Women In Wellness: Shawnda Dorantes of Beauty Lounge Medical Spa On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Not all money is good money. As an entrepreneur, it’s always been very important for me to consider longevity and for my team and I to be able to deliver an exceptional customer service. Even though we’ve experienced a very rapid growth fast, I’ve put boundaries in place to not grow too quickly that could destroy the ethics of my brand. That includes having to turn clients away when their expectations are not realistic or offering too many new services at once that can sacrifice quality.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shawnda Dorantes, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, co-owner of Beauty Lounge Medical Spa in San Marcos, a suburb of San Diego, California.
Acclaimed female entrepreneur, Shawnda Dorantes, MSN, APRN, FNP-C (family nurse practitioner) is a master nurse injector, cosmetic tattooist and co-owner of Beauty Lounge Medical Spa, a leading, full-service aesthetic destination in San Marcos, Calif., a suburb of San Diego. A powerful force in the beauty industry for the past 14 years and registered nurse of over 11 years, Dorantes’ tailored expertise and innovative service offerings have paved the way for Beauty Lounge’s proven success. With an impressive 36,000 followers on Instagram, the popular med spa is best known for their non-surgical PDO thread lifts as well as their lip and nose transformations. Beauty Lounge’s service offerings include botox, fillers, laser treatments, microneedling, non-surgical face lifts, body contouring, teeth whitening and results-driven skincare treatments. In 2021, Beauty Lounge won four San Diego Union Tribune’s “San Diego’s Best” Reader’s Poll awards for: “Medical Spa,” “Cosmetic Dermatology Individual: Shawnda Dorantes, MSN, FNP-C,” “Cosmetic Dermatology Office,” and “Day Spa.”
A recipient of San Diego Metro Magazine’s “Women of Influence” and “40 Under 40” awards, both in 2021, and listed as a “Best Aesthetic Injector in America” in the Best Aesthetic Injectors in America’s National Directory of Recommended Providers, Dorantes is making a huge name for herself both locally and on a national level. In 2021, San Diego Business Journal announced Dorantes as a finalist for three of their prestigious community awards, “Rising CEO of the Year,” “40 Next Top Business Leaders Under 40” and “Business Women of the Year.” The acclaimed family nurse practitioner has treated thousands of patients including famed reality TV star, Farrah Abraham, Heather Minch of MTV’s “Young Moms Club,” Heather Martin of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” runner-up of season four of “MasterChef,” Natasha Crnjac and many more. Dorantes’ approach is to seamlessly enhance the natural beauty and self-confidence of all of her patients.
The renowned beauty expert’s entrepreneurial spirit was ingrained in her at an early age when she began helping her parents run their family-owned business, and she attributes their guidance to her robust career as a Latina entrepreneur. A longtime former in-demand makeup artist, Dorantes began as a Beauty Advisor for Estee Lauder and later became a freelance professional makeup artist for several other prestigious cosmetic lines. After securing multiple credits in film, print, and television for her work, she then joined Estee Lauder’s Regional Artistry Team while working her way through college. Upon triple majoring and earning baccalaureate degrees in Biological Sciences, Women’s Studies and Nursing from Cal State University San Marcos in 2007 and 2010, Dorantes worked as a nurse in the acute care setting for over eight years and specialized in medical, surgical, telemetry and hospice care before entering the permanent makeup industry and opening Beauty Lounge in 2018.
Since merging her background in cosmetics and nursing, Dorantes has become a licensed and certified cosmetic tattoo artist, has earned her Allergan Master injector certification, and has received aesthetic training in several advanced and masters level injector courses led by famed industry injectors, Kelly Choi NP-C, Rio Calvert, Dr. Gideon Kwok, Dr. Thuy Doan and Erika Berry NP-C. A huge proponent of education, Dorantes participates in ongoing seminars and attends medical conferences throughout the year to stay up to date on the latest non-surgical aesthetic techniques and evidence-based practices. Dedicated to expanding her already well-rounded skill set, Dorantes recently earned her Masters of Science in Nursing in April 2021 from the United States University in San Diego to become a certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). As an FNP, Dorantes provides additional advanced services to her clients, including medical weight loss, medical management of acne, cryotherapy, and more.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Thank you for this amazing opportunity to share my story. I’ve currently been a nurse for 12 years. I originally started my career in the beauty industry as a professional makeup artist, dabbling in film, print, television, and special event makeup. This was all way before Instagram and YouTube makeup artists were even a thing. Upon graduating from Nursing School I hit pause on the beauty industry and focused on my nursing career. I specialized in Hospice, Palliative Care, Med-Surgical, Telemetry, Ortho, Stroke, and Neuro Nursing for 9 years. I spent most of my bedside nursing career working on my hospital’s float team, requiring me to float to 20 plus units across three hospitals and additionally be competent in multiple specialties of Nursing. In 2017 I returned to the beauty industry simultaneously training in aesthetic medicine and cosmetic tattooing. I opened a small permanent makeup studio in early 2017, slowly building a clientele and following. Taking a huge leap of faith my husband and I signed a lease on a 1000 sq foot space and opened Beauty Lounge Medical Spa in the fall of 2018. I officially retired from bedside nursing in the summer of 2019 and never looked back. In just two short years we experienced tremendous growth and success leading us to building out our dream location. In November of 2021 we opened our beautiful state of the art 2100 sq. ft location featuring nine treatment rooms and a film studio. Since beginning my career in aesthetic medicine I have had the privilege of training under the best of the best in the aesthetic industry. In addition, I graduated in April 2021 earning my Masters of Science in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner degree. I am a huge proponent on education and have also devoted myself (and staff) to ongoing trainings so we can continue to provide the most innovative services and in-depth insight to our clients.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
