Businessing Magazine recently connected with entrepreneur Joy Nicolls, who owns and operates SpaVITA, a day spa in the town of Alpine, Utah. Joy is one of those lucky entrepreneurs who gets to do what she loves every day—make her clients look and feel their best!
She is ten years into her entrepreneurial journey and has learned a lot about her craft as an esthetician, as well as about running a thriving business. In this interview, she shares how she got started and how she keeps her clients coming back.
What first motivated you to become an esthetician and massage therapist?
Our daughter was born with a port-wine birthmark on the right side of her face. At the time, the doctors did not know what it was—probably just bruising, they said. I knew in my heart that it was something more and after much research, found out that it was, in fact, a birthmark. As I searched for ways to treat it, working with dermatologists and skin experts, I felt a strong pull to apply myself to the skin care profession. Through this process, I found that not only did I love the aesthetics world, but that I had a talent for the art and science of it, and for guiding and helping people to better care for themselves.
Have you always been in business for yourself, or did you work for someone else in the beginning?
After my school and training to receive my Master Aesthetics License, I felt that it would be important for me to have experience working in a successful spa environment, which I did for about a year. That experience was invaluable, as it allowed me to see how a large spa operated and what my clientele’s expectations would be. I found that time to be very important as I formed my own beliefs and practices about the kind of spa I wanted to create when I went out on my own.
As you started your business, what were some things you wanted to do differently than other spas you had either been to or worked in?
The first thing that struck me was that I didn’t want to rush my clients. At the spa I started at out of school, we were on a strict schedule. A typical facial experience would be prep, welcome, 50 minutes for a facial, and then ten minutes to clean up, sell products, and get ready for my next appointment. The system was efficient, but it felt a bit impersonal to me.
I knew that I would want to provide seriously personal service to my clients, and that is exactly what I do now. I also didn’t want to be constrained by the products that the spa determined would be best. I wanted the freedom to research and bring into my spa those products that I felt were best for the treatments and practices I’d provide. Finally, I wanted to create a beautiful, peaceful environment, which most spas do have, but I wanted to really customize that space for my clients.
Now, as the owner of my own spa, if I need to take 90 minutes or more time with someone, I have the flexibility to do that. I really do provide very personal care for each and every client.
How important are customer loyalty and customer referrals to your business, and what are some things you’ve done to secure them?
Most of my business comes from word of mouth—one person telling another of the
experience they’ve had at my day spa. That makes the customer experience by far the most important element of the service I provide.
Clients know what they get from me—my complete attention and my commitment to them as individuals and to the needs or goals they’re trying to achieve. I think of my clients as my friends and they know that. SpaVITA is a safe place where my clients know they’re accepted and loved for who they are.
What is something that has surprised you about owning your own business?
I’m surprised that ten years have gone by so quickly! What I do is so rewarding and challenging, but I love every minute of it! I love being able to set my own schedule, of course. Who doesn’t love that?
I’ve also learned that having a license doesn’t mean you’re a master. That comes over many years and many clients. I’m still mastering my art and growing as an esthetician and as a business owner every day.
What has been the greatest challenge in owning a business, and how have you overcome that challenge?
When I worked for the other spa right out of my degree, they took care of everything. All I needed to do was show up and work. They took care of the products, the employee issues, rent, staffing, and the facility. Now I do all of that while still caring for my clients—but I love it!
We understand you’ve made a pretty substantial investment in your business recently. Tell us about that and how you think that investment will pay off.
Yes! I’ve invested in an amazing device called Hydrafacial, and it’s wonderful! It’s the premier technology in this space and provides a really remarkable experience for my clients. I’ve done extensive training and have combined my own unique skill to the methodology. This investment has already paid off for my clients in a big way—they love it and are spreading the word to others, so that’s exciting to me! It’s something that is helping my spa stand out from other day spas in Alpine.
Give us a good idea of what a client can expect if they book a service with SpaVITA.
Three words: Seriously Personal Service! When you come to SpaVITA, you will get the full attention of a Master Esthetician with over a decade of dedicated service. I know my stuff and have trained with the top experts in the industry. And I continue to research and learn, so I bring that enthusiasm and love for people and for my craft to every appointment. At SpaVITA, you’ll find a warm, tranquil oasis where you can relax and rejuvenate. You’ll come out feeling well cared for and empowered to keep your skin and your mind clear and beautiful.