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How a pair of best friends went from Bellin to beauty, opening up new downtown aesthetics company

Posted at 9:01 AM, Sep 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-02 10:01:21-04

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — "We are girls to our core," Markie Otto explains as she and REN Rejuvenation Bar co-owner Jess Sharkey lounge on a green couch in front of a big neon signing that reads, "MORE SELF LOVE". The two are Wisconsin natives, best friends, and both are nurses.

"We both went through a journey of being in critical care at the hospitals and, kind of, bonding over that," Sharkey said. Both women worked in the ICU out of nursing school, and Sharkey stayed during the pandemic.

"It was it was rough," Sharkey said. "I feel like a lot of us were just not ourselves."

In the back of her head, there was always the idea of aesthetics and beauty. Coming out of the pandemic, she put the thought in Otto's head, too. She explains after a couple of glasses of wine one night, they both decided: why not?

"We're just like, why don't we do it? Why don't we just open it? Why don't we just go out on our own?" Sharkey said.

What started as a curiosity and passion, became REN Rejuvenation Bar. It's the pair's new "medspa" of sorts, that offers botox, micro-needling, and other beauty care. But, they didn't abandon their nursing skills.

"We use assessment skills every day, we use anatomy skills every day," Otto said.

"It's a different type of nursing," Sharkey said. "People think this is all, you know, aesthetics and butterflies and makeup and skincare... It's, 'I got bit by a dog,' 'I have a scar...'"

Like any new venture, however, it came with its challenges.

"Being two women, our biggest concern, sort of, was being taken seriously," Otto said.

The two said they've always had entrepreneurial ambitions, and REN was a way for them to combine both fields.

"It's definitely been a huge learning curve," Sharkey said. "But you know what, that's what makes us strong. We've been through the very beginning and the hard part and we continue to move forward."

They note it's not all glitz and glam, but are proud of themselves for moving forward with their passions, something a lot of people can't say they ever do. It's especially empowering being female business owners in an area where you don't typically see that.

"If you don't have passion, or drive for something, why do it?" Otto said. "I think that's the biggest thing, but at the end of the day, like, it's your life to live. And I know that sounds really cliche, but nobody's going to do it for you."