ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GREAT SKIN: AN INTERVIEW WITH KAREN JOHNSON OWNER OF THE CHILGROVE CLINIC
Karen Johnson owns the infamous Chilgrove Clinic near Chichester, lately there has been a real buzz about this aesthetic clinic. Apparently, it is officially one of the best in Sussex and offers some of the hottest treatments currently available this side of Harley Street. The clinic boasts a staggering number of loyal customers and when you scroll through the treatment list it is easy to see why.
When you meet Karen, the first thing that you notice is her joie de vivre, quickly followed by her radiant appearance. Of course, I asked how she obtains such a youthful glow and it is not how you think. There was no mention of the B word! Karen’s glowing skin, I am told, is down to her own treatments and years of using the holy-grail of skincare products - Environ. I have heard of this range, famed for its high performing ingredient of Vitamin A, it is a secret weapon of the glitterati and boasts Blake Lively, Sadie Frost and Hilary Swank as its fans. Oh, and did I mention that Karen was trained by none other than the creator of Environ himself - Dr Des Fernandes, a plastic surgeon and a genius in his field. So, it is no wonder that she has a waiting list as long as your arm.
Recently Karen has collaborated with Michelle Jones to offer a new Lipo Firm treatment at the clinic, plus she has branched out into Geneo Facials, Meso Pen and Therma Vein treatments. But her signature remains the facials and laser treatments.
I just had to talk to Karen to find out what it takes to succeed in the beauty industry and why women are waiting months for Karen’s magic touch.
1. Tell me a bit about your background?
Oh my god, it has been so varied. Originally, I had a scientific background and was a pharmacist. After I met my husband, I moved to South Africa, but I was unhappy with my life; I was overweight and made the decision to do something about it and quickly lost five stone. I had got the fitness bug, and this spurred me on to do a post-graduate degree in sport science. When I split up with my husband I went into partnership with a friend and we opened our own gym in Manchester, before being one of the first mixed sex gyms in the North. Unfortunately, that partnership went sour when my business partner embezzled the money and absconded. Then through no fault of my own the business was dissolved.
2. what inspired you to start The Chilgrove Clinic?
When my gym business ended, I had to think quickly and get a job that was lucrative enough to pay the bills. I decided to stay in the fitness industry. I spoke to the gym equipment company that had kitted out my gym in Manchester as I knew the owner. They offered me a Sales role; the only catch was that it was down South. On a whim, I took the job. That was probably one of the best decisions that I have ever made. From there I went into the beauty industry, it was a natural progression.
3. Who is your target audience?
Everyone. We have a wide range of treatments and prices to suit every skin type and budget, and because we offer bespoke treatments which are tailored to our clients’ requirements, we are able to offer the best package for them whilst still being competitive.
4. Are there any exciting plans for 2019?
We are currently investing in new treatments and training such as ThermaVein which is launching in April. It is an exciting time for us, and we are going to continue to grow thanks to the team’s dedication and our list of advanced treatments.
5. What challenges have you faced?
Before moving my business to Chilgrove, I ran my clinic for 5 years from a small salon, just renting a room. The number of clients grew with each year, and because I have a policy of introducing new treatments to the clinic on a regular basis, it was becoming harder to work from such a small space. With a complete leap of faith, I found the perfect venue, although it was slightly off the beaten track, I decided to go for it. It was quite a crazy time as we found and set up the clinic within a month. It was exhausting, but it was a great decision, as it has led me to more opportunities than I had thought possible.
6. How did you overcome them?
It was a huge risk to move away from our first clinic, and I did lose sleep over it. However, the clients were incredibly supportive and moved with us to the new premises. So, the transition worked well.
7. What sets you apart?
Well, we are very good at what we do. Our advanced treatments take time to master, so we train to the highest possible degree to ensure that we get it right. I think this has been what has set us apart. For instance, most of our clients have been with us for Seven Years, to keep a loyal customer base for that long shows that we have set the bar quite high.
8. Describe your average day?
My day starts with porridge and a strong coffee, I then use my drive to work to plan out my day as I find it is good to go over how you want your day to pan out. Each day will be different with the variety of treatments that I offer but my time doesn’t just end there, I still must work on our social media, events and admin.
9. Who do you admire?
Dr Des Fernandes – founder of Environ Skincare and the pioneer for micro-needling, he also assisted in the first ever heart transplant. The man is a genius and was one of the first to discover the benefits of Retinol - vitamin A, which he uses in the Environ range. He is the one who kick started my career in skincare as I was fortunate enough to work closely with him.
10. Where do you see Chilgrove Clinic in 10 years?
Hopefully, it will still be the successful business that it is today, although I fully expect the girls to have taken over the reigns by that point. Although I am not ready to give up work yet, I will be looking to cut down and travel as there are still so many things that I want to do.
The Chilgrove Clinic, Chilgrove Park Road, Chilgrove Business Centre, Chilgrove, West Sussex PO18 9HU
Tel: 01243 214776