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Your 2021 Checklist for Success Post-Pandemic Pluses • A Personal Story of Adapting Under Pressure • •



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How spas are adapting to changing times

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spa news



A personal story of adapting under pressure, by Dr. Diane Wong

in the know


Canadian spas on the Top 100 Spas list, a century to celebrate and more


Changing times bring changing needs – and some of those changes are for the best


Behind the scenes as spas across Canada are put to the test



Global Wellness Summit 2020: Mental wellness takes centre stage


Your 2021 checklist for success, by Tanya Chernova


4 spa stars

science of the spa


spa business section

Celine Tadrissi, founder of Hammam Spa by CĂŠla

High-tech, next-generation beauty treatments



Temi Shobowale, creator of Essentials by Temi skincare


fresh & new

Innovative products, new equipment and other spa essentials


Noel Asmar, the uniform maven

44 Chantelle Line, sales and marketing manager for Seaflora




Cover photo: Ten Spa

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between us FA L L / W I N T E R 2 0 2 0 - 2 1

The Painful Truth – and a Reason for Hope


any of us can look back at 2020 and say it was one of the most challenging years of our lives. For most small business owners, it was the worst. As 2021 breaks through the gates, the arrival of vaccines is welcome news, but the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Again, we face lockdowns. As most of you can attest, Canadian spa owners are living each day one minute at a time. With the arrival of the global pandemic, well-established business models were turned upside down – some spas were forced to close permanently, and many others are facing an uncertain future. No matter what their circumstances are, almost everyone in this industry is suffering from an incredible amount of stress these days. According to Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC), levels of anxiety and depression are up to four times higher than pre-pandemic levels, and some professions, such as teachers, are seeing exponential increases in those who report experiencing high anxiety. MHRC notes that pandemic stress levels have remained constant, even when restrictions were reduced. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed displayed symptoms of “moderate to severe” psychological stress. In other words, you are not alone! Luckily, resources such as Wellness Together Canada are available to provide support and counselling. We’re also here for you. In our first-ever double issue, we continue to look at how the spa industry is adapting to the pandemic – and as Dr. Diane Wong admits, these are times when we have to face the brutal truth, but not without hope. Hope is the essence of entrepreneurship and, in most cases, a driving force behind successful people. Without hope, the future can appear bleak, or overwhelming. I hope you can find the inspiration in these pages, and among your peers, friends and family, to discover the solutions that will guide you through these difficult times. Don’t retreat into despair – reach out for help and talk to others who are dealing with the same obstacles. Look to those businesses that are adapting well, and learn from them. Rethink your strategies; even a simple plan can have great results. More than ever, this is a time to focus on success. A bump in the road or an unexpected detour can lead you to new possibilities, if you keep your eyes – and mind – wide open. Before everything else, your health and happiness come first; then, focus on hope. The good news is, there’s never been a greater awareness of the importance of mental and physical wellness. The spa industry will play a crucial role as the world recovers from the impacts of the Popi Bowman pandemic. Even if things can never be the same, maybe MANAGING EDITOR they can be better.

Check us out online @SpaIncMag

4 S p a Inc. | Fall/ Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

Award Winner ISSN 1710 -1727 Volume 17, Number 3

Publisher Susan A. Browne sbrowne@dvtail.com

Managing Popi Bowman Editor pbowman@dvtail.com Art Katrina Teimo Director kteimo@dvtail.com


Tanya Chernova Abigail Cukier Jana Manolakos Vivienne O’Keeffe Chris Ryall Diane Wong

Senior Account Edith Dhillon Executive edith@SpaInc.ca 905.707.3525

Director Stephanie Wilson of Marketing swilson@dvtail.com

Production Crystal Himes Manager chimes@dvtail.com

Published four times a year by: Dovetail Communications Inc. President: Susan A. Browne Tel: 905.886.6640 Fax: 905.886.6615 Email: general@dvtail.com SUBSCRIPTIONS AND RETURNS 30 East Beaver Creek Rd, Suite 202 Richmond Hill, Ontario L4B 1J2 PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 40026342 Legal Deposit – National Library of Canada. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, in all or in part, without the written permission of the publisher. Dovetail Communications Inc. cannot be held responsible for any losses or other damages incurred by readers in reliance on information appearing in Spa Inc. Spa Inc. and Dovetail Communications Inc. do not assume any responsibility for the contents of any advertisement and any and all representations or warranties made in such advertising. Spa Inc. will review unsolicited submissions (hard copy or digital texts, photos or illustrations) for editorial consideration but does not guarantee their publication. The submitted material may be used without consent or payment. One-year subscription: Canada $25, U.S. $39. Single copies: $6. Please add GST/HST where applicable. PRINTED IN CANADA Funded by the Government of Canada

Printed on paper with 10% post-consumer waste. This magazine is recyclable. Please recycle where facilities exist.

spa news

Top 100 Spas of 2020

Spas of America recently released its Top 100 Spas of 2020, based on which ones received the most website traffic at spasofamerica.com. Representing the top 10 percent, the list includes 19 Canadian spas, while the majority (74) are in the U.S. For the second year in a row, the top spa was Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah. If you haven’t been to Utah before, here’s your best excuse (once the borders reopen, of course!). Country experiences were the most searched category, followed by Mountain and Mineral Hot Springs. “We are seeing strong interest from consumers who are searching for relaxation, mental health, wellness and escape,” says Spas of America president Craig Oliver. “We have no doubt North American spas will rise to meet this challenge in the year ahead.” Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah

The Canadian spas that were included in the Top 100 Spas of 2020 are as follows, listed with their rank – congratulations to all! 2. Elora Mill Hotel & Spa, Elora, ON 10. Grotto Spa, Tigh-Na-Mara Spa Resort, Parksville, BC 14. The Spa at White Oaks Resort, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON 27. Miraj Hammam Toronto, Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto, ON 29. Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain, Blue Mountains, ON 40. Boathouse Spa & Baths, Oak Bay Beach Hotel, Victoria, BC 41. The Millcroft Inn & Spa, Alton, ON 43. Willow Stream Spa, Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver, BC 46. SpaTerre, The Josie Hotel, Rossland, BC 49. Spa Eastman, Eastman, QC 51. The Spa at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Jasper, AB 54. Pacific Mist Spa, Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa, Courtenay, BC 58. Drift Spa, Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, Ucluelet, BC 60. 100 Fountain Spa at Pillar & Post, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON 69. Ste. Anne’s Spa, Grafton, ON 73. The Spa at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Lake Louise, AB 79. Manitou Springs Resort & Mineral Spa, Manitou Beach, SK 88. Miraj Hammam Spa, Vancouver, BC 90. Guerlain Spa at Hotel X Toronto, Toronto, ON Elora Mill Hotel & Spa

2021 Canadian Spa & Wellness Awards postponed until fall After delaying last year’s Canadian Spa & Wellness Awards until 2021, the jurors and Spa Inc. team agreed that spring was still “too soon,” as the saying goes. We don’t want to rub salt in your battle wounds – we want to look at the industry’s accomplishments from a position of strength and celebration. Hopefully, the next several months will restore a sense of normalcy, as we get used to the “new normal.” Watch the Spa Inc. website for announcements, and while you’re there, be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter for further updates and industry news. In the meantime, we wish everyone all the best for this year, and many more!

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spa news

QUALITY ASSURANCE PROGRAM IS NOW ONLINE! Leading Spas of Canada now offers its Quality Assurance Program application online. Certification will reassure your clients that the highest standards of cleanliness and service can be expected. There is no federal government regulation for the Canadian spa industry. Many provinces require little, if any, licensing for spa practitioners, and educational/training programs can vary considerably. This Quality Assurance Program is the only national program of its kind for the Canadian spa industry. Spas earn certification through an assessment conducted by independent third-party assessors specifically trained for this industry; spas must re-qualify once their terms expire.

ISSE Virtual Event

Traditionally held in January at the Long Beach Convention Center in California, the International Salon + Spa Expo (ISSE) will be a digital-only event taking place on March 14–16. More than 80 classes are offered, and attendees will be able to shop exclusive deals from their favourite brands. A social wall and digital messaging will enable participants to connect with each other, and virtual showrooms provide brand updates and demos, product Q&As and much more. “With our theme of reconnection, we are looking forward to rekindling passion, creativity and connection among the industry through this unique event,” says Nina Daily, chief marketing officer of the Professional Beauty Association (the organizer). For more information, visit: probeauty.org.

Help save the Canadian beauty industry An online petition has attracted more than 15,000 signatures to urge the Government of Canada to provide financial relief to the struggling beauty industry. It can be found at: change.org/p/canadian-government-helpsave-the-canadian-beauty-industry

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A CENTURY TO CELEBRATE On October 15, 2020, Madame Gerda Spillmann celebrated her 100th birthday. The skincare pioneer suffered from chicken pox scars, which led her to create a skincare line that would heal, nourish and protect the skin. At the time, over 75 years ago in Zurich, it was socially unacceptable for a young woman to start a business; she was required to have special permission from the Swiss government. Despite the obstacles, Spillmann built a legendary business – she’s an inspiration for all women.

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pluses POST

- PA N D E M I C

Changing times bring changing needs. Are you ready?



f what we learn is no more than what we expect to learn, then we have learned nothing at all.” That quote from John H. Lienhard, the American engineer, broadcaster and public speaker, is in itself a learning opportunity. It tells me that if we think we’ll be going back to business as usual after the pandemic is over, then we’ll be no further ahead. So what will we have learned? How many of our “temporary” fixes need to become permanent? From an ecological and sustainability point of view, one temporary fix I’d like to see disappear completely is the disposal of tons of protective clothing, masks and wipes. New technologies in infection control already emerging and being tested include the Belgian ultraviolet light supermarket “zapper” that cleans a trolley in 10 seconds, eliminating the need for gallons of sanitizer and caseloads of wiping materials, while making things safer by removing the element of human error. The handheld spa industry/ office/home version, ASPA Surface Purifier (aspa-uvc.com), just launched in November, claims it can kill viruses and COVID-19 in six seconds. I believe we’re at the beginning of nothing less than a paradigm 10 S pa Inc. | Fall/ Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

shift in healthcare. Government-run healthcare is running out of breath. Something or someone will have to fill the void. Why not us? The spa industry can supply a whole whack of treatments and therapies that can boost people’s physical and mental well-being. Some we know how to do already, others we will have to learn. But there’s no doubt that we can do well by doing good. The issue is where to begin. For the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) Mental Wellness Initiative (of which I’m a member), mental health is top of mind. Its 2020 annual Summit in November in Florida focused on topics relating to mental health and wellness. Evidence of the pandemic’s huge toll on most people’s emotional health during the past eight months, the GWI reports, is venture capital funding for start-ups in two basic mental health areas – companies that connect people with therapists and mental wellness platforms – hitting a record $1.37 billion by the third quarter of 2020. “The investment dollars in digital mental health and wellness platforms will only increase in the coming years, as larger global companies realize they have to do much more to support the mental well-being of their employees via easy-access digital tools,” says the GWI.

in the know

The Mintel Consumer Trends 2030 Report says people are searching for more fulfilling experiences, placing “greater value on inner journeys [how they feel while interacting with your business] than on outer appearances.”

