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Having studied Psychology for 3 years at university Genna was left feeling unfulfilled. This led her to pursue a Diploma of Beauty Therapy at The French, having ‘a passion for people and connection’, she naturally flourished from here. This busy bee now juggles her business, The Leaf Skin Co. and day job, Skin Service Coordinator at Esmi Skin Minerals.

The pandemic left her with a lot of spare time, with this she channeled her ‘love for nature, cannabis, aromatherapy and skin’ into her Golden Facial Oil. As the popularity of the facial oil grew amongst her friends, so did the evolution of her business. Genna has learned from her experience at The French and owning her own business, that reflecting your personal qualities in business are key for success. She shares that her values are what make The Leaf Skin Co. successful and encourages other entrepreneurs to focus on their personal qualities when starting their own business.

What motivated you to pursue a career in beauty therapy?

I have always had a passion for people and connection. I originally started studying Psychology at Uni after school, but after three years I still wasn’t feeling fulfilled, so took some time off to find out what I loved doing. I was working at Priceline, surrounded by make up and skincare all day, which I already loved, so I completed a short course in Spray Tanning and Eye Brows and after helping just a handful of clients who were essentially strangers, I realised I loved being around and meeting different people and helping them feel confident after something so simple like an eye brow tint or a spray tan. It was also of course a great second stream of income to my casual job!

Soon after I learnt these new skills, I moved to the Gold Coast from Adelaide knowing only my partner. I figured completing my diploma of Beauty Therapy was the natural next step for me

What was your main motivation for studying at the French?

I loved that The French set themselves apart from other colleges by leaps and bounds by the quality of care they bought to even in the application process. I felt really welcomed and valued from the first email I had sent. I had heard their name mentioned by so many people and therapists at spas locally that it didn’t seem like an option to study elsewhere.

I had sometimes felt like I needed to defend my decision to be a beauty therapist to people around me, and that there are perhaps some stigmas around working in beauty and the quality of a career it can bring. As soon as I saw The French I felt that my values around the beauty industry aligned and it was the perfect place to begin my journey!

What was your favourite part about studying at the French? How would you describe your experience from the day you started at orientation?

Having just moved from interstate and not having many friends or a support system, it was so nice having the daunting feeling on the first day just melt away by lunchtime. Although everyone was from different walks of life, coming from so many different careers – or even just out of school, it really felt like a little community of supportive faces everyday. It provided such a thoughtful yet professional environment for learning.

The teachers were so welcoming and passionate about their love of beauty, but also about the care they poured into all of their students. It was such an open space to share our wins and struggles. I expected to learn about beauty treatments and the skin, but the knowledge I gained about the whole body and systems was phenomenal. It really kick started my passion of holistic wellbeing, and the importance of nature and nurture to the human body and soul.

How did the French help prepare you for life as a professional beauty therapist?

The French provide such a high level of training for us, that once you enter the industry it almost feels familiar. I was fortunate to graduate and head off to work on cruise ships sailing around the Caribbean right away. I had always heard the stories about how demanding working in a cruise ship spa was, but with the knowledge I had just gained from my Diploma I fit right in and had a really successful first contract.

My training at The French has made me feel really confident in all aspects of the beauty industry. I now work for a big Australian skincare company in a skin focused role, completely different aspect of the beauty industry to spa and luxury treatments. I have been able to work through all parts of the beauty industry, continuously learning and growing as the industry adapts. I really love the spa and holistic side of beauty, but also have worked many skin focused roles too. I have used all of my training! So much so, that I now have my own skincare business too.

Did you have a favourite teacher / subject at the french? Why?

I fell in love with all subjects to do with the body and well-being on the whole which surprised myself at the time, but now makes so much sense! I have an innate tendency to be drawn to the more natural side of life. Massage and aromatherapy were my absolute favourites subjects. I really wasn’t expecting to learn so much about human function, and it really opened a new side of life for me.

Being shown the importance of self-care when you’re caring for people by such passionate teachers has a way of sticking with you for life (so far!). All of the teachers were able to teach me something different and inspired me in so many different ways and I think I have always looked after myself a little better, and been open to more opportunities for myself since graduating from The French. I remember being so in awe of all of the travels so many of the teachers had been on whilst working in beauty and I found it so inspiring. I have been lucky to work in so many amazing locations over the years

What is the best advice you received from your study at the French?

You can do it. It seems so simple and it came from me just being nervous to use the electrical facial machines  (I have a massive fear of electricity!) but this tiny phrase has reminded me time and time again that if someone else can do it, I can do it too. This has allowed me to push boundaries, follow my dreams and sometimes take the path less travelled with life (multiple times!).

