Step Inside KÜYEN, the Small Town Salon With a Big Heart

Hannah Gay visited Bundeena’s lone beauty destination – KÜYEN and met with owner, Cinthya Orostica to learn about the area’s typical clientele.

In what year did you open your business?
“July 2013; we have been in business for ten years.”

Cinthya, you have a Chilean background with Mapuché ancestors. How has your understanding of natural healing shaped your focus and technique as a skin therapist?
“Yes, there is a conscious, present, ritual, connection, and an intention to allow the wisdom of my culture to be at play in the approach to our work. KÜYEN means ‘moon-derived’ from the language of the Mapuché. The foundation of the business is based on natural cycles, feminine energy and all-natural beauty in the world. My grandmother, Carmen took great care of herself; I sat by her side as a child in Santiago, Chile as she applied raw avocado on her skin. She taught me the benefits of rose-hip oil long before it was a popular ingredient. All her approaches to cures and wellness were natural and alternate.

I like to instill calm from the moment the guest walks in, waving away the sense of rush. I offer our guests a cup of organic herbal tea and we share a deep breath of aromatherapy. Although we offer paramedical treatments,

I believe in doing as much as we can with prescribed skincare and tailored treatment plans. I love light therapy and rejuvenation enzyme peels to refresh the skin and promote skin metabolism. Our preference to treat leans into a non-invasive approach and focuses on healing touch.

Fundamentally I believe natural beauty has the pendulum swinging in its favour… that our hands are our gift, our strength and niche.”

As part of your training, you conducted ‘method training’ while in Paris. What is this?
“I was working for Clarins as a Counter Manager in a beautiful day spa in Marrickville, Sydney. During this time I had exceptional training which was called ‘Paris Method Training’. The techniques were passed on from highly trained therapists directly from France.

Techniques focused on making contact for ultimate relaxation, full hand contact methods, where every move and technique was purposeful. I felt that this training was so positively valuable to [my skills] arsenal.”

Why did you choose to open your business in Bundeena just outside of Sydney?
“We moved to Bundeena because I wanted to raise my children here – close to nature in Dharawal Country. This destination was not by our choosing for establishing a business – there was no market research or studies, just strong intuition and diving into TRUST. My friend Shannon, who was offering beauty services from a shared location, fell pregnant. Her words to me were: “the guests want to know where to go, who will I recommend? Would you consider it?” Life took its course with a new trajectory and I started offering beauty services for our local community. The greatest unknown was, ‘can the size of this resident population for Bundeena and Maianbar (currently 2,658) support and sustain our business?’ We had to really BELIEVE.”

“This destination was not by our choosing for establishing a business – there was no market research or studies, just strong intuition and diving into TRUST.”

Click here to read Hannah Gay’s Beauty Escape piece, set in Bundeena in NSW.

Describe your typical clientele. What is your ratio of regular clients to tourists?
“We have a good mixture of regular visitors both local and International. We also receive a regular stream of guests recommended via our local BnBs, as we are included in their welcome packs. I have had repeat business from overseas guests, and when they are here they book multiple times – I am so grateful.”

What are some of the biggest advantages you find to running your business outside of a major city?
“The greatest advantage is work-life balance. The business is meters away from the beach and The Royal National Park is our backyard. Having the business physically located in this nature setting embellishes guests’ healing experience. They are able to hold that sense of grounding that only nature can provide. I could not have dreamed up a more magnificent location. Being outside of a major city makes the whole experience for us all more community-minded and has many rewards. For the people that love us and make us feel cherished, they say things like, “all I want for Christmas is a KÜYEN gift voucher.” It makes me laugh.”

You work with iKOU and Ultraceuticals at your business. Why have you chosen to use and stock these two brands in particular?
“I chose iKOU because it is the ultimate sensory, spa experience. iKOU is not only Australian-made, but also uses indigenous Australian ingredients. The brand aligns with my values and priority for vegan, organic products which at the core encourages rituals to relax and restore for the wellbeing of skin, mind and body as a whole.

Ultraceuticals I have worked with since 2003 and have had extensive training with this cosmeceutical brand and its paramedical treatments. I have worked with Ultraceuticals long enough to see the biological improvements and skin results. This keeps me motivated and loyal to the brand.”

Given you work with cosmeceutical solutions, what does your consultation process usually involve?
“We have a consultation option that I suggest is integrated into an appointment using the OBSERV diagnosis machine. We can take a close look at guests’ skin and focus on key concerns. After diagnosis we are able to prescribe, coach and recommend treatments for best results.”

What do you believe to be your most popular treatment/s?
“Our facials with Omnilux light therapy is our number one; everybody should Omnilux their skin! This is closely followed by an authentic aromatherapy massage – our most amazing body offering. This treatment moves our guests – they cannot believe they can be made to feel this way. Then, our Hot Stone Treatment. There is something so ancient and freeing of the mind with this treatment. They are our top three.”

This article originally appeared in the May-June 2023 print issue of Professional Beauty.

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