Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Wonderful New Blog by Theresa Hatcher

Well, it's about time you started your own blog, Mama Buddha! Teri Hatcher, our resident soul therapist and intuitive extraordinaire at Pavia, has finally put her toe in the water of the blogging world. You can read her insights here: She is going to talk about all kinds of issues of the heart, and her words are truly a balm to many troubled souls. I am so lucky to know this woman, let alone have her on my staff. Some day she will be on Oprah, mark my words.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spa Finder + Spa Wish sitting in a tree...

I don't know if you have heard that SpaFinder has bought out SpaWish. They are now Spa & Salon Wish and while they are keeping the SpaFinder brand for higher end resort and destination spas, their new Spa & Salon Wish brand will focus more on mass-market desires for local day spa services.

I remember when Peggy, the owner of Preston Wynne, asked me to join her in not accepting SpaFinder gift certificates anymore. She said that Pete Ellis, the CEO of SpaFinder, had finally figured out a way to take money out of spa owners' pockets. At first, I was kind of at a loss as to what she meant. But, I think am now starting to see the light.

You see, SpaFinder has been dumping their gift certificates at Costco for some time now. You can buy a $100 SpaFinder gift certificate for $79. And you can then take that gift certificate to spas like mine and pay for $100 services. So why pay $100 per service when you can pay $79 per service? How does this hurt spas like me? Well, firstly, I don't get that $100, I get $83 when SpaFinder pays me back. So how can SpaFinder be making money if they're getting $79 but paying out $83, you ask? Well, if Costco comes up to you and says, "Here's $20 million for a bunch of Spa Finder gift certificates at $79 each," are you going to say no? Heck no. You're going to gamble and hope that you can turn the $20 million into $21,012,658 before the underlying gift certificates get redeemed...hope they can play the market.

Anyway, the dilemma is now whether to continue accepting these or not. Clearly, accepting them poses the problem I just stated above. But not accepting them is kind of like being one of the OPEC cartel and trying to fix prices...because other spas will. Clients who are stuck with SpaFinders are not going to just choose to come to our spa and pay full-price...they're going to go to other spas and use them. And then we run the risk of losing them. So either all day spa owners agree to not accept them (and we have to trust each other), or the ones who stay in the game accept them and try to take the lion's share of this market.

What to do, what to do...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Full Closet, Nothing to Wear

I am sure every woman out there knows this feeling: you look in your closet, which is overflowing with all manner of clothing, but you announce to your husband/boyfriend/whomever is within earshot: "I have nothing to wear." It even sounds ridiculous to your own ears, since you are obviously presented full in the face with evidence to the contrary.

Well, I am a huge perpetrator of this offense. The other thing I do is that all day long I think of cool topics to write about in my monthly Pavia Desiderata newsletter, but when it comes time to write them, I can never think of what they were. Just today I thought, "For February, I'll write about aphrodisiac herbs and essential oils, for March, I'll write about safe herbs/oils for pregnancy and children, for April, I'll write about using hydrosols as toners..." and so on and so forth. But I will bet you any money that on January 30th, when I sit down to actually write the Pavia-Pothecary section of the newsletter, I will draw a blank.

So I decided to blog about this problem that can be fixed so easily simply by blogging about it. Because now, when I do draw that blank in about half a month, I will simply sign on to my blog and say, 'Aha! I have something to talk about after all.' Problem solved.

Now, if I could just remember to remind myself to sign on and read my blog...

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Every time I log onto Yelp to read reviews about Pavia, I inwardly wince at the slight POTENTIAL of seeing a negative one. I tense up, my heart beats fast, I get nervous and fluttery, and then I go to our page of reviews and usually heave a sigh of relief. Well, then I came across this one, posted by "S.S.:"

"I saw that Pavia was voted best spa in the San Jose Mercury News and decided to try it out. The aesthetician, an Asian woman named Christina, completely burned my skin. I had to go to a doctor and it took nearly 3 weeks for it to heal.

If you value your body, don't go to this place. I wouldn't want anyone to go through the pain and discomfort I suffered."

And then the blood roared in my head and I saw only red and felt pure rage coursing through my veins. I thought, "Wow - she really tried to do harm to my esthetician's career without delivering ALL of the facts." She named Christina by name (Christina is no longer with me, by the way - she went to open a day care) and also by race, as if to ensure that she would never be able to work again. Meanwhile, we refunded her all the money she paid for the services, and we also paid for the cream she purchased from the dermatologist, even though she had not given us the chance to resolve it first. AND, all of this was demanded at the top of her longs, accompanied by her mother and father for orchestral support. These, however, she did not mention.

