Come On In: The New Emily Rockwell Skin Clinic

Emily Rockwell, founder of the Emily Rockwell Skin Clinic sits down with the clinic’s Aesthetics Director, Lindsay McConnell, to talk style, inspiration, and the long journey in opening the new space.

Tell me about your vision for the new Skin Clinic.  What can your patients expect from the new space?

If I were to summarize it in a few words- I would say I really wanted to create an experience and a feeling. It’s about an experience that’s rooted in concierge service, elegance and luxury. I am very much inspired by the chic boutique hotels you find in New York or even in Europe. To me, there’s nothing better than being treated really well in a beautiful setting. This all goes back to what we try to do here at the Skin Clinic. Our goal has always been to take the patient experience to the highest level- from the moment you walk through the doors to how you are cared for in our treatment rooms. I want everyone to walk in and say “WOW” and I want us to be the destination for the best quality care and aesthetic treatments. 

“It wasn’t until I started injecting lips and enhancing faces that I was like, “this is not just science… this is art!” It opened my eyes and I realized, I’m a designer and I’m designing
every day.”

What inspires you about interior design?

What’s so funny to me is that interior design has always been an interest of mine, but has really grown into a passion as I’ve progressed in my career. Growing up with a dad that’s all medical and business and a mom that’s artistic and creative, I saw the way two very different people think and see things. My dad inspired me the most in terms of my career path.  In school, my strongest subject was always science. Early on, I knew I wanted to be a nurse- so I became a nurse in 2010 and a nurse practitioner in 2015. Fast forward a few years, I found my true calling in aesthetics.  What’s funny is, the science part is absolutely there and always will be, but out of nowhere, the design and aesthetics piece came shining through.  Growing up with a mom like Jodi, who’s an incredibly gifted interior designer, I always had an appreciation for these things. I was always amazed by the way she would do things like set a table or style a bookshelf. It wasn’t until I started injecting lips and enhancing faces that I was like, “this is not just science… this is art!” It opened my eyes and I realized, I’m a designer and I’m designing every day.  And this was my chance to design a space that resembles my taste and is a reflection of what I want to surround myself with everyday. It’s a really cool realization.

How cool to make that connection and hear about your evolution- you started off more like your dad and here you are becoming more like Jodi!  So, we know you love a good hotel and this influenced the design of the new Skin Clinic- what have been some of your all-time favorite stays?

When it comes to hotels it comes down to two things for me- the way it’s designed and the way you are treated. I don’t always go to a hotel for the way it looks; I go there because the service is what I love.  Obviously Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton are the epitome of a quality hotel, but my favorite hotels would be the ones that are more my style.

Richie and I went to Croatia a few years ago and we stayed at a place called the Meneghetti. What’s really cool about this place is that I almost felt like we could live there. The architecture and structure really spoke to me, and the interiors were a combination of Restoration Hardware and an old-school European vibe.  I always love the idea of bringing the old world and new world together.

Esencia in Tulum is another one that I absolutely love.  The music alone completely set the tone for relaxation.  I loved it so much I asked the concierge for a copy of the Spotify playlist which they happily printed off for me. I love taking bits of vacation back home with me.

I think in the US there are some great hotels but a lot tend to go overboard. They’re almost doing too much to achieve something. I like things when they are kept simple.  A good wallpaper, a clean sophisticated bathroom… that’s what I love.

I love that simplicity shines through in a lot of what you do. From your work with patients, to the new space, to what you like to post on social media- it’s all very simple yet significant. Which is cool because simplifying some parts of your life allows you to focus on more important things.

Absolutely, look at how I dress! I’m so simple- it’s like three colors!

When you travel do you make time for spa treatments?

When I was younger I was all about booking a facial and a massage and now I’m like “Oh no!! You cannot put those products on my face.” And now when I travel, I’ll dedicate one day to the spa experience where I’ll do a massage.  At the Esencia, I love that they make relaxation a journey.  Leading up to the massage, they’ll do aromatherapy with fresh herbs and oils, then send you to the steam room and then the sauna… all before you get to the massage!  I have a hard time relaxing so building up to relaxation is wonderful. A spa experience for me right now is more about a mental break. It’s about decompressing and being in the moment.and aesthetics piece came shining through.  Growing up with a mom like Jodi, who’s an incredibly gifted interior designer, I always had an appreciation for these things. It wasn’t until I started injecting lips and enhancing faces that I was like, “This is not just science this is art!” It opened my eyes and I realized, I’m a designer and I’m designing every day.  And now was my chance to design a space that resembles my taste and is a reflection of what I want to surround myself with everyday. It’s a really cool realization.

“It was an interesting balance to strike- trying to create an oasis out of
a medical setting.”

What kind of feelings are you trying to evoke with the new clinic?

The number one thing my mom and I said from the very beginning was that we wanted it to feel like you’re not in Delaware.  We LOVE Delaware but we wanted this to feel like a little escape for our patients.  When I closed my eyes and envisioned just the waiting room alone I wanted it to be a place that felt like a gorgeous living room in a home. Like your favorite place to be. 

And it was an interesting balance to strike- trying to create an oasis out of a medical setting. I personally hate a white sterile field like we’ve come to expect in medical practices. But I believe you can still be sterile without the presence of white. All the neutral colors and natural textures are SO important to me. I am a grasscloth girl through and through which doesn’t naturally make sense for a medical clinic, but we made it work!

