Beauty – Endurance – Compassion
With a gentle smile and generous eyes, Margaret Mitchell can easily be spotted in a crowd—but she doesn’t want to be. She is the beautiful sentinel in the background, and for the past 20 years, her Epi Center MedSpa has been a beacon for women seeking to improve the way they look and feel about themselves. It can be a tricky business because many of her clients come to her in complete confidentiality, some paying cash for their services, so their husbands won’t find out. There is something raw and vulnerable about getting work done on your face, and Margaret understands and respects that about her clients. For example, at a recent black tie event, a gentleman Margaret knows through charity work approached her and kindly introduced his wife to Margaret. Unbeknownst to this man, his wife has been a patient of the Epi Center MedSpa for the past 5 years. Margaret extended her hand, lightly touched the woman’s shoulder and said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” This interaction was all said with class and impeccable privacy. “It is my job to keep my clients’ private lives private. So, at events, I stand back and I won’t go up to people I know unless I’m invited.” This has been her modus operandi for the past 20 years in San Francisco. And, it is this flawless discretion that has built her flawless reputation.
“MedSpa” is now a common term in our beauty vernacular. Ironically, it was Margaret and her business partner, world renowned Dermatologist Patrick Bitter Sr., MD who coined the term “MedSpa.” Margaret’s long and winding journey that leads to her building the Epi Center MedSpa is a fascinating tale of endurance and focus.
Margaret grew up in Tuscon, Arizona, and at six months old, she was diagnosed with Hemolytic Anemia. She spent the next 18 months of her life in the hospital living in a literal bubble. For the rest of her childhood, Margaret had to return to the hospital on a regular basis to monitor her white and red blood count. It was this exposure to being in a hospital that inspired Margaret to pursue a career as a doctor—an OBGYN actually. “Babies, babies, babies! I wanted to delivery babies!” She did get accepted into university, but Margaret’s mother experienced an unfortunate medical accident and her life went from normal to critical in a matter of days. Margaret could not keep up with the demands of school and caring for her mother so she had to leave her dream of becoming a doctor behind as she tried to keep her mother alive. The way that Margaret survived the trauma of her mother’s demise and death was through ballroom dancing. “I just let all my emotion out on the dance floor.”
It was through a series of serendipitous events through ballroom dancing that brought Margaret to the Bay Area where she had the fortunate opportunity to teach ballroom dancing to a gentleman who owned a laboratory and needed an assistant. “He took a chance on me. I didn’t have any experience, but I was motivated to succeed.” She was excited about the prospects of finally working in the medical industry, he hired her, and Margaret thrived. Her success was so great that she started a consulting business helping medical facilities set up their management systems. It was through this business that she met Dr. Bitter, the doctor who would be her partner at Epi Center MedSpa. He hired Margaret to set up his office management systems. Dr. Bitter is an amazing visionary who was working in Silicon Valley and his focus was laser and cosmetic dermatology. It was through his work with lasers that Dr. Bitter invented the famed PhotoFacial. After the excellent job she did organizing his medical practice, he approached Margaret about opening a location in San Francisco that offered both medical services as well as spa services: A medical spa….and it was then that the term “MedSpa” was born.
The fortitude that Margaret exemplifies was fostered by her incredible will to succeed regardless of what unfortunate circumstances life presented. Along with caring for her mother for 16 months until her death, dropping out of university Margaret raised her sister’s child for a year. Her sister had severe addiction issues and she took her own life one night when Margaret was on the phone with her. When Margaret was taking care of her mom and teaching ballroom dancing, she wanted to take course at a local business school but didn’t have any money. Her aunt (now known as Mama Mia) gave her $200 to take business classes, and it was those classes that taught Margaret about management. “I don’t know how I did it, but I did.”
It is about paying attention to your life when it’s happening to you, and realizing all the opportunities that are given to you in what can seem like awful times. When you have to survive and you have no means, you become very good to paying attention to what’s going on.
– Margaret Mitchell
Margaret has a keen sense of growth and evolution. “Stuck is stuck. And I don’t ever want to be stuck.” Because of her life’s experiences, Margaret is always trying to improve and build on what works. Along with being a great businesswoman, Margaret is empathetic and caring. She listens to her patients and takes the time to truly understand what they want and need from the services that Epi Center has to offer. “So many women want to be confident with the way they look. We can help them with that. Being confident is one of the most important attitudes people can feel about themselves. It is those moments when our patients look at themselves in the mirror with glee after their procedures that brings me such joy.”
Because so many people assisted Margaret along the way, she helps others as often as she can. “I would not be where I am if it weren’t for the caring people who believed in me. I knew I could do great things and my aunt trusted me—she gave me the break I needed. The owner of the lab gave me a chance when I knew nothing. And because of those victories, I want to help others who are in need.” This year, Dress for Success is recognizing Margaret for her contribution and service to their organization for the past 10 years.
As for the next 20 years? Margaret plans on continuing to help thousands more men and women to become the best version of themselves. Now the Epi Center MedSpa offers everything from Botox, Fillers, PhotoFacial, MicroNeedling, CoolSculpting, tattoo and hair removal along with medically supervised weight loss and leg vein treatments. Everything one needs to look better, feel more confident, and live the best life possible!