Former Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer Jordan Pacitti in “Agon,” choreography by George Balanchine. Photo by Angela Sterling
Former Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer Jordan Pacitti in “Agon,” choreography by George Balanchine. Photo by Angela Sterling
<
1
2
>

At not quite 30 years old, Jordan Pacitti’s body was already aching seriously from his career as a professional ballet dancer. In addition, he had accomplished more than he ever thought he would in the 11 years he danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), including working with choreographic greats like Twyla Tharp and Susan Stroman.

And so, in 2010, Pacitti hung up his ballet slippers and devoted himself to a second career in fragrance and skin care. He said in 2011, “Like ballet, fragrance was just in my blood. It has been a passion since I can remember.” When he was a student at the School of American Ballet, he often spent a good portion of his food allowance on fragrances.

Given the success of his nascent company, called Jordan Samuel (his given name), he opened a retail space and facial studio in Queen Anne’s NW Work Lofts (3131 Western Ave.) this June. But, of course, this milestone in his business didn’t happen overnight.

Going all-natural

The launch of Pacitti’s new business, initially focused on a line of all-natural fragrances, was greatly facilitated by PNB’s career transition program, Second Stage. He received $8,000 in financial assistance from Second Stage to cover start-up costs, including trademarking his company’s name, business licensing and obtaining supplies. Some of the grant also went toward a six-month aesthetics training program at the Gary Manuel Aveda Institute on Capitol Hill.

Upon completing his training and while getting some practical experience at a local spa, Pacitti developed his own line of all-natural skin-care products, including cleansers, mists and moisturizers. Then he converted the first floor of his townhouse to a “sanctuary,” where he could provide individualized facial treatments to clients.

He demonstrated his signature JoTox facial on KING-5’s “New Day Northwest” program earlier in July, and his products were mentioned in The Wall Street Journal in February.

Pacitti insists on his products being all-natural — that is, made without synthetic ingredients and preservatives, given his personal commitment to sustainability.

His approach is also fueled by his husband’s experience with cancer. At just 24, PNB dancer Ben Griffiths was diagnosed with a form of cancer that had also affected a child he knew growing up in Idaho. Given the low rate of incidence of this form of cancer, Pacitti and Griffiths couldn’t help but wonder about a possible environmental cause. (Note: Five years post-treatment, Griffiths was declared cancer-free last winter.)

A similar dedication

Initially operating out of his home, Pacitti drew clients from his wide circle of friends; he intends for that to change with the new commercial space. He has also become popular with local performers from PNB and Teatro ZinZanni.

One such client is PNB principal dancer Lesley Rausch. Frequent use of heavy stage makeup, meant to block light, irritates her skin and clogs her pores; she also suffered from cystic acne. By seeing Pacitti for facial treatments “every month and a half to two months,” her acne cleared up and her skin tone became more even, she said.

In between appointments, she uses his products for her daily skin-care routine. Rausch likes “how they smell, feel and that they are reasonably-priced.”

Rausch is also excited for her former dancing partner’s successful transition into a different field.

“He’s gone to school and works so hard to make contacts in his industry,” she said. “He’s doing something really special: He’s taken his dedication for dance and applied that to his business. You want to find something [to replace dancing]. It’s really nice to see that.”

For Pacitti, being an aesthetician and dancing aren’t really that far apart. According to him, each facial is a kind of performance: He takes the time to explain the various steps as he’s doing them, educating the client about what he’s doing and why.

Rausch said, “As a performer, you give a lot of yourself to the audience.” Now, Pacitti is doing that on a one-on-one basis with each client who walks through his door. 

To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.