As a nurse entrepreneur I have had to unfortunately learn some lessons the hard way. First and foremost you cannot trust anyone. Never hire friends and family. Invest in a good lawyer and HR consultant. Always protect your hard work, money, and business. Develop solid employment contracts from the start. Clearly state all expectations, minimum length of employment required, reimbursement for training and other expenses. It is better to be “corporate” from the start. Unfortunately, getting burned along the way comes with the territory. However, what’s important is that we learn from these mistakes, and we refine our hiring processes and employment contracts as your business grows and evolves.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In hindsight I feel that I took on too much too fast. I was juggling my business full time, graduate school, and working part time nights at the hospital my first year in business. I wish I would have quit my hospital job sooner and put all that energy into growing my business and my family. If I could do a few things over I would have kept my business expenses low and waited to invest in lasers. I’m lucky that it all worked out for me despite how challenging it was at the time.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
I would like to think I’m showing other young women, especially my fellow Latinas that there is space for them in healthcare and wellness. I recently founded Lifted Aesthetics Training Academy LLC with the goal of providing training and mentorship for aspiring aesthetic injectors, in addition to business and marketing consulting for my fellow aspiring aesthetic entrepreneurs. I love that the industry I am helps people feel more confident and beautiful.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Get your butt off the couch! Start moving! C’mon you can scroll Tik Tok literally while walking or riding a peloton. We all know exercise is good for our cardiovascular health, but it also helps prevent osteoporosis. We as a culture need to shift how we engage and spend time with one another. Instead of meeting up for happy hour with your friends, get your group together for a walk on the beach!
- Nourish your body with what the Earth intended us humans to eat. It wasn’t until I embraced this concept that I was finally able to maintain my weight and not yo-yo. Although, I admittedly enjoy fried foods, sweets, and an adult beverages like the next person, these types of foods are not my primary diet. They are enjoyed as treats or on date night. Everything in moderation, right?!?!
- Water! Drink up! It’s so vital for our overall health. And let’s not forget to mention its effect on our skin! Plus, all the other sugary drinks we sip on are nothing but empty calories! I make it a rule to drink a full glass of water with every meal. And let me tell you I feel a difference when I don’t get my water in!
- Take time for you. Self-care is so important in reducing burn out and depression. Its ok to say NO and stay home in your PJs all weekend. Take your dog for a walk, read a book, get a facial, or whatever self-care looks like for you. My husband and I both own our own businesses and work long hours. We prioritize travel and taking off just the two of us or with the kids for an extended weekend every few months. It’s important that we disconnect from work and be present with one another and our kids.
- Sleep. I can’t tell you how many times I thought my depression was creeping back in, but I was really in fact burning myself out and was sleep deprived. Coincidentally, as I’ve gotten older it has become glaringly apparent gone are the days of functioning well off little to no sleep. To be our best and give our best, we must prioritize sleep.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Beauty Lounge Medical Spa is actually launching our brand new medical weight loss program in the next few months. I am so excited for it. As someone who has struggled with weight and obesity, majority of my life, I know firsthand how hard it is lose weight and to keep it off. We are very excited to be offering Semaglutide which was recently FDA approved for weight loss. The clinical studies have shown an average weight loss of 12.4% of body weight per person. Losing just 5% of your body weight has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease! I’m excited to be able to help my local community achieve their weight loss goals and in turn improve their quality of life and self-confidence.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Not all money is good money. As an entrepreneur, it’s always been very important for me to consider longevity and for my team and I to be able to deliver an exceptional customer service. Even though we’ve experienced a very rapid growth fast, I’ve put boundaries in place to not grow too quickly that could destroy the ethics of my brand. That includes having to turn clients away when their expectations are not realistic or offering too many new services at once that can sacrifice quality.
- Its ok to say NO. Stand firm on your decisions (this applies both personally and professionally.) Don’t ever let anyone manipulate you into agreeing or doing something that you do not want to do.
- Fill your own cup. We are in a culture that glamourizes hustling and burn out. To succeed and remain creative and passionate, it is imperative that you take time for yourself and your family.
- There will be bumps in the road. It’s inevitable. Take everything as a learning experience and advance from it.
- Always keep a sense of humor. Being able to stay positive and have a good laugh has helped keep me strong even through dark times.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Definitely mental health. Coming from a household where the attitude towards depression was that it wasn’t an actual condition, and people just need to get over it and carry on. I did not feel comfortable sharing my mental health struggles with my parents. I had high functioning depression and anxiety and those closest to me did not have a clue how much I was struggling. It wasn’t until my eating disorder and depression were really bad that I opened up asking for help as I was struggling so bad. I don’t even think my parents had a clue I had been on medication for almost two years for my depression. I still don’t think they truly comprehend the depths of my despair and how much I was hurting at that time. Looking back I definitely think I was already struggling with anxiety and depression in high school which continued into college before finally realizing what I was going through was more than I can handle and got the help I needed. I think as a society we are much more aware and educated about mental health than we were 20 years ago. Information and resources are more accessible. Having a good suppoe
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Thank you for these fantastic insights!