Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm Never Going Back to Ummelina Again!

The voice seemed to come from far away, but then again, the room was warm, cozy and dark and I'd been in a drowsy, dreamy sleep. That's why I was certain that I'd misunderstood the question.

"Would you like me to smooth some bovine placenta into your skin?" the Ummelina facialist asked again.

OK. I guess I understood the question just fine the first time.

"Bovine placenta?" I inquired.

"Yes, it will make your skin appear more soft, supple and youthful."

"Why would I say no?" I replied.

I can't tell a lie. My skin did look wonderful when the facial was over. In fact, it may have been one of the best facials I've ever had.

But from now on I'm going to have find bovine placenta from elsewhere because I'm never going back to Ummelina again.

Let me explain: I absolutely loved the aforementioned facial, so in January, when it came time to book another facial, I didn't hesitate to call Ummelina. I was so excited for my treatment. On the day of my appointment I left my son with a sitter, parked downtown and arrived right on time.

As was customary, I was seated in a quiet waiting room where a spa representative came to soak and massage my feet til they were sparkling clean. Afterward I was told to wait until my facialist came to collect me for my service. I did as I was told and waited. And waited. And waited.

Time clicked by and every once-in-awhile I'd grab someone from the spa to inquire as to when my facialist would finally come. "Oh, just another five minutes," seemed to be the standard reply.

I knew this wasn't right and that I was having to wait too long. All around me other clients were getting their feet washed and rubbed and then, in a timely fashion, their technicians would come for them.

I asked to see a manager and one never came. I kept getting up to check in with the front desk, to no avail.

I was so frustrated because I was geared up for this facial and really, really wanted it! But I didn't have all day. I had to leave at a certain time to make it home for the sitter. At first I thought I might just miss a few minutes of the facial, then I started to think I'd have to settle for a mini-facial, and finally I realized my face was leaving just as dirty as it'd arrived. Time was up.

I went to get dressed and gather my things. The attendant asked me the earthy name of my locker and I said I didn't know it. He said he couldn't get my things if I didn't know the name of my locker and I tried explaining that no one had told me the name of it - they'd just taken my things and placed them in a locker.

"We can call my cell phone and listen for the ring," I suggested.

"No, I'm sure we could easily find which locker is yours if we look, but I'm not authorized to just start opening up lockers and giving you the belongings if you don't know your locker's name.


This went on for about five minutes until I, very close to tears, finally talked the guy into letting me have MY things.

I dressed and went up to the front. I emotionally told the gals how frustrated I was. I'd spent money on both a sitter and downtown Seattle parking - all for nothing. I was supposed to come in and relax but was leaving more wound up and stressed than ever.

One woman finally piped up and said, "I'm so sorry. I was supposed to be your facialist but they overbooked me. My first facial isn't even over yet."

At least she said she was sorry, but that just wasn't good enough. I asked again for a manager but no manager was available. They said I could call him during the week instead.

So call I did. I left several messages and NEVER heard back from anyone from Ummelina.

Speed up to June 20th: My ex-husband calls to tell me to check my email. I find a generous Ummelina gift certificate for my birthday "from my son" in the in-box. So sweet, but grrr! This means I have to go back!

I figure that the timing is right - I'm going on a beach vacation and need a pedicure. I call, set up an appointment and head in the following day. Here's my analysis:

Ummelina has the treatment part down. Their technicians are top notch. My feet look wonderful and feel quite happy. They were exfoliated, parrafined, massaged and polished to perfection.

BUT Ummelina does not have customer service down at all. There seems to be an indifference to the client, rarely is a phone answered, they always seem understaffed and they apparently use utilize a "fend for yourself, we can't be bothered" approach. I'm not willing to say it is because they don't WANT to care. I just don't think they KNOW how or are smart enough to care.

Bottom Line: No Thanks. I don't care if they have the last bovine placenta on the planet. Customer service matters to me. I want to be treated well and I am darn sure to treat my own clients well, too.

