Les Rabinovich opens up about the value of relationship, the gift of passion, and how loving what you do leads to the pursuit of your dreams.
From airline service to business administration, flight attendant-turned-entrepreneur Les Rabinovich has wide firsthand knowledge about the front and back-end of her trade. But what she can really offer is a masterclass in quality control.
The Esencia Day Spa founder on an ordinary day can be spotted at either of her establishment’s two branches in Nuvali and Bonifacio Global City. She’s found a knack for personally welcoming clients, introducing the spa’s individualized treatments, and inviting newcomers to experience it for themselves.
“Esencia is a passion project that turned into a thriving business,” Rabinovich tells Lifestyle Asia.
“For me, the most rewarding aspect of operating this business is to see that our clients consider a spa treatment at Esencia their reward for themselves. And the biggest payoff for doing what I do is building genuine relationships with our clients over the years who turned into good friends.”
When the pandemic first hit, Esencia and other similar ventures didn’t just operate at limited capacity. They had to temporarily close shop: “first to close, last to open.”
The fact that the spa survived despite the prolonged financial strain, if anything, is proof of the wellness sector’s resilience, according to its owner. She said the crisis simply taught them how to adapt to change and find ways to still continue providing relaxation and self-care. Now, clients are slowly returning to normal numbers.
“They really missed it. Having a spa treatment. A self-care, me-time moment. And the fact that they would say, ‘We miss Esencia. We miss the smell, the ambience.’ That’s the most rewarding for me,” Rabinovich recalls.
She added that the business only expects many more guests to actively seek time dedicated to destressing. Of course, the effort was not her’s alone. The businesswoman acknowledged her “hard-working, loyal, and supportive team,” with some of whom even sacrificing a percentage of their wages to support others.
“Having received no government assistance and under great financial challenge, I have to know my therapists and their living costs and ensured these were met… It was not easy, because I not only need to look after my family, but also the family of my people,” Rabinovich reflects.
Taking it further, the entrepreneur reserved time to bond with her staff outside of work hours.
“The pandemic brought our team closer. I got to know them even more on a personal level. I made it a point that I am in touch with them, inviting them over to the house—when able—to catch up and share some laughs, making them feel that we are all in this together,” Rabinovich celebrates.
Esencia has also been able to resume its annual recurring trainings. These include the likes of sequence review, safety measures, company policies, and personality development.
“I’m very hands-on. Establishing a closer, more personal connection with my team by engaging in regular, honest conversations regarding both work and personal issues helps me a lot in this business. Religious training is the key, I believe that one should never stop learning. And to have happy clients, you should first have a happy team,” Rabinovich notes.
Thus, in one breath, she is able to foster the well-being of her team, internally, and her clients, externally. Notwithstanding, the businesswoman has found that the greater challenge in managing and leading people surprisingly lies in setting necessary boundaries.
“To be honest, I’m not gifted to inspire people with beautiful speeches or to give a talk on the know-how. I believe my job is to get things done. But what I’ve learned to be most challenging is to be fair, because not everyone is the same. Different personalities, values, cultures, views, opinions, motivations, beliefs, and ambitions,” Rabinovich observes.
It is through this same lens that Rabinovich has been able to compartmentalize her work from her personal life.
“Personally, I got to spend more time with my family, staying with them 24/7 gave us the chance to know each other better. Memories were made in the simplest ways and forms,” Rabinovich elates.
This healthy work-life balance has also given her the allowance to eye another passion project, which though distant, timeline-wise, is a dream in close proximity to her heart.
“Life is short, so I have to pursue my dream. And that dream is to open my destination spa someday,” Rabinovich declares.
Dreams blossoming anew
She explained that she would probably set the destination boutique spa in a colonial house, but bigger and more reachable. This would serve the same treatments to visitors of getaways like El Nido or Silang—with no location finalized as of yet.
In short, “a perfect place, a perfect sanctuary” where Rabinovich can create the same Esencia experience in a home setting. If anything, she brings with her all the experience she collected from successfully running her spa business. And during a pandemic, at that.
“The pandemic provided us a period of reflection for the industry and for our clients as well. Health and wellness have become a top priority, which will undoubtedly have a positive impact on spas to move forward. It has actually inspired us to be more creative and to come up with strategies on how to reinforce the importance of self-care, spending time with the family in a safe and tranquil environment,” Rabinovich muses.
She also championed Filipino hospitality. This, along with the beauty of the Philippines, inspires her to decisively take action toward her own passion project.
“Passion, for me, is a gift. Not everyone has it. You have to love what you do. And if you have it, pursue it. Dream with your eyes open. Expand your knowledge. Study. Master it. And you will be amazed with the opportunities ahead of you,” Rabinovich concludes.
Photos by Excel Panlaque of Studio 100.