After suffering from bad acne throughout his teenage years, David Petrillo founded Perfect Image in 2007, with the goal of helping millions of teens and adults suffering from various skin concerns with easy-to-use, at-home peels. “I understand the struggle, and the frustration when you’re looking for solutions,” Petrillo says. He continued: “I suffered from acne all through high school and even into college. It holds you back from doing normal, everyday things. There were a lot of school events that I just didn’t participate in because I felt embarrassed about my skin.”
Petrillo is half-Asian and recognizes that people of color are more likely to also struggle with issues like post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma. For parents trying to help their kids with skincare concerns, he recommends being supportive and sympathetic. “Don’t ignore their feelings or concerns,” He says. “Let them know that you’re there with them and supporting them through the process. Reassure them that although it’s difficult at the moment, that they will make it through, and there are options out there.”
There are more than a dozen different Perfect Image peels to choose from, to help with aging, toning, and clarity. Some peels are gentle enough to use daily, while others are as strong as 50% glycolic or lactic acid, enhanced with retinol or bearberry for deeper exfoliation and more rapid results.
During the pandemic, Petrillo has focused on rebranding Perfect Image and relaunching their website, along with partnering with ProjectCURE to start Heart4Heroes, an initiative to help raise funds and awareness for small and rural hospital heroes around the country with necessary PPE.
Over the past year, he’s grown the company to a team of 10, when previously it had just been him and his wife relying on Amazon as their main sales channel. They were the first ones selling at-home peels on Amazon in 2008 and were number one for years. Recently though, more brands have crowded the market and Petrillo knew he needed to create more brand awareness and a stronger connection with his customers in order to succeed.
“Making that transition from a single platform to pushing your brand out in the market and driving traffic directly to your website is a lot harder than you might think,” he says. He’s working with specialized agencies to help with Google ads, email marketing, public relations, social media, and web development.
“We’ve grown at least 350% sales through our website this year,” he says. “We’ve never been in a better position than we are now.” Just this week, they launched a new trial plan program and platform where customers can work one-on-one with a professional esthetician through a private messaging portal from the comfort of their home. Essentially bringing the telemedicine model to skincare.
Before Perfect Image, chemical peels were expensive luxury treatments only available in a doctor’s office, spa, or clinic. Petrillo has democratized peels by giving customers the power to take control of their own skin, striving to make quality results accessible and affordable to everyone. “We know that skin concerns can lead to depression, bullying, and even suicide, and if we can help reduce those numbers in any way, then that itself is worth it.” Petrillo encourages aspiring young entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.
“You don’t need a lot of money to get started,” he says. “That can be a misconception sometimes.” For example, Petrillo started with just a $600 loan from his mom and his degree in chemistry when he began to formulate his Amazon best-selling peels. “I would also recommend listening to your audience early on. They can really tell you a lot about what they’re looking for and what sort of things are important to them. Don’t get too comfortable and don’t try to do everything yourself. It’s good to understand a little bit about every aspect of your business, but it’s important to build out your teams strategically so you’re not overwhelmed.”
At the end of the day, Petrillo says that caring about the quality of life of others became more important than solely focusing on himself and his success. “Having a purpose that involves helping others and your community is much more rewarding,” he says.