Make a Sugar & Swank appointment to see for yourself. Maybe by the time you get here I'll be carrying bovine placenta!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sugar & Swank Monthly Training Seminars - June and July

Hello and Happy Summer! There are so many exciting things happening at Sugar & Swank!

Read Below To:
Get caught up on what was discussed at the First Ever Sugar & Swank Monthly Training Seminar
Learn about a Sugar & Swank discount available to you and your friends.

If you missed the June Monthly Training Seminar then you missed a ton of useful health and style information!

Summer means time spent in the sunshine. This also means a need for sunscreen. Sugar & Swank has several suggestions on how to protect your face and body from the harsh rays of the sun.

Protecting Your Face
1. Sugar & Swank Custom Blended Mineral Foundation - Not only is it blended to perfectly match the tone of your skin, not only does it last and last througout the day, but most importantly, it naturally contains a highly effective SPF of 26. You'll look flawless while protecting your face at the same time.
2. Moisture Restore Protective Lotion - This highly effective sunscreen, containing an SPF of 15, enhances skin's natural resistance to the environment and helps control oil and shine - all while keeping skin nourished and hydrated.

Protecting Your Body
Sugar & Swank recommends Sunright BodyBlock as the best sunscreen for your body. Available in either SPF 15 or 30, this water-resistant sunscreen is safe for sensitive skin and effectively protects against UVA and UVB radiation.

We naturally sweat more in the summer heat which can cause our pores to clog more easily. Sugar & Swank has the answer to keeping your skin clear.
1. Sugar & Swank carries skincare products for every type of skin
2. Sugar & Swank also carries the Galvanic Spa which goes deep into pores to clean out debris while tightening and toning the facial muscles, as well. It literally gives you a facial and a facelift at the same time.

The shift into summer means a shift into lighter, fresher make-up. Come into Sugar & Swank for a summer makeover to see what colors are being shown for the season and how to comfortably incorporate them into your look and make them your own. Remember that Sugar & Swank uses the Number 1 Rated Minerals in the mineral marketplace but prices are comparable to MAC or Stila.

Tips to Remember: Push yourself to experiment with a new make-up palette. Try sheer and luminenscent colors that make your skin glow. Less is more so apply with a light touch. Avoid deep lip colors in summer and opt instead for lighter, softer shades.

Have you noticed how many women these days, of all ages, look as though they're pregnant? Sugar & Swank wants you to know the water is safe for drinking and most of these women aren't pregnant - they are simply experimenting with one of summer's most popular looks: the roomy, loose fitting baby doll dress. While this look isn't for everyone it doesn't mean you shouldn't try some variations of it - afterall, let's face it, the style is really comfortable to wear! Choosing what to wear is easier when your closet is clean and organized. Sugar & Swank can help you get your closet into shape! Set up an appointment to either overhaul and update your closet or to get advice on how to shop for the season.

Tips to Remember:
Stay away from Empire Waists - the stitching under the breasts pulls the top in, forcing it to have to poof out over the belly. Steer clear of the really full tops, as well. Instead, choose a top that is more fitted in the arms and chest that gradually widens as it goes down. You will still have the tunic look but attention will be drawn upward to your arms and chest rather than your missing waistline. Wear these tops over leggings or jeans with flats or heels. Wedges are very popular this summer and are surprisingly comfortable. Even better, you can find a great pair at any price.

Let Sugar & Swank help you create fun, creative and chic invitations.

When hosting a BBQ remember that cooking meat at too high a temperature might get the outside charred but can leave the inside uncooked, so turn the flames down! It may take longer to cook the food but the meat has a better chance at staying juicy and tender. Using a digital food thermometer, available at most cooking stores for around $20, is the surest way to keep meat juicy and tender. This inexpensive device will instantly turn you into an amazing chef.

In addition to the classic beverage choices such as soda, beer or wine, serve your guests a yummy drink - try a peach or passion fruit juice mixed with bubbly water. Toss in some vodka, if that's your thing.

The July Sugar & Swank Training Seminar will take place on July 18th from 6 to 8 pm at the Sugar & Swank Studio on Mercer Island.

