Bay, which opened in August this year.
Ahead, ProCollective caught up with the busy beauty veteran to chat about her journey, shifts in client demographics, sustainability, and what’s next for Skintopia…
ProCollective (PC): You’ve been with Two Hundred Doors for over 15 years, you must have observed some big shifts in the industry. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed in the landscape?
Natasha: There has been a shift from luxurious, indulgent, and pampering ‘spa’ treatments to results-orientated skin treatments, which utilise advanced treatment technologies. Clients are also demanding more active skincare and are increasingly savvy about the types of ingredients that provide results. Social media has enhanced this trend with the rise of the ‘Skinfluencer’.
PC: As Group CEO at Two Hundred Doors, what does a typical day entail?
Natasha: My time is spent working closely alongside our management team at Two Hundred Doors and Skintopia. My role is focused on developing strategy and improving business performance.
PC: What are you most passionate about in your role?
Natasha: I’m passionate about providing opportunities for women to feel empowered, independent, and find success in their careers. I am fortunate to work with a large group of women – our own employees, and our wholesale customers – where I can connect with them on business and assist with their career development.
PC: Throughout your career in the beauty industry, what have been some of your most memorable moments?
Natasha: Opening Skintopia in 2019 (our first location at Old Bank Arcade in Wellington) was a real highlight. It had been a long-time goal to open our own skincare offering to showcase Dermalogica as a professional brand and lead the way with innovative treatments.
PC: What have been some of your biggest learnings over the past few years?
Natasha: The importance of building a strong and resilient team culture. People will give more when they are looked after and valued.
PC: What inspired the concept behind Skintopia?
Natasha: I really wanted to create a destination for skincare that combined quality products with treatment technology and internal wellness. This combination is a key difference, along with the Skin Lounge concept [an open plan and social treatment space] that we have in three out of our five locations.
PC: Does Two Hundred Doors have any sustainability initiatives in place?
Natasha: We are partnered with Sustainable Salons at Skintopia and at the Two Hundred Doors head office, meaning that all our plastics, metals, paper, and glass are carefully recycled through the Sustainable Salons recycling depots. Proceeds from the sale of these recyclable products go towards Kiwi Harvest to help feed New Zealanders. Dermalogica also has sustainability initiatives in place around their packaging and ingredient sourcing. They are leading the way with innovation in this area with the recent launch of their new pump, which is an industry first, containing no metal spring and fully recyclable.
PC: Who is the Skintopia customer – are you seeing any key client demographic trends?
Natasha: The Skintopia customer is interested in the health of their skin! They want to see results and are looking for expert advice from a trusted professional. They seek out treatments that utilise technological enhancements for added results. But they also want a personalised experience in a relaxing setting. They are not looking for a clinical or cookie cutter service. The majority of our clients are professional women (but not exclusively!).
PC: What has the journey been like to build Skintopia through a challenging few years?
Natasha: Covid certainly presented challenges – the lockdowns were very tough. Keeping up team morale when they are forced to be home was something we put a lot of effort into. We mobilised our team to work remotely offering virtual skin consults for both Skintopia and the Dermalogica websites during lockdowns. Managing the constant sickness through Omicron has been perhaps a harder challenge (as for everyone in a close contact industry). Staff sickness, isolation periods, and client cancellations have all been hard to plan for. We seem to be coming out the other side now. All of these challenges have forced us to focus on culture more than ever and efficiencies within the business.
PC: We’re living in a digital age. How consumers shop now is completely different to 10 years ago, even a few years ago – where do you think physical retail fits into the industry now?
Natasha: Physical retail provides an experience that is hard to simulate in the digital world. Many of us are tactile beings. We want to see, touch, smell…that’s hard to achieve online. But I can’t stress the importance of having both – it isn’t one or the other. Within our industry we get to physically touch our clients, which offers a human connection like no other. However, clients still want the convenience of online ordering.
PC: Alongside Two Hundred Doors’ brands, like Dermalogica and The Beauty Chef, what was the selection strategy behind product ranging in Skintopia?
Natasha: We have a list of criteria that we evaluate potential brands on that includes some of the following attributes: New Zealand made, female founded, sustainable packaging, ingredients, pricing/margin, current distribution, social media presence, and investment in marketing.
PC: Talk us through your daily skincare routine…
Natasha: How long have you got?! In the mornings, I use a gel-based cleanser followed by a spritz of hydrating toner. I then layer Dermalogica’s Circular Hydration Serum and Biolumin-C Gel Moisturiser. I always use an eye cream (am/pm) and I never go outside (rain, hail or shine) without an SPF! I’m loving the new Dermalogica Daily Milkfoliant to gently exfoliate and smooth my skin, so use this on alternate days. I’m also a massive fan of the Biologi Luminosity Serum – it helps control my seborrheic dermatitis like nothing else I have tried.
PC: We know this will be a difficult one to answer – but what are your three absolute hero products from Dermalogica?
Natasha: My absolute holy grail is the Invisible Physical Defense SPF30. I’ve been religious about SPF since my early 20s and that is why my skin looks so good for my age. I also habitually double cleanse using the hero Dermalogica Precleanse oil – it melts away your makeup and SPF to leave your skin super clean. My other can’t-live-without product is the Dermalogica Conditioning Body Wash, it smells divine and a little goes a long way.
PC: With two decades of experience up your sleeve, what do you think are the biggest areas for improvement right now? How do Two Hundred Doors hope to make a contribution to changing those?
Natasha: Right now, our industry is finding it hard to find well trained staff. Student numbers in training colleges are declining and new graduates are often lacking the skills required. Our business has always been centred around education and upskilling therapists to succeed in the profession. I believe that now more than ever, there is a battle cry to take on that challenge and help upskill young people wanting to seek out a profession in the skincare industry. If we can help address this problem, then I know that we will be making a big contribution to our industry and to the individuals we work with.
PC: What’s next for Skintopia (or Two Hundred Doors)?
Natasha: We are working on some exciting treatment innovations at Skintopia and have some plans to refurbish and modernise two of our locations. Watch this space!