Small Business Profile: Anisa Noor, Owner of NŪR Skincare - Chicago
Hi Anisa! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a second generation daughter of Pakistani-American immigrants who was raised in a strict conservative Muslim home. This environment had a huge impact on my journey. My parents didn’t want me to attend college and thought I should be married by the time I was 18, so in order to retain some semblance of control on my own life, I ran away from home and put myself through college and grad school, traveled the world and later met and married my husband and we now have a five year old daughter. I grew up in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles a few years ago, then came back to my hometown and started NŪR Skincare in Chicago. I am a total nerd and as a hobby I love to read scientific journals related to medicine and health, and try to learn and evolve my life and business. I love to dance, cook, and tinker with formulations. The issues that concern me in my life personally are climate change, sustainability for our planet, social justice, and living in a world where all living things can coexist peacefully.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
I have a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering and worked on the back end of the skincare industry and later as a private label consultant. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I no longer wanted to work in a corporate or consulting position anymore so that I could spend more time with her. I happened to meet a woman named Dangene in NYC who I learned more about technology based treatments and saw that she was doing amazing things and producing amazing results – I immediately felt that with my background on the back end of the skin industry I could really merge the aesthetic side and create something new and revolutionary by applying all of my skills and education toward a protocol that could create real and permanent structural changes to the skin.
What led you to start NŪR Skincare? What was the turning point that drew you to starting your own business?
If I had to choose a single event it was the birth of my daughter. I could no longer see myself working in a job anymore that kept me from being her primary caregiver for most of the day. Her birth also inspired me to become creative in areas where I may have been previously afraid to take risks.
Your focus is on hi-tech skin transformation. Could you tell us more about what that means and what your treatments are?
We focus on creating permanents structural changes to the skin by creating a customized strategy for each individual to optimize their skin. We use multiple modes of technology and scientifically based treatments and layer these steps in order to disrupt the skin’s matrix and stimulate the skin to regenerate – thus producing the changes we expect to achieve. Our signature treatment is the 12 step hi-tech facial which embodies this strategy, however we also have various practitioners doing other treatments. We have a nurse practitioner on staff who does microneedling – a method that essentially tricks the brain into thinking that a series of wounds that have been created need healing thereby signaling the brain to produce more collagen in those areas, and also our acupuncturist does facial acupuncture, which stimulates the muscle memory and increases circulation, thereby giving a permanent lifting effect and resolving vascular issues in the skin. Our treatments primarily focus on creating permanent structural changes – not just temporary ones.
Now with 2 locations, one in LA and one in Chicago, has there been a difference in what people are looking for in their skincare?
Yes, the client base is different. People in LA are indeed aware of many of the modalities that we use and know what to expect. There is a greater learning curve in Chicago, however, it’s not that far behind and I feel the advantage we have with bringing such unique treatments to Chicago is that we are essentially pioneers in the industry. Chicagoans are ready for results based treatments and we are at the forefront of the Chicago skin-health industry ready to serve.
In addition to your services, you also sell your own products. Were these formulated to use in your services?
Actually no, the products I formulate are designed to complement the treatments. Because the treatments are designed to create a majority of the changes in the structure of the skin, we believe the home care can be simple. I formulate basic products (soaps, masks, scrubs for now) using all natural (organic whenever possible) botanical ingredients that soothe and nourish the skin. As an analogy, coming to our studio is like going to the dentist and using our home care products is kind of like brushing and flossing, in a sense.
As there are so many different skincare philosophies and products, what do you think people should people be doing for their skin?
Most of the skincare industry is heavily focused on beauty. Our focus is on skin health and overall health. We work toward optimizing our clients’ skin health while recognizing that beauty is merely a by-product of that. I think that people should start viewing their skin as the filtration system that it is – which reveals everything that is going on inside. Problems with the skin can sometimes reveal major disease or underlying issues – and when we create a strategy for someone – it’s a holistic strategy – so we work with naturopathic doctors, dietary consultants, acupuncturists and herbalists to really help our clients achieve their skin goals by improving their overall health as well as their skin health using the latest scientific research and technology.
What are some of your short/long term goals?
Right now we are focused on spreading the word about services and philosophy in Chicago and I’m personally also focused on expanding my home care line. I’ve always loved to tinker in the kitchen and make my own soaps, scrubs, masks and creams so I’ll be working on the line in the near future. The five year plan is to expand our current facility into a wellness center that has a meditation room, daycare, and café with healthy food options that support the mind/body, which is at the root of our philosophy.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face?
As a small business owner, I’m responsible for everything – taking clients, marketing, PR, advertising, as well as administrative work. It’s a challenge but also one that is fulfilling because sometimes it forces me outside of my comfort zone. Work/life balance is always tough with a business but we are in a foundational stage right now and in the long run, I hope to achieve that.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
So much of my evolution as a human being has been about navigating my way through life as a woman in a world where the rules are made by men. I took a sabbatical from my engineering career to get a Master’s in Middle Eastern Studies and wrote my thesis on feminism in the modern Muslim world – as a means to try to understand what my rights were within the context of my own upbringing. In a world where patriarchal traditions define so many aspects of women’s lives, what choice do we have but to stick together? As I mentioned my transition into this career was inspired by my daughter’s birth – but not just because I didn’t want to pursue my previous career – but rather because I became acutely aware of how little of a support system there is for women once they become mothers in the working world. This is also why my future plans include a daycare – so that mothers (or fathers) can come and drop off their kids while they enjoy a treatment.
We have a series called Purchase from Women - what women owned businesses are you encouraging with your dollars?
I love to support independent artists and small businesses whenever I can. Since I’ve just arrived back in Chicago and haven’t had much time to shop, I can only name a few – Roots hair salon, Bittersweet Bakery, Savvy Seconds, Allie Kushnir, Sophia Reyes Designs, Amy’s candy bar to name a few.
What are you trying to learn right now or what is something that you are wanting to learn?
Personally, I’m trying to learn how to slow down. How to meditate more and realize that all the work will still be there even after I return. I’m learning how to take more time for myself. As women, we give so much to others – to the point where we are sometimes depleted – personally I’m trying to learn how to give back to myself. Professionally, I’m trying to learn more about social media and the best ways to market ourselves. It has been a challenge because sometimes a lot of what is out there seems inauthentic – many people seem to claim more than what they are or to be experts in areas where they are not. I grew up in a time and culture where I was taught to downplay my gifts and show humility. In a world where everyone is “putting everything out there”, we have to try to display our expertise in a way that’s authentic and genuine and honest, but also interesting enough so that people will listen and pay attention.
What are some of your favorite places in Chicago?
Taking my daughter to Maggie Daley Park, summer concerts in Millenium Park, the Chicago local food scene, date day/night at King Spa, African dance at Old Town School, The Chicago Botanic Garden and The Morton Arboretum.