Blessing in disguise: This beauty lounge was founded for salon experts who lost their jobs

BEHIND THE CHAIR OF MISS DERM. Parlon CEO and Founder Claire Ongcangco video chats with Miss Derm's Managing Director Marzen Salazar

Over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of salons and clinics struggle to keep their doors open because of the pandemic. Little did we know that there’s one beauty lounge that braved all the uncertainties and made the impossible happen.

A REAL-LIFE FAIRY GODMOTHER. Marzen Salazar, Managing Director of Miss Derm

Miss Derm, a salon that offers quality brows, lash, and face & body lift services that do not break the bank, opened their doors in the middle of the pandemic—with full PPE gears for their staff and a strict set of safety protocols from the get-go. They now have a total of two branches, one in Makati and one in Las Piñas, and a third branch Quezon City is already in the works.

And as if opening a salon during a global pandemic isn’t incredible enough, its fairy godmother, Marzen Salazar, has been managing Miss Derm remotely from Oman. That’s 4,364 miles away from the Philippines.  

ZOOMING. The Miss Derm team makes the impossible happen by virtually gathering regularly with their Oman-based Managing Director.

“There was no flight [going back home],” she says. “We do everything online. I monitor the schedules per day. We do Zoom meetings. It’s almost like I’m with them. They just don’t see me physically.”

Becoming Miss Derm

WOKE UP LIKE THIS. Ladies who want to have their eyebrows fixed and their skin refreshed enter this welcoming space in Miss Derm Makati and go out satisfied of the services.

What made the challenge a little less daunting for Marzen is her first remote endeavor in the beauty industry. In 2018, she co-owned a Manila-based salon while she’s already in Oman working as a creative marketing professional. This gave her a glimpse of what it’s like to handle a salon remotely, not knowing that two years later, she’ll find herself managing one she solely owns.  

In spite of this, what really pushed her to open Miss Derm is her love and respect for the hardworking, caring people in the industry. A beauty junkie herself, Marzen met a lot of stylists, beauty technicians and artists who never fail to inspire her through the years.

One fateful day in March 2020, when an eyebrow artist she met through one of her colleagues, came to her asking for a job, Marzen felt like it’s her responsibility to do something.

“I was inspired by different artists and technicians that I met through the course of working and visiting different salons,” she reveals. The Miss Derm founder narrates that whenever she gets herself pampered, she can’t help but ask her nail artist or hairstylist how they feel. “I just feel like your job is so fulfilling,” she says to them, as she recognizes the joy in their eyes whenever they do such an amazing job with her hair, nails, face, or skin.

And every time, she thinks to herself, “I want that.”

AN ARTFUL CRAFT. To Miss Derm artists like RJ, every eyebrow and lash done well is a masterpiece.

So, one fateful day in March 2020, when RJ, an eyebrow artist she met through one of her colleagues, came to her asking for a job, Marzen felt like it’s her responsibility to do something.

LIKE A FAMILY. Miss Derm was established to give jobs to beauty experts who lost their sources of income because of the pandemic. (From left to right: MJ, Barley, Marzen, and RJ)

“RJ lost his job in March. And then, he messaged me and said, ‘Can you hire me?’” she tells us. During this time, she can’t immediately say yes because the uncertainties brought by the pandemic were too much. Her first salon was temporarily closed. She can’t go home because of the lockdown. And she was stuck in her home in Oman, waiting for new projects to arrive for her full-time job.

This is how their story started, marking the beginning of a life-changing journey for Marzen and more artists like RJ.

Still, she promised RJ, “Stand by. I’m going to find a way to get you a job.” The next thing she knows, she’s already started looking for available spaces in Makati for Miss Derm despite her gnawing fear of the future.

This is how their story started, marking the beginning of a life-changing journey for Marzen and more artists like RJ.

A series of leaps of faith

With a lot of time in her hands, Marzen spent the entire lockdown period planning and organizing everything she needed to do to make Miss Derm come to life. She studied how to create a website, design marketing assets, run social media pages, and implement digital campaigns. She started to promote Miss Derm online and handle customer bookings & inquiries a month before they opened. And because there were no available flights back to the Philippines during that time, she looked for someone who can help her and RJ manage everything on the ground.

This is when she met MJ, a former receptionist in a Japanese restaurant in Manila, who also lost her job because of the pandemic.

"By August 21, 2020, when Miss Derm opened, we’re ready. We already had 7 bookings on the first day.”

“I was so amazed because all the things I asked her to do, she did them with all her heart,” Marzen says, describing MJ. “While there was a lockdown, we were preparing business permits [and] all the paperwork. RJ and MJ are fixing the clinic, getting ready. By August 21, 2020, when Miss Derm opened, we’re ready. We already had 7 bookings on the first day.”

