Founder Bella Schneider.
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LaBelle’s product line includes the Carats of Gold face mask ($65) and Caviar & Carat dry oil spray ($42.50).
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For entrepreneur Bella Schneider, her life’s work is more than skin-deep. As the founder of LaBelle Day Spa & Salon, which has two locations in Palo Alto and one in San Francisco, Schneider is in the business of helping clients look and feel their best. For instance, she is introducing new spa treatments this holiday season that rely on the power of precious metals such as copper and 24K gold, which help generate collagen and elastin in the skin. On the product side, she will soon launch Glamour Shots, a set of six face masks presented in a lovely gift box. But Schneider is also a firm believer in promoting the “overall health” of her clients, she says. And that means giving back to the community that she has called home for more than four decades now.
Schneider arrived in Silicon Valley from Israel in 1971. After attending Foothill College, she transferred to U.C. Berkeley, where she studied economics. During college, she was hired as a sales representative for Estée Lauder. “That is when I saw the need for real skincare—the European way—which was what I did to support myself in Israel while attending night school,” she recalls. In her homeland, her work experience also entailed massage, body treatments and makeup artistry. When she set out to start LaBelle, she says, “As a woman, it was impossible to get any financing. Banks did not understand my mission or anything about the spa world. It was a nonexistent industry.” Through a client who worked at Crocker National Bank, she was able to obtain a $20,000 loan; she also took out a second mortgage on her home. In 1976, she opened the first LaBelle in San Francisco. In 1982, the Town & Country outpost debuted, followed by Stanford Shopping Center five years later.
“As service providers,” says Schneider, “our clients disclose their most personal trials and tribulations every time they come in.” In addition to listening, she bases LaBelle’s charitable contributions on the issues shared with her staff. “We donate to the causes that are most important to our clients,” she adds. “These causes tend to involve furthering children and women in Silicon Valley”—for example, local schools, the arts and medical causes. A portion of LaBelle’s sales benefit Weingarten Children’s Center, a Redwood City-based nonprofit that assists the deaf and hard of hearing. (Both of Schneider’s parents are deaf and mute.)
After more than 40 years as a pioneer in her industry, Schneider remains enthusiastic about many facets of her work, including formulating new products, traveling the world for inspiration and ideas, training her staff and engaging with clients—or, “the three generations of friendships I’ve created,” as she describes them. “I really feel like we have made a significant difference in the local consciousness of beauty and taking care of yourself.” 95 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto, 650.327.6964; 36 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, 650.326.8522
Originally published in the November issue of Silicon Valley