University City

Single mom/entrepreneur gives back

Rachel Roff knows being a single mom is not for sissies.

The energetic 32-year-old entrepreneur is also the single mom of a 2-year-old daughter, Rosie.

This past year, she celebrated seven years of her growing business and wanted to give something meaningful back to her fellow single moms.

Roff, a state-certified medical aesthetician and laser technician, founded and operates Urban Skin Solutions Medspa on West Mallard Creek Church Road in Charlotte.

Her medical spa offers physician-monitored weight loss, laser hair removal, Botox and fillers, chemical peels and microderm abrasion and other multiple laser procedures for cosmetic improvement.

She specializes in dark skin tones and says 75 percent of her customers are African-American.

“I’ve done very well,” Roff said. “I can’t even imagine not having the funds to get my hair done. Yet it’s not just about poverty. Single mothers put taking care of themselves last on the list.”

As a voice and advocate for single moms, Roff used local radio stations to promote her plan to pamper seven terrific single moms who could use a beauty break.

“We got hundreds of responses and heard stories of domestic violence, living in homeless shelters, and women who are building themselves back up to make a great home for their children,” said Roff.

Each participant received an individual consultation, a day of makeovers and pampering, and their choice of any of the services available at Urban Skin Solutions.

Also included was dinner with Grammy-winning R&B singer and actress Fantasia Barrino, herself a single mom of two and an adopted niece. The group also attended Fantasia’s Sept. 28 concert at Bojangles’ Coliseum.

Fantasia is the face of Roff’s med spa and skin care line, Urban Skin Rx.

One of the women who benefited from Roff’s pampering was Alisha Harris.

Harris said her plans to become a physician were tabled when she became pregnant at 18. Her son was born with serious birth defects and rare conditions that required constant attention and frequent hospitalizations.

“I went from being 18 and carefree to 18 with a little baby who needed a lot of care,” said Harris. “It was a big transition. I didn’t have a huge support system at home, so I had to learn to be just me and him.”

With marriage came two more children and domestic violence, and soon Harris was on her own with her children once again. She worked part time while putting herself through nursing school, founded a program that helped people fix their credit and became a homeowner.

In 2009 she returned to school and earned a degree as a registered nurse.

“Keep doing the best you can do,” said Harris. “Give it all you’ve got. I know that how I feel and how I think impacts how my babies feel. They mirror me.”

Roff said this has been a great experience, and she will offer the program again next year, continuing with the original seven women and adding one more single mom to the group.

She also hopes to start a support group for single mothers at her church. This past summer she started Urban Skin and Laser Institute, a course to certify people to become laser technicians.

Roff’s latest vision is to create a foundation that helps single moms get back on their feet and receive free training and job placement in the med spa industry.

“It’s been an opportunity to give back,” she said.