Page 48 - BusinessWest December 7, 2020
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ate private-label products. Both Sedlak and Brunton-Auger would like to see the skin-care line grow in the future.
While retaining its original loca- tion upstairs for offices and a product- development laboratory, the new space downstairs is completely dedicated to client services, including four rooms for massages — including always- popular couples massages — and skin care, as well as two hair stations, two stations for manicures and pedicures, and an infrared sauna for one or two people. The latter is perfect, Sedlak said, for people who might want to try a sauna experience, but are intimidat- ed by a larger, group sauna at a gym.
Equally important is a comfortable, subtly lit ‘tranquility area’ where cli- ents can sit between appointments for multiple services, or while waiting on a friend, while sipping tea or water — a more important amenity now that each piece of furniture and surface must be well-sanitized between treatments. “It’s part of the spa experience now instead of there being an awkward pause,” Sed- lak said.
“We have to take extra time to super-sanitize,” Brunton-Auger added. “Back-to-back isn’t what it used to be.”
As for other COVID-related changes, staff wear masks, aprons, goggles,
and — except in the case of massage — gloves, all of which are changed out
between appointments.
The pandemic led to other pivots
as well, including a switch to making hand sanitizer in the lab back in the spring. It was hard to find materials and containers at times, Sedlak said, but a small salon like SkinCatering was able to make the production switch more quickly than a large company could. In the meantime, even when the shop was shut down, product orders soared, as people still wanted to treat themselves.
“We had more skin-care orders in the first two weeks of the shutdown than we ever had in the pre-COVID days,” Brunton-Auger said. “It saved the business in some ways.”
The spa’s ‘tranquility area’ is meant to make
even waiting between appointments a soothing experience.
Moving On Down
She and Sedlak both expect the move downstairs to boost their busi- ness further, especially after the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror, whenever that might be. For one thing, they can stay open seven days a week; because the upstairs space was tucked amid offices, the floor essentially shut down on the weekends, and they would have to call to security to turn on the lights every Saturday; they kept it closed on Sundays.
Now, with a shop right next to the hotel entrance that draws more foot traffic, SkinCatering will be open seven days a week.
“We have been working on this
project for almost two years, so to see it finally realized and ready to open
is a great feeling of accomplishment, especially in the middle of a pandem- ic,” Sedlak said. “Tower Square has a history of being a hub of activity for Springfield, and we’re very excited to be a major part of why people are com- ing back into the city.”
And perhaps, eventually, not just the city, as the partners have explored the possibility of franchising their model.
“It’s a duplicatable system that works,” Sedlak said, especially in con- junction with hotels. “It’s an amenity for the hotel and the rest of this tower. It’s convenient, but I don’t want to be known as a convenience spa. I mean, I want it to be convenient, but when you come in, you also have an incredible luxury experience.
“And I don’t mean luxury like stuffy,” she was quick to add. “We want you
to be relaxed. It’s the idea of lush, but you feel so comfortable here, you want to stay for a long time. The theme is
an urban oasis. Modern, clean, funky, cool, but comfortable.”
While expanding a business dur- ing a pandemic may not be the most comfortable move for a small business, so far, Sedlak and Brunton-Auger are proving it’s the right one. u
Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]
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