Think about that for a second. What kinds of health-related services can your business supply to improve your clients’ mental and emotional health? Remember, single-occupancy households were already at an alltime high in this country even before the advent of COVID and its loathsome social distancing. During this pandemic and even long after it ends, people will continue to yearn for face-to-face interaction and human touch. To reinforce the point, the Goldsmiths’ University of London/ BBC study – the largest ever on touch – found that 72 percent of subjects reported a positive attitude to touch and 54 percent said they got “too little” touch day-to-day. The study’s lead researcher summed it up by saying, “Touch is not a luxury. It plays a key role in life, cutting across aspects including benefits for mental health, general health and our immune system, as well as social benefits – how we form bonds and how we maintain them.” The Mintel Consumer Trends 2030 Report says people are searching for more fulfilling experiences, placing “greater value on inner journeys [how they feel while interacting with your business] than on outer appearances.” This is why your customer’s journey is so important – because cumulatively, it becomes the perception of your spa. In a Commonwealth Fund Survey comparing the mental states of 10 wealthy nations during COVID-19, 26 percent of Canadians reported that the pandemic caused “great stress, anxiety or sadness that was difficult to cope with.” In this regard, we Canucks were equal to Brits and second only to Americans. So clearly there is pretty solid evidence of a mental/physical/ emotional vacuum needing to be filled. Kudos to businesses that have already begun the task, many by offering online treatments. I have personally benefited from the online counseling of a New York–based colleague (Elizabeth Alanis of Love Into Wholeness: loveintowholeness.com), who’s both a registered professional

psychotherapist and a practitioner in the ancient healing art of shamanism. Hosting the sessions via Zoom instead of in person did nothing to diminish her vast knowledge and expert guidance – nor the many benefits I gained. Many other therapies can be effectively delivered online as well, such as online skin analysis or even menopause support (offered by my sister, Catherine O’Keeffe: wellnesswarrior.ie). The happy recipient of your online experiences could become a regular client of your spa – virtually, physically or both. Why not take the first step? According to a 2018 national survey by S&P 500-member and health services giant Cigna, loneliness levels have reached an alltime high, with nearly half of 20,000 U.S. adults reporting they sometimes or always feel alone. I’ve always thought that humans need to belong to a tribe or community, and spas can help build community around wellness. With certain groups being increasingly unable to meet up physically, replacement communities will step in. The website Trendwatching.com talks about the “15-minute city,” where most needs can be found within a short walk or bicycle ride. A startup called Reef is transforming a real estate network of more than 4,500 parking lots and garages into neighbourhood hubs and partnering with other players for microfulfillment, e-bikes, pop-up clinics and urban farming. “We’re steadily moving towards people-first, car-free urban environments that prioritize well-being,” reports the site. Even prior to last March, society’s interest in well-being was already on the rise. COVID has made us value our health like never before. One piece of proof comes from Microsoft’s new partnership with the app Headspace, which dubs itself the global leader in mindfulness

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in the know

and meditation. The alliance sprang from the need for homebased Microsoft workers struggling to cope with the isolation. Among Microsoft’s additions to the platform will be a “virtual commute” feature that allows users to virtually punch in and out of work, thus creating mental bookends for their remote workday. If a company the size of Microsoft getting involved in things like mindfulness and meditation isn’t a sign that concern for emotional health has gone mainstream, I don’t know what is. “The era of ignoring mental and emotional health is coming to an end. In 2021, increasingly mindful people will look for products and services that seamlessly boost their mental well-being,” says Trendwatching.com. Another opening for our industry, and something we’ve always been good at, is the field of esthetics. The aptly named “Zoom Boom” – the vast adoption of online virtual meetings – has users suddenly scrambling to look and feel their best for the cameras, evidenced by long lineups at medi-spas and cosmetic medicine surgery clinics across North America. The opportunities for the spa industry are almost as unlimited as the imagination. Here, in no particular order, is a summary of things I think every spa needs to consider in a post-pandemic world. 1. Home services. Having become accustomed to working and shopping from home, people will be looking for more online health-related services. As you go digital or increase your digital presence, which ones will you be able to offer? 2. Wellness. Many consumers nowadays want to be sure your business is authentically concerned for their wellness and they look for clues to confirm this in your branding and marketing. The Ogilvy Wellness Gap study in October 2020 surveyed wellness attitudes of 7,000 consumers from 14 countries and found

If a company the size of Microsoft getting involved in things like mindfulness and meditation isn’t a sign that concern for emotional health has gone mainstream, I don’t know what is. 12 S pa Inc. | Fall/Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

73 percent of them wanted a brand to have a wellness strategy as part of its core mission; 60 percent said a wellness brand should give them a sense of purpose; and 53 percent want a brand to help them feel connected. 3. Emotional support. In an increasingly isolated society, people will be requiring more experiences that address mental health. Are you holding a space of compassion for yourself, your team and your clients? Online and in person? 4. Neat freaks. The pandemic has made us cleanliness-obsessed. Many spas can barely cope with the huge tasks of cleanups, infection control and laundry. Clients will be expecting no less a level of hygiene going forward. Will you be ready? Communicate your commitment to high infection control and sanitization standards on your website. 5. Support for local businesses. The trend towards doing business locally is an opportunity for you to draw new business from within your community – say, a 10 km radius. Why not start promoting your business there? 6. Out, damn spot! People wanting to look and feel good in Zoom meetings has boosted the demand for cosmetic and plastic surgery interventions. Are you aware of how you can communicate the value of what you offer to address this need? 7. Keep in touch! If you haven’t set up a proper customer database yet, better get on it. The software is smarter and more capable than ever, and not hard to learn. This is one of the essential steps to going digital. 8. Set up e-commerce. People are shopping online like crazy and will continue to do so. Look into products you can easily sell online and ship. 9. Employee support. Chances are that during the pandemic, you’ve had to reach out to your valuable employees to help them with their struggles. Don't stop after it ends.

Vivienne O’Keeffe, CIBTAC, AAD, PEA, is President of Spa Profits Consulting Inc., and an expert in designing successful spa concepts. She is also an international consultant in developing product lines, treatment plans and training programs, a member of ISPA and a recipient of the Spa Industry Association of Canada Outstanding Industry Service Award in 2001, 2005 and 2012. More at spaprofits.com


Global Wellness Summit 2020 Mental Wellness Takes Centre Stage B Y C H R I S RYA L L


et’s face it, 2020 was an annus horribilis. The suffering caused by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is immeasurable. We all know the physical toll it has taken, but what about the toll on people’s mental health and well-being? This was the focus in the 73 keynote presentations, panels and interviews with world wellness experts at the 14th Global Wellness Summit (GWS) held November 8-11, 2020, at The Breakers Palm Beach in Florida. Lively and informative sessions were given on trends and technological advances in touchless therapies, home wellness, sleep therapy and even a session with Wim Hof, better known as the Ice Man on breathing techniques, who taught the audience how to chill, literally, through proper breathing techniques. GLOBAL WELLNESS SUMMIT GOES HYBRID The conference, which was scheduled to be held in Tel Aviv, had to quickly shift and reorganize due to the pandemic. The Breakers, which hosted the conference in 2017, agreed to host again, to the relief of GWS organizers. A comprehensive set of safety and sanitation protocols were implemented for the conference with Dr. Richard Carmona, former U.S. Surgeon General, acting as medical advisor to keep delegates safe and healthy. Travel bans, restrictions and quarantines stopped many international delegates, and even some based in the U.S., from travelling to the conference, which led the GWS to hold its first hybrid conference – in person, and virtually. “Our team was able to seamlessly create a hybrid event that was super safe, using a lot of virus-mitigating technology, with inspirational and high-level content which we are known for,” said Susie Ellis, chairman and CEO of the GWS. “It was heartening to be reminded of the unmatched value of personal connection, even with appropriate social distancing and wearing masks. It’s still the best way to catalyze collaboration and do business.” More than 100 delegates made the trek to Palm Beach, with S pa I nc .c a



over 500 attending virtually from an estimated 50 countries. The conference is invitation only, with leaders and visionaries from the world of spa, wellness, tourism, fitness and technology attending each year. MENTAL WELLNESS EVOLVES AS A DISTINCT INDUSTRY The conference theme, “Resetting the World with Wellness,” seems like an understatement considering what a tumultuous and emotionally draining year it was for everyone on the planet. There’s been a paradigm shift for many people on how they approach relationships, career, family and life goals during this pandemic. Timing is everything, and at the conference, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) released its “Defining the Mental Wellness Economy” study – a detailed, 115-page report about the US$121-billion mental wellness economy. This figure is based on consumer spending in four major sectors: senses, spaces and sleep (US$49.5B), brainboosting nutraceuticals and botanicals (US$34.8B), selfimprovement (US$33.6B), and meditation/mindfulness (US$2.9B). Katherine Johnston, GWI senior research fellow, explains: “There is an urgency to this research. Study after study shows how the human suffering and economic dislocations caused by the pandemic have ravaged our mental well-being. We hope it clarifies how important it is to promote mental wellness and how businesses, governments and individuals can all play different roles in addressing a growing crisis.” GWI defines mental wellness as “an internal resource that helps us think, feel, connect and function. It is an active process 14 S pa Inc. | Fall/ Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

that helps us to build resilience, grow and flourish.” A co-author of the study and GWI senior research fellow, Ophelia Yeung says, “Clarifying what it is, and delineating its business segments, is overdue. And while most mental wellness strategies are free – like spending time in nature or with friends – people increasingly seek non-clinical help in coping with everyday mental challenges, and that’s where the mental wellness industry comes in.” SLEEP THERAPIES KEY TO WELLNESS Sleep, or rather the lack of it, has only been exacerbated with the COVID pandemic. Many people are going to bed stressed and filled with anxiety, although insomnia and poor sleep patterns have been with us for centuries. Sleep represents one of the subsegments of the “senses, spaces and sleep” sector in the GWI Mental Wellness study. The hotel industry has paid particular attention to a guest’s sleep experience. Back in 1999, Westin launched its very successful The Heavenly Bed, and immediately saw improved guest satisfaction. Many hoteliers followed suit with a string of guest room enhancements, including high-end bedding, mood lighting, white noise machines, pillow menus and blackout curtains. For its North and South American properties, Fairmont Hotels introduced its Three Sages app, which can be used at the hotel or home. The app guides guests through a series of breathing, sleep, mindfulness, stretching and yoga exercises with California vistas as backdrops. During one conference panel session, “Sleep: The Science, the Technology, the Results,” Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a sleep researcher and fellow at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, says, “During the pandemic, people are more


stressed and sleeping less... this is actually the time to really prioritize sleep, because it’s one of the most important things needed for a healthy immune system.” Robbins and other members on the panel agreed that so much focus has been on diet and exercise, but not enough research and tools people can use for quality sleep, which has a significant impact on a person’s mental and physical health.

growing not only for its wellness effects, but because they are more socially distanced activities. 5) Home wellness: This is the new wellness refuge. Air quality is important, with new air purifiers, awareness of opening windows when possible, eating outside, etc. Companies are providing a range of products to help us optimize our home wellness space. 6)  Beauty, from antimicrobial products to at-home routines: Jessica Smith, a wellness, beauty and trends consultant, believes products that reduce fears around hygiene will increase, with innovative new antimicrobial and antibacterial beauty formulations and touch-free application processes and packaging. Ballentine of W magazine thinks self-care and at-home beauty trends will explode in 2021, with people seeking beauty technologies and treatments they can do at home.