Bring a Friend and Each of You will Receive a 15% Discount on ANY Sugar & Swank Products -
This includes Make-Up, Gift Items, RevitaLash and NuSkin

RSVP for Directions

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Perfume Counter

My boyfriend, Jim, and I decided to stop by the Downtown Nordstrom to sniff out a new cologne for him, a new perfume for me. We started in Men's and were graciously helped by Leif. Once we got past the sunglasses he was wearing indoors we could see that Leif, and the others in the department, had a lot of knowledge about each of the hundreds of choices of cologne. Still, we had to laugh at the fanfare that went into applying the different options (Kenneth Cole RSVP, the new Prada, and something by Calvin Klein) to various areas on Jim's arms. There was a small squirt before a big squirt. There was wafting, waving and waiting. There was smelling, then coffee beans, then more smelling. There was grapefruit, vanilla, musk, lemon and so much more I can't even remember.

We would take occassional breaks to venture over to Women's to test out perfumes for me while letting the scents simmer on Jim's skin - important to do, it turns out, because the scents change dramatically as they react with each person's body chemistry. If we'd gone on our initial reaction we would have chosen the Calvin Klein. After letting the cologne warm up to Jim though, Prada won hands down. It was so clean and masculine on him. Yum! It also helped that Prada had a gift set - not just the cologne but a body lotion, as well.

In Women's we were lucky to be helped by the lovely Tiffani who was so entirely gracious. I explained to her my love for my current perfume, Hermes' Un Jardin En Mediterranee, but that I was almost out and wanted to try something new.

I'd smelled Vera Wang's Truly Pink in a magazine and was pleased to learn it smelled even better in person. After our extensive training with Leif we were able to pick up its grapefruit scent right away, but then it quickly turned to rose. Not a bad smell, just not what I was looking for. Tiffani then introduced me to a scent by Annick Goutal. I loved it. It was complex, feminine and not too sweet, flowery or fruity. Plus, it got better and better as it warmed to my skin.

As Tiffani prepared to ring me up I suddenly found myself surrounded by saleswomen eager to suggest other Annick Goutal items. At first all the service was flattering, but then it was just grotesque and overbearing. They were literally coming out of the woodwork like termites. Had I tried the shampoo? Its important to layer. How bout the $90 creme? Not interested in the creme, well try the lotion.

I turned to Jim and said, "Are we at a swap meet?"

"A used car lot," he replied.

Meanwhile, Tiffani was trying to extract us from the swarm. She finally separated them from us and brought us safely over to another register, explaining that the women we'd encountered didn't work for Nordstrom but rather Annick Goutal. Clearly they were trying to meet some incentive, but their behavior was over-the-top inappropriate.

Just when we thought we had escaped, Tiffani turned away for a moment to grab some extra samples. An Annick Goutal rep zeroed in on the opening and dove in for one last sales pitch. "Would you like to sign up to be on the Annick Goutal mailing list?" she asked, clipboard in hand.

It was the final straw. I lost it . . . kindly. Well, kindly enough. "You need to stop. You and your colleagues are overwhelming me and I am feeling entirely uncomfortable."

She looked shocked, but slunk away. For the rest of the transaction we watched her pouting on her own, away from the other Annick Goutal reps.

Tiffani finished ringing me up, but just as I paid I noticed the new Prada perfume. Tiffani sprayed some on my arm and I fell in love - surprising because the original Prada smelled horrible on me. Tiffani explained that they were pre-selling a package for the new Prada that included so many goodies, way more than Jim got with the men's version. So guess what I did?

I returned the Annick Goutal on the spot, which was so stinkin satisfying after their heavy-duty sales routine, and I pre-ordered the Prada. Kind of a pain for Tiffani - I'm sure she would have liked me to buy both or at the very least, not to make her do a return so quickly - but I'd made up my mind and knew my request wasn't terribly unreasonable.

