Jamele Skincare Centre has been in the Foster family for 30 years, passing down from mother to daughter along the way. While Shelley is now at the helm, Pat’s pioneering philosophy of holistic skin health beats at the heart of everything Jamele does. At 80, Pat still takes care of the Jamele accounts, irons all the clinic sheets and remains, as always, her daughter’s greatest cheerleader.
First featured in the Weekend Sun Life+Style Publication
A Beautiful Legacy
Shelley Foster counts herself very fortunate that through the three decades she and her mother, Pat Foster, have owned and operated Jamele Skincare Centre on Cameron Road in Tauranga, they have never once had a harsh word. “Mum is one of my biggest supporters,” says Shelley. “We think alike and I think that is one of the key elements of our successful business partnership.”
Dressed in the clinical white Jamele uniform, which complements her rich brown hair and striking smile, Shelley sits next to her mother in the Pyes Pa home Shelley shares with her husband Jeff, and youngest son Jesse. The garden outside is graced with grand old oak trees, organic avocado trees and restful flowers. Pat lives in a little tudor-style cottage on the property just a stones throw away and has done so for 14 years.
At 80 years old, Pat has the telltale poise of a woman raised by an English grandmother, the classic beauty of a black-and-white movie star and the sparkle of a woman who still loves dancing to Frank Sinatra. When Pat gets excited her voice speeds and swells and her laughter fills the room.
“The theme from Shaft, do you remember that one?” she says, looking over at Shelley with a happy glint in her eye, as they reminisce about the time when Pat gatecrashed Shelley’s teenage jazz-ballet classes. “I kept hearing wonderful music coming from her bedroom where she was practicing. “I said to her, ‘do you think I’m too old to learn?’ She said no, so I went to her classes and we did jazz ballet together.”
Pat and her only daughter’s shared love of dancing was later followed by a shared passion for holistic skin health when Jamele Skincare Centre came into the Foster family in 1986. Pat was 50 years old at the time and had just returned from studying under the legendary Janice Sarre Smith in Adelaide.
After becoming the highest-performing Avon Make-up consultant in the country, Pat had become more interested in the science of skincare and what was going on beneath the surface. Deciding to follow her fascination, she went to industry veteran Felicity Turner for advice on where to train. “She said ‘well there’s basically only one beauty school in New Zealand and the trouble is that everyone is coming out thinking the same way’,” says Pat.
Jan Smith, on the other hand, who founded the ‘School of Natural Aesthetics’ was a naturopath and herbalist who taught a deeply holistic and nutrition-based approach to skin-care. Pat had long been fascinated by nutrition (“Mum always had something bubbling and brewing away in the fridge when we were kids,” says Shelley) and felt drawn to this approach.
Jan took Pat and her fellow students through a holistic curriculum of total skin and body health. “We studied chinese medicine in the morning and western medicine in the afternoon,” says Pat. “We had to be to the standard of a third year nurse in our first six months. There was no mucking about.”
The school was only in operation for eleven years and Pat considers herself lucky to have been able to study there. “It was sheer accident that I stumbled upon Jan when I did, but the best accident that ever happened to me. She was then, and is still, a brilliant, inspirational lady.”
After closing the school, Jan’s attention went into developing the now global Janesce Skincare range from a cottage laboratory on her Adelaide Hills organic farm. Her sophisticated methods for extracting potent plant actives makes Janesce the most potent natural skincare range on the market. “While we stock a range of excellent skincare products, the Janesce Skincare range and the whole inside-out philosophy which Mum learnt from Jan really laid the foundation for what we stand for at Jamele,” says Shelley.
When Pat spotted the Jamele clinic for sale, it was “a pretty sad and sick little clinic” and losing money fast. “Mum’s accountant advised her not to buy it but she had this gut instinct that this was the right thing to do,” says Shelley.
Pat took a risk on the little clinic with good visibility and set about introducing her holistic philosophy of skin health to the women of Tauranga. This was long before the world had embraced the clean-eating, sugar-free and slow food movements of today. It was a time where massage was the provenance of escort agencies and anything other than basic treatments, waxing and manicures was considered alternative and suspect. “It was challenging for Mum to come in as a new therapist with this quite forward-thinking approach to skincare. It was quite an uphill battle, even with the staff,” says Shelley.