WELLNESS TRENDS FOR 2021 Beth McGroarty, VP of research at the GWS, moderated a panel during one of the conference sessions with top journalists and wellness experts to predict wellness trends for 2021, especially with the pandemic still raging on in most parts of the world. Here’s a snapshot of the six trends and discussions: 1) A new convergence between healthcare and wellness: There will be more synergy between wellness and healthcare, and as panel member Sandra Ballentine, editor at W magazine, points out, “We will see a combination of functional and AWARDING INNOVATION & LEADERSHIP conventional medicine across community and economic lines, During the conference, the GWS handed out these awards: with telemedicine and telewellness playing a much bigger role.” The Global Wellness Award, Leading Woman in Wellness: 2) Strengthening the immune system: This trend will cover Awarded to Veronica Schreibeis Smith, a pioneer in the wellness all the bases, from food to supplements to educational classes architecture movement and founder of Vera Iconica Architecture to spa therapies. There will be more focus on immunityenhancing treatments and energy healing therapies, gut and The Debra Simon Award for Leader in Furthering Mental brain health. Wellness: Awarded to Lynne and Victor Brick, The John W. Brick 3) A great “un-tabooing:” Wellness Mental Health Foundation gets real about sex, money and “During the pandemic, people are death. Cecilia Girr, senior The Inaugural Global more stressed and sleeping less... strategist at Backslash, suggests Wellness Summit Prize for wellness will tackle more “cultural Innovation: Awarded to Amai this is actually the time to really pain-points” like sex, money and Proteins (Israel based), which prioritize sleep, because it’s one of the death that have a “larger impact developed a healthy, on our health than the day-to-day sustainable alternative to most important things needed for a vanities of wellness.” She predicts sugar healthy immune system.” the rise of new, healthier end-oflife practices such as death doulas, Shark Tank of Wellness – Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a sleep researcher and fellow, Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and new financial therapy/ Global Student Competition: wellness approaches. Awarded to Krysta Silva from 4)  Nature, nature, nature: The Atlanta, Georgia, and student panel all agreed that because of COVID, there has been a new at Savannah College of Art & Design; she designed an allergyappreciation and value of nature and wilderness as healing. sensing fork Elaine Glusac, New York Times travel columnist, says “people connection” is being replaced with “nature connection,” and A KNOWLEDGE SUMMIT human-powered travel (hiking, walking, paddling trips) is Delegates were exposed to a wide range of topics and thoughtS pa I nc .c a


feature provoking discussions, from new technology applications to wellness and spa facilities, touchless therapies, mental health strategies, wellness real estate, surviving the pandemic, dealing with death, sleep therapy, breathing techniques and trends in wellness. “I thought our 2020 Summit turned out to be a triumph,” says Susie Ellis, GWS chairman and CEO. “A huge takeaway for me that will impact our plans going forward was the importance and massive opportunities for wellness technology of all kinds.” Delegate Amy McDonald, owner/CEO of Under a Tree Health and Wellness Consulting and a veteran attendee of 10 Global Wellness Summits, was impressed: “I thought the topics and quality of speakers were good, especially considering how little time they had to pull it together.” McDonald found sessions on investing as well as speaker John Kao’s presentation, “Wellness Is Ripe for Disruption,” especially illuminating. “It reminds me to be bold and continue with the work I do as a consultant that disrupts and pushes the envelope, and encouraged me to challenge myself and my clients.”

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Plans are already underway to organize the next GWS, to be held this year on November 15–18 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Those interested in accessing the full complement of the 73 keynote presentations, panels and interviews with leading experts from around the world, as well as receiving the 115-page GWI report, “Defining the Mental Wellness Economy” can contact the Global Wellness Institute; there is a charge of US$500 for the Summit On Demand package.

Chris Ryall has visited hundreds of spas in more than 85 countries on six continents, while running a successful tourism and marketing company for more than 20 years. He has written about spas and wellness for numerous national print and online publications in Canada, as well as consulted with spa owners and managers on spa operational and marketing issues. Chris was previously on the judging panel for SpaFinder’s annual Wellness Travel Awards, currently sits on the judging panel for the Asia Spa Awards and, since its inception, has been a valued member of Spa Inc.’s jury for the Canadian Spa and Wellness Awards.

science of the spa

High-tech, next-generation beauty treatments B Y JA NA M A N O L A KO S

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science of the spa


t may read like a science fiction novel, but it’s real: Around the world, spas are taking quantum leaps in delivering the best health and wellness treatments that science can offer, leveraging genetic and stem cell manipulation, advanced equipment and the power of light and nature, harnessed through research. This process of scientific discovery is pushing the boundaries of Canada’s beauty industry. According to Simmons, a national research firm in the U.S., 1.68 million Americans spent $500 or more on skincare products in only three months. It’s no wonder that pharmaceutical and cosmetic manufacturers want to get in on the action by building their bench strength with investments into research and development in the quest to find the next best anti-aging products.

Eight game-changing discoveries paving the way for the future of skincare

Our understanding of skin biology, genetics, mitochondria and microbiomes, boosted by bioengineering, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, has given rise to an entirely new approach to beauty and skincare treatments.

Could genetic on-off switches be the holy grail of smoother, younger skin?

What if we could reverse wrinkles? In 2018, the answer became apparent to researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who found a genetic mutation that led to mitochondrial dysfunction where cells are impaired in mice; those with the mutated gene developed wrinkled skin and visible hair loss in a matter of weeks. When proper cell function was restored by switching off the mutated gene, smooth skin and thick fur returned. More studies, including human trials, are needed to show the same results, so until that time, the holy grail of smoother, younger skin remains elusive.

Nobel laureate discovers a better way to deliver active ingredients

After decades of research in molecular engineering, Nobel laureate Sir Fraser Stoddart found a new way to improve the potency of active ingredients in beauty creams. It led to the launch of his Noble Panacea line of skincare products unveiled last November. These products rely on Organic Molecular Vessels 18 S pa Inc. | Fall/ Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

(OMVs), a powerful time release technology that allows active ingredients to remain potent and penetrate into the skin better than regular creams. Active ingredients like vitamin C and retinol can degrade with exposure to light, oxygen and water, but the OMV protects the ingredient, keeping it stable longer and improving its effectiveness.

The secrets of starfish extract

The starfish is an amazing creature that has a unique capacity to regenerate itself. Rather than blood, these critters circulate coelomic fluid through canals in their bodies; scientists believe this fluid holds the key to cell regeneration. Clinical studies have shown it promotes collagen production with longlasting anti-wrinkle benefits, along with a strong improvement in skin firmness, elasticity and moisture retention. The studies compared this extract with retinol and it performed equally well, if not better, without having any of the negative side effects. The creatures are milked for the liquid and are then returned unharmed to their natural habitat, and the liquid is then incorporated into products like those offered by Trillium Skincare.

Organ transplant drug may hold the answer to younger skin

Dermatologists know that stress, DNA damage and metabolic dysfunction lead to photo-damage and dermal atrophy in the skin, basically turning skin into tissue paper and impairing its function as an important protective barrier against environmental toxins. Last year, scientists in the U.S. were able to show that topical rapamycin, an FDA-approved drug typically used in organ transplants, can reduce aging in human skin. And, while the results show great potential, it still may be years before Health Canada approves its use outside of organ transplants.

Boosting vitamin C absorption

French scientists recently released the results of a study which found that infusing vitamin C with squalenic acid, a natural oily substance found in sebum, enabled the vitamin to penetrate deep into the skin and better deliver its powerful antioxidant benefits. At the same time, the infused serum thickened the epidermis and boosted collagen production, resulting in healthier, more youthful skin. The cream was applied topically to patients and was shown to be significantly more effective in reversing signs of damage,

science of the spa

promoting the formation of collagen and removing free radicals to promote healing.

Research supports plant stem cell extracts

There’s a lot to be said for grape, lilac and Swiss apple extracts, which studies have shown to be rich sources of phyto stem cells. Scientists have found that cell regeneration in aging skin can be stimulated with these extracts. Probably the most widely and longest studied botanical is the grape seed, which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent skin aging, fight oxygen free radicals and protect against UV damage. Other studies are probing the effect that verbascoside, a molecular compound in lilac, has on wound healing, as well as its anti-inflammatory effects; it may be more effective than hydrocortisone and triamcinolone in inhibiting inflammation. Studies into Swiss apple extract have shown that a tiny concentration can trigger human stem cell growth in skin.

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers may become the next great spa menu item

In late 2020, researchers in Israel discovered that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can reverse the tell-tale biological signs of aging. As you age, the tips on either end of your DNA (telomeres) start to shorten and aging cells, known as scenescent cells, begin to outnumber younger ones. Using a specific protocol of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), telomere length was significantly increased and senescent cells were reduced in a population of healthy aging subjects. According to Health Canada, hyperbaric

oxygen therapy is a well-established medical treatment where patients spend time in a pressure chamber with pure oxygen, but until now it has not been approved as an anti-aging therapy. No doubt, research on aging will continue to make its way into the beauty industry, so it may be a matter of time before hyperbaric oxygen therapy appears on your local spa menu.

New course offers insights on the science of happiness and human touch

In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come with touch. This research points to touch as fundamental to human communication, bonding and health. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center conducted experiments that prove emotions like compassion, gratitude, anger, love and fear can be communicated in the way we touch others. This research inspired Dermalogica’s new online Meaningful Connections Certification course developed in partnership with the Center. Launched in November, the course equips industry professionals with interpersonal strategies to strengthen their emotional intelligence and improve client communications, covering activated listening, body language, practicing positivity, breathing exercises, vagus nerve activation and gratitude. Tabby Zamani, head of global education at Dermalogica, explains, “As the leader in skincare education, one of our core values is human touch. It felt natural for us to fill an educational gap in the industry by creating a course that will empower service

As you age, the tips on either end of your DNA (telomeres) start to shorten and aging cells, known as scenescent cells, begin to outnumber younger ones. Using a specific protocol of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), telomere length was significantly increased and senescent cells were reduced in a population of healthy aging subjects.

