Clinic of the Month - Connected Health and Skin

I’m thrilled to introduce this month’s Clinic of the Month, Dr. Jen Newell, ND from Connected Health and Skin located in Toronto, Ontario! Jen’s business has grown like crazy and has seen some great changes, even during COVID. 

Tell us a little bit more about what made you get into naturopathic medicine and what your business looked like before Dermaviduals? 

I became a naturopathic doctor completely by fluke! I'd like to say that I always knew I wanted to be a naturopathic doctor, but that's not the case. I originally thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I, unfortunately, underwent some major health concerns during my undergrad. I had that classic teenage acne that I tried everything to fix, along with my other health issues, and this eventually led me to use more natural therapies. 

When I finished undergrad and no longer wanted to be a veterinarian, I didn't know what I wanted to be in life. I was always that person that had one direction, and to be faced with no longer knowing what I wanted to do was terrible and traumatizing. Fortunately, the guy I was seeing at the time was looking into acupuncture schools, and I thought that sounded so interesting. The next thing I knew, I was at the open house for the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto. Within ten minutes of being in the space, my mom looked at me and said “This is what you’re supposed to do.”

I applied to the college and everything just aligned! 

When I graduated from naturopathic college, I actually thought I wanted to focus on geriatric care, not skin. I wound up working at a clinic where I worked primarily with pediatrics and fertility. At some point in that process, I started working with business coaches. They asked me who I loved working with the most, and without question, it was my female skin patients and acne patients. The weird things that ooze and smell strange, that is my jam! But it took someone else pointing it out to me in order for it to really click. 

I saw that special spark in you right away and am so thrilled you found the space of your dreams. What was it like trying to open a brand new space during COVID? 

Here in Toronto, we've been in some form of lockdown since November. It’s been an extra challenging business launch, but we met it head-on. 

We have a dedicated LED light lounge which is super popular! We also have an aesthetics room for my amazing estheticians who unfortunately have not been able to work since November. 

Luckily, our regulated health practitioners are still able to practice. We have naturopathic doctors who focus primarily on skin health, as well as a registered acupuncturist. We also have an incredible registered massage therapist who uses the Dermaviduals massage cream! It’s great because we can now offer massages to those with body skin concerns that might have been hesitant to have someone touch their body. 

We do also offer virtual visits, but we can’t wait to get back to connecting with our clients in person. 

What was the moment that made you decide to bring in Dermaviduals? 

It was really the ability to customize. Although Dermaviduals can feel overwhelming at the beginning because of how many options there are, it’s so great as naturopaths and as a naturopathic doctor because our whole philosophy is around creating customized care plans for the individual, and skincare that allows me to do that just makes sense. 

Not to mention, once you start to dive into Corneotherapy and the philosophy of preserving the outer layers of skin and encouraging them to be as healthy as possible, it makes total sense with the naturopathic philosophy. Why would I go in and obliterate a layer of skin in the hopes that what's underneath it is healthy, when I can just support its health instead?

Many of my plans for patients include doing less. If it’s too complicated, we can’t expect our clients to do it! Simplicity is where the consistency lies long term. We want to create a sustainable and concise plan that gives you what you need. 

What was the transition like for your patients when you brought in Dermaviduals? 

It was actually very easy because a lot of the brands that I still carry work along the same philosophy of being gentle and skin supportive. It’s been great to be able to offer patients a few different options, especially at different price points, because people like to change up their skincare routines. 

I tend to focus on the education aspect as well. Clients leave here with knowledge of why we're doing what we're doing. As naturopaths, we've always been customizing, and Dermaviduals became an extension of that.

People love it. As soon as you transition them to Dermaviduals, they're sold. They see the changes, and they rave about it. It’s not the sexiest brand on the shelf, but it’s utilitarian and it works!

Were there any surprises that came up while working with Dermaviduals, or with entrepreneurship in general?

There's a surprise with entrepreneurship every other day. It's not for the faint of heart. With Dermaviduals, however, there were no major surprises. It's been so great. Whenever new products come out, they make sense. They fill gaps in the lines. 

I think the biggest challenge has been bringing people onto the team and explaining it to them, especially if they haven't been exposed to it before. It can be a bit of a learning curve. But there’s beauty in being allowed to flex those creative muscles and truly look at aesthetics and health as an art. It allows them to explore the art behind the science of it all. 

As you look back, is there any advice you would give to your younger self? 

I would tell myself to wear sunscreen every day and to know your business numbers. I hate the numbers. However, it is so valuable to glance at occasionally and become comfortable with. You need to know what these numbers mean and not be afraid of them because they do matter. Especially as an entrepreneur, I need to know if I can afford this space and if I will be able to pay myself. It's important to understand and know those numbers, and I did not for a number of years, and now trying to learn them has been a challenge.

What would your advice be to somebody considering bringing in Dermaviduals? 

Play with it. Get in there, touch it, feel it, and experience it for yourself, because that's how you grow comfortable with it. There's a lot of actives and modular components to it, and it can be intimidating when looking at the box, so really get in and play with it. 

This has been a big year for you! Not only have you opened a new space but you also grew your team. What do you do as a business owner to stay sane?

With naturopaths, I'm not managing a big team. I have a lot of people around me but most of them are independent contractors. I'm here to mentor and support them while they grow and build their dreams. If their dreams align with Connected Health and Skin and they stay with us forever, amazing! But if that’s not their big dream, then I do what I can to support them. 

I want to mentor and be the place where people get their start. Whether they end up staying with us or if they become a clinic owner of their own, that’s incredible, and I love being part of that journey. 

What do you do for yourself outside of the business to detach as an entrepreneur? 

For me, balance doesn't exist. I’ve enforced some rules onto myself, like not working after 8 pm, because I was so stressed that it was taking a toll on my health. Especially with the pandemic, my outlets disappeared. I used to be able to compartmentalize my home life from my work life and burn it all off at the gym. But with everything now being closed, it had to change. I joined peloton, and it was the best thing I did for my mental health. 

Ten years from now, what does the business look like in your mind? 

Ten years from now, there's going to be a Connected clinic in every province. Whether its skin focused or other-focused, I want people who share that vision. We've built a brand and a culture that can be replicated and can help be a stepping point for other people in other places.

I have so enjoyed watching your journey and I am so honored to work with you. You're always so inspiring and I applaud what you stand for and your approach to skin.

If you want to know more about Jen and her fabulous Toronto clinic, be sure to find both Jen Newell and Connected Health and Skin on Instagram, as well as Connected Health and Skin’s website!
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