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my local spotlight



By Brittney Moody



Spending money on acne medication, specialized cleansers and makeup can add up in the long run. Instead of treating blemishes and acne with temporary solutions, Gentle Laser Body Care in Novi offers long-lasting solutions with an array of laser procedures including acne removal, hair removal, skin tightening and spider vein removal, among others.


Owner of Gentle Laser Body Care, Rita Filippini said that laser procedures are a great way for people to have more confidence in their appearance, feel better and walk away scar free.


"A lot of people with the spider veins don’t wear shorts, and they try to cover their legs for many years because they are embarrassed to show them. They can’t enjoy going to a lake or pool," Filippini said. "The laser treatment helps; they are able to wear shorts again."


Filippini opened Gentle Laser Body Care in 2005 in Ann Arbor and made the move to Novi in March. Thus far, she is thrilled about her location inside of Powerhouse Gym. With her cosmetic procedures and nutritional values, she thinks her business pairs well with the clientele that work out on-site.


"People come here, they care about their health, the way they look, and now they can have laser procedures – it’s a good combination for everybody," she said.


Client Cintia Ribeiro, 24, of New Hudson, recently started a series of procedures at Gentle Laser Body Care. Ribeiro was referred to the company by one of her friends and decided to get the hair removal treatment for her legs, underarms and bikini line. The thought of getting a similar procedure had crossed her mind in the past, but she wasn’t sold on the idea until she received the recommendation. "My hair is not growing anymore, it’s great," Ribeiro said.


One of the things that Filippini prides herself on is being flexible for her customers. Currently her hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday by appointment. However, Filippini understands that her hours do not work well for many women and men with full-time jobs. So, when a customer wants to set up an appointment outside of her regular business hours, especially those with farther to travel, she said she is typically willing to accommodate.


Ribeiro vouched for Filippini by saying, "She really takes good care of you. Every time I need to go, she makes times for me because I only can go after 6 p.m."


Although her 72-year-old client Sonia Kahl of Buffalo, NY, was able to fit her spider vein removal procedure into regular business hours, she agreed that the service was great. Kahl came across an advertisement for the laser care center and decided to go have one session done while she was visiting her son in Ann Arbor. She estimated it took about one hour for Filippini to conduct the procedure and said that she had really good and fast results. "She was very careful, professional, and I was very pleased," Kahl said.


Filippini said that her prices are quite competitive against market prices and hopes that her new location at Power House Gym in Novi, will spur extra interest.


Prices range depending on services used, where the procedure is applied on the body and how long it will take. For example, Filippini said that she charges $250 per leg for spider vein removal if she is working on the whole leg. However, if she is just working on a small area of the leg she charges $85. According to her, the market price per leg is $1000 (information from 2010 not updated)


A skin-tightening facial starts at $150 and removing underarm hair starts at $500. Consultations are free and discounts on services are offered to those with special needs and seniors 65 years of age and older.


Not only are her services competitive in price she noted, but Gentle Laser Body Care also offers the highest quality machines according to Filippini. "I’m happy to make everyone feel good inside," Filippini said.


"If someone wants to look their best, even if they’re in their 20s, this is a great way to do it," Filippini added. "We have the right machine to make them look good and feel good."


Dr. Brian Young, D.O. and Rita Filippini

Interview By Andrea Shpak
Mgmt 570 - Stephanie Newell
January 26, 2005
Company: Brazamerica
619/621 South Main Street
Ann Arbor - MI 48104

Rita Filippini

About Her Life & Her Business

Rita is the owner of Brazamerica, a local Market specialized in Brazilian & Latin products since 2000.
She is Brazilian and has been living in Ann Arbor for 11 years with her two kids.
Rita was born in Campos do Jordao State of Sao Paulo, but at three years old her family was forced to move to Taubate because her father, Jonas Filippini, a journalist and ecologist, that had fallen victim to tuberculosis as a political prisoner during the time of military rule.

Rita grew up in Taubate where for many years she participated, together with her family, in many social and ecological manifestations to protect the environment and to fight for a better quality of life for the people in her community. Her father was the founder of the first ecological group of the Vale do Paraiba and it has been active for more than 25 years.

Sao Camilo College in Sao Paulo was where Rita completed a course of Nursing and Surgical Instrumentation. While she was working as a nurse in the neurological field, she graduated as a Social Worker from Taubate University. After graduating she started to work at FEBEM,(juvenal detention), in Sao paulo, where she dedicated more than 4 years. She started by working with minors up to fourteen years old and their families and later in the delinquent sector.

In 1984 she was invited by the Governor of the State of Sao Paulo to work as the Director at the Secretary of Social Promotion, where she was responsible for eight cities and their respective city halls. She stayed in this position until she decided to start her own business.

She has 2 children Amanda and Gabriel. Even thought Rita was very happy in her position with the government because it was very import challenging and brought for her and her family many good opportunities, it was demanting a lot of her time: time that she would like to be spending with her family. So, to be close to her family, Rita decided to start her own business. She started with Franchiese store of "Lacqua Di Fiori" in Sao Paulo, a retailer of perfumes with today aproximately 1450 stores in the country.

Rita moved to United States in 1993 as a transfer job in Michigan. To be able to keep her business in Brazil, Rita had to share the store responsability with her sister in law.

