Relaxation Takes A Village
If there’s one thing that Vermont is known for (besides cheese and maple syrup), it’s the state’s small town charm. The town of Brandon, VT, where Village Spa is located, is no exception. But before the spa arrived, locals needed to search far and wide for something like it. Heather Norton, the founder of Village Spa, wanted to give the small community of Brandon a place to relax and recharge.
Starting out as a small massage studio in downtown Brandon, Village Spa has grown significantly as a business in the years that Heather has been running it. As her clientele grew, so did her services. Her customers were looking for more services outside of massages. They were looking for the total package of services, like nails, facials, waxing, and hair. Heather began to see that people in the area didn’t have easy access to spas or any services like them–it usually takes a 20-minute drive to find a nice, professional place to unwind. With that in mind, she started to expand her studio.
Heather graduated with a degree in social work, which she pursued for ten years before making a transition, beginning with training in Infant Massage.
“I realized the benefits that massage has,” she said. “I thought I’d give it a try, not knowing that I would leave social work. But then I really liked the massage aspect and moved into that.”
Five years later, she opened her studio.
There was never a surprise, and that’s why I would recommend Opportunities. Nothing was hidden during the process.
Now, she runs Village Spa, a full service salon and spa that offers anything from facials to pedicures to hair services for men, women, and children. Their most popular services are massage therapy, hair coloring, and pedicures–services that, anywhere else, you’d have to go to three different places for.
While the salon has a selection of basic services for skin care, hair removal, and massaging, they offer a collection of specific, customizable services unique to the team. Prenatal massages for expecting mothers, safe, sunless tanning, and skin type-specific facials are all a part of the full service experience.
With a team of four other women working to bring luxurious spa services to the town of Brandon, Heather has created a destination spot for the busy people of the area.
The services at the spa are customizable, as the staff aims to work with their customers and give them exactly what they want. “We try to work with people based on where they’re at,” Heather said. “So, nothing that anyone gets here is a cookie-cutter type service. It’s not always the same each time for each client. It’s personal–it’s about the person that’s coming in and their experience.”
That customization and ability to be everything the community needs is a result of Heather’s caring nature and her team of employees who cover all the bases of the spa service and relaxation world. On the teamwork of her staff Heather said, “We all kind of have our pieces of the full service.”
As a full service spa, one of their unique and convenient services is their spa parties, where they do different spa samplers and bring in members of the community who may have something to offer that Village Spa doesn’t. Once a month, the Village team provides these gatherings, including an added source of fun and interest to their spa parties. Heather has brought in a chocolatier and a Tarot card reader–the parties are a great way for the salon’s customers to mingle and have a nice time over drinks and a fortune teller, while also learning more about what the business has to offer.
It’s that welcoming, homey atmosphere that Heather and her customers believe make Village Spa special. She said, “We know our clients on a personal level–we call them and check on them… We just have a real down-to-earth, casual atmosphere about things.”
Like many businesspeople in Vermont, Heather started small. Coming out of a degree in social work, her move to working in and owning a spa was a new experience. When she realized that her one-room studio wasn’t enough for her growing clientele and demand of services, she started to look for financial help. Having the right space was an important aspect of the spa, and Heather looked around for the right building. However, some banks weren’t interested simply because of the location. But after some time and searching, Heather found Opportunities.
At first, Heather tried two other banks who “cut her off short and sweet.” Hesitant to work with small business owners, both banks denied her alone, so she kept looking for solutions. After attending a business planning course, she noticed Opportunities Credit Union on a list of credit unions in the area. She knew she needed a way to finance her new space in order to expand her business, and that’s when she turned to Opportunities. Heather took out a mortgage for her space, and she was on her way.
Working with the credit union was even easier for Heather than finding them in the first place. She was always in the loop when working with Opportunities and Greg Huysman, the Senior Business Development Manager, who helped her work through new financial terrain.
“I could send and email and he got right back to me,” Heather said of Greg. “And I could call and he’d get right back to me, too. Since I’m with my clients so much, it can be hard to reach me, so I really appreciated how quick and attentive he is with his work. I thought he was very honest and truthful and and took things step by step with me, which was great because I’d never done anything like this before. I didn’t know which way to go.”
Because of Opportunities’ willingness to help new business owners, Heather recommends them to others in similar situations.
For Heather, it was an easy process. “They were good at helping me to brainstorm different ways of doing things, and explaining specifically what I needed to do. For instance, going to the closing, I knew exactly how much money I had to have with me. There was never a surprise, and that’s why I would recommend Opportunities. Nothing was hidden during the process.”
Because of the collaboration between Heather, a business owner with a knack for relaxation, and Opportunities Credit Union, a simple, friendly group looking to help people finance their goals, Brandon now has a place to unwind, put their feet up, and enjoy.
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