How the owner of Inner Beauty Salon & Spa built a business and found her zen
By Holly J. Coley
Photographed by dKol Photography
If you ask the owner of Inner Beauty Salon & Spa about her business, she will tell you that it’s like “one of her babies.” And like any mother wanting to see her child grow to its full potential, she has given herself wholly to see that vision realized. In a world where 80 percent of small businesses fail within 18 months, she’s beaten the odds. In 12 years, she’s gone from being her only employee to having a full staff that has helped her create a business attracting organic-product-seeking patrons and those in search of luxe treatments at affordable prices. But behind every success story is an alternate version that the public rarely sees; one filled with trials and bumpy roads.
Years ago, before she was an entrepreneur, Jacqueline was just trying to find her way. Born to a father who was a plumber and a mother who was a registered nurse, Jacqueline found that she had many passions such as art and theatrics. “I didn’t know from the beginning I wanted to become an esthetician,” she says. “When I was young, I wanted to be an architect, [a] model and an actress!”
Her mother, who had also become a licensed massage therapist, encouraged her to explore something similar. Once in school, Jacqueline, who had always had an interest in health, realized she loved the detailed work of skin care and found that she had an innate gift for transforming people with her hands. In massage or energy healing, this is simply called “the touch.”
She was so skilled that her instructors asked her to consider teaching after she graduated, but she had other plans. Once she earned her NYS license in esthetics, she secured a loan so she could officially go into business for herself. She was young, driven and fearless. She attributes this to coming from a long line of entrepreneurs. Her great grandmother had opened her own beauty parlor; her great aunt, a department store. Her mother would later open Achieving Balance Yoga Studio. “It’s always been in my blood,” she says.
Wanting to set up shop right away, she turned her home in LaGrangeville into a studio called Jacqueline’s Esthetics. But after a year, she had outgrown the name, along with the space. She moved to a new location, a single room in Carmel, where she rebranded as Inner Beauty Day Spa. She worked nonstop, and within another year she was ready to expand, securing more finances and moving to a storefront in LaGrangeville where she could design the layout and add additional services and staff. In 2012 she found the location at 460 Freedom Plains Road in Poughkeepsie where she was able to include a full salon, several treatment rooms, a lounge in the back and a nail station. The work involved was tremendous, but what were her options? As already specified, it was her baby, and no one gives up on their baby.
Even when she wasn’t at work, her mind was; she would think of her clients, or ways she could improve or help staff. “I don’t think anyone can ever understand [the pressure] until they’ve owned a business of their own,” she reflects. “I’ll be sitting at dinner and suddenly something will pop into my head and then I’ll start writing lists or texting my-self reminders.”
What separates Inner Beauty from other day spas are their top-notch treatments (think acupuncture for wrinkles, LED light therapy and peels) and use of organic products for all hair and body services.
Jacqueline’s facials are award-winning; her clients routinely receive compliments on their glowy, renewed skin. Although she knows she could bring in more revenue, Jacqueline would rather suffer the loss than put visitors or staff in danger by using chemicals found in popular procedures like keratin straightening. “I pride myself on being one of the few organic salons and spas around,” she says. “Health and safety for my staff, family and clients is always number one.”
Tuesday through Saturday anyone can visit the zen day spa (designed by Jacqueline) and relax with a Pressage treatment (a combo of acupuncture and massage), have their eyelashes permed or hair colored and blown out. Committed to giving clients the tools for healthy living, they also host nutrition talks with Marika Blossfeldt, Beacon resident and author of the book Essential Nourishment.
For all the tranquility she’s imparted to others, there have been times when Jacqueline’s own life has been anything but. “Life comes in waves,” she says. “And it’s been challenging trying to ride them out.”
In the first years of raising Inner Beauty, she was also trying to raise her first daughter, Guinevere, as a single mom while coping with the loss of her significant other, David. As clients spoke to her about their problems, few knew of her own, including a series of past abusive relationships that had left her with anxiety, chronic PTSD and fibromyalgia. She fought through pain, stress and memory loss.
Once she met her husband, Jason, things became brighter and more idyllic. Along with giving her love and support, he adopted Gwen. They purchased a home. But there were more trials ahead. Soon after giving birth to their second child, Violet, she found herself questioning her career. For years she had been operating as if she were Superwoman; someone who could do everything herself. Suddenly, she wasn’t so sure. Her business had grown considerably since the days where she rented a single room in Carmel. Then she had made her own hours; been able to keep Gwen with her. Now Jason was bringing Violet to her during work so she could nurse.
The perfectionism that had taken her so far was now threatening to swallow her. She didn’t want to disappoint anyone but wasn’t sure she could build her business and nurture her family at the capacity she wanted. Her anxiety had her playing the “what if” game. What if she had made a mistake? What if she sold her business and later regretted it?
Her mother helped put things in perspective, reminding her that, worst come to worst, she could always start again. “You can change anything,” she told her.
Jacqueline thought it over, even going as far as taking a few career-aptitude tests (all suggested business management, ownership or something in the creative field). When she looked inward, she saw nothing else she wanted to do. “I can be in the worst mood and then I go inside, do a facial and get into the zone,” she says. “I really do love [it].”
Through time and patience, Jacqueline has learned that to keep her business thriving, she must give herself the same care she gives to others. Some of the most helpful things she has found to destress include drawing, meditation and yoga. “You always have the breath with you,” she shares. “No matter where you are, you always have it.”
Through her continuing-education courses (all her staff are required to take them) she’s adopted new techniques to alleviate the physical demands of the job. She tries to get out in nature, where she feels the happiest and most centered. “Being aware is the first step,” she says. “Once you’re aware, you can stay there as long as you need to, but then you can find skills to help yourself.”
Part of that awareness has meant regularly reassessing her personal values and what she envisions for the future. “I’ve come to the point where I’m just trying to live and fulfill my life to the fullest. I’m trying to be more open-minded and go with the flow and being more present…Instead of [saying], ‘Oh my gosh, [my business] has to keep going and growing or else I’ll be a failure,’ saying, ‘I can change whatever I want.’”
She continues to be excited to share her knowledge of health and beauty with the public and has hired additional staff. Looking back where she came from to now is something she is proud of. She’s not sure where she’d find the time, but if she was able to create her own skin-care line or start an organic esthetics school, she wouldn’t say no. Figuring out the balance between work and home life remains a challenge, but she’s up for it.
Her life as a business owner has taught her that growth comes in stages and small steps. Whenever she can, she tries to get out into nature, even if it’s just to her porch where she can enjoy a cup of coffee and the quiet of the early morning. It’s in those quiet moments where she can see the inner beauty of her own life, all she has been through, all she has accomplished and the future ahead. This, too, is something to be proud of.
To book one of the services at Inner Beauty Salon & Spa, call 845.592.2636, or visit them at www.innerbeautysalonandspa.net. █