What were some of the invaluable lessons or most important thing that you learnt at The French that you have been able to apply to your new career?

I learnt the importance of empathy, self confidence and that when you have the energy of somebody else in your treatment room, it’s somebody allowing you into their safe space. I have really learnt so much about human connection since starting my career in beauty – it really does make the world go around! If you can make somebody feel great for even just that hour, it can change the whole trajectory of their day.

Now, I am working for one of the biggest skincare companies in Australia, as an online Skin Service consultant – where we can chat to up to 50 clients a day about their skin! I still find it so important to treat each individual as a guest in my treatment room, even through it’s over a screen for a few minutes. Compassion and care is something that I learnt at The French, it doesn’t matter if the client is with me for one hour or one minute.

How easy was it for you to gain work after graduating? Tell me about your first career ‘break’?

As soon as I heard it was possible to travel the world and work as a beauty therapist, I was absolutely hooked on the idea. My first role in the industry was working as a Spa Therapist for Royal Caribbean where I specialised in body treatments and received the opportunity to run the first Lash and Brow bar on the seas! Working on a cruise ship is almost like running your own little business, and being in charge of your salary. It is an incredible (and exhausting) opportunity, but I found my flow quickly and working on ships has helped me to become a more empathetic.

I went straight from The French, to training in London with therapists who had been working for years, and they sent me straight to the biggest cruise ship in the world. This is absolutely a testament to my training at The French and the capacity that they had prepared me for the industry!

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How are the French graduates perceived out in the industry?

The French graduates definitely have a wonderful reputation in the industry. At the luxury spa I worked at on the Gold Coast upon returning from cruise ships, most of our therapists were graduates from The French. The level of professionalism, care and initiative the graduates enter the industry with is amazing. Even when finding out that a fellow therapist has studied at The French, brings a sense of community straight away!

What do you most enjoy about your new job? Has there been a memorable moment since you graduated?

Working at esmi Skin Minerals as well as running my little business has been a dream the past few years! Being hands on in the spa had been wonderful for 5 years, but I feel so fortunate that the industry is adapting and changing with the world, so I can still provide such great care for clients and stay so involved in the beauty industry – whilst working from my laptop. I have recently taken on the role to coordinate my team, which has been so memorable as I am now not just learning about skin and practical beauty, but more about business operations too!

My skincare business has shown me that if you are passionate about something, you will do great things. Having people comment on how great their skin is feeling is so heartwarming, not to mention it makes me so happy that people are sharing my passion for skin and holistic wellness. I am so proud that my products are stocked in a couple of stores, and that at the markets I have customers coming back time and time again!

Describe a day in the life of you on a working day?

It can be a little tricky to juggle it all sometimes – but I do what I can! I usually wake up and spend some time on my business or social media page with my morning coffee, booking markets for the coming weekend or packing orders, then I head to the office and begin my ‘normal job’.

This involves being the point of contact for my Skin Service team, working with the upper management team around promotions and new product launches, which is always changing! I oversee our customers online, where we help people with their skin and concerns and suggest the best options to achieve their skin goals. Working for a huge skincare company like esmi is so inspiring and it’s fun to have an opinion in how things are working and changing, to ensure our customers are getting the best out of their skincare!

Why is it so exciting to work in the beauty industry right now?

There are just so many opportunities these days! The industry is moving in so many different directions, and there is something for every type of person. Whether you are into highly technical skin treatments, skincare or even soothing sore muscles and balancing energies, the perfect niche for you will exist, it might just take some trial and error finding your best fit!

What advice would you give to students who are wanting to STUDY a beauty therapy diploma at the french beauty academy?

Dive in headfirst, do your best and remember that change is scary – but nothing ever grows from being stagnant. If I can do it, you can too

What are your goals for the next few years? Do you have an ultimate career ambition?

I tend to take life one year at a time! My husband and I love to travel and we are currently at our longest time spent in Australia in about 6 years, having a Diploma in Beauty Therapy means that my hands are my tools – it makes us so fortunate to be able to travel and pick up work as I go. 

I am slowly learning and growing with my business, it would be amazing to be able to stop doing markets on my weekends and work purely on wholesale for my products! I do sometimes miss the face to face interaction, so even adapting into a role where I can connect with people and travel would be the ultimate dream. I do have a dream fairly far in the future, to open a solely hemp focused Leaf Skin Day Spa. I am huge on normalising cannabis and the use of hemp in the beauty industry, so being able to pioneer this is something I am really focused on too.


