Founder of one of the world’s top SPA’s, Romanian born Cornelia Zicu is one of the most respected interational SPA professionals
Born in Romania, this is how she made it to the United States
“I arrived in America in 1992 from a refugee camp with my husband and four-year-old son. The International Rescue Committee brought us in and sponsored us from the refugee camp. When we arrived, someone was waiting for us and helped us to have an apartment. They gave us $200 to buy a mattress. We didn’t speak any English when we arrived. That was my start in America.”
“I didn’t come to America to become a millionaire, but to become a free person, and offer my son a life where he can be free to express himself. One of the first places I went after coming to America was Central Park. I love to watch people. I noticed that even though the people have freedom, not all of them are happy. They’re worried about something. I had on clothes from the Red Cross refugee camp, but I was still happy. I didn’t understand why all these people had everything, but they’re still not happy. I thought, ‘I have to do something to take care of these people.’ I went to beauty school because that was my passion and hobby. All my life I studied chemistry and alchemy. But even in the last few years living in Romania, I would help people… I colored their hair, I would do their haircuts, do face treatments for them. That was my way to fight the ugly Communist government was to bring beauty to their lives.”
“When I finished beauty school, I worked with the Peninsula Hotel in New York for nine years. I never forgot the dream from Central Park. I tried to learn the system. I was like a newborn. You cannot create something before you understand where you live”.
She dreamt of building her own SPA and this is how she did it
“When I was riding back and forth on the subway to work, I would think about starting my spa. I started to create (my own business) about five years ago. I realized to raise the money for my dream I have to have my name big. All the money I make, I used to hire a personal PR person. I started a PR campaign for myself. Then I study a little bit of business, know how to create a business plan, and start looking to find investors.”
In 2005 Cornelia Zicu opens CORNELIA SPA, which was to become one of the most famous SPAs in the world
“Three years ago I find my investor, my partner. His wife was coming to have a facial with me, and she told me her husband is working in real estate. I was asking her if I can meet her husband and ask him a few questions about real estate, thinking I had to educate myself about real estate for when I signed the lease for my business.”
“She said, ‘My husband has agreed to meet you.” In order for him to tell me about real estate, he wants to understand my plan. So I told him my vision down to how I would treat my clients. If I were saying I wanted to create another spa, people say, ‘Too many spa.’ But there is no spa like this. I train people when they touch clients to touch them how they would touch their mom or their kids.”
“People will forget about the Moroccan tiles in the hallway, but always remember how they were taken care of and how much people love them. That’s the base of the Cornelia brand – the touch, the love, the care, the experience that we give.”
The CORNELIA SPA soon made headlines all over United States with celebrities flocking to make appointments. The SPA included: Romanian Tea Baths, Romanian Mud-less Mud Bath and fourteen treatment rooms. The main floor of Cornelia used to feature a full service hair salon, a Men’s Barber Shop, and a library where guests can relax in soft chaise lounges. The roof top swimming pool was one of the key attraction of the Cornelia Day Spa. In 2006/2007 Cornelia Zicu and her team started the creation of a revolutionary cosmetics line.
At the beginning of 2008, Cornelia Zicu left the company which she created over disagreements over strategy with the company CEO and the majority share holder. In May 2009, the Cornelia SPA location was sold and taken over by SPA CHAKRA. The CORNELIA SPA company continues to develop and distribute its cosmetics and SPA line and aims at franchising its concept to five star hotel. It remains to be seen whether the company Cornelia Zicu created will survive her departure. Till today, there is no official annoucement of an opening of a Cornelia Spa.
In September 2008, Cornelia Zicu re-emerged as World Chief Creative officer of RED DOOR SPAs. “Cornelia is an icon within the beauty industry, and her joining Red Door Spas completes our senior management team. Our goal is to re-establish Red Door Spas as the world’s preeminent spa company by providing unparalleled customer service and professional expertise,” said Todd Walter, CEO of Red
Door Spa Holdings. Cornelia added, “Red Door Spas is a multi-generational, classic brand with
a strong heritage and an ever-evolving commitment to excellence and innovation. We have a unique opportunity to infuse its legendary image with new creative vibrancy. Red Door Spas will continue to deliver a level of expertise that will secure its position as an industry leader for years to come.”
And Cornelia Zicu’s story continues…