My name is Natalie Russell and I was raised and still reside in beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be able to help people in the career path I chose, but I wasn’t sure how. I wanted to do something more than just making money; I wanted my day in and day out career to be meaningful to my heart. Now some people would call it my “southern charm,” but I have always been a bubbly, outgoing person who loves to make people smile!
In 2009 I decided to attend a local beauty school for Aesthetics. After my first couple of weeks, I knew that THIS is what I wanted to do as my career. I also took a Medical Esthetics and Laser training course after graduating. I loved learning about skin and ways of helping with certain conditions. It was from this very moment in life I knew; “I didn’t know how or when, but I knew I would end up in a doctor’s office one day.” Now try telling that to friends, family, or a boyfriend. “Umm… yea Natalie, whatever you put your mind to,” they’d often say, (probably thinking I was crazy) but I knew that’s where my purpose in life would lead me.
Fast forward a couple years after graduating, I was then working for European Wax Center. This was a fun, lucrative job with wonderful coworkers. Many of the women who would come see me were returning clients of mine over the years. Naturally, we created a bond and I became someone they looked forward to seeing, even for a painful service. I was able to make people smile, laugh and feel comfortable which made me happy, but I still wasn’t satisfied. “How was I going to reach my dream’s peak by only waxing?” Then 2015 happened.
I have always been told, “Good things come out of bad.” For myself, I’ve always just believed that God has purpose in every aspect of life. Well May 2015 my mother called to inform me she had been diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer. “My mom has CANCER?!” That’s all I heard. After letting it sink in, I knew that although my fear was there, I was reminded my faith was stronger. (Not to mention my mother is one tough lady!) Weeks went by and the decision was made for a Double Mastectomy with 6 rounds of Chemotherapy. As if we all haven’t known someone in our lives that have been through a form of Anti-Cancer Drug Therapy, watching my mother endure the symptoms killed me inside. Through the hair loss, neuropathy, dry cracking hands and feet, the loss of several finger nails and toe nails and the ‘rock like’ breast expanders, she was still SOO beautiful. I would tell her all the time how amazing she looked but she couldn’t see past the mirror. “HOW IN THE WORLD CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT THEYRE GOING THROUGH?” I’ve had acne, I’ve had bad hair days, I’ve even messed up my eye brows over tweezing; BUT THIS!? It’s a whole new ball game. I wanted to make her feel good; I wanted to help with the circumstances she was going through.
Cancer free and in recovery, my mother would meet with her Reconstructive Surgeon. Now, after usual small talk and my parents asking about estheticians in the medical field, “Oncology Esthetics” was brought to question. That evening, my mom called and asked if I had ever heard of that study of skin care. Nine forty six at night, I immediately started searching. “Oncology Spa Solutions® ….HMM…. and they have training exactly 4 weeks away in Gatlinburg, TN, THIS IS IT!” The next morning I was eager to get signed up for this 3 day training. With excitement and anticipation, Feb 10th was finally here. I started my morning commute with a rare occasion coffee from Starbucks and some upbeat music for the gorgeous mountain view cruise. Walking in the doors to the lodge I had NO clue what was in store. The situations I witnessed my mom go through was only a portion of her whole experience! I cried, oh buddy did I cry! When I say this training changed my life, it did; it changed my heart! What an amazing group of women! Becky was such an awesome instructor. I still have never felt so empowered in my life! At this point my purpose became very clear. I would help women, men, and even children feel better, even at some of the worst times. I finally found out my HOW!
Now that my purpose was a no brainer, I met with the Reconstructive Surgeon who had spoken of Oncology Esthetics while my mother was a patient. It was hard work, but with the guidance of Becky and lingering positivity from training, I put together a game changing proposal. In April 2017, I found out my WHEN! I am now the Owner of Shay Aesthetics and I am based out of UT Medical Center in the University Plastic Surgeons Office! Dr. Chun has given me a space out of his practice to focus on skincare for both healthy and compromised skin patients. A success story…..ahh…more like, “A dream come true!” I never lost sight of my goal, however it took; life’s setbacks, the right training, those exact women, the tears, hugs and smiles, and the most encouraging instructor, to help make it a reality!