Keli Hearon and Aida Brown are co-owners of downtown's Innergy Spa
most importantly, best friends. Closer to each other than are many
sisters, they finish each other's sentences, and their Gilmore
Girls-worthy banter is equal parts teasing, scolding, supporting and
Hearon says, "We balance each other..."
Then Brown completes the thought by saying: "(But) we drive each other crazy!"
Then Brown adds: "I'm the serious one, the nurturer..."
"And I'm the funny one," Hearon says. "She's the nurturer. I'm the fun aunt."
two women just celebrated the first anniversary of Innergy Spa, which was
the only day spa downtown when they opened a year ago. But the concept
and dream have been with them as long as they have been friends.Business partners, friends
and Brown met at electrical trade school — exactly how many years ago
that was is subject to dispute. Brown claims 11; Hearon believes 12.
They agree to settle with "around 11." One thing is for sure: They
became fast friends.
Brown remained an electrician for some
years while Hearon returned to her business background, working for the Detroit Urban League
and later running a friend's business, but all the
while the concept of Innergy was swirling around. "Innergy came about
in our second year of friendship," Brown says. "When we'd get
disgruntled (with our jobs), we'd pull out the plan and make additions.
Then we'd tuck it away."
It was a dream, but they were serious
enough to get licensed: Brown in massage therapy and Hearon as an
esthetician. When Brown got laid off, she was ready to take the leap
and get things rolling, but it did not solidify until Hearon called her
from work in December of 2005 and said, "I resigned today."
"I didn't think she'd do it!" Brown says. "That's when we moved forward."
stumbled across their Bricktown space — a brownstone next-door to
Beaubien Street Saloon — on a downtown drive-about she took on a whim
that very same month. She immediately felt she had found Innergy's
home. She was right: they signed the lease just a few days later.
opened their doors in just two months after rolling up their sleeves.
They enlisted their parents' help, which Hearon calls "a blessing."
spa they created is truly homey and inviting. The first floor waiting
area is a cozy seating area and clients are greeted with a selection of
loose tea served in quaint china. Oftentimes, fresh fruit and pastries
are available as well. Jazz music is softly piped in and there is
plenty of reading material, from current women's magazines to books of
affirmations and meditations.
The second floor has three
beautifully decorated rooms. The Moroccan-inspired Honor Room is used
for manicure and pedicure treatments, as well as a transition space
between treatments. The quiet and soothing Love Room is used primarily
for massage treatments, and the Acceptance Room, used for skin
treatments, evokes the sea with its blue-green decor.Comfort zone
offers the general array of treatments expected from an upscale day
spa, but at decidedly affordable prices. When considering uptown spas
that offer similar services at much higher prices, Hearon says, "We
don't even compare ourselves to them. We connect with our clients. If
you want a relationship with your therapist, a place where you feel
comfortable, Innergy is a place for you."
That relationship is
imperative, Hearon says. "Our clients have become like family. We know
the names of their children, their spouses, if they bought a new house."
They have plans in the coming year to add another Detroit location "We're too small right now," Brown says.
also started a nonprofit, Radiance, which awards two spa packages a
month to women who, as Hearon puts it, "are carrying the weight."
Clients can nominate a woman in need of pampering, whether she is a
victim of domestic violence, a recovering substance abuser or even a
single mother attending school, and Innergy will pull out all the stops
with a full day of total luxury.
With a new and bigger location,
they would like to provide packages to more women who could then
experience the treatments in groups. They also hope to partner with
hair salons and clothing boutiques to round out the experience
for the women they service.
Hearon and Brown's distinct yet
complementary personalities are infused in every aspect of Innergy: the
warmth, the friendliness, the witty banter. The pair has created an
oasis in the city — for their clients and themselves. Hearon sums up
the experience, somewhat in disbelief: "To go somewhere you love
everyday, to do what you love … with your best friend. What can be better?"
Innergy is at 639 Beaubien. Kelli B. Kavanaugh is development news editor for Model D.
Massage Treatment Room
Massage Treatment Room
All Photographs Copyright Dave Krieger