Scent: Kakadu Plum & Lemon Myrtle
Lipstick: Faux by MAC
Book: The Green Witch – Arin Murphy-Hiscock
Blog: The esmi Edit @ esmi Skin Minerals
Best Kept Secret: Less is more!


City: Tokyo
Beauty Muse: My Grandma 
Drink: Chilli Margarita
Song: Loving is Easy – Rex Orange County
Quote: “Where you want to be is beyond your comfortability, get uncomfortable first and the rest will follow.”

“I am huge on normalising cannabis and the use of
hemp in the beauty industry, so being able to pioneer
this is something I am really focused on”

- Genna Hodson

Why did you decide to start your own business? Can you tell us a bit about your journey?

During the pandemic, we had just unexpectedly returned from 2 years of travel overseas (thanks to the money I earnt on cruise ships!) and I was feeling deflated and unmotivated with my next steps in life. With a lot of spare time, I channeled my love for nature, cannabis, aromatherapy and skin into what started as my sole product, Golden Facial Oil. My friends absolutely loved this oil, so the brand slowly evolved and I started doing some market stalls – which has naturally progressed into what The Leaf Skin Co. is today. It is relatively small on the business scale, but to even see the people I have helped so far is so inspiring and has shown me that even being a small business, you can make some big changes for people, just by being your authentic self.

It has been a wonderful addition on the side to having a ‘normal’ job, allowing me to express my creativity and fuel my passion for people and holistic wellbeing. It has been exhausting and expensive to start up, but the business now pays for itself and I feel such a sense of pride for myself to getting it to this point!

What were the first few steps you took to set up the business?

I don’t believe I followed any steps, more a cyclone of ideas and scribbled note books for the first 6 months. I then actually went back and looked at all of the business modules I learnt at The French to give me the base line to have everything outlined in a somewhat coherent manner! The Australian Government has so many great resources online, a step by step of the most important things to do to ensure you are doing things by the book (not my natural way to do things). To be honest, when starting a business I learnt that nobody knows what they are doing – so just try a few ways, and when you find what works – stick with it!

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when starting your business, and how did you overcome them?

Being a sole business owner is so hard sometimes, especially when it is run alongside with a job that requires the usual full time hours. It can be so tiring, and hard to find the motivation to get things done when you are the only one there to make the decision. There have been so many times I have wanted to just throw in the towel and put my business on pause but remembering that the change I am making to people and the confidence within their skin is worthy. and that although it feels lonely sometimes, I have a whole village behind me cheering me on and being so proud, it gives that extra push to keep going in the hard times.

What is a decision or perhaps a mistake you've made that has led to a very valuable lesson in running or starting a business?

I think the biggest thing I have learnt is to move at my own speed and everything will fall into place. I have been so fortunate to always have another stream of income alongside my business, so the pressure to pour everything I have into it hasn’t fallen on me. This has meant I can make smart business decisions and find my flow at my own pace.

I think sometimes people go all out starting a business, funnelling all their money and energy into it! Especially in the saturated market of skincare it can be deflating thinking a new product is going to take over the market and then being disappointed with the sales and left with mountains of stock. Being such a small business, I can assess moments myself and slowly work through everything to ensure those decisions aren’t rushed.  

What did you learn during your time at The French that helped prepare you when starting your business or during the course of your business journey?

I learnt that the individual qualities I possess that make me successful, makes The Leaf Skin Co successful too. If your business doesn’t reflect your own values and morals, you will have a much harder time trying to get it off the ground. There have been so many times I have questioned if my business is where it needs to be, but then something small will happen where I am being my authentic self and it all makes sense again.

Also say yes to all opportunities to highlight your business, no matter how small. I have been fortunate to be on podcasts, attend industry events and expos for my business, which seemed so non-eventful at the time – but I have gained some of my best friends, and business connections this way. 

What are your plans for the future of your business, and where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I see The Leaf Skin Co. as one of the leading hemp skincare businesses in Australia. CBD is so well known in the medical field, but the potential for cannabis and the skin is also astounding. I have so many US businesses that have now become friends that inspire me by using cannabis extracts in skincare, and to keep going.

If you had just 1 piece of advice for our Frenchies who are wanting to start their own business, what would it be?

There is no right way to start! Find your passion, find a gap in the market, and start there. It is so overwhelming, and your ideas will change a million times before you find your groove with it. It takes years to get the momentum of a business going, so keep pushing and lean on those around you when the days get hard.

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