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science of the spa

professionals to navigate emotional, challenging conversations during these unprecedented times. The world has shifted: Mental health has taken on more significance than ever before, and the power of human touch is more precious than ever.”

State-of-the-art technology for forward-thinking spas

Science has opened up an entire new world of technologies for spas and medi-spas looking to deliver unprecedented results for their clients.

Cutting-edge lasers

Since the first medical lasers were introduced into surgical and gynecological procedures in the 1960s, they have been embraced by the esthetics industry, in dermatology clinics and medi-spas for skin rejuvenation, hair removal, acne, vascular treatments, body sculpting and more. They’ve also advanced at hyper speed. Ildi Arlette, CEO of Results Continuum, a spa industry expert and consultant, says that while she continues to see demand for facial treatments, she also sees a great demand for body contouring and treatments. The ones that catch her eye are those like Venus Bliss, which uses diode laser applicators to target fat, and an (MP)2 applicator that combines Multi-Polar Radio Frequency and Pulsed Electro Magnetic Fields with advanced VariPulse technology to tighten skin, reduce circumference and reduce cellulite for a smoother, more contoured appearance. Arlette explains, “It’s a new fat-reduction treatment that benefits the provider as it has no consumables, which helps keep more revenue in your pockets and benefits the client as it’s affordable and has high customer satisfaction rates in terms of outcomes.” According to Helen Walsh, owner of Gentle Touch Spa & Laser located in both Halifax and Dartmouth, many of their clients seek nonsurgical solutions for minor cosmetic issues. With client demand so high, she decided to invest in two Ultra Accent Prime systems from Alma Lasers: RF skin tightening technology and ultrasound fat loss technology, which can be combined or delivered individually. Walsh points out, “Demand for these 20 S pa Inc. | Fall/ Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

services is huge in all age categories, and both are proven technologies for the services they deliver.” She says that the Ultra Accent skin tightening technology delivers with a relatively painless procedure that takes about 45 minutes and can be repeated every two weeks until results are achieved. Walsh notes, “The skin tightening is not a face lift and the ultrasound are not lipo results, but they both work and can make real change in clients committed to the process. We are 18 months into providing this service and clients continue to return and want more.” The burgeoning global esthetic laser market is driving other technology companies to jump on board. Biotechnologists and engineers at Fotona recently rolled out their latest through Clarion, the SP Dynamis laser system. Coming soon to Canada through DermaSpark, the Alpha System: 808nm Diode Laser + 3D IPL is developed by researchers at FormaTK.

Showing skin in a good light

Understanding the effects of light on skin health has been a driving force for hordes of researchers in the past few decades. And in the course of discovery, they’ve unearthed both good and bad news for skin. Published research has shown that up to 50 percent of free radicals produced in the skin are due to exposure to HEV (blue light) wavelengths. Those are the same light waves emitted by consumer electronics like your mobile phone, and they contribute to premature skin aging by impeding normal cellular functions. Prolonged exposure to HEV light stimulates melanogenesis and contributes to hyperpigmentation. Unfortunately, sunscreens containing only titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are limited in their ability to protect against this type of light. Here’s the good news. In late 2020, Dr. Eric Bernstein, the lead researcher for Colorscience, released his team’s findings in a study that looked at the effectiveness of iron oxides in blocking HEV when included in specific skincare product formulas. The results showed that Colorscience products All Calm Clinical Redness Corrector SPF 50, Even Up Clinical Pigment Perfector SPF50 and Total Eye 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy SPF 35, which are formulated with iron oxides, provide enhanced protection against

science of the spa

blue light, especially when combined with zinc oxide. “My entire career has been focused on the use of lasers in medicine and the study of sunlight. Sunlight causes a range of problems for our skin, including fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, redness, pigmentation, skin sagging and skin cancer,” says Dr. Bernstein. “Visible blue light is the most energetic, and therefore the most damaging light, to reach our skin and penetrates more deeply than ultraviolet rays. I have been interested, for many years, in ways to protect skin against all wavelengths of light. This research is important because it shows that skincare products formulated with iron oxides, combined with mineral sunscreen actives and other ingredients, effectively shield skin against harmful, high-energy, visible wavelengths.” On the other end of the light spectrum, researchers like UK dermatologist Glenn Calderhead, who has written more than 138 scientific papers on the subject, showed that light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that deliver low-level yellow light in combination with near infra-red light can improve the overall look of skin, help minimize the appearance of wrinkles and reduce the appearance of dark spots, sun damage and stretch marks. Devices like these come in a variety of shapes and sizes from standing lamps to face masks. Recently introduced to the market are BioPhotas’ Celluma Delux and Lutronic’s Healite II.

UK dermatologist Glenn Calderhead showed that light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that deliver low-level yellow light in combination with near infra-red light can improve the overall look of skin, help minimize the appearance of wrinkles and reduce the appearance of dark spots, sun damage and stretch marks. Observe 520 Skin Analyzer

The latest innovation by Observ, available through DermaSpark, is its 520 series, a state-of-the-art skin analyzer that can penetrate deep into the layers of the skin to help diagnose conditions that are not visible to the naked eye. The Observ 520 uses a patented skin fluorescence and polarized light illumination technology that instantly reveals skin conditions and lets clinicians share

their findings with their clients in the development of targeted treatment programs. It produces six images taken under different lighting conditions, to enable the right diagnosis for a full spectrum of skin conditions.

The latest in micro-needling with the eDermaStamp

Founded in 1999, Dermaroller Germany is the original inventor of micro-needling, a collagen induction therapy in the esthetics industry. This process involves rolling or gliding a needling device across the skin to create thousands of tiny punctures, triggering the body to produce collagen as the skin heals. That technology has been taken to the next level with the eDermaStamp. At 150 strokes per second, it’s the fastest on the market and safely glides over the skin without scratching or tearing it. As a minimally invasive treatment, micro-needling is clinically proven as an effective treatment for the common signs and symptoms of aging such as wrinkles, loss of skin volume and crepe-textured skin.

Tuning in on radio frequency (RF) energy

One of the latest studies to support the effectiveness of radiofrequency energy devices in esthetics found that the body naturally releases proteins when skin is exposed to a temperature over 46°C for more than three minutes; these proteins help the body produce collagen. Devices like the Repêchage LED Radio Frequency and the Lumenis Legend Pro+ heat the deep layer of the skin to these levels, improving the skin’s appearance of firmness, boosting hydration and reducing fine lines, wrinkles and the appearance of dark spots.

A new formula for better results

The research team at ReadyMedical has created the first professional line of ready-to-mix sterile products, which are specifically formulated to enhance the results of all medicalesthetic procedures and promote effective skin healing. ReadyMedical offers four targeted solutions combined with hyaluronic acid that are designed to perfect esthetic treatments and boost results; these include anti-aging, skin healing, antioxidant and Vitamin C solutions. S pa I nc .c a








RF Skin Resurfacing

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was recently interviewed for The Edge, A Leader’s Magazine. They asked many in-depth questions about being an entrepreneur, being a leader and how COVID has affected “one of the most prestigious medi-spas in Canada.” My answers can be found in the interview (theedgeleaders.com/dr-dianewong-a-force-to-be-reckoned-with), but I want to confess the full truth here. I have been shaken to the core. I want to stand up for our awardwinning reputation and write an inspirational piece to say that we have grown even stronger from the experience. I want to say that if you stay positive and lead your team, and ride the wave like an entrepreneur would, you will come out of this nightmare unscathed. Yet I can’t do it now and I wasn’t able to do it when I

was originally approached to write a few words for Spa Inc. when the pandemic first hit in the spring of this year. I thought that I was expected to say something positive and show how innovative we would be moving forward. I couldn’t do it. I was at a loss for words. I was in shock. I had to catch my breath and digest the vastness of what had happened to the world. As a physician, I absorbed the information every day and dreaded what was still yet to come. Sometimes having more knowledge makes it even worse. I had lived through the era of SARS as a family doctor, where my community in Markham had been one of the affected regions. That was nothing in comparison to the ravaging effects of COVID-19. I grieved for all the lives lost and felt so grateful for all the front-line workers. I felt guilty for being a physician and not S pa I nc .c a


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helping in the immense battle except to donate my PPE to the local nursing homes who were in such desperate need. I was consumed with worry and fear and went through a very difficult time, with very little sleep and no appetite and a feeling of impending doom. Depression? Anxiety? Or just a normal reaction for such a very abnormal time? I knew our lives would never be the same. We had taken for granted all that we had and it was gone in a flash. I knew my life, my business, the industry would be changed forever. I did not know and still do not know if we will recover enough to resume where we left off. I knew I had already given it my all, and I did not know how much more I could muster once we surfaced from the depths of the aftermath. When would it be? A year, two years? More? I tried to be optimistic but realistically, I did not foresee that a vaccine would be on the horizon in less than three years; however, I am happy to say that I was wrong. Today is a pivotal day. As I write this article, Canada has just approved the Pfizer vaccine and the first doses are just around the corner. Why is this so important? It gives us hope. We cannot go on without hope. As entrepreneurs, we often go down a dark unknown path, but we do it knowing there is hope for what lies ahead. Without hope, it is a daunting task, indeed. I took the time during the first lockdown to assess the situation, my career and my business. After 20 long years, I thought I had seen just about everything. I mean, I was around for the introduction of IPL (Intense Pulse Light) and laser hair removal and Botox and dermal fillers. No one even knew back then what the word “Botox” was, and when I spoke about it, no one could understand why a person would want to have a toxin injected into their face. We have come a long way. It has been an exciting career to be among some of the first physicians to introduce the marvels of non-surgical cosmetic medicine to so many people. I was an educator in injectables and lasers. I had a strong voice in the media and cautioned the public to remember “buyer beware.” The spa industry also embraced the world of medical esthetics and the term “medi” in “medi-spa” gradually lost its meaning. I joined the Leading Spas of Canada about a decade ago and was determined to work with the leaders in the spa industry to ensure public safety. It has been a gratifying relationship, and I have enjoyed the collaboration and making a difference together. I am now saddened to see the spa industry undergoing such a decline. It is heartening, however, to see everyone rally and devise new protocols and procedures as we move forward. I do know firsthand that there is still a high demand for our esthetic services, whether they be medical treatments or spa treatments. People still want to be pampered, and to feel special. They still want to look good and feel good, get their beauty boosts and upkeep their preventative routines. Our industries have not died. Rather, they have a need to be revamped. New protocols will be created to enhance client safety and will become the new standard of care. 24 S p a Inc. | Fall/ Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

