Lavender Rose Day Spa in Bolton takes self-care virtual
After months of being stuck at home during the pandemic focusing on the essentials, one of the first things people wanted to do when businesses entered phase three was something for themselves.
Rose Marchese, owner of Lavender Rose Day Spa in Bolton says she was taken a bit by surprise.
“My concern with the pandemic was would they really want to come back?” says Marchese. But they have and it’s highlighted how much self-care was missing and missed over the past five months.
There’s no question the pandemic has been hard on the day spa business, it’s been hard on business owners in general, but for an intimate industry that is centred around hands-on wellness, the pandemic made it impossible. “I was quite fortunate,” says Marchese. “I had a lot of clients support me during the closure by purchasing products.”
But the spa owner says resilience is a part of her identity. Marchese, a first generation Canadian, created her first wellness product at 16. At her parents urging she went to university and got a job but when the company she was working for eliminated that job she decided she wanted to do what she’d always wanted to do.
“I took courses and then within a few years I opened my own spa with a partner,” she says. Marchese had a spa in Rosedale and one in the Caledon community of Belfountain but at the height of the recession, she decided to get out of the city and settle somewhere a little quieter.
Marchese says a friend told her investing in real estate was the best thing to do. “So I purchased an 18th century home in Bolton and converted it into a spa,” says Marchese. She closed her other business.
Lavender Rose Day Spa has developed a reputation with people travelling from more than two hours away to visit. It’s something Marchese was never convinced would go away. But then COVID-19 hit. “It’s really a wake-up call,” says Marchese. “It’s changed how I think about business and how I do business.”
Recently, Marchese has begun to explore the idea of expanding Lavender Rose Day Spa’s digital identity. To do that she enlisted the help of a Digital Service Squad member in Bolton through Digital Main Street, a program that combines grants and one-to-one support from the Province of Ontario and the Ontario BIA Association to help main street businesses strengthen their online capabilities.
“I did have an online presence, but I wanted to tweak it,” says Marchese. “Loucas really helped me with that… before the pandemic I didn't have the time to deal with it.”
She’s also changed her perspective on social media. Initially, she didn’t see its value because she didn’t know what to talk about. But with the Digital Service Squad member she was able to hash out a strategy to better engage her customers through social media.
But the biggest focus has been bringing her products online. “That's what we're working on now,” she says. Not just an online store but also this new stream of her business – virtual consultations. “I was thinking: if we close down again, how do I see clients without actually seeing them?” she says. “I'm building little kits so I can see my clients online, give them a skin consultation and then they can do it at home.”
It’s new and constantly evolving, but Marchese says even as customers have started to come back through the door, she doesn’t see the digital part going away. “My digital presence is only going to get bigger because now instead of me doing one client one hour, I can probably see several in an hour.”
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, and Yellow Pages.
This case study was completed during a prior expansion of DMS in partnership with the Province of Ontario and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
In June 2020, a $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of 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.