Skin Love with Brick City Spa

At seven years old, Rachel Wilkerson became obsessed with skin care. She would accompany her mother, a massage therapist, to the spa where she was employed. The science and luxury of an esthetician’s world appealed to Wilkerson, even as a child, and it became her passion throughout her life. She eventually became manager of a lavish day spa where she managed a team of 20, but the corporate scene left Wilkerson feeling depelted. Her dream was to own her own spa where she could offer an intimate environment and cater to individual client needs.

In July 2018, Wilkerson opened Brick City Spa in Ocala. Her nurturing spa, a dream for so long, was born. But, it wasn’t until decorating the space at 3304 SE Lake Weir Ave. that Wilkerson realized it was all happening. Wilkerson is the sole esthetician on site, and she and her staff offer massages, too. For a complete list of services, visit Brick City Spa’s website.

I recently visited Rachel at Brick City Spa for the first time. I’ve spent over a year researching skin care products, regimens, estheticians and dermatologists, beauty brands, “anti-aging” interventions and, basically, all things skin in anticipation of branching out to beauty and skin care reporting. I’m thrilled that Rachel, who is now officially my esthetician, is the first interview on my blog.

Question: What’s your recommended “order of operations” for skin care products?

Wilkerson: Cleanse, tone (don’t skip this step, it is important to balance your pH), moisturize, treat and protect.
Tip: a handy way to remember order for application after you cleanse and tone is apply thinnest to thickest, so serums first, then lotions, creams etc. Your regimen in the morning should always end with SPF.

Question: What is a must-have product for any skin type?

Wilkerson: A high quality Vitamin C Serum. It’s an effective antioxidant to brighten, lighten and strengthen skin against environmental damage, in addition to many other wonderful benefits.

Question: How do you stay current on all the trends and discoveries in skin care?

Wilkerson: Continuing education, research, closed forums with other skin care professionals- it’s a great place to round table ideas and tips, and spa conferences

Question: Since you are a busy soloprenuer and building your brand, do you find it challenging to pamper yourself?

Wilkerson: Yes, with any profession you can find yourself challenged to run out of time or energy for self care by the end of a rewarding work day. However, at the end of every day, I take 10 minutes to perform my nightly skin care regimen. I really take my time which gives me a little love. I take several dips in the hot tub or a nice epsom salt bath a week in addition to biweekly massage sessions from someone else. I take a weekend off a month to disconnect and get away.

Question: Are you working on any projects that you’re particularly excited about?

Wilkerson: Yes, I’m thrilled to be working with another local boss lady, who creates natural body care products, to curate my own signature Brick City Spa body care products. Products will include a sugar scrub, body butter, body oil and a luxurious candle. It’s going to be unique to B.C. spa and featured in my seasonal body treatments. Let’s be honest as a soloprenuer, there’s about a dozen projects I’m working on and I LOVE IT!

Question: Can you briefly list the techniques and products used during my facial?

Wilkerson: Your treatment was a brightening facial using dermaplaning to gently exfoliate and remove vellus hair or “peach fuzz.” This prepared the skin for a gentle epidermal peel using Kojic Acid, licorice root and bearberry to brighten followed by a oxygen treatment to improve circulation and soften fine lines. This treatment used Skin For Life products (based out of Brooksville, Fl.) which focused on power peptides to preserve your skin’s quality. I finished with locally crafted a Shoogie Company vegan Vitamin C Serum and face shield.
Regardless of the variety of modality of skincare I offer, all of my facials include a very important and unique facial massage. I incorporate this to lift facial muscles and increase lymphatic flow.

For more information and to book a service, visit Brick City Spa’s website or Facebook page.

Nora’s Cookbook

I recently applied to the HBO Writing Fellowship via Film Freeway. The application process helped me to organize myself, my resume, my portfolio, my digital-professional world.

HBO required a pilot script. I submitted “Stringer,” a half-hour dramedy about a single, working mom who begins a job in journalism after a long hiatus. Julia Gray is struggling to keep it all together and lives a stringed-together existence, but she’s making it. She’s building something beyond the stigma of poverty, depression and divorce.

In the pilot, we meet some of Julia’s editors, some of her “village” and her kids. We’re introduced to Julia’s unique ways of coping and we begin to understand the state of Journalism. The industry is in survival-mode and this plays out as a central theme throughout “Stringer.”

Part of the application included two narrative essays. The randomly generated questions were ideal for me: talk about my writing space and discuss my favorite author.

For the latter, I chose Nora Ephron. Sorry-not-sorry for my obsession with Nora! As with most of my obsessions, it comes and goes. In the thick of obsessing, I discovered “Nora’s Cookbook,” Ephron’s own homage to her obsession with food, cooking and living life in good taste.

The cookbook wasn’t for sale, anywhere. So, what I do know about it is heresay, sadly.  I began to piece together all the information I could find about the 174-page cookbook that Nora created for her close friends. It became a mystery to solve, a catalyst to feel closer to a mentor I never got to meet, a side-project that I hoped would one day lead to me seeing- with my own eyes- recipes from an official copy of “Nora’s Cookbook.”

Ephron wrote it in her true fashion of honesty and quality, humor and candor. She offered her wisdom about piecrust (buy it from the store) and included recipes like “Joan Didion’s Mexican Chicken Thing” and “Ben Bradlee’s Scrambled Eggs.” According to the L.A. Times Ephron wrote: “Everyone loves fried chicken, Don’t ever make it. Ever. Buy it from a place that makes good fried chicken.”  On a ‘complicated recipe for chocolate buttercream icing’, Ephron wrote, ‘I have never made it and I never will. But I have eaten it and it’s great’.”

I began a recipe index, since I couldn’t get my own copy, collecting quotes and bits. Any time I read something by Nora about food, I’d jot it down and save it to my list. I’d make my own Nora cookbook, I figured.

I emulated Nora’s recipes and advice and I listened to and viewed audio and video of Nora cooking. In many of her interviews she talks about food. On an episode of “The Martha Stewart Show,” Ephron “bakes” her key lime pie. The classy banter and rousing between Martha and Nora about former husbands is the meriengue on the pie!


nora's Tzimmes

Photo credit The New York Times (although I’m curious where they obtained it from…)

Now, in my kitchen, I refer to Nora’s recipes whenever appropriate.  I never make my own pie crust and I have yet to find a local place that makes pineapple shakes, just like the ones Nora raved about even as she was hospitalized at the end of her illness. And I seek counsel with her on other issues, too. She said that around age 42 a woman’s neck begins to “go.” It’s just inevitable, she said.

So, in honor of Nora Ephron, and obsessions, in March and April the blog will be devoted to all things skincare. I’ll interview local skincare goddesses and talk about my own lux and budget self-care journey. There will be some surprises and collaborations, as well.

Happy March.