Debbie McGregor has an incredible story - one that includes building and then rebuilding her business post- earthquakes. Working side by side with her ex-husband, and a client list that lives by her every word when it comes to skincare, wellbeing and the power of positive ageing. Editor Trudi Brewer spends a few hours in her luxe-y skin spa in New Zealand’s garden city.
Founder of Total Body Concept, Debbie McGregor in her Christchurch home.
If you haven't heard of Total Body Concept, once you step through the door you will never forget it. The founder and joint owner Debbie McGregor has spent 25 years as a facialist, her skilled fingers sailing over the faces of the who's who of Christchurch city. Celebrating 25 years in business this year she operates Total Body Concept with military precision. Managing a team of 10 therapists, they foster an holistic view when it comes to skin health and positive ageing. Here's what beauty means to her, and how she finds life balance in a city that has had its fair share of trauma.
Images Inside Total Body Concept in Christchurch, Debbie McGregor, and the high-tech Thalgo iMetric used during specific Thalgo treatments.
What's a typical working day for you?
Every morning I practice an ayurvedic alkaline gut cleanse with warm lemon water, and then I head to the gym and do my early morning workout; this sets me up for the day. I feel so good once I've had that endorphin buzz from exercise. I have breakfast either at a cafè or at Total Body Concept, where I check in with my business partner and ex-husband, Rob, and our staff. Each work day is so different. However, every day, I see my clients for energy rebalancing treatments. I am a Reiki Master, which creates balance in my day. I generally finish work anytime between 4-8pm. Every night around 8:30 pm, my daughter Holly (15) and I meditate together. For me, that's a special part of my day, then I try and get to bed by 11.30 pm.
What do you love about working in the beauty industry?
I love the connection I make with people. Everyone has their sense of what beauty and wellbeing mean to them. There are always staff to inspire, and watching them grow gives me joy. I also love that the industry is evolving with active products and technology that create real results, especially where the skin is concerned. It’s fantastic to see happy clients walk out the door.
What’s your favourite skincare trend right now?
My favourite skincare trend isn’t a trend. I believe in working with clients to give them the best results we can. That is combining an active product such as Thalgo with clinic treatments, and prescribing skincare so our clients can follow up what we do with a good regime at home.
Thalgo Hyaluronic Eye Patch, Reviving Marine Mist, Collagène 5000, and Collagen Cream.
What's the best part of being a boss?
I don’t like the word ‘boss,’ but I guess it’s necessary for my business vision, and that is to inspire others to jump on board with me and support that vision.
You're celebrating 25th-anniversary milestone, tell us about that?
It has been so exciting celebrating 25 years this year. I am as passionate now as I was when I started in this industry. Total Body Concept began as a specialised skin clinic and day spa in the heart of Christchurch, and I was determined then and still am that it will never be an ordinary beauty clinic. We have always focused on the body and creating freedom of spirit for each of our clients and of course, their beauty needs. That was unique 25 years ago. However, there have been tough times over those years, particularly post-earthquakes, when we lost 75 percent of our clients from the CBD. We have had amazing times; we are resilient, and Total Body Concept was my dream. So over the past 25 years, every struggle has been worth it - and I am so proud of my amazing team that has helped to build our great business. Today we don't focus on trends so much but excellent service, reverse ageing, and the prevention of further damage with hands-on treatments and skincare. We're passionate about skin health, so we work with a brilliant cosmeceutical skin range, Thalgo. It is a marine-based skincare, that the rich minerals from the ocean combined with the best technology to offer exceptional results.
Images Debbie McGregor at Total Body Concept in Christchurch and her favourite Thalgo skincare products above Thalgo Silicium Wrinkle Lifting Serum, Lifting Correcting Day Cream, Hyaluronic Cream, and Collagen Eye Roll-on.
You have a passion for high-touch, hands-on beauty therapy combined with high-tech innovations. How have you managed this?
