Growing up in her family’s Main Street home, Calie Crolla often heard the phone ring at the crack of dawn or a pager go off right before bed. Both parents owned and operated their own businesses—her mom, Barbara, the Day Care Center of New Canaan and her dad, Rick, an optometrist at New Canaan Eye Associates on East Avenue since 1984.
Another child may have been envious of the attention those jobs demanded. Yet for Crolla, it provided firsthand knowledge of the responsibility that small business ownership entails, instilling a work ethic that would lead the New Canaan resident to launch her own enterprise.
On July 25, 2018, she opened Skin Care by Calie in Norwalk.
While both parents helped get her to that milestone, a personal experience with her mom birthed her passion for pursuing a career in skin care specifically.
“A few years back my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Crolla said on a recent evening when asked to recall her inspiration. “And throughout the time she was going through treatment I was the one bringing her to her appointments at a beauty salon in town. And even little things such as seeing her get her eyebrows waxed, or going to CVS and finding her new facial cleanser to apply, made her feel better about herself during what was a very difficult time for her and us as a family. Ever since, the beauty field has interested me because of its capability to help people be confident in their own skin and be able to face the challenges that come along each and every day. I love being able to help people feel better.”
The most difficult part of the process of getting her business up and running was the couple months leading up to launch, when Crolla figured out everything from finding a location and homing in on a line of skin care products to use (medical grade SkinCeuticals), to designing her work space and website.
Those big decisions made, the time finally came to do what she loves—and she’s been busy ever since.
“I was very fortunate to have clients from my old job follow me to my new one as well as those from New Canaan who are close to me and my family,” Crolla said.
One of those New Canaanites is Toni Palladino, who when asked about her experience with Crolla shared that she’s known the family for many years and “cannot say enough wonderful things about them.”
“Rick has been my family’s trusted optometrist for as long as I can remember,” Palladino said in an email. “It’s a pleasure to work with another member of the family now. Calie is personable, knowledgeable, thorough and professional. When I first met with her for a facial, she took the time to examine my skin and determine the best treatment. She pointed out things about the condition of my skin that I didn’t even notice ... It’s obvious that Calie genuinely cares about providing a quality service and loves what she does.”
Croll said she’s eager to grow her client list even further.
“New Canaan’s been such a great home to me and my family, so it would be great to be able to meet and treat new faces,” she said.
Services include customizable facials, which are facials for all skin types, anti-aging treatments, treatments for sensitive skin conditions such as rosacea, acne treatments, back facials and light therapy, among others.
And Crolla is a licensed aesthetician, which she said sets her apart from similar services offered at salons and spas.
Connecticut has no board certification for its aestheticians, requiring instead that they perform 300 to 600 hours of schooling prior to practicing. Crolla went further, attending Empire Beauty School in Portsmouth, N.H., to become board certified.
Six months in after opening, Crolla treats five to eight clients a day—a brisk and rapidly growing business that she attributes to social media, marketing and perhaps most of all, word of mouth.
“As my parents have made clear, if you’re able to show someone you’re good at what you do, word will travel pretty quickly,” she said.
Though the hours are demanding—it’s not a typical nine-to-five job, Crolla said—trading off to work for herself has been “in her bones” since she can remember. Crolla credits her parents’ support as providing a strong foundation.
Rick Crolla said he and his wife “knew she could do it.”
“She’s definitely finding out how difficult it is to run your own business—that it requires being at the beck and call of the people you serve,” he said. “I’ve always liked the statement that owning your own business is harder than anything else you’ll ever do, because if it was easy then everyone would be doing it. Eight-hour days turn into 10 quite easily and I think that’s one of the things Calie’s realizing as much as anything else. But Barb and I knew she could do it, and she did.”