For the latest episode of Leading From Home, Glossy’s Instagram Live series on how executives in our world are coping and communicating while away from the office, beauty and wellness reporter Emma Sandler spoke with Inge Theron, founder and creative director of FaceGym, which offers non-invasive facial toning via “exercise.”

Theron, who logged on from her London home, called the first week after closing her company’s 12 FaceGym locations “the shock and denial phase,” and said she took the time to “lick her wounds” before getting to work to keep the company going. 

“As a leader, I’ve got a lot more grit than I realized — a lot more energy and determination,” she said. “And I’m getting my team to get up and fight; it’s galvanized the team.”

Since, she’s been taking Zoom calls from her bed between home-schooling her kids. She said reserving an hour every morning for herself, to meditate or do whatever else she feels like doing, has helped her deal with this time of change. In addition, she’s consciously decided to make the most out of the situation. 

“This is a unique time — of course, it’s a devastating time,” she said. “But if there’s anything positive we can take from this, it’s [things like] me sitting with my daughter and learning with her — that’s never going to happen again. I’ve decided to take this for what it is, grab onto it and enjoy it.” 

Below is a video of the full conversation, plus additional highlights, lightly edited for clarity. 

Adjusting long-term plans
“When we first started, we had a three-step plan: We were going to create a brand new concept, but we needed brick-and-mortar to do that. Getting the consumer to understand facial fitness was so unique, and we wanted that proof-of-concept to be with the consumer in that physical environment, where they could see the before-and-afters and buy into the concept. And then phase two was going to be: Let’s make skin-care products to help them continue the facial fitness journey at home. And then somewhere in the future, let’s create the Peloton bike but for the face — so these high-tech gadgets — and let’s create a platform to speak to our customers. Then cut to Covid [-19]. By week two, I was like, ‘I owe it to my team to stand up and change the business. We have to digitize. Today our new business starts.’ In the space of a week, we digitized the whole experience.” 

Updating the brick-and-mortar experience
“We’ve had to rethink it. We’re heading into our 13th studio, on [NYC’s] Upper East Side. During this quiet time, we revisited: What does beauty look like, and what do beauty services look like? As a team, we just really want to be the thought-leaders in what that future … looks like. I had recently been in Japan, and there’s this beautiful ritual around being clean, sanitizing and washing your hands and your feet. It’s something I want to incorporate. When you get to the Upper East Side [location], you’re going to see how we’ve made this ritual of cleaning your hands, putting on the mask, taking your temperature — we’ve made it feel not scary, but actually quite beautiful. Your [face] trainer does it, you do it — it’s mutual, like, ‘I’m going to protect you, and you’re going to protect me.’ For now, I think we’re going to do just one or two more brick-and-mortars. Because now is the time to focus more on our digital platform… This is something we want to keep forever. This is not a post-Covid moment, but this is forcing businesses like mine to innovate in this area we haven’t innovated for a long time.”

The pivot to digital
“Covid for us was a blessing, because it actually makes you think in a far more creative way. This has allowed us to create this dialog with our customer and also to create this new platform, where we’re seeing [interest from] more and more people. We’ve actually had to bring some staff out of furlough, because we’re getting booked up so much on the 1-on-1 [appointments] and on the class bookings. For us, I want to make sure that, as a brand, we continue digitally. Never before have we been more sustainable — nobody even needs to leave their house, no paper is printed. It’s just [a customer] deciding, ‘I need a face workout today,’ going to the website, clicking, seeing one of my master trainers, and — boom — they get great results. The UGC we’re getting is phenomenal. For me, I’m like, ‘Wow, that is a really effective way of using our time, of not spending money, no capex involved.’ It’s just a far more efficient way to do business and get results.”