We had the good fortune of connecting with KarriAnn & Christine Khalil Nell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi KarriAnn & Christine, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
If this past year has taught us anything it is to never give up in life.
When we were mandated to close our physical doors on March 17, 2020 we immediately opened our virtual doors at Ava MD and Skin Five by Ava MD. Seeing as though Dermatology tends to be more of a visual medical practice we were able to treat patients virtually. Our patients needed us. There are a lot of stress related dermatological skin issues and many people were having flares or experiencing them for the first time, which can be scary. Acne and Rosacea were probably the two most common conditions that were in full force, but once the word of “Covid toes” was announced any bump on the body suddenly became of great concern. A lot of our virtual appointments tended to veer more social and psychological. We have known some of our patients for over a decade and they reached out to us for support. It was such a stressful time and everyone was just trying to figure it out together.
Cosmetically, people wanted advise. They figured while they were at home why not take care of their skin?! We guided people through new skin care routines and applying at home peels. We also made a lot of plans for the future of their skin.
When we were able to open back up in person, we were booked. We took any and every imaginable protocol and safely started seeing patients. When we were able to start cosmetic procedures again everyone was using the camouflage of the mask as a reason to do more treatments that required more downtime. Our patients weren’t about to give up either. They wanted to “take advantage” of the masks and working from home so they could improve on their beauty needs and feel good. We all tried to find any positive that we could in a crazy situation.
We are so glad that we kept going for our own personal sanity and our patient’s skin and mental health.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
We grew up in a pharmaceutical home with our dad being a medical doctor. Yes, we were treated with soda crackers and 7 up for a tummy ache, but when we went to camp we were given a full medicine cabinet to take for any ailment that might possibly occur. Probably not allowed in this day and age, but back then it was perfectly acceptable. Therefore, we talked about health, medicine and our skin a lot. Both of us just happened to have experienced some unusual skin conditions from a bout of “hot tub folliculitis” to literally being allergic to the sun, aka polymorphic light eruption. We both suffered with acne and from early on took an extreme interest in our skin. Christine led the way moving from Wisconsin to California to get her Masters and Family Nurse Practitioner degree and started interning with Dr. Shamban. It was right about the time that Extreme Makeover was premiering and Dr. Shamban was getting world wide fame. Needless to say the office was slammed with everyone wanting to come in for advice and treatments. The practice expanded so quickly that Christine approached Dr. Shamban and suggested partnering up to open up a second practice in Beverly Hills. Shortly thereafter, KarriAnn received her Masters and Family Nurse Practitioner degree and was happily swayed into interning with Christine and Dr. Shamban.
It was not easy moving away from the Midwest, but we would not be able to do what we do anywhere else. We have succeeded in our business, not because we are the best in town, but because we make people feel comfortable and listen to them. We do not look at skin and beauty as trends, but rather as being your best version of yourself. We never push our patients into doing something that they are not ready for and we only suggest treatments that we know they will benefit from and love. There are so many dermatological conditions that cause a lot of stress, anxiety and low self-esteem and we can relate. As much fun as it is to get a great before and after of someone who had horrible sun damage, it is still the most satisfying treating someone’s acne. Seeing someone’s mood and attitude lift as their skin is clearing is the best feeling.
We truly love what we do and would not want to do anything else. We feel very fortunate that we have so many genuine and honest connections with our patients and think of them as family.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The first stop our best friend would make would have to be Ava MD. True story, most of our friends take an UBER from LAX to Ava MD for a treatment in preparation for their LA adventure. After their treatment we would walk to the Waldorf Hotel to have dinner on their rooftop.
The next day we would start with a fun workout. LA has some of the best and innovative fitness classes in the world and we love trying them all. We would take our friend to Bunda in West Hollywood. Bunda is all about the booty. Just when you thought a Stairmaster class would be boring and dull, Bunda makes it a blast. For our cool down we would walk to get a juice from Beverly Hills Juice (Raw since 1975). It’s delicious and nutritious and the perfect post workout snack. In the evening we would either try to go to opening night of a movie, which feels so energetic and lively and we still love when everybody claps at the end of the movie or we would try to find a movie that has a Q&A afterwards. Back in 2002 we went to see Kissing Jessica Stein and much to our surprise and delight the stars of the movie came out afterwards to speak to the audience. It was such a “Hollywood moment” for us that we still talk about it to this day and try to go to Q&A’s whenever we can. It makes the movie experience that much more memorable.
The next day we would spend in Malibu. There are so many different hikes to chose from, but we would most likely opt for Soltice Canyon. It is nice and shaded and lots to look at while you’re hiking. For lunch and strolling around we would go to the Country Mart and then catch the sunset at El Matador Beach. Then get Mexican food for dinner. Whenever we travel that is the cuisine that we miss the most and LA has some of the best there is to offer. Maybe we will hit up El Compadre on Sunset. It is so classic and lively.
Day 4 would be a Hollywood day! It is always fun to be a tourist in your own city so why not take your bestie to Hollywood. If someone has never been there before it is sweet to watch their expression. Yea, it’s a bit silly, but taking your photo at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with Sophia Loren or Cher’s handprints is still a great and memorable photo op. To complete the Hollywood day we would go to the Hollywood Bowl to see ANYTHING. Honestly, no matter who is performing at The Bowl you know that you are in for a treat.
On our last day we would take it easy. Start the morning at one of the fabulous Farmer’s Markets available. That’s one of the nicest things about LA, there is always a Farmer’s Market. You do not have to wait until the weekend. Then since we’ve been running around all week we would go to the Korean Spa (we still love Olympic Spa) and get the Goddess treatment. It is 1 hour and 45 minutes of euphoria. We bring our jammies to the spa, get cozy, go home and have the most peaceful sleep.
Now if you would have asked us what we would do with our bestie who was visiting 15 years ago there would be more wild nights, dancing at The Abbey, getting drinks on any and every amazing rooftop and going to late night dinners at Mr. Chow. That’s the marvelous thing about Los Angeles. No matter where you are in your life, you can always find something that suits you beautifully and perfectly. It’s the best!The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We are biological sisters who have successfully worked together for over a decade. When we tell people the amount of shock and confusion we receive is bewildering to us because we work so well together. We call ourselves Skin Sisters Beverly Hills, which should really include Dr. Ava Shamban. We think of Dr. Shamban as our third sister. She is like family to us and we are beyond grateful to have her in our lives. Dr. Shamban mentored and guided both of us. She never put us down or made us feel less than, she did the complete opposite and encouraged us to do more. Dr. Shamban is so well respected in the Dermatology community. She lectures around the world, yet is constantly learning and incorporating her knowledge into the business. We partnered with her to create Skin Five by Ava MD and now have two successful locations. Dr. Shamban is all about female empowerment and pushes all of her staff (mostly female) to excel in life. She definitely deserves an explosive shoutout.