In Michigan Rita initially worked at Bank One, but because she always wanted to keep work with what has been her passion, social work or something relater with her country. The opportunity came from EMC/Proquest which sells educational software products to Latin America and where Rita was responsable for sales for the Brazilian territory, a job that in her own words brought her much experience and satisfaction.

About Her Role Model.
When asked about her role model Rita said "The big inspiration in my life for me to being doing everything I am doing now came from my parents, not as a business inspiration but more as a life inspiration".

The life ideology that she has for her life is not money, but it is about making what is around her better. It is about getting people together to share culture and experience. She believes that most entrepreneurs start a business with the main goal of making money and to have a good quality of life, but this wasn't what drove her.
For her the business should have more social meaning, this came from all the years back in Brazil where she was involved in the social movements. With this "ideal" in mind she started this business (Brazamerica) to promote a little of the Brazilian culture and also to support the Ann Arbor community. The way she achieves this is by always participating or promoting events, dinners and shows where she can introduce a little of all the wonderful things the Brazilian culture has to offer.

Past Experience.
Rita had a Franchise of "Lacqua di Fiori" in Sao Paulo, a retailer of perfumes which today has approximately 1450 stores in the country. This experience gave her the opportunity to learn a lot of the business world. She was able to develop skills that are in her opinion very important in managing a business such as: sales, marketing, finance, managing and motivating employees and what she believes to be the most important, the ability to develop a good and long term relationship with customers, suppliers, partners and employees.

When asked which one of the business was the hardest to start and which one brought more satisfaction she answered by saying that the new business(Brazamerica) has been much harder, not just to start but also to maintain, it is not nearly as profitable as the Franchise, but it brings her much more satisfaction. To support that she explained that the Franchise came with all market work done and the name was already known, while with the new business everything has to start from zero. She also mentioned that the labor in Brazil is also cheaper, so she could have a bigger staff than here in US. But the greatedt satisfaction that the new business offers her is the opportunity to be involved with the community, putting people together, bringing a little from her culture to another country and be able to help the Brazilian that are arriving in town.

The Idea for The Business.
Since Rita arrived in US she always wanted to do something related with the community like she used to do in Brazil. She kept thinking about something where she could serve the Brazilian community, be involved with social work and also be able to expose the community to the Brazilian culture. With this idea in mind in 1995 she started by creating her company name "Brazamerica" and offering beautiful hand made Gift Basket for everal ocasions tha she prepared at her own home. After a few months when she had developed relationships with part of the community, she was offered the first space (retail space), where soon became a "point" where the Braziian would meet and get together.

With the support and interest of the American community, it didn't take long for her to expand her business. Today her business offers Travel Agency Services; Worldwide Money Transfer, Travel Insurance; a full Brazilian grocery line.

Rita indicated that the hardest part of this business was making other people believe that the business is worth pursuing and that, even thought she was a foreign woman, she could still make the business successful.
It started at home and grew as she started to talk and develop relationships with the community and showing them that her business could bring value to the communty. This resulted in her finding a permanent space for Brazamerica outside of her home. This allowed her to start increasing her inventory as sales increased which further helped her spread the word about the store through the community.

The store has 3 employees including her, and she is the one who dedicates the most hours to run the business. She opens 7 days a week with which she supervises.

Success and Satisfaction.
Rita said that her moment of greatest satisfaction is every time a customer comes by, and she described success as being well recognized by the community, (mainly when she is invited to participate in events and represent the Brazilian culture.

Rita strongly believes that the key of her success depends on maintaining a good relationship with the community, suppliers, distributors, employees and customers. The things tha Rita believes are personally rewarding and satisfying for her is the fact she has been recognized as a competent professional that is delivering successful work and in a business that is generating profits and growing.

Balance Between her Private and Business life.
Even thought she dedicates many hours to the store Rita tries to put her family first. The way she achieves this is by having a good staff in the store during the time she wants and needs to stay with her kids, and working during the time they are in the school.

Rita's business has been growing mainly because if the dedication and quality services tha she provides to her customers. This is what in her opinion keeps the loyalty of the existing customers and also bring new ones.

Recommentations and Lessons Learned.
Once again with the support of the Braizlian and American as well others nationalities(something she is counting on) Rita feels that now is time for another expansion.

Based in her words, she believes that the social work which she developed in conjunction with Brazilian communites in Brazil, continues "across the sea" with the same dedication and professionalism.

When I asked if Rita should ever replace her business for a high level position with a large organization she was direct in saying absolutely not. She believes that she would never have the satisfaction of seeing the sucess she has seen with her business. Rita's main goal is not just develop a business but instead to leave a story.
A story for her is more important than an inheritance.

An entrepreneur in Rita's opinion requires the following strong characteristics:
A dream
Good sence
Goal oriented
Open mindedness
Creativity and

Even thought Rita was a small entrepreneur I really enjoyed interviewing her because she is very passionate about her business and really believes in her goals. I personaly believe that those are key ingredients for success.

WOW! this is a really interesting interview. What and interesting life she has had. Great points about starting a business. Good lessons learned

Professor - Stephanie Newell.
Andrea Shpak - MBA

Body & Soul moved to Twelve Oaks Mall Novi and added more services such as massage, facial and more...
Amanda 24 years Gratuated from University of Michigan in 2009
Gabriel 22 years old Gratuated from Michigan State in 2011
Both Amanda and Gabriel got a job in Chicago