NUNM alumna’s brand ‘The Spa Dr.’ sees growth after recent acquisition

Entrepreneur and author Dr. Trevor Cates sold the skincare company she founded to tech e-commerce group Trafilea in October 2023.

Dr. Trevor Cates The Spa Dr.

In October, National University of Natural Medicine alumna Dr. Trevor Cates, entrepreneur and author of bestselling books on integrative nutrition and skincare, sold her brand The Spa Dr. to the e-commerce group Trafilea. In less than nine months, the natural skincare brand has seen revenue estimates reach more than $2 million and launched an additional line of medicinal supplements.  

As the first female naturopathic physician licensed in California, Dr. Cates built The Spa Dr. on a growing belief that holistic wellness should be treated both inside and out.  

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, her desire to scale led to the company’s acquisition by South America-based company Trafilea, a financial backer of body-positive intimate apparel brand Shapermint. 

Dr. Cates, who earned her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from NUNM in 2000, has collected dozens of accolades over the last two decades working as a naturopathic physician. Her early reputation as “The Spa Dr.” stuck with her after treating patients at the Waldorf Astoria in Park City, Utah, where she founded the skincare brand in 2014. 

Since then, she’s published several bestselling books, including Clean Skin From Within and Natural Beauty Reset, appeared on a handful of popular TV shows, had her own PBS special called Younger Skin from Within, and hosted “The Spa Dr.” and “The Woman’s Doctor” podcasts. 

Dr. Cates said she attributes her early struggles with reoccurring allergies and respiratory tract infections as the true catalyst for her success, as it led her family to finally seek out a holistic practitioner who would actually provide them solutions.  

“The first thing I really remember is that she wasn’t in a hurry and she spent time to actually talk to me,” Dr. Cates said. “I remember being very baffled by the detailed questions…thinking, nobody’s ever asked me these questions before.” 

Over time, and after an epiphany around her early academic path to study law, she landed at NUNM. It was here that she received the practical training that would allow her to provide the same integrative care and attention she’d received as a child.  

Studying to be a naturopathic doctor was a departure from feeling as though she’d never quite “fit in” with other career tracks. The community and confidence she found through NUNM, she said, is another factor in the success she’s found today.  

Admitting that the field of natural medicine has evolved significantly since graduation, Dr. Cates is excited about the future of naturopathic medicine for both students and doctors.  

“One of the most beautiful things about natural medicine and the opportunities now,” she said, ”[is that] there are so many other things you can do. You can do research, you can write books, you can create products, you can consult for companies.” 

With the sale of The Spa Dr. to Trafilea, she said she’s been able to stay on as a consultant, spokesperson, and product developer, merging what she’s learned throughout her medical practice with an entrepreneurial spirit to expand her knowledge of natural medicine.     

“The importance of having that brand and having a spokesperson—there’s something about that that’s really cool to see,” she said. “They have exponentially, beyond my dreams, grown the company already, and it’s very exciting to see.” 

by Ashley Villarreal, Marketing Content Specialist