“It takes a village” is a term which originated with child-raising, but for Kasia Smulska, owner of Green Door Day Spa in Barrington, the saying took on new meaning when it seemed like a door was closing.
“I was a manager in a spa that closed,” she said. “We decided we didn't want to part because we love this community, we love the area. We met a lot of wonderful people here so we thought that maybe we try to open a small business and stay in town.”
Smulska, who immigrated to the United States from Poland ten years ago, found that her friends and clients were willing to step up to make her dream come true.
“We opened the spa with great friends that are clients who helped us out get a loan; they were wonderful,” Smulska said. “They helped us, they believed in us. I also have very close friends who helped with business plan since this was the first business I had to run. It was amazing how many people helped and I appreciate it very much.”
“We did a lot of hard work,” she said. “I was even the one who made the plans, and made the drawings for the village. With a team of friends we painted the place. We treated it like was second home or a baby.”
Tucked into a courtyard within the Cook Street Plaza, the spa's location doesn't lend itself to walk-in clients.
“We're a little hidden spot in the back of the courtyard, we're probably hard to find which is probably not the best marketing idea,” Smulska noted.
What the location lacks in visibility, it makes up for in comfort, which can be a huge selling point when a customer's hair is covered in foils.
“We're next to the heated underground parking,” Smulska added. “One of the doors is next to us so when people get pedicures in the winter, they don't have to go walk in their flip-flops.”
The location also lends itself to another little luxury, according to Smulska.
“We have little restaurants around us, so they can meet friends for lunch or we can run to the place for a client. We carry all the menus or we offer packages that include lunch.”
The staff includes two cosmetologists, two masseuses, a nail technician and one hair stylist. Not surprisingly, Smulska prides herself on their friendliness.
“When I trained my receptionist, I told her, if you answer the phone and we don't have an opening, create in your mind that you are actually talking about your best friend and you have a date tonight but you really want to meet her. Because that's how we feel about a client,” she said.
Although a sense of comfort is important, The Green Door Spa is more than vigilant about their clients specific needs while they are visiting.
“We treat everyone individually,” Smulska said. “We try to customize every service.”
Services include manicures and pedicures, skin care and age intervention treatments, waxing, a variety of massages, body scrubs and wraps and hair services.
“We have a menu, but we can say, 'today your skin is like this so we want you to have this facial.' It's a great experience each time,” Smulska said.
In exchange for the special attention, The Green Spa's clientele respond with friendliness of their own.
“When I had the baby probably a million people e-mailed me,” Smulska said. “I had a huge baby shower here and I received so many gifts that it practically filled the whole nursery."
“It's give and take thing. The more you are out for people and they appreciate it and good attracts good. You receive all this positive it gives you wings,” she said.
Smulska's experience at the spa isn't the first time she has found friendship and generosity at the workplace. When she moved to the US from Poland for a relationship, she found herself alone and unable to speak English when it didn't work out.
She was hired as a clerk in a hardware store and given three months to learn to communicate.
“He (the owner) hired me because he met some nice Polish people and thought they were great,” she said. “It was heartwarming because he hired me and it was hard. I cried every day at work because I didn't understand. I tried very hard but it was difficult. It was a tough lesson, but the best one because no one could understand me so I had to speak English.
“There was a lot of people in the store who tried to teach me,” she added. “I still have a few friends in this place. People are very friendly if they know you are willing to learn. If you try. If you step out, they are very welcoming. It helped me to believe in myself."
Ten years later, Smulska finds herself surrounded by loyal clientele on the third anniversary of the business's opening.
“Instead of throwing a party we are running appreciation month,” she said.
Throughout the month of November long-time clients and new customers alike will find specials to get them through the pre-holiday rush. When a client recommends a friend, each will receive a discount. Trying a new service comes with a 20 percent discount which will work especially well for new clients. A massage appointment includes fifteen extra minutes. A free haircut comes with highlights or all over color and a first time microdermabrasion face treatment will include the neck and décolletage.
“We say thank you to our clients because we wouldn't be here without them,” Smulska said.
The Green Door Day Spa
100 East Station Street
Cook Street Plaza