Marria Pooya

The visionary CEO of Greenwich Medical Spa is Working to Empower Women

Article by Eileen M McNamara

Photography by Melanie Lust, Jacklyn Greenburg

Originally published in Glastonbury Lifestyle

As a young girl, Marria Pooya learned an important life lesson. 

“I realized as a teenager that as a woman, being financially independent and educated is empowering and often intertwined. Life can take away a lot from you but not your knowledge. When you’re financially independent, you're more empowered to do more of what you want to do and you're in greater control of your outcomes. It also makes you more confident.” 

That epiphany, born from her upbringing as a girl in a male-dominated culture in Afghanistan, is what still guides Marria today, personally and professionally. A former Wall Street analyst, she’s the owner and CEO of Greenwich Medical Spa, one the most successful chains of medical aesthetic spas in the nation, with six locations in Connecticut - including Glastonbury, and West Hartford. GMS also has locations in New York and is opening another in New Jersey this summer.

Marria is a passionate advocate for women and girls and has leveraged her successes to support, both financially and with her time, a myriad of organizations that represent female health, wellness, independence and education. 

Some of those include Pink Aid, The Olive Branch, The Breast Friends Fund, Dress for Success, Blossom Hill, Girls With Impact, and the Fund for Women and Girls, to name a few.  

“Since launching GMS, she and her company have actively participated in and donated more than $300,000 to various charitable organizations and events with an emphasis on empowering women, youth, and vulnerable populations,” the group Pink Aid said in a statement. “Maria, has been a committed supporter and an active member of Pink Aid since 2018 in various roles, including Board member."

Marria was born in Afghanistan and came to the U.S. with her mother and other family members when she was nine. During that time civil war broke out in Afghanistan and Marria’s father, who remained in Afghanistan operating the family business, asked his family to remain in the U.S. while he figured out how things would play out at home.

“That turned out to be five years,” Marria says. She returned to Afghanistan as a teenager but, due to increasing violence, within a few years, the entire family moved back to the U.S. 

Marria finished school here, graduating from New York University’s Stern School of Business with a dual Bachelor's degree in Finance and International Business. She lives in Westport with her husband, Babak Pooya, general counsel for a global investment bank. The couple has two children, their daughter Arianna, a student at NYU, and their son Omeed, a senior in high school. 

She started Greenwich Med Spa in 2005. She says she’d always been fascinated by the beauty industry (she previously founded Traffic Jam Cosmetics, a global line) and was looking for a way to make an impact in her community by helping women become more confident in how they look and feel.

GMS’s vision and overall mission, she says, aligns well with her own personal goals of helping and empowering women and minorities. 

From its patients to its employees and the broader communities where it operates, GMS provides women (and men) of all ages and ethnicities the tools to improve how they look and feel -  a proven confidence booster that empowers them in many different ways, Marria says. 

“For our patients, we impact them by making them feel better every day. They’re more confident and we’re helping to create that wonderful impact. Some people say looks don’t matter or are vanity, but that ignores the idea that how we perceive ourselves, including our appearances, can influence how we feel about ourselves and thus our confidence and mindset. There’s always been a connection there for many people across cultures and geography.”

GMS also seeks to empower its employees, most of whom are women and from many diverse backgrounds, with significant annual investments in them, including through continuing education, training and employment opportunities and advancement.

“My goal is that all of our employees are ultimately financially independent and successful so that they are able to do more of what they want to do, for themselves and their communities.”

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“I realized as a teenager that as a woman, being financially independent and educated is empowering. Life can take a lot from you, but not your knowledge."  Marria Pooya

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