Thérapie Clinic's President International Katie McGlade about her company’s plans to bring affordable beauty treatments like Botox to the American consumer.
It's safe to say that at some point or another, we’ve all stood in front of a mirror and been frustrated by what we’re looking at. Maybe the face isn’t as smooth as it used to be, or perhaps there’s some other cosmetic issue that could use a bit of TLC.
For those in the New York City area, a highly successful Irish business that specializes in making bodies beautiful just opened in the Flatiron District, and its leaders have big plans to grow its footprint in America just as it has throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Thérapie Clinic is run by Phillip and Katie McGlade, a brother-sister team from Dublin who took the business originally founded by their Belfast-born father Paul in 2002 and expanded it into an international juggernaut. The New York location, which opened on March 15, is Thérapie’s 70th storefront – there’s even a clinic in Mumbai, India –and the US is the next frontier.
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“We have always wanted to be in America. Covid obviously delayed us but now we are here and absolutely thrilled,” Katie McGlade, 35, said during a recent interview with the Irish Voice, sister publication to IrishCentral.
Thérapie bills itself as one of Europe’s top medical aesthetic clinics – known over here as med spas – and the numbers are solid proof that this is the case. The company employs more than 1,700 – 245 of them being doctors and other medical professionals – and has provided over 10 million treatments, including facials, injectables, body sculpting, and its signature service, laser hair removal.
And though the McGlades have plans to grow their business in New York – and, indeed, other states – they’re going to take things slow at first to get a feel for their new customers and their likes/dislikes.
“We didn’t want to open everywhere just yet. So we opened first on 19th Street to get our formula right,” McGlade said. “We are going to go for 30 locations in Manhattan. We picked the Flatiron District first because it’s a great mix of residential and commercial, and very accessible to Union Square. And we looked at the age profile and it fit with our plans.”
The New York location is currently offering laser hair removal, Botox, fillers, skin peels, hydrafacials, and a treatment called Morpheus8, which promises, via thin gold-coated microneedles, “tighter skin, liquified fat, reduction of cellulite, reduced appearance of stretch marks and scars, improved appearance of 'rippled' skin and more even skin texture,” according to Thérapie’s website.
Morpheus8 has “taken off like a rocket in New York. It treats all skin concerns from aging to pigmentation,” says McGlade of the treatment that starts at $1,000 for one session.
“It rejuvenates the whole skin. The treatment is groundbreaking in what it does.”
New York is one of the glam capitals of the world, so how does Thérapie intend to stand out in a city chock full of facilities promising instant beauty and perpetual youth?
For one, its commitment to quality above else. “That’s an area that we never compromise on, ever. We maintain the highest standards,” McGlade promises.
“We hire the best and we offer the best treatments and we never compromise because our reputation is everything. Our record of growth in Ireland and the U.K. shows our commitment to quality, and people respond to that.”
Another Thérapie benefit? Price, says McGlade. The treatments on offer are 30-40 percent less expensive than anywhere else in New York. Loyalty programs and frequency discounts will also be in abundance.
“We want to make Thérapie accessible for the mass audience. So in order to appeal to the mass audience you have to be affordable,” she adds. “The way I see it is that we have five-star services at three-star pricing.”
The quest to look forever young can sometimes have disastrous results as evidenced by any number of celebrity botch jobs, including most recently Madonna, the pop icon whose swollen face and lips at the Grammy Awards earlier this year had her trending on social media for all the wrong reasons. McGlade is adamant that Thérapie would never allow a customer to damage themselves with excessive treatments that would do more harm than good.
“We are not into fill, fill, fill. We are all about reasonable preventative treatments,” she says.
“Our reputation is everything. The last thing you want is someone coming out over-filled or anything like that. That’s a bad job and we invest too much money in our business to do stuff like that.
“We have high standards, and we have our own center of excellence which is like a training academy. We want everything very systematic in our business, so if you go to Thérapie in New York, we want you to have the same experience as you do in London or Dublin. All our staff has to learn the Thérapie way, and there are protocols and procedures everyone has to adhere to.”
Botox, probably the most famous anti-aging treatment, works like a charm, McGlade says. And it’s not just for older people looking to erase their wrinkles, she adds – younger customers are also using it to fend off the inevitable for as long as possible.
“Botox is the best friend of many,” she says. “People in their late twenties are loving it. So as opposed to 10 years ago when people got Botox when they had the wrinkles, now people are trying to prolong them from appearing. So it’s preventative care. It’s wrinkle relaxers, it’s Baby Botox. It really does work.”
The huge success of Thérapie under the leadership of Katie and Phillip McGlade surely makes their father Paul proud. A prominent businessman who founded the Champion Sports chain of sporting goods stores throughout Ireland in the 1990s, he started Thérapie with a single location in Dublin city center in 2002 primarily as a place for massages.
“Getting massages was always his stress reliever, and every time he came back home to Ireland he said he could never get a place to do good massages, so he thought, ‘Heck, why don’t I open up my own place?’” McGlade recalls.
“When he opened he realized that there wasn’t much money to be made only in massages so he looked into adding something else that’s a necessity. And that’s when he decided on hair removal which at that time was very medically orientated. He brought laser hair removal to the High Street and made it more affordable and accessible.”
The day job at Champion and his other business interests still required a large chunk of Paul’s attention, so in 2009 his son Phillip, a new graduate of the Dublin Institute of Technology, came on board when Thérapie still had its single location, with Katie following a year later.
Phillip is the CEO of Thérapie Clinic, and Katie is president international. She and her husband and two young sons, aged one and two, moved to Williamsburg in Brooklyn last year to oversee the company’s U.S. expansion.
“My dad is amazing in just letting us loose. He empowered Phillip to run the show and then I joined,” says McGlade, who before moving to New York was based in the U.K. where Thérapie has close to 50 clinics, with the most recent opening in Oxford last week – the company’s 71st location – and another in the London suburb of Wood Green due shortly.
“You don’t know a market unless you are on the ground,” says McGlade of her moves to London and now New York. “We did the same in London as we are doing in New York – start with one clinic to get the formula right because you are going to make mistakes along the way. And once we did that we grew and grew, and today we have the market share in the U.K.”
Ireland, where it all started, has more than 20 Thérapie locations; there are also four in the North and five in Scotland. Obviously the pandemic wasn’t kind to the company, with all of its locations shuttered for many months, but McGlade says the downtime was put to good use to prepare for the future.
“We really thought about what we wanted to do to attack the market. Our business is shut – what do we do? So we planned New York, and we digitized a lot of the business and sold our services online that people could redeem when we opened again. That all proved to be a game changer for us,” McGlade says.
There’s no specific timeframe for when Thérapie will spread its wings in America. It took about four or five months in the UK after the first London location opened.
“Then we started going wild,” McGlade notes.
“So here we see about six months to a year for when we press that scale button. We have all our forecasting projections ready for when we are going to do it.”
California, Florida, Texas – they’re on the expansion map as McGlade calls those states “massive, thriving markets.”
“We have big plans,” she says. “In America, it’s go big or go home.”
*This column first appeared in the March 29 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.