We are in a time of change, and it is a good time to make things even better for the future. When I decided to reopen, I waited for the green light from the government and health officials. I exercised extreme caution and opened very gradually. I went through all the logistics of installing barrier plexiglass, carrying out sanitation measures with antiseptics, disinfectants, hand washing, masks, shields, gloves, etc. I invested in special HEPA filters for each room. I did all the screening questions, took everyone’s temperature and limited the number of clients to the extreme minimum. I was fortunate to have ample space to allow social distancing easily. Clients who returned expressed they were comfortable in our clinic and entrusted us to take all precautions. The love for my work and the joy of seeing my clients again gave me back some semblance of normalcy. The best therapy for me proved to be coming back to work and injecting once again. Behind the scenes, however, the stresses continue. HR is often one of the most challenging aspects of the business, and these times are no exception. Uncertainty about government subsidies, dealing with the administrative issues, employee issues, landlords, ongoing bills, etc. has never been more challenging. The focus is no longer on the client but on the forms, the changing day-to-day plans, the restaffing, the retraining, the closing, the rescheduling – yes, again, for the second lockdown! The cycle starts yet again. How resilient are you? How much is too much? Maybe the answer depends on what stage you are at in your career or in your business? Are you just beginning, still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? Or have you seen enough and done enough to know that your vast experience can have a different value now. What do you enjoy? Are you happy? What have you sacrificed and at what price? Do some soul-searching. I heard the craziest thing the other day. A skincare rep said to me that some clinics are doing so well in their new online shopping platform that they never want the pandemic to end. I don’t know about you, but that’s not me and I can’t wait for this pandemic to end. I wish for you all to stay safe and stay healthy. With the arrival of vaccines, we can have hope that 2021 will be a better year for all of us.

Dr. Diane Wong, MD, is the owner and founder of Glow Medi Spa, with two convenient and luxurious locations in the Greater Toronto Area: Yorkville (downtown Toronto) and Aurora, Ontario. Glow Medi Spa was voted as the Top Medi Spa in Canada for the past three consecutive years and Top 25 Spa in Canada for the past four consecutive years. Glow Medi Spa also received the Business of the Year Award in 2018. www.glowmedispa.ca


Professional Skin Analysis –

Turning One-Time Clients into Lifetime Clients W

hen you take a moment to think about For skincare professionals, the ability to ‘Skin Analysis’, what pops into your enhance the visibility of both epidermal and dermind? For many, the first association would be mal abnormalities is crucial in several ways. First, using a magnifying lamp to zoom into the client’s it enables us to expose (and treat) hidden anomaskin in order to determine the skin type and overlies that lurk under the skin’s surface, before they all skin condition before the treatment starts. become visible. Second, it allows us to monitor the Indeed, one of the most intuitive ways to describe response of the skin to the treatment, provide Skin Analysis is as a pre-treatment consultation unbiased proof of improvement, or identify possiprocess, designed to evaluate one’s skin health ble adverse reactions before they intensify. Third, and choose the most suitable course of treatment observing the dermal structures in blemished and skincare products for the specific needs of areas of the skin means that we can analyze those the client. blemishes much more precisely, and consequently, Truth be told, skin analysis is an extremely provide more effective treatments. For example, a important part of your clients’ skincare experistudy conducted by Claire Regazzetti et al. (2015) ence which could have a dramatic impact on suggested a link between micro-vascularity and their end results and, consequently, their satispigmentation, such that many cases of Melasma faction with the service you provided them. and PIH feature an underlying vascular compoSimply put, your clinic may have the most UV fluorescence (left) vs. Daylight reflection (Right). nent that stimulates melanogenesis and promotes advanced technologies and the most effective hyper-pigmentation [1]. In those cases, the most effective course of skincare products, but if the skin analysis process is inadequate, action would be treating the Melasma/PIH both as a pigmented you’ll have a hard time tailoring them to the specific needs of each lesion and a vascular lesion, thus reducing the chance of re-occurclient and the overall treatment efficacy will be limited. This is ring pigmentation. To this end, we need a technology that can why veteran skincare professionals pride themselves on their skin reveal pigmentation and micro-vascular structures under the analysis skills, which were obtained through years of experience of skin’s surface. treating different skin types and a wide variety of skin conditions. In addition to its undeniable clinical value, light-assisted skin Now here comes the catch, and this is something that you probanalysis (LASA) can become one of the most effective tools for ably already know – our skin is much more complex than what can revenue growth in the modern medical-aesthetic clinic. Today, be seen with the naked eye. When we look at the surface of the skin advanced skin analysis technologies, such as the OBSERV® 520x we can only get a partial picture of the by Sylton (based in the Netherlands), are skin’s true condition, no matter how powtransforming the way clients experience erful our magnifying lamp is. To really their visits to the clinic. The visit begins know why the skin appears the way it does with a comprehensive skin analysis that and have a profound understanding of the exposes the skin inside-out, providing cliunderlying root causes of visible skin ents with un-obstructed views of their own imperfections, we must be able to see deepskin from 5 different angles. The practier, beyond the skin’s surface. But how can tioner can then candidly guide the clients we “remove” the upper layer of the skin to through their skin, highlight areas of conmake the deeper layers more visible? The cern, suggest the most suitable treatment answer lies within the concept of Skin course and homecare products, discuss Fluorescence! realistic treatment expectations, and share In Skin Fluorescence, the skin is homogconsistent before & after pictures to show enously illuminated with different light improvement. sources in a controlled setting. The basic This inclusive process boosts clients’ principal behind skin fluorescence is that confidence and engagement with the treatdifferent structures and fluids of the skin feature different fluoresment protocol, helps to create skin awareness, and, if done right, cence reflections when exposed to these light sources. This allows can lead to increased sales of treatments and retail products. So at performing all kinds of light manipulations in order to enhance the the end of the day, an investment in a professional skin analysis visibility of vascular disorders, hidden pigmentation, collagen degtechnology practically means that you are investing in your own radation, lipid distribution, viral infections, and many other abnorclinic’s reputation and clients’ satisfaction, as you widen your diagmalities which would have remained unseen otherwise. nostic capabilities and turn one-time clients into lifetime clients. [1] Regazzetti, Claire, et al. "Endothelial cells promote pigmentation through endothelin receptor B activation." Journal of Investigative Dermatology 135.12 (2015): 3096-3104.

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spa business


Surviving the Pandemic?


Spa William Gray

28 S p a Inc. | Fall/ Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

Mokara Spa

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Zenbar Healing Studio


opefully this pandemic will be over soon and we can reopen,” was a common refrain many Canadian spa owners echoed back in March 2020. After the first lockdown, it was thought that life and business would gradually return to normal. Fast forward nine months later to another surge in COVID-19 cases, positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths; the lockdowns continued through the winter holidays, and into the New Year. As a result, more restrictions have been imposed in various regions across Canada. The spike in cases is being blamed on people suffering COVID fatigue, community spread, large private gatherings, lifting of restrictions and people spending more time indoors, all making it easier for the virus to spread. Pre-pandemic spa business and marketing plans have been tossed in the trash and are being revised weekly as government and public health departments apply and change restrictions. Spa business COVID tool kits require market savvy, creativity, knowing how and when to pivot, an understanding landlord, and hopefully a rainy day fund. Throughout 2020, I contacted spas across Canada and visited spas in Ontario and Quebec. They implemented some impressive COVID safety and sanitation protocols, while still providing a welcoming spa environment. (Featured in Summer 2020 Spa Inc.) For this issue, spa owners and therapists shared how they were coping after months of dealing with COVID-19: How has the business changed? Has their customer base changed? What challenges are ahead?

The need for spa statistics

How has COVID-19 affected the spa industry? What percentage of Canadian spas have permanently closed due to the pandemic? Unfortunately, there are no current statistics that can answer these questions. The latest statistics on Canada’s spa industry were published in a report by the Canadian Tourism Commission (now Destination Canada) in 2006! At that time, it was estimated there were 2,300 spas in Canada, although many have estimated that figure is closer to 3,000 spas in recent years. The U.S.-based International Spa Association (ISPA) commissions a detailed annual study of the U.S. spa industry by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). According to its 2019 report (2020 report yet to be released), there were 22,160 spas in the U.S. in 2018. It’s a shame we don’t have detailed statistics like that in Canada. ISPA also commissioned surveys on the impact of COVID including consumer attitudes towards spas, anticipated spa spending and how people felt about visiting a spa. Elena Zinchenko, president of the Leading Spas of Canada and spa director at Ten Spa in Winnipeg, said in a telephone interview that a Canadian spa survey is a priority in 2021. Zinchenko notes there hasn’t been the budget or sponsor support for a research study in the past but she’s hopeful funds can be found in 2021.

In a November press release, CFIB President Dan Kelly estimated 160,000 businesses across Canada may permanently close due to COVID-19, with the potential to rise to 225,000. Spas would be included in this figure, but how many is anyone’s guess. Statistics matter when lobbying government on policy and regulatory changes, as well as showing the spa industry’s impact on the Canadian economy. The Confederation of Independent Business (CFIB), Conference Board of Canada, Statistics Canada and Retail Council of Canada could not break down specifically how many spas have permanently closed, since spa types may fall under various business classifications from Personal and Professional Services to Salons and Health Services. In a November press release, CFIB President Dan Kelly estimated 160,000 businesses across Canada may permanently close due to COVID-19, with the potential to rise to 225,000. Spas would be included in this figure, but how many is anyone’s guess. More spas may be a casualty when Toronto, which is home to the highest concentration of spas, went into a lockdown November 23rd for 28 days, and again in January 2021. B.C., Manitoba and S pa I nc .c a


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Alberta are also seeing a surge in cases. The timing couldn’t have been worse for spas. The period leading up to the holidays is usually one of the busiest and most profitable. The financial ramifications of continued lockdowns could be the nail in the coffin for some spas.

Massage therapists – missing in action?

