Ladies and (maybe a handful of) gentlemen, I’m proud to share Beautypendence’s first ever interview! I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting down with the three owners of Viva Day Spa: Shannon Mouser, Laurie Aroch, and Maya Aroch. What a fun trio of ladies who have a sincere passion for their business.
Viva Day Spa opened their first location on 35th Street just east of Mopac in 2005, a former house retrofitted into a spa. It’s small, cozy and warm. Their second location opened in 2008 on South Lamar and has a completely different feel – modern and spacious in comparison, built out to the owners’ specifications. Both locations offer skin and body treatments, including massages, facials, hair removal, and nail services, and a wide selection of products for purchase.
In The Beginning ….
Shannon, a licensed massage therapist with 13 years experience, and Laurie, a pharmacist at People’s Pharmacy, are best friends. For years, they had talked about going into business together. Then Maya, Laurie’s sister and an engineer, moved back to Austin from Atlanta and was exploring what she would do next. For a time, Maya worked at a spa with Shannon, and they determined that they could go into the spa business… and do it better. Voila! Viva Day Spa on 35th Street was born.
What Makes Viva Different
The spa business is a nurturing industry, and consequently, Shannon, Laurie and Maya believe in creating a nurturing environment for both employees and clients. Viva has the reputation of being the spa to work at, and their 62 employees would agree. They only hire employees with a minimum of one year experience working at a spa (i.e., not straight out of school), although most come to Viva with three to four years experience.
As a client, you are treated to the “Viva Method”, where every appointment is designed to find out what your needs are and then customized to fit those needs. Following the appointment, you have the opportunity to fill out a comment card. The feedback is welcome, and rare instances of negative comments are promptly researched and addressed. Massage therapists design the Viva spa packages, ensuring an experience that is mindful of the client, flows well, and packs in a lot of treatments.
Naturally, the owners love everything offered at Viva, but I wanted to find out their top picks when they want to treat themselves. Maya is a fan of Viva’s results-oriented facials, touting their experienced aestheticians and premium skincare lines, including Skinceuticals and Eminence. She also enjoys pedicures in the comfy nail room.
Shannon recommends the Viva signature package of a 60 minute Swedish or deep tissue massage paired with a 15 minute magic mint scalp and hot towel treatment. And if you really want to indulge, she suggests you go for the Royal Treatment, two therapists performing body work at the same time for two hours, with all kinds of bonus treatments, like a body glow and reflexology. (NOTE: If anyone wants to give me a Leap Year gift, I will happily accept this as a present.)
Laurie loves getting massages, but she also proclaims that Viva has the “fastest waxers in town”. The spa carries a wide selection of waxes, different formulas for different body areas. I’ve never had to endure the pain of waxing, but I would venture that speed is a virtue when it comes to this uncomfortable beauty service.
The Challenges and Rewards of Being a Small Business Owner
All three owners agreed that the biggest challenge of being a small business owner is also the biggest reward – compassionately managing their employees. And in addition to having responsibility for 62 employees, these ladies also have to manage two buildings and the thousands of little things and moving parts that go along with that. Maya states that as an owner you have the perk of a flexible schedule, but you’re also on call 24/7.
These three women aim for the highest level of service at both their locations, and that’s exemplified by Viva Day Spa recently tying with internationally-recognized Lake Austin Spa Resort for Austin Chronicle’s Best of Austin Best Spa award. No one was more surprised than Laurie, Shannon and Maya. They didn’t solicit votes; rather, they were truly the public’s choice.
The simple fact is that people love the spa industry. As Laurie states, everyone is open to working with you, and Maya adds that everyone is excited when they call to book an appointment for a spa treatment. It’s a rewarding business to be in for people-persons like these three fabulous ladies. In the brief time we spent together, I gained tremendous respect for these savvy women business owners. In this town, Viva Day Spa has demonstrated staying power, and we can all look forward to many more years (and more locations!) of relaxation and rejuvenation, the Viva way.
Images: All photos courtesy of Viva Day Spa