There are areas in the Skin Clinic where there’s a lot going on, and then there are areas of simplicity and serenity.  It’s also not the biggest space so I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone’s senses.  I wanted to stay true to us, and I never wanted it to be so large that people get lost in it. I think someone walking in will see these different features and will feel comfortable yet intrigued. There’s a feature to see in every corner but it’s not overwhelming or hyper-stimulating. 

I love that you keep things refined and you always do things with intent. Nothing is overdone which I think is a lot of people’s tendencies… to just overdo things. It’s pulled back in a way that feels important. 

Thank you! It all comes back to the mood! For instance, every room has light dimmers. You have to have that feeling when you walk into a room- the light is set just so… almost like a stage. And then when we start treatment, we change the mood.  Whatever we do with the music, the artwork, the scent… It’s never bland and it’s all considered. 

“I believe that mixing and matching between it all is what makes it interesting. If we kept it all modern and sleek it would be expected.”

To me, it feels like a very capable environment with people that know what they’re doing!  Tell me about the process of undergoing the buildout- how long did it take?  What were some of your first steps?

One thing I can say is ALL good things take time!  Before we even locked down the space, I knew a few things would be crucial.  I wanted to stay on the first floor of this building… I love our location and wanted to keep it super easy for our patients.  In January, we heard this space was potentially opening up so we worked with the building to secure it. This was a very long process of waiting and wishing.  We weren’t sure if everything we wanted to accomplish would fit in the space so we developed various blueprints to make sure we had the appropriate square footage. We had several iterations of the blueprint- some of which didn’t have a waiting room.  The initial thought was that we would still have our patients wait in the building’s beautiful atrium. But I kept coming back to this- because to me the waiting room IS the business. I ended up choosing a layout that prioritized the waiting room because, to me, that first impression sets the tone for the experience to come. 

We started renovations in May of this year. It was amazing to see the walls come down, and then the framing go up, and then suddenly the drywall was hung… and I could see the vision coming to life. It really didn’t become a sexy space until about a week ago when the cabinets were installed and the walls were painted.  And It wasn’t until then that it started to feel real. Although it still doesn’t feel completely real!  

As for our vision, I had about 3-4 inspo pictures of spaces that guided us. Donna Karan’s home was the motivation for the large painting at the end of the hall.  There was a kitchen I pulled from that had flooring similar to ours with the black and white tiles pieced together which I had never seen before.  The trellis in the injection rooms was inspired by a spa.  And the cabinetry is a mix of classic and modern.

It’s very classic but not at all boring! And I love that- I love when classic feels cool. 

Exactly! I also wanted to bring in an Indonesian feel with the artwork. I knew I wanted black and white artwork with the black cabinetry.  And the mushroom colored upholstered chairs give off a very Ralph Lauren vibe. I believe that mixing and matching between it all is what makes it interesting. If we kept it all modern and sleek it would be expected.  I think back to a room in someone’s home and how it’s all pieced together to form a collection.  Antiques mixed with something new. Like things have been discovered and collected and it all just tells a story.

“I think back to a room in someone’s home and how it’s all pieced together to form a collection.  Antiques mixed with something new. Like things have been discovered and collected and it all just tells a story.”

What spot or room in the new clinic are you most excited about?

My favorite thing is the black and white art. I had reached out to a gentleman in London that does small scale paintings of women.  They only came as 8.5” x 11” prints and I knew I wanted them blown up. I love that something so simple and beautiful could become such a big feature. It’s very me- to mix bold pieces with neutral textures. In the waiting room alone, I feel like the design is such a combination of my mom and I’s design style coming together. That space just reminds me of our time designing together, and shout out to our friend Joanne for being instrumental in collecting ideas and sourcing vendors. Joanne was amazing at pointing out where finishing touches were needed like a bench or a sconce on a particular wall.

You grew up in Delaware, what are some of your favorite places for style inspo?

My childhood home was and always will be a major influence on my style. My mom was the general contractor on the build about 25 years ago. She did incredible things with that home, and at that time she was only 31. It’s a major credit to her that much of the home has since stayed the same.  When Richie and I had our wedding reception in the backyard 4 years ago, she spruced up a few rooms and areas, and it was so special to see how her eye has evolved. She’s always my inspiration.

As for spots in Delaware, I absolutely love Wild Thyme and Flowers by Yukie and I’m thrilled to use their greenery in the new space.  Like a true Greenville native, I love Hagley and Winterthur. Their greenhouses, exteriors and architecture really inspire me. I love their rich history.

I wanted this space to pay homage to this area but be something we’ve never seen here before.  It really feels like a new and unique thing for Delaware, and I think people will feel comfortable and welcome.

I think it’s safe to say you nailed it! What was the first moment during the reno that made your jaw drop?

When I walked in the Saturday before we opened, I lost it! I walked in… I saw the door handles, the lighting, the reception desk… and when I turned the corner and saw the waiting room I was in disbelief.  Jodi had just finished styling the bookshelves and all the artwork was hung.  I was like OH MY GOSH it came true. This vision has finally come to life.  Just like in my practice, when something turns out beautifully in the way I envisioned it… that’s such a big moment to me!  And I think that’s why I put a lot of pressure on myself, because I visualize what I want and I always hope the outcome will live up to what I hoped for.  When it comes to life it’s like NO WAY could this be true?!  To walk down the hallway to my office I feel like it’s my home… I can be here everyday. 

The Emily Rockwell Skin Clinic is located at 20 Montchanin Road in Suite 185 in Greenville, Delaware. We wish to thank all the partners that helped make this space a reality- especially Lindsay Construction.

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