It’s always exciting when we find out the connections that bring small businesses from the community into the FOUND/LA network. That turned out to be the case when Marchelle Brown, owner and founder of Marchelle Brown Skin Care, applied for the FOUND/LA Small Business Recovery Grant. Brown’s business, like all of our grant recipients, was randomly chosen from over 5,000 qualifying applications to receive a grant to help weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
When we realized Brown was a grant recipient, we also realized a truly special connection with our founder, Jane Wurwand: Brown and Wurwand have known each other since Brown attended the International Dermal Institute, Jane’s first business, in 1983.
“The International Dermal Institute trains over 100,000 students a year and so we have an intimate knowledge of exactly what makes a business successful. Marchelle was in our very first group of a few dozen students in 1983 and was taught by me personally, so it’s a very special and close relationship.” – Jane Wurwand
Brown was already a certified massage therapist when she decided to go beauty school and incorporate facials into her practice. For her, the International Dermal Institute was the best choice because, as she says, “Regular beauty college taught you enough to pass the exam, but IDI was a post graduate school – you already had to be an aesthetician to take classes there.” When Brown began studying at the IDI, it was small enough she was able to study with Wurwand directly – she was even a model in one of their first videos. It was at the IDU that Brown was introduced to lymphatic drainage, a therapeutic massage technique that has since become a cornerstone of her practice. Over the years, she has studied directly with experts in Germany and Austria, and has continued to expand her knowledge with additional certifications.
“As Marchelle was my student for many years it is always a pleasure to learn from her as well – her knowledge of bodywork is extraordinary. I am also proud to have introduced her to lymphatic drainage through our early partnership with the Dr. Vodder School in Austria and then to watch as she expanded her training for decades to become the expert that she is now.”- Jane Wurwand
When Brown was ready to open her own full service salon in Beverly Hills, she reached out to the Wurwands to let them know. When the Wurwands told her about their new product line, a little skin care brand called Dermalogica, Brown said, “Sight unseen, I said I’d carry it, because I know there’s quality in everything they do.” They connected her with the steamer she still uses for her business to this day. Recognizing excellence is a quality they both have in common.
Brown is, as she calls herself, “a perpetual student,” and continued to attend classes at IDI for many years, where she would run into the Wurwands in passing, as well as attending lectures where Jane was a speaker. Thanks to the IDI and her passion for continuing education, Brown was able to attend events like the CIDESCO conference in Malaysia and a Dermalogica conference at a resort with the Wurwands. As Jane says, “Marchelle is a local example of the education, commitment and determination it takes to build a business and as importantly, the love for the work that is needed for it to truly succeed.”
Like many small businesses, especially in the skincare industry, Marchelle was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although she was lucky enough to receive a PPP loan, it was not enough to sustain her business for the remainder of the pandemic. As a therapeutic services provider, it was important to Brown to keep her brick and mortar location because, “I couldn’t imagine not having a place to come back to when the time is right.” As many of her lymphedema clients are also immunocompromised, she has to wait longer than many for her clients to return to business as usual. That’s what our Small Business Recovery Fund is for: to support passionate entrepreneurs through this transitional time when they need help most.
“I try to replicate that closeness and support with each of our FOUND entrepreneurs by connecting them to the funding, support, coaching and community that they need to thrive.” – Jane Wurwand
As for Brown, when she received the news that she was selected she was thrilled. Not just because of the grant, but also at the continued connection and community that this grant represented. As Brown says, “I just really admire both of them [Jane and Raymond Wurwand] – they’re kind and good people. What they’ve accomplished, I’ve always felt like they’ve wished me success and wellness. They were so focused – that’s truly how one is successful. I get sidetracked easily but they stayed so focused and fulfilled their dream.”
Back at you, Marchelle.