Nicky Tzimas, founder and Director of the Cosmetic Professional Development Institute of Australia (CPD Institute), is a firm believer in people’s rights. With a solid background in behavioural sciences and mental health, Nicky is an advocate of ethical practice in the cosmetic aesthetic industry.
The creation of CPD Institute was born out of Nicky’s concern over clients who were seeking treatments without thorough awareness of the risks and complications involved. She had patients from other practices approaching her clinic for services, and it was evident that they had previously been uninformed of the potential risks and problems that could have resulted from their past procedures.
“It was alarm bells for me. I realised that there is a dangerous gap in the industry as people aren’t well-informed. They are receiving treatments and they don’t know the perils involved.” Nicky’s concerns regarding the industry prompted her to create a course, as there was very little training on offer in the cosmetic injectable industry in 2010. Once the course was drafted, Nicky gained the support of a doctor and was able to advertise her course, which generated strong interest, paving the way to the early beginnings of CPD Institute. The training institute has gone from strength to strength, expanding its course offering to include Advanced Injectables, and Platelet Rich Plasma and Skin Science, while building a solid reputation within the cosmetic aesthetic industry.
Although Nicky had advanced to a senior position in her previous role, it was the formative stages of CPD Institute that ignited her entrepreneurial streak. She admits that she had struggled with working for other people, confined by outdated rules and regulations. Having a creative streak within her, she felt that there were ways to do things differently and for the better. The turning point was when she went through certain personal issues that left her with some debts to pay off. Financially and emotionally, she had hit rock bottom. That crisis prompted her to re-evaluate her life and steered her onto the entrepreneurial path she passionately continues on today, and from which she’s not looked back. “I thought, ‘I’m going to give it a crack because I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m at my lowest ebb, so I’m going to be creative and do my best,’” she said.
Nicky wasn’t afraid to tackle the challenges that come with establishing a small business because she was in survival mode, and she loved what she was doing. During the early stages of her journey, her biggest frustrations were herself and putting her creative thoughts together, while learning the ropes of her new role. It was only when she started employing a team that she began to realise the seriousness of her role as a business owner.
“I think the challenge became greater when I started to employ people because I had a responsibility to them.” Balancing the day-to-day concerns and human aspect of running a business and keeping the creativity flowing was a tough juggling act for Nicky as her business grew. She would worry about things like finding money to pay the rent, equipment and other bills and especially the responsibility of paying wages since her staff’s livelihoods were in her hands. “I’m not a business person; I’m a nurse. So, there was a struggle with how to run a business and how to be a business person, while remaining passionate and not losing focus and love of what I was doing,” Nicky shared.
Within a daunting business setting and not having a support system in place, it made the journey difficult and at times, lonely for Nicky. “When you’re lacking support or when people want to strike you down, it’s hard, especially when you don’t see it coming. I don’t have people in my direct family that are in business. So, in those early days, I didn’t have sounding boards, and there were very little guidance and support available to me. Really, it’s been a little bit of luck and a whole lot of drive and focus that brought me to where I am today. But I’ve been surrounded by good people who believed in me.”
Among these people is her godfather, a spiritual man who inspired her to face the challenges life has thrown at her. Throughout her career, she has focused on ethical, true and honest practice and dealings with people, which placed her in good stead with them. So, when she comes up with a crazy idea, there are people who are happy to support her.
In the early days of CPD Institute’s inception, Nicky was made aware of events organised by business groups. She loved the energy and drive of the people in such groups and this propelled her to one day join one. “It was in my head; it was on my bucket list. My dream was to one day be part of such a group because I could see I would gain so much from it,” she recalled. So, in 2016 when someone told her about Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Melbourne, she immediately made the phone call and was thrilled to be accepted. She’s happy to be part of EO Melbourne as it gives her the opportunity to be with like-minded people who understand her concerns and challenges, as well as providing a safe place for her to share her stories and ideas.
Nicky also regards her team, who are like family to her, as a blessing because they help her not only with her business but also in her mission to help others. “I’ve got great people now. It took years and a lot of trial and error to get the right people who have the right ethos. That was probably the hardest thing, finding people that believe in you and your product and are going to help you drive it,” she stated.
CPD Institute is currently partnered with Swinburne University, developing a research paper focusing on what motivates people to receive cosmetic treatments. Moving forward, Nicky wants to conduct more research studies at CPD Institute and hopes for the formalisation of training and education in the cosmetic industry. She is also in the early stages of establishing a not-for-profit organisation for young girls to raise awareness on issues in the industry.
Equipped with learnings from her experiences and that of other people, Nicky imparts these words of advice, “I think you can achieve anything if you love what you do and believe in what you do. It’s about believing in yourself and not negotiating with yourself when you have made a decision. Stay focused and get back up if you fall. I think you need to have your finger on the pulse and understand your whole business. Go through the trials and errors of it all before you expand. If you believe in the concept of what you’re trying to achieve and focus on your mission, I think that energy is so powerful that it will create change.”
“There’s always going to be a shift, both political and financial. In all the shifts we go through, there are going to be some changes within and around us. For me, part of the education is to raise awareness about mental health, the importance of being an ethical practitioner and how we can collaborate in the cosmetic industry and in our normal practice. I raise awareness about the shifts that are happening, but I don’t make it the focal point. I want the focus to be on the foundations, about caring. Being a good doctor and a good nurse is what it’s all about,” heartfelt words from Nicky.