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A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Rachel Roff

Founder, UrbanSkinRX

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Mar. 25 2019, Published 3:00 a.m. ET

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A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Rachel Roff
"Lead by example."Quotation marks
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All clear! Whether she’s jet setting across the country for meetings at the headquarters of major retailers or performing a chemical peel in her Charlotte based Medspa, Rachel Roff is blazing new trails in the skincare industry. She developed skincare treatments and products that did not previously exist for women of color. The brand’s tagline, “Skincare That Cares,” speaks to Rachel’s commitment to support communities while helping women of diverse skin tones become their own #skingoals.

Over the past 13 years, Roff elevated Urban Skin Solutions into a household name in skincare for women of color. Named by Essence Magazine as Best in Black Beauty, celebrities like Teyana Taylor, Fantasia and Eva Marcille rave about Urban Skin Solutions. At the recommendation of a makeup artist, Fantasia became a client and eventually the first face of the brand. Eva Marcille credits UrbanSkinRX for her signature glowing skin.

In our interview, Roff shares her experiences being bullied in her childhood, the ugly reality of life outside social media, and and how bumping into a celebrity in a club led to her first major endorsement.

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"lead by example" -Rachel Roff

Her Agenda: How has living by your motto, ‘lead by example’ helped you grow Urban Skin Solutions to where it is today?

Rachel Roff: When I was a new entrepreneur, I paid the price of not leading by example. I had a rule that no one could be on their cell phone in the medspa. However, I would walk around on my phone all the time. Although I was using my phone for work, I set a bad example. I quickly learned that the best way to get people to do what you want them to do is to model the behavior yourself.

My employees will tell you I’m willing to do everything from taking the trash out to getting on all fours to clean the floors before an event. I am always going to do what is necessary for my company to grow.

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People didn’t believe in what I was passionate about but I didn’t care. I followed my heart. I am proof that with passion and drive anything is possible.

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Her Agenda: Why are you so passionate about skincare?
Rachel Roff:
Growing up, I was overweight with really bad acne.  In high school, I started going to an esthetician and dermatologist. It was then that I decided that I wanted to be a medical esthetician. I thought it would be amazing to work in an industry where I had the tools to look and feel better about myself as well help others experiencing similar issues.

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"Growing up overweight with troubled skin, I was really uncomfortable with my appearance." -Rachel Roff

Her Agenda: So you decided to get into the field to solve a problem. How did you go from wanting to become an esthetician to founding two companies focusing on diverse skin types?

Rachel Roff: I grew up in California where we were ahead of the rest of the country in terms of esthetics. At that time, medspas weren’t really a “thing” in other parts of the country. I attended college in California and transferred to UNCC (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) after which I went to esthetician school. I figured that I’d specialize on skin of all types/colors and not a specific demographic. Quickly I noticed that there was a lack of education toward dealing with conditions prominent in darker skin tones. My best friend, who was African American, would ask me how to deal with different skin issues that she was experiencing. At that time, there were no medical spas that specialized in diverse skin. I wanted to create a space where people with darker skin tones could receive safe treatments for their skin.

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I wanted to create a space where people with darker skin tones could receive safe treatments for their skin.

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Her Agenda: Your business has grown exponentially in a short period of time. Was that by design?

Rachel Roff: I noticed that while Charlotte had a large population of people with darker skin, there were not medspas, dermatology or laser centers that offered services for their skin. I thought that was insane! We quickly grew a very large African American clientele because we were the only provider of skincare treatments for diverse skin types. That was 13 years ago.

Estheticians were being told that it was not safe to perform chemical peels on darker skin tones. I did research and found that wasn’t true. While there were options, they weren’t being included in the esthetician education process and in the industry.

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Her Agenda: Why did you decide to develop the skincare line?

Rachel Roff: After six or seven years of owning the medspa, I decided to develop a line of products. There were a lot of great products out there but I was finding that I’d have to pick one or two products from each line. I could not find a line that had the full assortment of what I wanted. Initially, I didn’t see the big picture. I planned to create the skincare line to sell at my medspa. That’s where my heart was at the time. When my celebrity clients began sharing the products on social media, I received an influx of requests to purchase the products from around the country. I launched a website to sell the products. From there the brand authentically grew. I was still primarily focused on the medspa. Sales of the skin care line kept growing to the point where I decided it was time to shift my focus. I spent the majority of the time on the skincare line and put together a plan to get other people to manage my medspa.

