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    Skin on Market: A Beacon of Inclusivity and Community Support in the Castro

    Photos by David Michael

    Leon Shannon

    By Leon Shannon–

    My journey with skincare has been marked by struggles, triumphs, and a profound commitment to empowering others on their own unique paths to healthy, radiant skin. Originating from Michigan and raised in the vibrant East Bay, I had an initial encounter with persistent acne that became the catalyst for a transformative chapter: enrolling in beauty school.

    After graduating, I continued taking classes and eventually landed a position at ULTA Beauty for 6–9 months. In 2015, I was recruited at Skin on Market, seeking to further my education and experience while providing solutions for those grappling with similar challenges.

    The journey from being a newcomer in March 2015 to taking ownership in October 2019 was marked by personal growth, professional development, and a deepening connection to the Castro District community. Working alongside a great manager, Lisa Thomure, who went on to open CORE MVMT just a block away, I found joy in contributing to a space that felt intimately connected to the community.

    After expressing my ambition to have my own business to the founder, Deedee Crossett, she eventually presented a plan that materialized into the ownership and operation of Skin on Market in October 2019. However, this transition into entrepreneurship occurred just before the pandemic, introducing unforeseen challenges. The initial months as a business owner brought break-ins, staff changes, and product shortages—formidable obstacles compounded by the global turmoil. The loss of clients seeking stability in evolving living and working environments added an extra layer of complexity.

    Despite the tumultuous times, the post-pandemic era has ushered in a renewed wave of support for local businesses. As a queer Black-owned establishment, Skin on Market has become an example of community resilience. The diverse staff, serving an equally diverse clientele, showcases the necessity and inclusive nature of skincare at Skin on Market, where individuals of all ages, professions, and gender identities find a welcoming space. Serving a clientele ranging from teenagers to those in their 70s, students to healthcare professionals, and our trans and non-binary brothers and sisters, Skin on Market reinforces the idea that skincare is not a luxury but an integral part of everyone’s everyday skin health.

    Gratitude extends to fellow small business owners and mentors like Lisa Thomure from CORE MVMT, Mary Mueller from Giddy Candy, Terry Asten-Bennett of Cliff’s Variety, Jenn Meyer of Local Take, Nate Bourg from The Academy SF, Alphonse Wiebelt of Muse Beauty.Pro, and Danni Pomplun of HAUM. Their support, advice, and mentorship have played a crucial role in helping me to navigate the challenges while celebrating the successes.

    As a proud member of the Castro Merchants Association and the Castro Community Benefit District, Skin on Market has a commitment that transcends the studio’s walls. Beyond offering skincare solutions, Skin on Market actively contributes to the community’s well-being.

    My role as an educator at San Francisco’s Institute of Aesthetics and Cosmetology is a natural extension of this commitment. At the institute I share knowledge and empower the next generation of skincare enthusiasts. Inside the studio or out in the community, my passion for happy, healthy skin is presented with authenticity and compassion. Skin on Market has evolved into more than a business; it is a hub for skincare education, a testament to personal and professional growth, and a beacon of inclusivity and community support.

    In reflecting on this journey, I am thankful for the support of countless small business owners who have influenced and shaped my path. They have offered support, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging to a community that understands the unique challenges and joys of being a small business owner. As Skin on Market continues to thrive and contribute to the Castro District’s vibrancy, I remain committed to fostering a space where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued. The journey is ongoing, and I am excited about the chapters yet to unfold as Skin on Market continues to evolve, empower, and celebrate the beauty within us all.

    Leon Shannon is the Managing Owner of Skin on Market:

    Rare Gems LGBTQ+ Black-Owned Businesses
    Published on February 22, 2024