Perhaps it makes no difference to her, though. I felt that we did right by her, going beyond the normal call of duty (certainly simply refunding the money she paid should have been enough) in trying to secure her happiness and goodwill. And I perceive that she took our fervent efforts and then tossed them back in our faces by writing this kind of a review.

Well, c'est la vie. My initial rage at her review has cooled, melting first into a gentle indignance, then subsiding into an indifferent pity (as in: poor, misguided, fractured soul, she has to resort to these kinds of racist remarks to make herself feel better), and finally dissipating away entirely. I wish her well and I hope God heaps blessings upon her. After all, she is the one who has to live with the karma engendered by her words, not me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hear, hear!

Dr. Maya Angelou is one of my favorite poets and scholars EVER. Anyone who has ever read "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" or the poem, "Phenomenal Woman," can hardly fail to be infused with her beautiful spirit or touched by her open-hearted, lyrical words. She is truly a RENAISSANCE woman.

That said, at first I didn't really see how she would be a guest speaker at the Orlanda ISPA show - ISPA stands for International Spa Association (except, somehow the acronym doesn't quite match the individual words). What would Dr. Angelou say to a bunch of spa owners and operators? Well, apparently it was highly inspirational. And here is what she said in closing:

"I know when some people think of spas they think of spa as a frivolity, a place for frivolity.

I know that the intention is to offer people a chance to better themselves. . . and if they better themselves physically they will feel better about themselves psychologically

OMG, when I read that, my heart about stopped. How could this woman know me so well? How could she see into the depths of my soul and know that that is what I am trying to provide? A place to better oneself...she has done it again! Touched my heart with the exactly perfect description of my mission in life.

Well, she rocks rocks rocks. Here is her web site, for anyone who wants to know more about this thrilling woman:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Not to point fingers, but...

I just had to share this anecdote. I used to share an esthetician with another spa. It's another Saratoga spa, yes, but it will go unnamed in this blog. However, there aren't THAT many of us, so I am sure the astute will figure it out.

This particular esthetician told me that when she reported to work at the other spa, her colleagues would ask her how it was to work at Pavia. And this esthetician, let's name her something anonymous - how about Jane - would respond, "It's great! We actually get to use real products in the backbar/facial rooms." And her fellow estheticians would ask her, "You mean to say that the owner there lets you use Jan Marini on clients? During facials?" You see, the embarrassing truth is, that at this other spa, they don't actually use Jan Marini or branded products in their backbar.

They SAY they do, they tell the clients that they use it, so that when you come out of the facial, they can say, "Oh, this C-Esta Serum is what I used on you." When, in fact, it wasn't. I only feel I can make this public now because this spa no longer uses Jan Marini, and has gone all private-label, but it is another example of "take something that is worth $5 and pretend it is worth $50." I guess that is smart business, right? I just can't do it. I can't lie, or ask others to lie, about the products being used on a client's skin.

Imagine: a client is handing you money to perform a service. There is a trust involved there, and to me, that's almost sacred. You can't just slather on stuff that's cheap and tell them it's expensive. If that's how you're supposed to make money in this business, well, then....I guess I'm not supposed to be in this business.

It's one thing to say, "Well, we DIDN'T use Jan Marini, but Jan Marini is what I am recommending for you." It's another to just lie about it. Apparently that happened all the time at this particular venue. Caveat: I am going on hearsay, although my sources were plentiful and all internally consistent. Yes, I used to hire ex-employees of this spa, and they were only too thrilled to come work for me, contrasting it between Heaven and ...that other place.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Heck in a Handbasket

I promised the hubby I would not swear. So I will say this...I picked up a Wall Street Journal for the first time in 10 years (since Business School, really), and I saw that the world is going to heck in a handbasket. Oil at $100 a barrel? Gold over $800 again? The dollar lower than the Canadian dollar? Give me a break.

I've had my nose so close to the grindstone trying to make the day spa work that I guess I have not been paying attention to the overall economy. Yuck! Now that I have glimpsed the world, however, I am inclined to stick my nose back to the grindstone.

And what the heck was I doing picking up a Wall Street Journal? I swore off that stuff when I got my MBA. I only wanted to be like all the other MBA students and carried one around under my arm, pretending to actually read it during my spare time. Yeah, right. Well, I happened to be waiting around in a lobby for an interview.

Yes, I am interviewing! For consulting positions in technology marketing on a temporary basis. I want to do so many things with the spa - put in new paint, new carpets, perhaps a steam shower - but can't do them without more capital, so hence, I need to get an interim job just for the purpose of infusing more cash. Fun fun!

Well, thank God for my loyal spa clients. I've really been so blessed to meet so many wonderful people doing this work. On days that are "from heck," I remember them and it becomes unthinkable for me to do any other kind of work.