An Interview by Canvas Rebel
Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Elisabeth Hernandez. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation; We’ve shared it below.
Elisabeth, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today.
What’s the backstory behind how you came up with the idea for your business?
“Life is tough my darling, and so are you,” a quote by Stephanie Henry that continued to fuel my soul after my service in the military. After the military, I continued to work as a Critical Care Nurse in the ER and ICU. There were times where I would be assisting with a trauma and, while performing CPR or attempting to apply pressure to a wound, the smell, the age of the patient or the circumstance would cause me to have flashbacks. I knew at those moments that I would eventually have to leave my specialty and find a new career or specialization that would allow me to continue to impact my community in a meaningful way. The flood of emotions: failure, weakness, despair; days would go by with me not knowing where to go from there. I started to transition to different areas of healthcare. With every transition leading to anguish and grief knowing that yet another specialty caused dismay and I could no longer continue in that field.
I had attempted every specialty and came to the realization that I would have to transition into another career. This very thought caused my whole world to collapse. At this moment, I was approached by a dear friend and colleague who was practicing in the field of Aesthetics. With hesitation, I agreed to train. I will never forget my first day. I was nervous and sweaty. I gathered my thoughts and closed my eyes. I began to center myself and acknowledge that I was thankful for this new opportunity and that I would take every chance to learn and expand my scope, in hopes of finding a specialty I would once again feel a sense of belonging to. I sat in the education center and took everything in – the lighting, the educators, the trainers, the students. I started to go through the educational material and at that point it hit me – butterflies. I was excited to see the facial anatomy, the structures, arteries, and fat pads. I knew at this very moment that I may have found my new passion. I contained my excitement until my first model.
My first model was a younger individual who had suffered an accident and had an irregular facial appearance that affected the orbital and cheek areas. This is all I knew prior to the application of filler to the area. I noticed they were nervous, but at the same time eager, to get the procedure done. I explained the process as I applied the filler. Looking and smiling every time I assessed the symmetry, and being able to see a facial structure go from an emaciated look to being plump, I started to imagine the bliss this would give them. I felt so much joy for this model because I knew this would be life changing.
When they saw their face, the emotion expressed is indescribable. The model was overjoyed, thankful, and could not stop crying. They stated that the injury was caused during a deployment and thought they would never be able to get a normal looking face because of the location of the injury, especially being soft tissue. They asked if they could hug me and I agreed. During the embrace they thanked me for giving them their life back. This was the very moment that I knew this was my path; I was able to provide a little normalcy, confidence, and self-love to someone who had hid for years. I wanted to continue to provide this, and I made it my goal to volunteer for all educational opportunities and learn as much as I could throughout the years to be able to provide the most up to date methods of facial rejuvenation.
I found my passion again!!! I was learning, developing new skills, engaging with a new industry, and changing lives of many within my community especially those like me. What do I mean, “like me?” I noticed that within the industry in my community there wasn’t an established business that offered services tailored to people of color or who’s primary language was Spanish. There also wasn’t a Mentorship program for nurses looking to transition into Aesthetics. I started to think about the many things I could provide; a medical spa with a focus on education and treatment plans, a mentorship program, clinical training center for nursing students.
And I did it! I started Arbora Collective, a boutique Medical Spa in Eugene, Oregon in September of 2022. We are located within Spruce Beauty Bar which makes us a one stop shop for all things beauty and I love it! I wanted to start at a smaller scale to be able to provide further innovative treatments without the high startup costs. This allowed me to find a beautiful diverse environment that thrives on education and inclusivity. My focus became to provide our community with result-driven medical-grade skincare while providing education on professional vs. medical-grade services and the importance of treatment plans. The environment we created is welcoming to all with a “going to go visit my bestie” vibe, where you can discuss all concerns in a relaxed environment.
And yes, the Mentorship program is also underway! We will be the first facility in Eugene to offer a year-long mentorship program for nurses looking to transition into Aesthetics. We may be starting small; However, our mission is whole-heartedly geared towards giving all the best evidenced-based aesthetic care that will provide natural-looking results that build confidence while aging gracefully.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I am the child of first-generation immigrants, who came to the United States to provide their children with the opportunity to obtain an education and create a better life for ourselves. The strength, resilience and push to move forward and move mountains to achieve the goals we envision came from my mother and ’til this day she continues to provide us with words of encouragement and celebrates all our success and holds space for us when challenges arise. When I came back from my deployment, my mother noticed I was having a difficult time adjusting. She helped me look at the bigger picture and the blessings I have had. This very notion allowed me to seek all the different opportunities to find my next career path. I fell in love with Aesthetics! It was providing me with the continued ability to help others while providing emotional support, aesthetic education and giving back to my community.
My Aesthetic approach is client centered and step oriented. This allows for our clients to gradually instill the skincare and aesthetic services needed to meet their goals while avoiding trauma to the skin, and providing a gradual rejuvenation that prevents the shock factor that occurs when too many modalities are instilled in one office visit. I also value education. At each visit, I educate and show the client the “what, why and how” of each service to ensure the client understands the importance of the procedure and approach. I strive to maintain the latest most up to date practices for the services we provide. As such, we are continuously involved in education and training of all the services we offer and include: Botox, filler, micro needling, micro needling with PRP, chemical peels, iv hydration, laser hair removal, Lumecca IPL, RF micro needling with Morpheus8 and much more.
This career is my seed to grow into the strong arbor that will continue to give and impact many for years to come and my hope is that you will be able to see and experience your enhanced beauty with the services we are able to offer.
Any stories or insights that might help us understand how you’ve built such a strong reputation?
Education was the key to building my reputation. Many of my clients state they have never been given the education related to the procedure they would be receiving, how it is applied, what muscles are involved, and the dosage required. By providing the client with the knowledge to understand the procedure and key doses, and how this impacts the results, has allowed me to establish a solid reputation founded on the importance of education and training.
Have any books or other resources had a big impact on you?
My life and world view changed after reading the Four Agreements and I encourage everyone to read it. It will provide you insight into how our daily interactions impact us differently depending on the view we hold. We all experience things differently. This book has provided me with the foundation to know and understand that not all encounters are the same and we all try our best with the tools we have for that day.