Many spa owners are finding it challenging getting their therapists to return to work and if they do, it may be for fewer hours. One reason is needing to be home to take care of children or other vulnerable family members. Others prefer to receive federal support programs like CERB, which has morphed into the Canada Recovery Benefit; and some therapists state safety concerns for not returning. “I value the life of my mother and family, and do not wish to be a vector of illness, nor do I wish to risk my own life or long-term health under the circumstances, not until the pandemic is being managed and there are effective treatment options,” said Karina Ackert, an Ottawa-based RMT, who has practiced massage therapy for 27 years and operated a multi-disciplinary clinic in the past. At the time the pandemic broke, she was managing a Cayman Islands resort spa before returning to Canada in the summer after the resort had to shut down due to COVID and travel bans. Ackert cites the high number of asymptomatic cases, lack of contact tracing in Canada and not feeling safe giving massages as reasons she decided to revert to “Inactive” status as a massage therapist with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO). Since returning to Canada, she has not given or received a massage. In September, she enrolled in a Bachelor of Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Algonquin College to pursue a career in tourism that would utilize her past management and spa experience. The CMTO’s registration renewal for therapists (MTs/RMTs) for 2020 was underway at the time of writing, therefore figures were not yet available for this year. At the end of 2019, according to Angie Brennand, CMTO’s directorof policy and communications, there were 14,964 registered therapists, of which, 994 therapists were “Inactive.” The majority (5,878) worked in a clinical group setting. It’s anticipated there will be a significant increase in massage therapists changing their status to “Inactive,” or even choosing to leave the profession altogether. Already there is a shortage of qualified therapists, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem.

Small operation, bigger challenges

Solo operations or smaller spas are especially vulnerable in surviving the pandemic. Kristina Smith, who began offering esthetic services through her Ottawa-based Simple Aura Spa in the summer of 2018, is proud of the fact no positive COVID cases 30 S pa Inc. | Fall/ Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

have been traced back to her spa. Smith doesn’t have the volume nor influence that larger spas and salons possess in securing highlevel disinfectants like Pre-empt 70-90 percent alcohol content. Nail files and other esthetic-related items are also in high demand and short supply, she says. Smith feels like she’s on a rollercoaster as client revenues rise and fall suddenly depending on what restriction level the city is in and what services she’s allowed to offer.

Hospitality woes

Jully Wahono, owner of Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa at the Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa in B.C., has operated the spa for 17 years. It’s her passion and life. Nothing could have prepared her for this past year. Wahono has had to cut back drastically on what services she can offer guests. Billing itself as the only authentic Javanese spa in North America, the boutique spa has five treatment rooms and one couples room. The hot tub and sauna are closed and the spa can only offer massage services. Whistler, being a very popular destination with domestic and international travellers, has felt the pandemic pain. Drops in guest hotel bookings resulted in a total shift on how they market. Typically, in the winter 70 percent of the hotel’s guests are from the U.S. and international destinations. This winter, guests will be 100% Canadian, with the majority coming from B.C., and in

Ten Spa

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Iwa Spa

particular, the Vancouver area. Through this pandemic, Wahono has had to discount prices 25-40 percent on massage services. When asked if she will survive, Wahono sighed and said it is “50/50 chance of survival,” and added, “Our focus is week by week, month by month.”

Spa openings & closings

Mokara Spa director Julia Chang can relate to Wahono. A spa veteran running businesses in Canada and the U.S., Chang has seen her share of challenges, but nothing like this. Taking on her new role in early 2020, she barely got her feet wet before the pandemic hit. The spa, located in the historic Omni King Edward Hotel, rebranded as Mokara’s first spa in Canada when it reopened in September. Marketing a new brand while opening a new luxury spa is daunting enough, but add a pandemic to the mix and you have a perfect storm. The spa had to close in November, less than two months after opening. The spa’s clientele would normally be 40 percent hotel guests and 60 percent locals. Chang is frustrated but recognizes this is “our new normal.” Chang adds, “The spa industry is going to be held to a higher standard.” She is focusing on marketing to locals, while promoting more online retail sales. Elmwood Spa, one of Toronto’s oldest and largest day spas, closed down its five-storey spa in March and remained closed through the fall, but its sister boutique Elmspa did reopen in the summer. Elmwood Spa is still marketing heavily to its customer base to purchase gift cards, promoting Elmspa and online retail products.

Customer & staff reluctance

At one time, Quebec led the country in positive COVID cases, which created fear among potential clients. Until last August, Spa William Gray, a boutique spa in Old Montreal, found it difficult to attract customers, with many saying they were afraid to have spa treatments due to safety concerns, according to spa director Audrey Marleau. In a June Snapshot survey conducted by ISPA,

At one time, Quebec led the country in positive COVID cases, which created fear among potential clients. Until last August, Spa William Gray, a boutique spa in Old Montreal, found it difficult to attract customers, with many saying they were afraid to have spa treatments due to safety concerns.



 ederal Relief Programs: Keep up to date on the F federal government relief programs for businesses. There are also many business loan programs available. canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaining-yourbusiness.html Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) Canada United Small Business Relief Fund Canada Recovery Benefits (CRB) Canadian Federation of Business (CFIB) cfib-fcei.ca/en Excellent resource for tips, information for small businesses Canadian Business Resiliency Centre (CBRC) canadianbusinessresiliencenetwork.ca COVID Tool kit for businesses, COVID signage templates, etc.

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top tips •S  implify your spa menu and highlight the most profitable treatments •K  eep website updated to changing provincial and public health restrictions •H  ighlight guest safety and sanitation protocols in concise, minimal text •F  eature timely client testimonials who have had services during the pandemic •M  aintain regular contact with customers through email, phone calls and social media – use the opportunity to educate them on the importance of self-care, mental/ physical wellness, the spa’s safety/ sanitation protocols •K  eep a timely social media presence – be upbeat but honest and post any changes to provincial and public health department restrictions •N  etwork with other spas: Although you are competitors, build a local spa community – find out what measures they are taking to keep customers safe. All spas benefit by working together; consider co-op marketing opportunities • If a solo practitioner, contact other spas/ practitioners to buy PPE and other supplies together to lower your per unit cost •F  ocus more marketing efforts on retail online sales •C  reate a podcast – self-care tips, staff profiles and their modalities, treatments •U  se the time to make facility improvements (depending on funds available), streamline processes, staff training (virtual if available) on new procedures/modalities, update and fine-tune database and software programs • If necessary, upgrade air filtration and HVAC system •R  evise the business plan as conditions/ restrictions change

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this nervousness about catching COVID was a concern for many, with only 28 percent saying they would not be nervous visiting a spa when it reopened. Marleau says attitudes began to change as people were educated on safety and sanitation protocols, but there was still a major obstacle left – getting her team to return, as many were freelance therapists and estheticians, and some preferred to stay on government relief programs. The other issue: Staff who showed any symptoms (sore throat, cold, etc.) as per safety protocols were required to stay home, which left last-minute scheduling challenges.

Investing in the future

Carrie Rowan, owner of Zenbar Healing Studio which opened in Oakville, Ont., in 2013, related in an interview there was the “fear of the unknown,” and a “very scary time” when the pandemic first hit. Despite zero revenues, a $25,000 monthly rent bill still had to be paid, along with numerous other expenses. Knowing it was imperative for peace of mind for her clients and staff, Rowan hired two full-time cleaners to keep the spa spotless and sanitized. Her past entrepreneurial experience came in handy and rather than retreating, she looked at ways to improve and move forward. Rowan embraced technology and new, innovative treatments. She reconfigured her spa space and purchased a $100,000 stateof-the-art facial machine, among other improvements. Medical facials are her biggest revenue-generating service, although with COVID restrictions they were not allowed to offer facials for months. Rowan attributes hiring “the best people” as a big part of her success, which she says translates into 90 percent repeat clientele.

Knowing it was imperative for peace of mind for her clients and staff, Rowan hired two full-time cleaners to keep the spa spotless and sanitized. Her past entrepreneurial experience came in handy and rather than retreating, she looked at ways to improve and move forward. Virtual reality becomes a treatment

Iwa Spa, located in the Blue Mountain Resort Village just outside Collingwood, Ont., addressed client safety concerns with technology. Spa Director Jenevieve Dennis listened to some

spa business

clients express reluctance having a therapist touch them due to COVID concerns, but they still craved a relaxation experience. Iwa Spa came up with a new treatment that satisfies the no-touch therapy client, as well as for clients who may want to augment their spa experience. The solution is the Healium Relaxation VR Treatment, a session lasting anywhere from five to 35 minutes. VR has been shown to stimulate the brain to produce melatonin, while lowering levels of cortisol, which helps people manage stress and sleep better. The VR treatment is offered as a stand-alone or can be used as an upgrade to another treatment.

business is from locals. Zinchenko has been adamant about keeping her staff safe and providing them with the necessary time off so they don’t burn out. Like other spas, Zinchenko made improvements, heightened the sanitation protocols and buys only the best products for cleaning and disinfecting. Wearing her Leading Spas of Canada president hat, Zinchenko feels if there is one positive in the COVID pandemic, it’s that “all the spas and salons updated and upgraded their operations.” That’s a good thing. Showcasing staff professionalism and commitment to a safe and clean spa environment will attract new customers and keep clients coming back time and again. This pandemic has exposed a real need for self-care and mind/ body wellness. The spa and wellness industry is in an ideal position to service those needs today and far into the future. Let the new era of wellness begin.

Keeping positive

Ten Spa’s Elena Zinchenko indicated business has been very busy despite COVID restrictions keeping operations at 50 percent occupancy. Although they are based in a hotel, 90 percent of their

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his year, plan to harness the power skills of flexibility, resilience and creativity. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow, which can look and feel like failure; reframe “failure” as feedback, and count your wins (no matter how small) each day. Forging your future from the bumpy unknown can take its toll on you. This year, focus on recovery: A wellness practice should include quality sleep, meditation and restorative movement. Your business needs you to go the distance. Build your endurance to embrace change. There are several simple steps you can take to strengthen your business. Spa services and wellness education are vital to consumers. Make your offerings more relevant with a few tweaks.

The first “M” is MENU Divide your menu of services into “fast” and “slow” beauty. Think about it in terms of results and 1. recovery, or yin and yang. Fatigue is real; we need to take it seriously. Energy is the new currency. When people feel drained, aging accelerates and their body shows the signs, inside and out. Help people recover their energy before you task their cellular metabolism to produce younger-looking skin. Build in recovery time during the “slow” beauty services; include

time for rest by adding meditation and massage. Use this time to restore and prepare the mind, body and soul for what’s next. Suggest a home care routine to replenish, nourish and strengthen; for example, daily yoga practice is an easy add-on that almost anyone can do. Use “fast” beauty for active, expedient and results-oriented treatments. Once rested, you can task the body to detox, firm, smooth and brighten. Prescribe dynamic home care to achieve specific goals; this is a good time to promote products such as massage oils and facial scrubs. Solve problems and offer solutions. You don’t need to offer everything to everyone; think about the 2. beauty and wellness problems you are best at solving and focus on those. Become the “go to” provider and advisor for what feels right for your business. Think of three types of ideal clients that most benefit from what you do. Organize your offers, social media and marketing to speak directly to them so they can find you.


Create a treatment roadmap. Shift from being a task-focused service provider to achieve a bigger vision. Instead of offering one treatment and waiting

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for your client to rebook, or selling courses of treatments that are six of the same kind, create a treatment roadmap with a combination of fast and slow beauty services. Elevate your client to reach their peak potential.

what, take 10 percent from the sales you make and put it into a profit account, then pay your expenses. Develop a profit-first mindset. When you raise your self worth, you raise your net worth. Download your free profit calculator at: passionprofitprojects.com.