People who lost their jobs because of the pandemic somehow find their way to Marzen and offer their expertise in exchange for a job. As more people join the team, Miss Derm’s services and business also expand.

Even at this point, Miss Derm has a wonderful story that never ceases to amaze. Initially, Miss Derm was only meant to offer eyebrow services. But then, people who lost their jobs because of the pandemic somehow find their way to Marzen and offer their expertise in exchange for a job. As more people join the team, Miss Derm’s services and business also expand.

“One of my current Miss Derm employees came to me before and asked if maybe I was looking for a lash technician or wanted to add lash lift or extensions to my services. At first, I was hesitant,” Marzen shares with us. “But then, I said, ‘Okay, why don’t we try it?’” A few months later, an artist from Alabang also approached Marzen for a job and it led her to open a branch in Las Piñas.

“I thought, if I put everyone in Makati, it’s going to be unfair because only the people from Makati will get good service,” she explains with joy and pride. When their Las Piñas branch opened, Marzen finally caught a flight back home and was able to witness their grand opening in person.

Because of Miss Derm, Marzen created a tight-knit family of 8 artists bonded by their common mission to secure their livelihood and bring beauty to the lives of their customers, and of course, each other.
PURPOSE AND BEAUTY. Miss Derm is ready and equipped to give you a safe and excellent beauty service.

Because of Miss Derm, Marzen created a tight-knit family of 8 artists bonded by their common mission to secure their livelihood and bring beauty to the lives of their customers, and of course, each other.

“I’m so proud of my staff,” she says. “We managed to grow from two to eight within a year and we really treat each other like a family.”

A testament to Filipino resiliency

IN THE TIME OF COVID-19. Opening a salon in the midst of a global pandemic is no easy feat, but Miss Derm powered through.

Of course, Miss Derm’s story is not all rainbows and butterflies all the time. When the Philippines went into another Enhanced Community Quarantine after a year and salons were not allowed to operate once again, Marzen started having second thoughts about the future of Miss Derm.

"The beauty industry always bounces back."

“It was terrifying because [during that time] I have two branches and I have more people to take care of,” she tells us, saying that thinking about how she can provide for her employees and keep the business running took a toll on her mental health. “I told my landlord, who also owns a salon, that I am worried and I feel like Miss Derm is going to close down. And she told me, ‘No, don’t give up. I’ve been in the beauty industry [for years] and it always bounces back.’”

LAUNCHED BY THE PANDEMIC. Miss Derm never knew a time when PPEs and extra safety measures are implemented in their clinics.

This boost of confidence was enough for Marzen to keep going. As more people get vaccinated, more and more Filipinos see themselves ‘revenge spending’ on beauty treatments and services as an act of self-love and self-care. For Marzen, this is an opportunity for the beauty and wellness industry to be creative and adaptable to how clients want to be taken care of.  

The most beautiful thing that happened to Marzen during the pandemic is when she was able to create jobs for artists like RJ and aspiring artists like MJ.

“During the pandemic, you should have a long-term view and a wider perspective,” she says. “Because when you have a narrow perspective, you only see the challenges. You don’t see the opportunities.”

Like a true fairy godmother, the most beautiful thing that happened to Marzen during the pandemic is when she was able to create jobs for artists like RJ and aspiring artists like MJ.

MISS DERM ANGELS. These experts are ready and equipped to give you a safe and excellent beauty service.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people like RJ & MJ, and this is what I tell them,” she says. “Take this opportunity to learn new things. Trust yourself. And trust the people who might give you the opportunity. Keep on learning. And also, be kind.”

"A beautiful life is accepting your flaws, but being ready to fix it if you think you need it.”

“A beautiful life is living with kindness and an open mind,” she says. To Marzen, living a beautiful life is knowing what you want and going after it. “It’s accepting your flaws, but being ready to fix it if you think you need it.”

LIVING WITH KINDNESS AND AN OPEN MIND. To Marzen, knowing what you want and going after it is what we need to live a beautiful life.

As we find ourselves navigating the new normal, let’s take inspiration from the steadfastness Marzen and her employees exemplify in the face of adversity.

Truly, Miss Derm is proof that Filipinos, wherever they may be, are resilient, brave, generous, and most of all, beautiful.

Visit Miss Derm at their branches in Makati, Las Piñas, and soon, Quezon City. Check out Miss Derm’s Parlon page to know more of the services they offer.

Behind The Chair is a series of beautiful and purposeful stories amidst the pandemic as told by salon and wellness professionals. It aims to raise awareness on the challenges faced by the industry that has physical care and interactions at its core, and how they adapted to survive and stay in business. Powered by Parlon, the Philippines’ first go-to platform for beauty and wellness services.