Brampton’s Fresh Organic Spa Bar weathers pandemic with positive energy and digital presence
Larisa Ferchichi had been waiting 10 years for the right opportunity to launch her business. So when she finally opened Fresh Organic Spa Bar in Brampton last year, she was ecstatic – even when the pandemic meant shutting her doors a few weeks later.
“The closure really didn’t affect me much because I was in this great mood… the past is in the past and I’m starting a new life,” she says. “I never had the thought: oh my God, what’s going to happen? I was still in this euphoria that I had actually opened my business.”
Ferchichi admits she’s in a fortunate position. Her natural face treatments, sugaring and organic beauty spa is located inside Hair Lab and Co. in downtown Brampton so she doesn’t have the weight of a lease to worry about. But she could just as easily have been derailed by the false start.
Instead, Ferchichi threw herself into the business, focusing on her digital presence. “(Before) I’d thought: next year I’ll make a website but then it was like, oh I have an opportunity… it’s in front of me, let’s do it now,” she says. The spa owner started doing webinars through Digital Main Street, a program combining grants and one-to-one support from the Province of Ontario alongside partners like Google to help main street businesses strengthen their online capabilities and plan for the digital future. “I learned a lot and it opened my eyes to (doing) it myself.”
With her own entrepreneurial drive and support from the digital service squad, Ferchichi built out her website using Shopify. She says she liked the idea it was Canadian and how it made it easy for clients to book appointments.
“Now, I have to revamp my Instagram,” she says. When she started it, she admits she knew nothing. This time around she’s being more strategic and working with a graphic designer to create some social media templates that better fit the brand she’s been building over the past year.
Next up, she plans to experiment with paid advertising. “I probably will purchase Google Ads.” It makes sense to her, especially with the learning journey she’s been on since the start of the pandemic. She says she recognizes that her digital presence is more important now than ever before. “I’m very new, nobody knows me.” But she also has the drive to change that. And now she has the skills to build momentum for a business that only just getting off the ground.
“2020 was a great year for me… I’m just happy,” she says. “I find it so much fun to learn… I am enjoying this so much.”
Written by Andrew Seale
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Yellow Pages and Lightspeed.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19 in Southern Ontario.