All in all, Jim and I left smelling great. Check out the new Pradas for yourelf. They smell great and are part of a big Prada event the Downtown Nordstrom is having June 6th, 7th and 8th. Be sure to ask for Leif and Tiffani and tell them Jennifer from Sugar & Swank sent you.

Sugar & Swank Lessons Learned:

1. Let scents sit on your skin before making a decision on which to buy. They really change a lot when mixed with your own body chemistry.

2. The Nordstrom staff is really well trained. Be sure to utilize them when investigating a new scent.

2. Stand up for yourself. If someone is acting inappropriately ask them in a nice way to stop.

3. Whenever possible and reasonable, if it doesn't harm someone else, be sure to ask for what you want.

Have a Sugar & Swank day!

Monday, June 4, 2007


My dad's aunt, Fortuna Calvo, died last week. She would have been 99 years old this month and has a place in Washington State history as being the first Sephardic Jew born in Seattle.

I have many memories of Auntie Fortuna - she was the greatest baker I've ever known and introduced me to all the Sephardic yummies, recipes usually containing a lot of spinach and cheese, that are now my favorite foods.

She was a tough woman but had so much love for her family. She called all of us Preciado, the Ladino word for Precious, and I can only remember her house literally filled with members of my extended family - her kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews -and of course, incredible smells coming from the kitchen.

In her obituary she was called "A Warrior" and for so many reasons that statement is true. But sadly, sometime in the 90's she was diagnosed with Alzheimers. While we could still touch her and sit with her, she was mentally lost to us. So when the Kline Gallond Home, Auntie Fortuna's home for the past 12 and a half years, called last week to say Auntie Fortuna's body was finally giving in, it wasn't a shock. But then again, as it happens in life and death, it was. We'd been saying goodbye for so many years, but now it was time to really say goodbye.

So last Monday, Memorial Day, I took my grandma to see Auntie Fortuna, her eldest sister. Aunie Fortuna looked beautiful - her hair, recently combed by a nurse, was thick and soft, her skin had barely a wrinkle. But the visit didn't do much to satiate our hearts and in fact, left us feeling a little empty. My grandma tried her hardest to will Auntie Fortuna to open her eyes, to say a word or to show some sort of final recognition. All the history between them and it boiled down to an 85 year old baby sister stroking her 98 year old big sister's arm while the elder lay in a fetal position, breathing deeply but steadily, about to die.

The funeral was emotional, but it actually had a wonderful spirit to it. After the service, which included touching, loving and often hilarious stories about Auntie Fortuna, we walked out to the gravesite she now shares with her husband, Shaya, and we each had an opportunity to shovel some dirt over her casket. Then the immediately family reconvened in the chapel. While the Rabbi fed us a lite lunch I looked around the room at my beautiful family. We always like a good laugh and it pleased me to catch bits and pieces of the humor being exchanged and to see all the gorgeous faces light up in laughter.

So now what? We've gotta go back to our lives, even though one of us is gone and we are forever different and changed. But jumping right back in isn't always easy. I feel funky and numb, but wonder if I'm supposed to as she was "just" a great-aunt and she's been gone for such a long time. Am I partly mourning for other things lost in my life that I never fully got over? The death of a friend when I was 12, the death of my beloved grandparents, the end of my marriage, even the choice to give my cats to a better home a few weeks ago.

So what does Sugar & Swank suggest to the Good Woman and Good Man in mourning? Try to live your life in a way that will honor the loved one who has passed. For example, Auntie Fortuna always prioritized her family which is the basic principle behind Sugar & Swank. Running my own business isn't always easy and there are times when I wonder if I should go back to working for someone else and getting a steady paycheck. But I founded Sugar & Swank so that I could put my family first while still having a career about which I'm passionate. Being reminded of Auntie Fortuna's prioritization of family gives me the courage and kick in the pants to continue. At the end of the day the quality of my relationships are what matter to me most and I believe that Auntie Fortuna would have been proud of me for working hard to make a living on my own but making sure my family is still at the top of my list.

So make an appointment today so I can continue to honor Auntie Fortuna!