Bristol’s Jennifer Obarski opens new skincare boutique

BRISTOL — At rest, the blue morpho butterfly folds its wings and displays the dark earth tones of its underside, a camouflage that protects the delicate flying insect from predators.
But when it flies the tiny iridescent scales that cover its wing tops harness the light to produce a shimmery blue color. To witness its takeoff is to witness a kind of transformation.
For Bristol resident Jennifer Obarski, who encountered the blue morpho during her travels through Central America, this transformation is symbolic of the work she does. She even incorporated it into the logo for her new business, Piel Skincare Boutique, which she opened last month in the Old Bristol High School Building off the town green.
“I do what I do because I love making people feel good,” Obarski said. “I love to see someone glowing, smiling, feeling happy and beautiful and confident.”
A medical aesthetician, licensed skin therapist and makeup artist, Obarski offers a range of services, including comprehensive skin consultations, facials, brow makeovers, and advanced skin therapies.
Her inspiration for this work came from her own experiences.
“I had acne when I was young, and I went to a dermatologist, who gave me a prescription,” she said. “But the drugs wreaked havoc on my body.” 
Then she found an aesthetician. 
“She took a holistic approach, giving me the tools to help myself and to learn things on my own,” Obarski said. “She made me feel good.” 
After a few sessions, Obarski began to wonder: Could this be a potential career?
When Obarski, who is a Hinesburg native, returned to Vermont in 2004 she enrolled at the Salon Professional Academy in Williston, where she completed a 600-hour licensing course. Since then she has worked at various spas and clinics in Chittenden and Addison counties, all the while acquiring more training and completing a number of advanced certificates.
Obarski uses some machines in her work, but the most important machines, she said, are her hands.
“Just the way you touch someone’s face — a little massaging, some acupressure. You learn styles and techniques over the years, but everybody has different needs and pain and comfort levels. We carry a lot of stress in our faces but sometimes we don’t realize it until someone touches our face.”
The work can also be creative.
“I love being a detective, then using effective tools to solve problems,” she said.
Obarski has become, in essence, an agent of transformation. 
Sometimes that transformation is medical.
“Vermont can be a harsh environment,” she said. “This is an active community we live in and some of our outdoor activities can damage the skin.” Obarski sees it as her job to strengthen the skin and protect it from outdoor damage — and also to identify the damage itself.
“I have caught basal and squamous cell carcinomas,” she said, referring to the two most common forms of skin cancer. “I also see a lot of actinet keratosis (age spots),” which can develop into cancer.
According to a report released earlier this summer by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Vermont has the fourth highest rate of skin cancer in the United States.
“Some people have never gone to a dermatologist,” Obarski said. “They think nothing of a bump on the face. Catching this is part of my work.”
For Obarski, skincare work is of a larger program of wellness.
“It’s like getting a massage or going to the chiropractor,” she said. “Some people feel like getting a facial is actually better than a massage.”
And Bristol, where she has lived for seven years, is a great place to offer her services.
“Bristol is a great town with fabulous places to keep us healthy. People want organics, naturals.”
And they don’t always want to travel to Burlington or Middlebury. By setting up in the Old Bristol High School, Obarski is hoping to fill a niche for residents of the 5-Towns and Vergennes.
Having her own studio had always been the goal, she said, but raising her two sons, who are ages eight and 12, had always taken precedence over starting a business. This spring, though, she finally took the plunge.
“Being my own boss is a relief, but it’s also scary,” she said. “It takes a lot of money and a hard work.”
The response so far has been great, she said.
“It’s all about relationships, which is why I love it. You have to build trust and work with people.”
For more information visit pielskincareboutique.com.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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