They jumped right in, Dawn Gebhart said.

The middle of a pandemic might not be the best time to open a new business, but that’s what she did. Gebhart, a certified family and emergency nurse practitioner, started the Refinery Aesthetics on South James Street in downtown Ludington.

“This building went for sale and I started talking with my husband and we decided to jump the gun,” she said.

The Refinery, a medical-grade skin care business, opened its doors in the beginning of June when state restrictions lifted. Gebhart said she is reaching clients through social media and word of mouth since she couldn’t do a grand opening.

“(COVID-19) definitely changed my plans. We wanted to open at the beginning of the year ... but we decided to take more time to put in some advanced touches that took a lot of time,” she said. “Then (COVID-19) hit and supply chains went down. From a medical standpoint, (being unable) to purchase disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer and masks, that delayed me.

“Finally, those supply chains started coming back around and I was able to purchase things and open.”

Dawn and her husband, Greg, purchased the building in October 2019 with plans to renovate.

“My husband owns a business. We’ve always been entrepreneurial and looking for that next level, that next step in our life,” she said. “So why not?”

Gebhart works full-time at the Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital emergency room and has 16 years of experience. She started training in aesthetics two years ago.

“I’ve always been a skin care geek. As you get older, sometimes you find that lotions aren’t enough,” she said. “I never have the goal to change people’s appearance, it’s always enhancing. Some people, as I went through training, overfilled. I think it’s the job of an aesthetic personnel to say, ‘Let’s enhance this, but not make you look not like you.’ I expect people to leave here ... looking refreshed.”

The Refinery offers injections, Botox fillers, chemical peels, micro-needling, dermabrasion and medical-grade skin care.

“The services are aimed as treating a myriad of skin disorders, (and) aging. With aging, you have a loss of skin elasticity and collagen production. Some services I offer enhance those regenerative properties of your skin to help improve texture, fine lines and wrinkles,” she said. “There is something for everyone here. It isn’t just to augment your appearance. I think everyone likes a good skin care regime. Everyone has a skin care concern and I think I can address all of those.”

It’s the only aesthetic service business that offers medical-grade skin care within a spa atmosphere in the area, Gebhart said. Her most popular services so far are the micro-needling and dermabrasion.

“We were brainstorming names with my children and we like the sound of (the Refinery),” she said. “It sounds industrial chic and it’s technically what I’m doing — refining the skin, refining patients’ exterior appearance.”

She hopes to expand with time and add an esthetician for facials and non-medical grade skin care.

Gebhart and the medical director, David Clark, want to plan a grand opening, but it will depend on how the next few months go.

The Refinery is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and by available appointment on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. People can book appointments through the website,, or by calling (231) 907-1588.

The Refinery Aesthetics is located at 218 S. James St.