The second “M” is MARKETING

Share the big picture. If you have asked your team to take less pay or decreased their hours, increase your 8. communication and transparency. Help them see and share your goal to keep the business running for their long-term career success. Share your step-by-step plan to get through these hard times and be open to their ideas. Team motivation rises when people feel valued and included.

Become a lead magnet. Don’t wait for the phone to ring; use www.canva.com to create a digital mini 4. course. Grow your CRM. Gift your clients and prospects with value-driven education in exchange for their emails when they find your website or social media sites. Build an email campaign to turn their curiosity into consultations and fill your bookings. Use your Instagram account as your professional TV channel and magazine. Create a theme for each 5. day of the week to be consistent. Offer a mix of motivating quotes, beauty and wellness education, live shopping and written or visual testimonials about your team. Develop a client loyalty lifecycle. Map your in-spa and online client journey. Include every point of 6. interaction your clients have with you. Build out your online follow-up to help them follow through with their home care programs until they come back for their next visit. Email for a free guide: ask@tanyachernova.com

The third “M” is MONEY


Be committed to profit. Most spas count their profits after all expenses have been paid. No matter

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Another important “M” is MINDSET Become an opportunist. Look for the opportunity in all things. How can the situation you are in work for 9. you, and not against you? Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. Recognize each problem for its possibilities and develop new strategies to redefine success.

Last but not least: MASTERY Invest in your education. Personal and professional courses create the highest return on 10. growth investment. The right tools, insight and skill set are the difference between suffering and celebrating. Break the illusion of self-sufficiency; don’t go it alone. Hire a coach, find a mentor, join a network. Get into conversation with successminded colleagues to thrive in the new economy. This will energize you and keep you growing. To believe in yourself is to invest in yourself. You have the power to live your dreams.

Change of Plans NOMINATIONS FOR THE CANADIAN SPA & WELLNESS AWARDS HAVE BEEN POSTPONED TO THE FALL OF 2021 We look forward to celebrating the hard work, innovation and resiliency the spa and wellness industry has shown. Connect with us on social media for the latest awards news at @SpaIncMag or use the hashtag #CdnSpaAwards

To learn more, visit



Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil

This luxuriously lightweight vitamin C oil delivers a trifecta of skin-loving goodness – brightening, firming and hydration – in one rosy step. The oil-soluble, shelf-stable vitamin C is a potent brightener and elasticity booster. Chios crystal oil firms and revitalizes skin, while squalane locks in much-needed moisture. biossance.com

Accent Prime

Accent Prim is Alma Laser’s most advanced workstation for clinically proven skin tightening, body contouring and esthetic enhancement. The platform combines the latest innovations in ultrasound and radio frequency (RF) technologies to deliver effective, highly customized treatments with natural, long-lasting results. almalasers.com


Disposable Towels

Pamper your clients and the environment with these chemicalfree, biodegradable, eco-friendly disposable towels. These premium towels are bleach-free, dye-free and made only from natural certified wood fibres. As disposable towels, they are recommended to help reduce the spread of infections in these pandemic times. davelen.com

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Adhesive Film Barrier

Another line of defense in keeping clients and staff safe from unhealthy micro-organisms, Spavaro offers a self-adhesive film barrier in 1200-foot rolls of sheets that are 4 by 6 inches and come perforated. It shows your clients you care and builds their confidence in your commitment to keep them safe during treatment. spavaro.com

fresh & new



One of the newest spa tables from Gharieni, the MLW NEO features extra-soft upholstery and a hand switch with double-click technology, making it easy and intuitive to control. The integrated heating system in the upholstery is also controlled via the easy-touse hand or foot switch unit. gharieni.com


Biodegradable Hand Sanitizing Wipes

Sanibelle’s 100 percent biodegradable, antibacterial hand wipes kill 99.9 percent of illness-causing germs. The wipes consist of a biodegradable formula of water and essential oils, like geraniol, saponin and citric acid, that cleans surfaces without exposure to harmful chemicals. The formula is alcohol-free so it won’t leave a strong smell or dry out hands, and it was developed with natural essential oils so no rinsing is needed. sanibelle.com


Lilac Stem Cell Serum


Optimizer Voyage Tri-light Glasses

See the future with the new Optimizer Voyage Tri-Light Glasses. With three different LED lights, the device allows a customized approach for treating the skin around the eyes. It helps promote the skin’s suppleness and radiance, while reducing the appearance of dark circles and minimizing puffiness. iloveskininc.us

There’s science behind the power of lilac stem cells in rejuvenating the skin. This product offers a concentrated anti-aging serum with lilac stem cells, vitamin C and marine extracts. It dramatically improves deeper lines, brightness, texture and pores. brignolskincare.com

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Celluma DELUX


Anti-Aging Kit

If the pandemic is keeping your clients from coming to you, offer them this full facial antioxidant take-home kit for all skin types. The kit contains travel-sized: C E Ferulic, Daytime Vitamin C Serum, AOX+ Eye Gel, Antioxidant Lip Repair and Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50, a tinted sunscreen. skinceuticals.ca

The Celluma DELUX offers full-coverage light therapy in a whole-body design. The unique portable device hangs on the back of a door when used, offering all the advantages of a light therapy bed without the space or price. Blue, red and near-infrared wavelengths treat a range of issues from acne to wrinkles and musculoskeletal pain. celluma.com



The Shine Bright Collection OPI and Swarovski brought in the holidays with the Shine Bright Collection, which delivers glitz and glam to the fingertips as one of their sparkliest collections yet. Twelve new limited-edition shades and three exclusive glitters were created in collaboration with Swarovski for added crystal glitz to make nails dazzle. opi.com

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Reuseable Antimicrobial Face Masks

Crafted from the same soft fabric as their signature scrubs, which are treated with the Silvadur antimicrobial preservative technology, Jaanuu’s face masks are washable and reusable, designed for durability, reinforced with mesh lining and featuring comfortable, stretchable ear loops. They come in a variety of client-pleasing designs and colours. jaanuu.com



“beauty junkie” since she was a pre-teen, Celine Tadrissi and her husband, Antonio, opened the first Hammam Spa by Céla in Toronto in 2005. Inspired by Turkish baths, or hammams, the spa’s central piece is its steam room, as well as luxurious, relaxing facial and body treatments. Four years ago, Tadrissi released a skincare line, Céla, with its name inspired by those of her daughters, Colette, Bella and Caprice. Tadrissi also opened another spa location in North York in November 2019. She says she is proud of being able to help people who have realized the importance of making wellness a bigger part of their everyday life. What led you to open your first spa? My background was in business and accounting, but I always loved beauty. When I was at University of Toronto, I worked at Estee Lauder Spa in Holt Renfrew and I worked in the beauty department through school. But what really drew myself and my husband to open Hammam Spa was seeing some amazing spas around the world. We were inspired by the rituals associated with Turkish hammams and Moroccan spas and Korean bath houses – having a place that wasn’t necessarily for a particular occasion or celebration, but was part of your everyday routine, which is what was happening in those places and was lacking in North America. What has been most fulfilling in growing your business? We were told by everyone that it was a crazy idea and it wouldn’t work because we did things that no one else had done, such as a co-ed, communal steam room, and even the name was different. Fifteen years ago, for the most part, it was women who went to spas, especially for bachelorettes or a once-a-year treat with friends. It wasn’t really seen as a necessary part of your routine. The intention was to go beyond that and take a more preventative and encompassing approach to well-being. The pace and the demands of the world have progressed and people have seen the need for that downtime. So, there was a pretty quick shift, where we would see people once or twice a year to people having regular weekly appointments. The last few years, we’re just as busy on a Tuesday afternoon as we are on a Saturday. How did you move into creating the Céla skincare line? More than 10 years ago, I felt like there was a void in the industry for the products I was looking for: scrubs, body creams, oils, lotions. I was importing everything. I am 12th-generation Canadian, so I was surprised that there wasn’t anything available locally. So I started researching ingredients that are native to Canada and I was just shocked at the array of natural ingredients that are powerhouse ingredients for skincare. I wanted to use those in products.

CELINE TADRISSI For many years, I did not want to create a product line for retail because it’s a busy, competitive space. So I just started ordering raw ingredients to create bases for our own use. We would mix them and adapt them and get client feedback. This went on for years and clients loved the products and were asking to buy them. I decided four years ago to move ahead with a proper laboratory and company to manufacture a line. Our products are unique in the sense that they were designed backwards. They were designed from the treatment, from the experiences, the smells, the texture and then into the final product. Most times, people design a product and then try to see how it can work within a treatment. So I think that has really given the line an edge, and especially now, it’s been great to see people wanting to do a spa treatment at home. Holt Renfrew recently picked up your skincare line. Why do you think people have embraced it? I wanted to create a product with clean ingredients that still had that luxury feel. More people are paying attention not to just what they put on their face, but what they put on their whole body, and there are not that many product lines available for the body. I think that people also want to start creating even two- to 10-minute routines that are positive in their day. It’s important to step back and incorporate some of these basic steps into our day that allow us to be more present. How has it been for you navigating COVID-19? It’s been really challenging. It’s been a real hit to the industry and I think it’s shown that there’s a need for more of a united front within the beauty industry in Canada, because it’s not really organized. There’s not much in the way of lobbying groups or support available to operators. It’s been a challenging year having to go through these closures. But it’s also been a time for me to do a deep dive into my process, revisiting the values and the core of why I started this spa. That has been helpful for me, because those are the types of things an owner/operator doesn’t usually have time to do. I am trying, even in difficult times, to stay positive. We’ve all seen the increased need for self-care and using facilities like spas and wellness centres, and that’s not going to go away. S p a I nc .c a


