By Mark A. Diaz
Mother and daughter team, Michelle Johnson and Monet Bender, recently took over operations of the “clean” spa, Beauty Poet Wellness Lounge and Boutique located at located at 1920 Broad St., San Luis Obispo. The two embrace the modest sized shop and strive to nurture its quaint qualities rather than compete with spas with more extensive operations.
“We’re a three treatment room boutique store,” said Bender. “We’re special in that way. We’re not grinding people out left and right like a conventional spa might. It’s very much like a homey feel here. We’re going to stick to the few things that we do. Our goal is to help people feel the best that they can possibly feel.”
The adage “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is fitting for the two new owners who seem genuinely relaxed and give off more of an impression of returning from a vacation than embarking on growing a business.
Another of the spa’s niche markets is clean products, the majority of which are organic and none of them contain any of the Dirty Thirty, a list of chemicals used in everyday beatification products and deodorants, such as lead, Aluminum compounds, or Benzyl Acetate, a product linked to pancreatic cancer. Even the spa’s candles are made of the simplest ingredients.
“In conventional products, there are some ingredients that are not as good for your skin or for your body,” said Bender. “Also the companies that make [our products] are eco-conscious.”
“Some of the lines are completely plant-derived,” said Johnson. “We carry those brands that are clean and natural, but aren’t at Whole Foods or into the mass market yet.”
Johnson said that the concept of clean products is trending with large-scale stores and that it’s important to examine products sold in the mass market. She encourages people to “dig a little deeper” in their research to ensure the claims of a clean product are valid and not just take them at face value. Johnson said that it is not only the ingredients that the costumer should be aware of but also how they may chemically interact with each other and the body.
Each new client receives a free consolation that is worked into an appointment to get to know the person and learn about allergies and lifestyle.
“A lot of the times, the answers reflect what’s going on with their skin,” said Bender. “Because we really believe in more of a holistic approach, I believe that just putting topical things on isn’t going to be anyone’s cure-all. One facial is not going to cure somebody’s acne; there’s a lot more underlining that the skin is telling us. I feel like the time between the client and me or our therapists and the client is really what sets us apart. We build time into our appointments to have this ten-minute conversation or however long it takes.”
Each appointment begins with the selection that is geared to bring insight into the client’s current mental state. They are asked to select a picture that they relate most to and depending on the chosen image a description is given to reflect how they are feeling.
This reporter’s picture was a grouping of yellow flowers, which demonstrated that I felt “worried, serious, preoccupied or rushed.” So that was spot on. Working in a 24-hour news cycle, go figure.
After choosing the picture and what it means, the client is given an elixir of the correlating essential oil mixed with water or honey-mead wine to combat the negative feelings they are experiencing. (I got Joy Juice. The name alone makes a person laugh.)
The two most popular treatments the spa offers are the 70-minute Poem Facial that is designed to address the client’s specific skincare needs and the 2-hour seasonal treatment which includes a full body massage and a facial mixed in with other indulgent experiences, such as Raindrop Therapy that utilizes essential oils dripped along the spine and “a gentle gua sha treatment using a serum of the essence of the flower you chose.” The seasonal treatment correlates with each season. The current Spring Ritual will change with the summer equinox on Thursday, June 21.
The two do not plan to change much of the company since it already has a successful business model. Small tweaks such as normalizing business hours which are Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and expanding their reach through advertising have already demonstrated growth in the last few months since the transition. Though no longer owning the business, founder Greta Seaver continues to do facial treatments and work closely with its new owners.
“She’s still a huge part of the business,” said Bender.
Utilizing social media, a must in today’s marketplace, the boutique offered a Mother’s Day giveaway in conjunction with several other beauty enhancing businesses in the area. Prizes included services from several other companies. To participate, people had to follow the spa’s social media page and tag two friends to enter the drawing to win. In two days, the Poet received 200 new followers.
“We chose businesses to collaborate with that were like-minded and complementary to our business,” said Johnson.
The two also plan to hold a monthly workshop on Sundays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. tentatively set to begin in July. The classes will educate attendees on easy skin and body treatments that can be done at home with little cost.
Beauty Poet will hold an open house on Saturday, June 16 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.