Her Agenda: You talked about celebrity clientele posting on social media contributing to your company’s growth. Can you share with new business owners how you gained celebrity clientele so early on?

Rachel Roff: God was on my side. It just happened. My first celebrity client was Fantasia. She was from Charlotte, the business was in Charlotte and a mutual acquaintance shared my products with her. One night we were at a club in VIP and she introduced herself. We instantly clicked. We had lots in common like being single moms that were successful entrepreneurs. She became a customer and loved it. Initially, it was not a paid relationship. She would visit the medspa and post when she was there… because she genuinely loved it. I saw the effect that it had on the company and sales and thought “We need to get an endorsement contract together.”

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My first celebrity client was Fantasia. She was from Charlotte, the business was in Charlotte and a mutual acquaintance shared my products with her.

Fantasia became the first official face of the company. She helped build awareness. I’d say because of her, other celebs like Tasha Cobbs, Phaedra Parks, Makeup Shayla and Eva Marcille have signed on. I don’t think I’d be where I am at if it were not for the celebrity support. I’m also very grateful for our day to day clients that help keep the business going.

Her Agenda: How do you manage being a single mom and owner of two companies, travel, and everything that comes with being a national brand?

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Rachel Roff: It’s hard. I do have great friends but more of it is supported through paid help. I deal with “mommy guilt” where I feel torn between running two companies, traveling to promote my companies and making sure that my daughter gets enough time. I do think she does get enough of my time but it exhausts me. I love my daughter and want to spend time with her but it doesn’t always leave a lot of time for myself and what I want to do. I will say that I’d rather be a single mom than not a mom at all, motherhood is extremely rewarding.

I don’t want my social media to mislead women into thinking that you can have and do it all. I’m over here dying. I’m grateful for my life but I don’t have it all in balance and I’m constantly stressed out.

A lot of the nonprofits that I give back to are tied to children and mothers. That’s where my heart is. Although I have a great source of disposable income, I stress a lot about being a single mom. I look for anything I can do to pay it forward to a mom in a difficult situation. It’s hard to raise amazing kids when you are struggling with making it day to day.

I don’t want my social media to mislead women into thinking that you can have and do it all. I’m over here dying. I’m grateful for my life but I don’t have it all in balance and I’m constantly stressed out.

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Her Agenda: What would you say your biggest accomplishment to date and what are you working on?

Rachel Roff: Being featured in Forbes was huge! Essence was big as well. I remember dying for Essence to give us the time of the day and for my first placement with them to be named Best in Black Beauty was surreal. Of course, placement in Target, Ulta and CVS is huge.


I want to build out the right team to support the growth that we are experiencing. Finding the right people is crucial because I can’t do it on my own.

I’m also focused on being successful in the retailers where we have placement. We are very successful in Target and I want to make sure we are just as successful in CVS and Target. I want to take the brand global. We currently ship internationally from the website. But I would love placement in international retailers.

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" I want to build out the right team to support the growth that we are experiencing. Finding the right people is crucial because I can’t do it on my own." -Rachel Roff

Her Agenda: What final advice can you share with ambitious women who are starting their businesses?

Rachel Roff: I’m all for going after your dreams. With that, never listen to naysayers. People never thought I’d be where I am today. I wasn’t a good student, I went to five colleges! I was overweight and very unsure of myself. I’m obviously not African American. People didn’t believe in what I was passionate about but I didn’t care. I followed my heart. I am proof that with passion and drive anything is possible.

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By: Nakisha Washington

Nakisha Washington is a freelance writer that jumped off the corporate ladder and landed in a pool of creative opportunities. Creator of www.theprofashionalist.com, a millennial career blog, Nakisha shares her career ups, downs and lessons learned with her audience. When she’s not advising millennials on how NOT to get fired, Nakisha likes traveling with her family, thrifting and watching makeup tutorials on YouTube.

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