Nicole Contos on the Art and Philosophy of Beauty

July 4, 2020
By Yana Katsageorgi

NEW YORK – When Nicole Contos saw her reflection for the first time in the mirror, a little girl then, she didn't even know that there were words and concepts around her image that would define her later life. Today, the owner of the Smooth Synergy Medical Spa and Laser Center, one of the first medical spas in New York, which opened in 2002 in Manhattan, now knows that the question of beauty is open to many answers.

She learned through her 18-year career in maintaining youth and beauty that our emotional response to beauty is not one, but differs depending on people's psyche, trends of each era, the current social conditions, and prevailing perceptions.

An intelligent woman, full of life, a lover of life and optimism, well-traveled and cultured, she also brings a sincere care for the person who delivers herself into her hands. She discovered through her experience that we all see ourselves through the eyes of others and we are anxiously looking for ways to fulfill an ideal image of beauty.

Under her own philosophy, Smooth Synergy does not try to identify with the existing beauty standards, but improves or eliminates damage and asymmetries, without disturbing the physical and mental balance. Yes, Nicole can transform you into Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Aphrodite of Milos, or even Hermes of Praxiteles, under one condition: to follow her own rules of well-being and elegance, which make her spa stand out from most spas today.

Here is her story:

I was born in New York. My mother, Carol Hadzidimitriou DeMetro, was born in America, but speaks fluent Greek. My father, Demetris Contos, was an Athenian. My older brother George and I spoke Greek before we even spoke English. I grew up in a very loving home with grandparents and a large Greek family, with relatives from Greece, who often visited us. I was very attached to my father, who loved me and made me feel safe, loved, beautiful, and invaluable, something that all children should experience from their parents.

My dad, even though he was a successful businessman, taught me that the most important values in life have nothing to do with money. He encouraged me to pursue my dreams and ambitions. My mother reinforced these feelings in me.

When my brother and I reached school age, my mother chose to pursue a career as a high school teacher which she had left for a time while raising us. For me, she was a living example of a working woman who ran an entire household and raised two children at the same time. She worked full time, but I never felt her absence. Both my parents were also members of the Church.

My father was a member of the Board of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and my mother was president of the Philoptochos, as well as vice president of the National Philoptochos. They taught us from an early age the importance of community and our contribution to it. My mother used to take me and my brother to museums, ice skating, ballet, theater, and the cinema.

On Saturdays, we cycled in Central Park and met with other Greek families. My parents raised us in the city and not in the suburbs, because they wanted to provide us with everything that the urban environment we lived in offered us.

I am grateful to them for everything they have done for us

My parents were social people. My father, in particular, loved the company of his friends. Our house was always full of guests. Among my favorite memories is October 26, my father's name day. Nearly 100 people filled our house to wish him well.

Then came the unforgettable summers in Greece, where we saw my aunts and my grandmother. The parents always combined the trip to Greece with a visit to a different European country.

I'm not sure if I realized then the value of these trips to Europe, but now I realize that they opened my eyes to the world and helped me from a young age to appreciate other cultures besides my own.

Looking back, I realize that everything Greek existed as a culture within me, and set me apart from other children. I must explain that this feeling did not make me feel like I did not belong anywhere. On the contrary, it made me feel special. Besides, I could speak Greek, which none of my non-Greek friends could do, and on Greek Independence Day, I marched on 5th Avenue, in the annual parade, which none of them did!

My education began at the Cathedral School of the Holy Trinity and I can tell you that I still keep in touch with many of my classmates to this day. After that, I attended The Hewitt School, a private girls' school, where I was taught exactly the same thing my parents taught me as a child: "that I could be anything I wanted to be." I attended Syracuse University, then did my Master's Degree in Education at New York University and began my professional life as a kindergarten teacher in the New York Public School system.

I loved teaching in public school and learned so much from the kids, but I inherited my father's entrepreneurial spirit and that DNA proved to be stronger than my love of teaching. I got married and shortly after my marriage I started my new professional career, opening in 2002 the Smooth Synergy Cosmedical spa. But my interest in beauty has always been in my life. As my mother tells me, I secretly entered her room and smeared her creams and powders on a little girl.

Although there are many medical spas, Smooth Synergy is one of the first medical spas in New York. Its difference from a classic spa is that it includes medically authorized staff to perform some of the treatments offered to customers. When I started, there were only four medical spas. We are really proud to have an extremely good clientele of people who trust us completely. We built our reputation on a very solid foundation, because with our successful treatments and highly qualified staff, we were able to offer our services to a simple housewife, but also to a celebrity.

My motto: "To love and take care of ourselves"

With the COVID-19 crisis, we continued to communicate with our customers, whom we consider family. I look forward to them returning to us soon. I know that there are people who believe that emphasizing beauty is a superficial approach, especially when other things in life are much more important. Of course, there are values that affect our lives, but loving and caring for ourselves is the foundation for us to be happier and more productive in our work and daily activities. Feeling good about ourselves may have a different meaning for everyone, but we can't look down on someone for being interested in their appearance, which is their projection into the world. Above all, it makes them feel more secure inside.

The philosophy of Smooth Synergy:

At Smooth Synergy we do not do plastic surgery. Our treatments are non-invasive and include treatments such as laser hair removal, skin tightening, botox, body rejuvenation, and a host of other pioneering treatments that can really help people avoid surgery.

Most of my clients are not looking for radical surgery. They are not trying to change who they are. They come to us to improve their appearance. It is not vain to want to have a beautiful appearance and to feel happy in your body.

Many people will remember the story of when I was 27 years old, getting ready to marry a Greek Cypriot from England and on the day of the wedding he did not show up at the Cathedral. We had 300 guests and many of them had traveled from Europe and Asia for the wedding.

As upset as I was, I didn't let it get me down. I invited all the people to the reception. The news of the reception without the groom made international headlines. I suddenly found myself on the front page of the Daily News, the New York Post, and commenting on the day in a New York Times article that I was the epitome of an invincible New Yorker.

And when a reporter found the groom in Tahiti, where we had arranged to spend our honeymoon, the story took on even greater proportions.

Although it was a very painful situation, I still took advantage of all the invitations to the TV stations to tell my incredible story, including the Today show and Oprah. This rare experience made me stronger. To this day, I continue to see my name and story in self-help books. What can I say? I hope my daughters follow the example.

A few years later, I had the good fortune to meet a man who supported me and appreciated the quality of my character, George Liakeas, whom I met on a blind date. I immediately realized that he is a man who has the same values as me: family, morals, religion, honesty, and hard work. We have been married for 18 years now and have two wonderful daughters, Alexandra and Caroline.

George is a family practice physician and runs Smooth Synergy, which I founded and manage. A few months ago we went through a very difficult trial, when George fell ill with COVID-19.

He was working selflessly and kept the doctor's office open to receive his patients, who were very upset by the pandemic. In late March, he developed a fever and then shortness of breath.

He was hospitalized and an hour later was in a coma with a respirator. I couldn't talk to him or visit him. After three weeks and thousands of prayers, we were back together again.

What would I like to change in the world? My ideal world is full of kind people, who do not blame each other, do not judge, do not hurt each other. A world where everyone lives harmoniously, equally, and where anger and sadness are a kind of luxury and not everyday life. A world where you don't have to be perfect, but good, healthy, full of interest and respect for the earth that keeps you on it, respect for life and for humanity. A world that longs for love and not hatred.


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