“You had to introduce these things gently,” says Pat. “ People eventually caught on.”
Shelley’s friend and beauty industry influencer, Janine Tait, has recently been championing what she describes as the Slow Beauty Movement – a move away from invasive, harsh, machine-based treatments to slower, truer, more holistic ideals. “This really captures well what we are about at Jamele,” says Shelley.
She adds, “Mum founded Jamele on a holistic philosophy and over the years the health and wellness movement has blossomed and now these ideas are sought out.We have moved right away from perfumes and preservatives and colorants and we are getting to a more pure and plant-based approach. Our food is becoming more organic, more biodynamic and skincare is moving in that same direction.”
Shelley came into the business in the early 1990’s, choosing to to give up a successful photography career to join her mother’s business which by then was already thriving. “I had been through a marriage break-up and the security of the business appealed to me,” says Shelley. “It was actually quite a pragmatic business decision. The love of skin care and holistic health came afterwards. Science had always been my favourite subject in school. When I did my beauty therapy training and realised how much science there was behind skincare I was hooked. Since then, I have never stopped learning.”
Shelley gradually took on more of the operational and staff management as Pat began to tire and need a slower place. “Shelley is far better at it than I ever was,” says Pat. “The staff love her to bits. I think that she’s a real people person and she does it very well.” Shelley says, “I just treat people like I would like to be treated. Especially when they are young and new to the industry.”
Shelley says that if her own personality is reflective of the element ‘water’, harmonious and “go-with-the-flow”, then her mother’s is ‘fire’ full of pioneering spirit, energy and vision. “None of this would be here without Mum,” says Shelley. “She was always ahead of her time.”
Over thirty years Shelley and Pat have both witnessed massive changes in the beauty industry, and not all of them positive. “Chemical peels, laser resurfacing, microdermabrasion, and sun beds all have come and gone through the industry,” says Shelley. “Actually, some places are still using them, but they really should have gone by now. Heavy peels and laser-resurfacing dramatically thin the epidermis and it never rebuilds. Micro-dermabrasion strips off the skin barrier. I would never ever have it here at Jamele. We are about preserving the integrity of the skin barrier function and building beautiful skin from within over the long-term. These short-term fixes do long-term damage.”
The signage at Jamele has been refreshed in time to celebrate the 30 year milestone. “The three words on the sign, Nature, Science, Beauty succinctly capture our commitment to working with a holistic natural philosophy and marry that with the best that ethical science has to offer,” says Shelley.
Shelley and Pat both agree that the greatest privilege of their profession is caring for women throughout the decades of their lives.”Taking care of someone’s skin is a very hands-on and personal thing,” says Pat. Shelley adds, “People open up to you. You get to know their families, their happy moments and their worries. We should have done psychology degrees really.”
With Mothers Day just around the corner, Shelley is full of warm words for her mum. “She’s been incredibly hardworking and forward thinking all of her life. She still does the Jamele end-of-month accounts, irons all the sheets and makes staff birthday cakes. I often use her as sounding board for things going on at the clinic. She’s really passionate about health, music and family. She is incredibly generous. If I can grow up to be like her I’ll be doing well. That’s the goal.”
Visit Jamele Skincare | 487 Cameron Road
Jamele is a much-loved, full service skincare centre on Cameron Road in Tauranga offering facials, skincare, massage, waxing and all the grooming essentials you expect from a quality skincare clinic.
Jamele has passed from mother to daughter and our philosophy encompasses the ageless truths of skin care wisdom combined with the latest technological and scientific developments in skin care. Our approach is thoughtfully holistic. We believe that our skin reflects our lives so we are passionate about helping you to cultivate beautiful skin from the inside out.
Skin-nourishing nutrition, top quality supplements, self-care and life-vitality choices are all weaved into the fabric of who we are at Jamele. Our Tauranga facial and body treatments and skin care products are of the highest quality and it’s our pleasure to take care of you when you come to see us.
~ Shelley Foster & Pat Foster