Noe Valley Voice December 2002 - January 2003

Store Trek

By Olivia Boler

Store Trek is a regular Voice column profiling new businesses in and around Noe Valley. This month we introduce a new skin care center at the corner of Church and 25th streets.

Nourish Skin Care Centre

1301 Church Street at 25th Street


The complexion of Church Street keeps changing, and in mid-October the new face on the block was Nourish Skin Care Centre, filling the spot occupied for many years by renowned ophthalmologist Dr. Robert Neger.

Owner Marianne Hoeft says Nourish is neither a spa nor a salon, but "a fresh approach to skin care. We have our clients fill out an in-depth consultation form--asking about their home-care routine, their general health, their specific skin problems and concerns--and then we do a professional analysis and tailor their treatment to what their skin care needs are on that particular day. It's still a pampering, relaxing experience, but it's a little more clinical" than the facials you might get at a traditional beauty salon.

Hoeft's overall goal--and that of the three skin care therapists in her employ, Kimberly Kopcha, Maria Ramirez, and Meredith Thouron--is to help clients achieve and maintain healthy skin.

But she also wants to provide an attractive, soothing environment, she says. Last spring, Hoeft hired architect Geoff Holten and contractor Eric Mannon to revamp the interior of the former doctor's office. Holten used subtle materials--light hardwood floors, pale cream walls, and small track lights--to create a clean finish that is warm rather than sterile. "It's not frilly, and men should feel as comfortable here as women do," Hoeft says.

Nourish has three treatment rooms, each equipped with a padded, heated table-bed (with blankets), soft music and lights, and the tools of the trade--bottles and tubs filled with good-smelling and good-for-your-skin lotions, cleansers, and gels.

Services include the signature "Nourish Treatment": an "elixir" beverage, double cleansing of the face, microfoliation, face mapping, manual extractions, treatment masque, and hand, arm, and shoulder massage. Full body massages are not on the menu, but clients can experience "Touch Therapies," which target specific areas of stress on the face, scalp, or back.

The Nourish Treatment ranges in cost from $60 to $120 and lasts from 45 to 105 minutes, depending on the extras you order. (Through Dec. 31, new clients will receive a complimentary face mapping, a technique the therapists use to analyze your skin under a magnifying glass.) In addition, Nourish provides foot reflexology and waxing services. Waxing prices start at $10 for the chin or upper lip, and run to $60 for a full leg and bikini wax.

Nourish also offers a skin care line called Dermalogica, made by an international company based in Los Angeles. Hoeft says she tested the line while studying for her esthetician's license in Australia (she is licensed in New South Wales). Dermalogica products run the gamut from hand lotions ($6.50) and facial masques ($11.50 to $36), to shampoos ($13), conditioners ($14.50), and ingestible elixirs ($28.50).

All of Nourish's skin care therapists have their esthetician's license and continue their education through classes at Dermalogica's International Dermal Institute. Therapist Kimberly Kopcha says the classes are great for keeping up with the latest technology in skin care. "We want to know what's out there, so our clients can benefit," she says.

Before becoming a skin care specialist herself, Hoeft worked for eight years as an account director for Turner Broadcasting. Originally from Concord, Calif., she and her husband, computer consultant Ken Raley, bought their home in Bernal Heights in 1994. Raley's career took them to Australia for three years, before landing them back in San Francisco last May.

Hoeft says she is delighted with the transformation of Church Street since her return. Businesses like Willa, Amberjack Sushi, Incanto, and Café XO have made the neighborhood a more desirable location, she says.

In the month and a half since Nourish has been open, "we have been getting a lot of foot traffic, which is great," Hoeft says. Her husband, whom she describes as a "behind-the-scenes" director of Nourish (he helped set up the shop's computer network), has contributed to the buzz by hoofing it around the neighborhood and putting up flyers.

Hoeft also values the assistance of Noe Valley resident Meredith Nortman, who manages the shop. She and Nortman may expand the hours soon, but for now Nourish is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.