Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

Interview with a Beauty Queen-Marilyn Jaeger

Success for many women isn’t a set formula, but rather an artistic creation that evolves from passion.   Marilyn Jaeger’s passion for beauty transformed not only her own life, but also the lives of others around her.  Marilyn is a renowned community supporter, spa owner and esthetician that had been written up by Bazaar, Lucky, Allure, and San Francisco magazines, all claiming her Brazilians to be the best.  Besides being quick and nimble, Marilyn mutes the pain with joy, offering delicious elixirs before the ‘sticky’ process.

Marilyn’s spa is intoxicating and voluptuous, just like the female body.  Exotic paintings decorate the waiting room and curved, pomegranate colored walls mark the entrance to the treatment rooms.  Marilyn wanted the walls provide an energy flow and  ‘swoop’ you in as you entered.  I was swooped up into a decadent paradise feeling instantly sensual.  Marilyn led me to the back where we passed hand-painted doors and Alice in Wonderland styled bathrooms before settling down into a lush room with persimmons. “I wanted the room to feel succulent,” Marilyn said.


Nestled in the juicy walls Marilyn I talked about her life.  She told me that she grew up in the rough and tumble part of Huntington Beach, ‘far from the elite side.’  Marilyn was candid about her childhood.  “It was rough. I was adopted as a baby and then raised by a single alcoholic mother.”  Marilyn’s mother would often disappear for four to five days at a time leaving eight year old Marilyn alone to fend for herself and her brother. “I was the parent and my mother was the child,” Marilyn said.

In the rare times when Marilyn’s mother was home, the household was violent and abusive. “My teenage years were survival years,” Marilyn said.  “When you are in that mode you just learn to take one day at a time.”  To support herself, Marilyn started working at a very early age, her first “real” job at age 12 where she was a dishwasher for Straw Hat Pizza.

In between various odd jobs and school classes, Marilyn daydreamt.  “I believed in more beautiful things for myself.” Marilyn knew that beauty existed; she just needed to find it.

“I was 15 when I took a job as a cake decorator and then started my own catering company with a friend where we catered weddings. I finally got to see beautiful people together that loved each other!  And I witnessed beautiful weddings.”  Finally Marilyn was able to catch a glimpse of a different life.

After high school Marilyn lived in LA striving for success. She worked as Mickey Rourke’s assistant, opened multiple cafes and created her own cake shop called Crimson Cakes. At Crimson she designed intricate cakes for Hollywood’s elite. Through her connections she was able to effortlessly glide from fancy parties to crazy raves. “I was a chameleon….I didn’t always have the money to start endeavors but I was able to meet the right people that believed enough in me and my integrity to put up the money.”

It was by meeting people where Marilyn was inspired to turn to the spa industry.  One of Marilyn’s cafes was located next to a celebrity salon where all the Victoria’s Secret models would go for their waxing.  They would sit in her café to have a cappuccino and talk about their beauty treatments.  Marilyn was overwhelmed with the women’s love of their spa.  “They felt the spa was a refuge from stress, a place to go and be loved and be beautiful,” said Marilyn.  Marilyn decided that she wanted to offer that same energy to people and later enrolled in esthetician school. “The art of tweezers is like the art of a pastry bag.” Marilyn smiled.  “With baking there is the chemistry of the eggs and the flour being mixed.  I wanted to apply a different chemistry to the molecular structure of the skin, and have people feel beautiful.”

After one year of graduating from beauty school Marilyn had her own busy spa that was promptly written up by Harper’s as the “Best Brow and Brazilian in the Bay area.” Marilyn now has two spas, 23 employees, 15,000 clients and her own product line.  “I am passionate about pampering people!” she said. However, Marilyn’s success didn’t magically appear.

“I worked 18 hours a day and never said no to a client.”  Marilyn shook her head and looked at me earnestly. “Be sure you tell other entrepreneurs how hard it is.  In the beginning I had to miss friends’ weddings and birthdays to help my clients.  I really needed to cater to them.  New entrepreneurs need to keep their eye on the prize and never stop believing!”

One thing Marilyn fundamentally believes is love.  Her generosity to humankind may stem out of her difficult childhood.  She told me, “People go one of two directions if they were abused.  They can either turn into an abuser or an over the top healer to try to put as much love in the world as possible.”  Marilyn smiled warmly, demonstrating the path she had chosen.  Marilyn gives to the world, and in return, it blesses her.  “My work is very healing,” she said. “I work hard but I also get 50 hugs a day! I make my clients feel good and they make me feel great!” Marilyn also works with local charities to give disadvantaged youth inspiration for their lives. “I got the message that the world is hard at age two.  But if you can find unconditional love, it makes it ok.”

Clients confide in her, friends rely on her, and her partner David is devoted to her.  Marilyn didn’t meet David until her early 40’s but described him as man worth waiting for. “Our first encounter was like metal to magnet!” she said.  She told me that she has a solid relationship with unparallel depth that gets better and better each day.

“I am so grateful for love!  When you grow up feeling you do not deserve it, and then you turn the corner and believe in it, and then finally someone gives it to you it is an amazing feeling!”

I asked Marilyn what was next for her.  “More locations and more products,” she said.  “I’d also like to open a school.  And of course, write a book!”

If you cannot wait until her book comes out please come hear Marilyn speak at the Fearless Entrepreneur Event, “How She Did It” this Thursday at 6:30 pm at the Soma Hub in San Francisco.

For those wanting to be pampered, schedule a treatment at her spa.  I assure that you will be amply taken care of!

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