The Skin Whisperer: From passion to career
by Ana Ivey
Skin. It's Emily Fritchey's passion. Her obsession, really.
'If someone presents something to me that I can't fix, guess what? I figure it out,' said Fritchey, from her warmly-lit consultation room at Sunshine Botanicals, her Newnan clinic. She'll tackle any skin condition and tame it like a cowgirl breaking a wild mustang.
From the hormonal eruptions of a teenager to itchy, scaly and difficult to treat fungal conditions, Fritchey can rein them in. Clients call her 'the skin whisperer.'
On May 15, Fritchey's 20-plus years in the industry were recognized as she was inducted into the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.
'I was inducted into the society based on my achievements,' said Fritchey. 'It's an honor to be recognized for my knowledge which has taken me a long time acquire.'
Born in the '50s in Mableton, Fritchey's fixation with skin began at age 13.
'My skin was a mess,' she said. 'I had acne, hives and eczema. And it was all where my clothes couldn't cover it up – my face and my hands.
'What I was given on a regular basis was cortisone and different topical meds and internal meds, like antibiotics,' said Fritchey, over a cup of black coffee. 'The medication managed it, but when I stopped taking the meds, it would come right back.'
She became a detective, reading cosmetic labels like Nancy Drew searching for clues.
'I didn't know what I was looking for,' she said, 'but I wanted to know what I was using.'
At 15, Fritchey talked her way into her first job - a dream job for a girl infatuated with skin. She started peddling cosmetics at Rich's in Atlanta.
'I thought I had died and gone to heaven,' said Fritchey. 'Because now I had my hands on all this stuff. They thought I was 17. I lied about my age. And I had the highest sales, by the way, of anybody in my department. Nobody else was as motivated as me.'
Her reputation for sales and hands-on attention to customers caught the eye of luxury cosmetic brand, Helena Rubinstein. She worked exclusively as a rep for the company for two years and then joined Revlon to do the same. Two years later, she traded lipsticks for wings and became an Eastern flight attendant.
She was 21.
'I've got jet fuel and skin care running through my veins,' said Fritchey, whose pearly white complexion now defies any trace of imperfection. 'These are my two favorite things in the whole world. I wanted to see the world. I'm very adventurous.'
Flying allowed her to hopscotch from city to city, checking out clinics and cosmetic counters.
Enter professional skin care.
'Back then, it was Georgette Klinger,' said Fritchey. 'Her studio in Beverly Hills was the first skin care studio I had experienced.'
Klinger was a pioneer in combining herbal treatments, nutrition and exercise as part of skin care.
'I studied more and more about ingredients, started moving into cosmetic chemistry without really knowing it,' said Fritchey. 'That's where I started learning aesthetics because I was getting treatments with all of my layovers.'
When Eastern started heading toward its demise, her husband urged her to start thinking about a new career.
'I would have stayed to the bitter end, but he knew it was going down in flames,' she said.
Fritchey weaved her way back into the cosmetic world, apprenticing under a master cosmetologist, traveling to spas around the country and wandering in and out of herb shops.
She even spent time studying holistic medicine with the Amish and Mennonites in New York and Pennsylvania.
Years of experimenting with and micro-brewing herbs and plants led Fritchey to develop her own products. Eight years ago, Sunshine Botanicals was born.
'Helping my clients find effect solutions for aging and problem skin conditions without Botox, injections, lasers and surgery is extremely rewarding,' said Fritchey.
'Skin care, from a botanical perspective, is powerful.'