Aesthetician Valerie Plaza creates an experience that clears the skin and heals the soul.
By Madelyn Geyer, Photo by Amy Danneker
Most people love getting massages, but Valerie Plaza loved giving them. “As a kid, I was always massaging my parents and my family. I just had a knack for nurturing people.” She channeled her desire to heal into the most logical field: medicine. “My father’s a microbiologist, so he’s always worked in a lab,” she describes. “I followed in the footsteps of the medical field because I was told I could have a stable career and make money.” But she felt unfulfilled.
Influenced by her personal self-care routine of facials and massages, she realized the possibility of a career in the aesthetics field. “You’re able to figure out problems for your clients, understand the chemistry behind skin care and also leave them feeling better than when they first walked in.” Her own aesthetician encouraged her that not only could she make a living in the field of aesthetics, she could establish a fulfilling career free from a mundane -9-to-5 existence.
Gaining More Confidence
Aesthetician school proved that point further. Plaza excelled with such ease, people constantly asked her if she had already graduated. She knew this was the path she was meant to take. “With each model I had, I gained more confidence. I started taking clients while still a student, and my schedule was booked. My teachers were having me teach my fellow classmates, which gave me an additional boost of confidence. I put the medical field on the backburner once I graduated to concentrate on aesthetics full time. I never looked back.”
After working in Seattle from 2014 to 2017, she moved back to Austin. Plaza founded Golden Hour Skincare and Bodywork in early 2019. Her warmth and desire to heal enables her to give a gift that keeps on giving. “Upon starting Golden Hour, I wanted to make sure I was offering a place for people to come and have their cups filled again and their energy vessel replenished. So they can go back inside their busy world and give to others as well.”
Being a female small-business owner in Austin allows Plaza to inspire people as well. “I’m so proud to be one,” she explains. “The option to own your own business is not usually taught to little girls. We’re pushed to work for a big corporation. I’m part of a growing collective of small-business owners who show other women that it’s possible for us to branch out on our own. Be fearless and not feel like it’s a man’s world or that we’re not strong enough to build something successful.”
Do What You Love
We all know the phrase “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” For Plaza, it’s true. “It sounds really cliché, but my job doesn’t feel like a job,” she says. “I’m able to help people in a tangible way I’ve never been able to before. I’ve always wanted to nurture and take care of people. Aesthetics allows me to do that. I’m taking care of people and I’m also learning something new about skin care every day.” Plaza’s fierce love for her clients pushes her to continually educate herself and also innovate and offer different treatments.
She’s excited for “Golden Hour to be a space where you can get facials and waxing, but also heal and connect with other women. We’re working to offer Sound Bath meditation soon. Which would then be followed by a women’s circle with a shamanic healer,” Plaza reveals. “This is exciting, as I know how healing that collective experience can be.” Despite the bleakness of the world right now, the future looks golden for Plaza and Golden Hour. “In the future I have that dream of Golden Hour being full of warmth and love. I want everyone to feel like they belong, whenever they walk through the door.”