Christian Garces - a Rising Star

Like every person, every company has its story. Most, we are told, are short, as more often than not new companies fail within the first two years of opening their doors. Some stories are more long-lived, but not necessarily remarkable, as they move along from year to year maintaining themselves, earning respect more for long-livedness rather than growth and advancement. And, very rarely, there is that company whose growth from nothing to industry giant has everyone holding it up as a standard of excellence.

Sothys USA is such a company. Today considered one of the major movers in the professional skin care industry, it is easy to forget that its roots are extremely humble, perhaps more benign than most, and that at many times along its long road, Sothys USA could have stumbled and fallen by the wayside, just another name in the obituary column of the corporate world.

Sothys USA's story is very much tied up with the personal history of Christian Garces. Indeed, they are inseparable.

Christian Garces was born in the lovely Mont Blanc valley of France before WWII, when childhood was still sweet and dreams were allowed to come true. Born to parents who were both professional estheticians in the country that created the esthetics industry, Garces was raised in the world of skin care and beauty. Like most Europeans of the time, however, the Garces family was soon to understand hardship and pain as the war swooped down on France, making luxuries such as skin care a memory of a more frivolous time.

At the end of the war, the family packed up its belongings and left for Cuba, then a tropical paradise that was the playground for the rich and famous. With their education and training in esthetics, the Garces were soon able to set up their own skin care clinic, making them forerunners in the introduction of professional esthetics to the Western Hemisphere. And, after school each day, their growing son would visit the salon to help out.

Just as the family began to settle into their new home, a new tragedy overtook them and their adopted home as Castro came into power and brought communism with him. Christian Garces, married by this time and with two small children of his own, took his family and fled to France, where he hoped to make a better life for his family.

During the days, Garces attended L'Ecole de Soins Esthetiques Lancome and nights he worked in a plastic factory and as a concierge in a local hotel. Twenty hour days and an unstable French government convinced Garces to pack up once more and to leave for Spain, where he hoped life for his family would be better. Unfortunately, it was not to be so, as Spain was even farther behind the rest of world in accepting the need for professional skin care. Hearing glorious stories of the fame and fortune to be found in the United States, the Garces family opted for one final exodus and made for Miami, Florida.

Of course, it would be nice to say that Garces landed on the shores of the States and found a desperate audience waiting for guidance and education in skin care. Of course, that is not what really happened. Rather, Garces found himself working in a hair salon for the next two years applying false eyelashes. Finally fed up with that dead-end job, he approached the salon's owners with the idea of incorporating skin care in the salon's menu. And was laughed out the door.

Unwilling to give up, Garces began offering skin care services out of his home after hours. Within months, having outgrown those premises, he found a partner and opened a beauty salon.

It is at this point that Sothys finally came into the picture. On one of his many trips to France to find a professional line of products, he was introduced to Sothys and knew that he'd finally found a line that delivered the immediate, professional results that he was sure were achievable. He brought the line to the States for his personal use, and soon found that there were quite a few estheticians across the nation that were as desperate as he was for results. Within a few years, he was appointed sole distributor for Sothys in the United States, and his star has been on the rise ever since.

Since its very humble beginnings, when Garces typed ingredient labels on a small typewriter and applied them to imported products to conform with FDA requirements, to the present day when Sothys is the leader in the professional skin care market, Sothys has gone through many changes. One thing has remained the same, however, and that is Sothys' commitment to the professional esthetician.

One of the original esthetic companies to set up a continuing education school in the United States, Sothys Institute de Esthetiques in Miami is open every Monday for advanced education in all aspects of skin and body care treatments. Classes are also available weekly in New York, Dallas, San Francisco and Puerto Rico. Customized and special request classes are always available. And, in line with Sothys' focus on education, the Sothys offers its On-Tour classes at cities across the United States.

Of course, it was the results given by Sothys products that initially interested Garces in the line. And, it is results which continue to draw the interest and commitment of estheticians the world over. Put quite simply, the products work. And, they are usually so advanced, that it takes the industry years to catch up. For instance, it was in 1982 that Sothys introduced 02, the first professional fine of oxygen enriched products. Fourteen years later, Madison Avenue has caught onto the concept, and the industry is doing back flips trying to get their oxygen products on the market while interest remains high.

Far be it for Christian Garces to rest on his laurels. A founding member of EMDA (Esthetics Manufacturers and Distributors Alliance), the alliance of industry leaders committed to the advancement of esthetics in the United States, Garces has continued to push the industry forward. His goal is for professional skin care to become as common as haircutting, and he throws all the weight of the organization he has helped build behind that goal. From his days as a partner in the Les Nouvelles Estetiques magazine and congresses, to his decision to advertise professional skin care in retail beauty magazines, Garces has continuously worked to elevate the industry and to put the need for it in front of the eyes of the consumer.

Call him visionary, call him industry leader, call him successful businessman, but at heart Christian Garces remains what he has always been - an esthetician who believes in caring for the skin who sees proper skin care as a necessity for health and beauty, and who does not accept adversity lying down.

Chez Blanc 2004