Every client at Total Body Concept receives a skin analysis with a high tech beauty device, called Thalgo iMetric, combined with a high-touch Thalgo heart of the ocean welcome experience. The benefits of this for our clients is a non-invasive facial that offers visible results, without the need of injectables or facial surgery.
What has business taught you about how women feel about beauty?
Women want to enhance their natural beauty and feel great about how they look. Women also want honest, professional advice and guidance, most importantly they want results. They also want permission to take time out and invest in their health and wellbeing. We have educated our clients that home care is a necessity, to see those ongoing results.
Images above Thalgo Silicium Wrinkle Lifting Serum, Lifting Correcting Day Cream, Hyaluronic Cream,
and Collagen Eye Roll-on.
How do you stay competitive?
We see the importance of and invest in content marketing, team development, and new technology.
What has been your career high to date?
Creating the dream which was having this purpose-built-spa, and we're still thriving post-earthquakes.
Your spa is so beautiful, what was the brief to the designer?
I wanted the space to be unique that people felt a sense of calm as soon as they walked in the door, and that they feel safe and can relax. I wanted the treatment rooms painted in nurturing colours. Having good energy flow was essential to me, so we have iconography (visual images and symbols) placed on the doors and walls throughout the spa.
What treatments do you offer at the spa?
Everything from skincare, waxing, tinting, massage through to advanced, hands-on facials, IPL and laser facials.
What's your favourite skin treatment?
The Thalgo Silicium Super Lift Facial, followed by the Laser Genesis dubbed the Hollywood’ facial. I have so many people asking me what treatment I have had after that skin combination.
BEAUTY AND WELLBEING
How do you relax and de-stress?
I attend BODYBALANCE classes at Les Mills gym three to four times a week and meditate every evening. I enjoy going for walks around Hagley Park with my daughter or friends. I love a high energy cardio workout at the gym, especially the RPM bike class. We enjoy our holiday house in Akaroa where we bask in the unique French village life, rejuvenate and refresh by the sea - it's a mini holiday only an hour away from home.
How do you feel about ageing?
You're as old as you feel. We need to incorporate balance in our lives to ensure that youthful spirit to keep you looking vital. Helen Mirren is the epitome of beauty, ageing with grace, she makes me feel excited; you can look fabulous at any age. Also, today anti-ageing treatments are effective - our clinic mantra is to prevent, reverse, and maintain your skin as you age.
Images Debbie McGregor founder of Total Body Concept.
How would your friends describe your style?
‘Classic dramatic’, and I would describe my style as colourful, fun and feminine. I like wearing a dress with heels. I have a blow dry each week at my favourite hair spa True Grit, each day I wear simple makeup, but always bold lipstick.
What makeup do you use?
Thalgo BB cream and MAC Cosmetics.
What's the one beauty product you're never without?
The Thalgo BB cream, it’s lightweight, offers great coverage and contains an essential SPF.
What’s your best-kept beauty secret?
Liquid collagen, Thalgo’s Collagène 5000 and vitamin C daily. My nails and hair have never been better since taking these supplements.
Thalgo Absolute Hydra Marine Concentrate, Silicium Lifting Correcting Night Cream and Hydra Marine 24H Gel-cream.
What do you love about your home?
I love that it’s my sanctuary. It’s where I can relax and recharge. I feel safe and happy here. It has excellent indoor/outdoor flow with a garden of beautiful established trees.
What's your favourite room and why?
I have my lounge off the entrance, which is where I can hide away. We call it 'Debbie's Room' because it's my place to escape from technology. It's quiet and peaceful.
What's always on your bedside table?
Aromatherapy chakra spray; hand cream; and books. Including one or two gratitude books and leadership, and always a wellness book.
What’s your most precious possession?
My mother’s rings.
Images Debbie at home, her living space and relaxing lounge, bedside table with her mother’s rings and her beloved cat.
Photography Olivia Wimsett Own Design.