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rom a young age, Temi Shobowale was giving makeup advice to friends and family. She took her talents to the beauty retail industry and also became a makeup artist. When she started to formulate skincare products for herself and had friends test them out, they wanted more. This led to Essentials by Temi, a line of skincare products with organic, plant-based ingredients, which officially launched in 2019. Shobowale’s love for all things beauty is matched by a dedication to sustainability and philanthropy. Essentials by Temi uses recyclable glass jars and fair-trade ingredients. Shobowale also founded HERDAY, which runs events to provide a safe space for diverse groups of women to feel uplifted and spiritually strengthened. How did your past experiences lead to Essentials by Temi? I wanted to go to school for international development studies, but then I realized that I was more creative. I did a lot of theatre in high school, which is how I got into makeup. I decided to go into the beauty industry. I always knew I was going to create my own brand. I just never knew that it was going to be a skincare brand until maybe 20152016. I studied aromatherapy and taught myself a lot of things. I talked to a naturopath and people more experienced in the industry and I started teaching DIY workshops. I brought a wellness aspect to it. That part was really important to me. For instance, one of my best-selling workshops was the aromatherapy rollerballs. I always try to teach people how aromatherapy is a game changer. Whether you’re getting a massage or relaxing with a scent in your diffuser or dealing with things like seasonal affective disorder, aromatherapy helps a lot. It goes back to the power of plants and flowers that we don’t really take advantage of nowadays. Everything is tech, tech, tech. I like to help people revert back to using all of their senses. Growing up in Nigeria, hanging out with my grandmother and her friends in the village, you learn how to make things from scratch. It’s always 42 S p a Inc. | Fall/ Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

spa star been a part of who I am. I always had a natural skill. So I decided it all makes sense. Everything connects with what I’m interested in and what I have experienced. I was just able to polish my skills to turn it into a successful business. How did you go from making skincare for yourself to starting a brand? I got so tired of trying all these products and my skin got so bad at one point, I was always breaking out and trying new products. I started learning and wanted to be able to share what I learned. I started off with the DIY workshops, which I taught in Toronto, New York, DC, and people were always saying, “This is a great experience, but I am probably not going to make this again. Do you sell these products?” So I started with custom orders. My first product was my Lemongrass + Thai Buttercream body butter. Then people asked if I was going to make other stuff. I wanted to find something easy for everyone to use, so I decided to start with essential oils. Because I use essential oils in my products, it kind of went hand in hand with the name of the brand as well. I wanted to create essentials, skin and soul essentials for everyone. I created a face mist and I have a face oil. I learned a lot about oils and I started doing research on how they’ve been used for centuries. It's just a luxurious way of taking care of your skin. You support Ajike Shea Centre in Ghana, which empowers rural women to have a sustainable job and start other businesses. Why is philanthropy such an important part of your company? I’ve always wanted to create my own non-profit or foundation that caters to empowering women. The more I got hands on with what I was doing, I realized that I wanted to focus on female entrepreneurship empowerment. There are so many women, especially Black women, who are now so successful within the past five to 10 years, and I just think of small businesses that are back in my home country, Nigeria. They don’t have the resources and they are doing amazing things. I started volunteering in high school. I was assigned to help homeless people. I remember walking into a program for women. It was a very humbling experience to see how these women were dedicated to come into this program on a weekly basis and work on themselves and build themselves up. I would volunteer my services and do mini-makeovers, and a lot of the DIY stuff started then. I just saw how much it helped them and the happiness it brought them. I felt like everyone deserves to have that. Why isn’t it a bigger part of life, to take care of yourself and heal and raise yourself first, so you can be a better mother, partner, person? Women wear so many different hats. We have to take care of ourselves, because when you don’t, it can take you to very dark places. S pa I nc .c a


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self-taught designer, Vancouver native Noel Asmar founded Noel Asmar Uniforms (then SpaUniforms.com) in 2002. The company transformed the spa industry’s utilitarian-style uniforms with its focus on high-performance fabrics and designs made for the way spa professionals move. Today, the company designs uniforms for spas, hotels and fitness and medical facilities, including The Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons and MGM Grand. The Noel Asmar Group of Companies also includes Asmar Equestrian and Pedicure Bowls, which makes portable, lightweight bowls so spas and nail salons can “spa anywhere.” You started to dabble in textiles in your free time, while working in the hotel industry. How did that lead to Noel Asmar Uniforms? My sister is an esthetician and my mom’s a nurse. I started to see that my sister was showing up to work without anything professional to wear and so I designed a tunic for her and one for my mom. And then I started to do some research and back then, estheticians and spa professionals were actually wearing boxy medical scrubs. There wasn’t anything specifically designed for them and the way they move. I launched SpaUniforms.com at the end of 2002. When you started Noel Asmar Uniforms, what problem did you want to fix? The whole starting point for everything is, what’s not working and how can we fix that? So for the spa industry, with the types of products that are used, oils, waxes, muds, coloured dyes, it is really challenging to make sure that you can use fabrics. So I would say it all started with designing and developing the fabric, which took me over a year. It breathes. It doesn’t shrink, the blacks never fade. And as an employer who’s buying a uniform, it is a solid investment. They are not going to be replacing their uniforms every three months; our uniforms last three to five years. So functionality, I’d say, was the fix. They stretched, so massage therapists could move; pedicure therapists could squat on those tiny little low chairs and move around. And they are stylish. You want to feel good, you don’t want to feel like you’re stepping into a drab uniform. What are some changes you’ve seen in the industry since you started? We’ve really made leaps and bounds in terms of spa professionals being taken a lot more seriously, and I believe the uniforms play a big role in that. If you show up prepared, looking professional, your customers treat you with more respect – they treat the profession with more respect. I got really passionate about how clothing empowered people, and what it did for them. How important is sustainability to you? We are moving to recycled, sustainable, traceable yarn – knowing where the yarns come from. All of our yarns are Oeko-Tex certified, so there are no harmful chemicals in our dyes. In 2019, we went to the Global Wellness Summit in Singapore and launched our sustainability initiative, Hospitality Lifecycle. Think about every single 44 S pa Inc. | Fall/ Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

spa star textile piece that is used in a hotel – your sheets, towels, blankets, slippers, uniforms, table linens. But nobody’s tracking or talking about what happens to garments in the professional setting after they can’t be worn or used anymore. So we’re leading with an initiative to bring awareness to the way we do business and to talk about solutions. How has COVID-19 affected your company? Our industry has been hit hard. We jumped on that quickly to design a very specific type of face mask for spa professionals. We wanted to make sure they still looked inviting and not distant behind the mask. It’s sustainable because it washes and it also matches your uniform. It is truly an extension of the uniform. And we are all expecting that masks are going to be around for a while, even when the vaccine is out, so it doesn’t look like an afterthought. You spend time mentoring other women entrepreneurs. What would you tell a woman just starting out? I would want her to know that she’s not alone. Ask lots of questions. Reach out to someone you admire to have a conversation. I think networking is really important. I also think maybe the number

one thing is to know your values; your integrity is key, and you should build your contact of suppliers accordingly. Make sure that they fit in with your values and your long-term vision, and I always believe that your customers follow. You will attract the customer that aligns with your values. During this challenging time, what would your message be to the industry? I think we have to remain optimistic. I feel the world has woken up and realized that our health and wellness is paramount. There has never been a more opportune time for our industry to step up. And I think the one share I would have as a businesswoman is it has shown that spa and wellness is way behind digitally. The industry was caught off-guard and had no fallback plan. If a spa was closed, more than likely, they didn’t have a website to keep selling their products and they had no revenue. So I think diversifying the spa business model is really important. We need to be looking at how sustainable our business model is through a period like this. But I think, rather than looking at the negative shortfalls, I see a massive opportunity in this industry to grow. I think there are really good times coming.

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spa star plants and vegetables. Seaweeds bathe in mineral-rich ocean water, creating the most highly mineralized plant form on Earth. In seaweeds, minerals are absorbed directly from the ocean in their ionic form, making them more easily absorbed by the body. Seaweed therapies nourish the skin, stimulate and improve blood circulation, remove toxins from the body and free up detoxification pathways, balance pH, encourage lymphatic drainage, fight inflammation and induce a healthy glow.




hird-generation seaweed harvester Diane Bernard grew up on the Magdalen Islands off the coast of Quebec, believing the ocean held all the answers for optimal health and wellness, through eating its fresh seafood and swimming in the water to cure skin irritations and breathing issues. She went on to devote more than two decades to the development of the first skincare line formulated from certified organic seaweed, Seaflora Skincare. Since Bernard retired in 2017, her son, Adam Butcher, CEO and director, and his life and business partner, Chantelle Line, sales and marketing manager, now carry on Bernard’s values of environmental stewardship, creativity and family connection. What brought you to Seaflora Skincare? I am a serial entrepreneur. After finding success in my own business, I closed it and moved to Vancouver Island to semiretire. Adam and I met and became friends, until we realized we were in love. After trying Seaflora Skincare products and seeing my skin transform from showing signs of aging and hormonal breakouts to being absolutely flawless and radiant, I grew passionate about sharing these products with people. I knew Diane wanted to retire and I knew Adam was looking for a manager. Then one day, he came home and said he needed someone who understands sales, who is self-motivated and understands digital marketing, and someone who can speak from personal experience about Seaflora and share their authentic enthusiasm. He was describing me perfectly. Why is seaweed perfect for skincare? Seaweed is the richest vitamin, mineral and trace element source in the vegetable kingdom, with 10 to 20 times higher concentrations than any land plant. Mineral content in seaweeds ranges from 20 to 40 percent per 100 grams, compared to five to 10 percent in land 46 S pa Inc. | Fall / Wi n te r 2 02 0-2 1

How does Seaflora Skincare harness the benefits of seaweed? Seaflora Skincare evolves from the notion of going to the ocean for good health, thalassotherapy. Our team developed methods of keeping components within these superfoods biologically active and preserved. While the healing properties of seaweed have been known for a millennia, how to effectively retain the active benefits of fresh seaweed was developed through years of research and testing. People get excited to find an organic, effective, non-toxic product line that is made in Canada! We hand-harvest our three main ingredients, sea salt, sea weeds, sea mud from the coast of Vancouver Island. Where we harvest, we are surrounded by more national and provincial park than by population. As Diane would say, “Vancouver Island is a gift, wrapped in seaweed.” What are some examples of the company’s sustainable practices? There is a zero waste program at Seaflora, solar panels on the roof, everything is recycled and composted. George Butcher, Diane’s husband, built the building with in-floor water heating and made the office side all south facing windows to keep product temperatures regulated and employees naturally warm. People are so tired of green washing, marketing ingredients and toxic or environmentally harmful products. As a two-time cancer survivor myself, it’s like winning the lottery when you find truly organic, superfood, holistic, GMO-free skincare that is extremely effective at fighting the signs of aging. I look younger at 41 than I did at 35, when I was trying every brand I could to fix my angry, hormonal skin. What is next for Seaflora Skincare? Throughout this pandemic, we have had to scale down our staff and work from home as much as possible. Even being the only rep, we have still managed to secure new partnerships. We have worked hard to build our online presence. Sales are up annually. We have come out with two CBD products, as well as a brightening moisturizer. For that one, the National Research Council of Canada performed all of the efficacy testing on the seaweeds we used against other known brightening ingredients on human skin tissue. For years, Seaflora has been trying to come up with the perfect shampoo and conditioner. We have begun the finalized formulations for a conditioner formula and a revised shampoo formula. Joe, our biochemist, and I have been working on four body oils and we are also creating some of our own essential oils with local Douglas fir and cedar.









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Spa Inc. Fall/Winter 20/21  

Spa Inc. Fall/Winter 20/21