We spoke with Katie Grennan, founder of Alma Natural Quick Spa. She and her team offer a spa experience that’s actually good for you and our world. We found out why no one has to wear a mask in this spa, what to do with your toxic polishes, how a manicure can help people with cancer.
How does the Alma experience differ from a conventional spa?
We painstakingly strive to make sure our spa is as safe and natural as possible – for our employees, customers, and the environment. From our cleaning products, to our sanitation practices, to our tools, our nail polish, and our own line of personal care products –everything is handpicked.
We’ve also made a big effort to provide real value from our services – not just to make our customers look pretty but to actually help improve the condition of their skin, nails, etc.
Our goal is to create a community feel where everyone can feel at home – and feel a bit better when they leave than they did when they walked in.
When did you learn how toxic conventional personal care was?
I started to become really aware about 6 years ago. Then, I started working for a large cosmetics company and saw the ingredients and the battle we are up against with some of these giant corporations – I have become more passionate every day.
What is a quick spa?
We want our customers to come in for a 45 minute pedicure but leave feeling as refreshed as she could from a much longer treatment at a traditional spa – we are focused on maximizing the benefit for our customers while minimizing the time and cost expended. To that end we focus on a service offering that allows us to excel in this area – meaning no services that are extremely time consuming.
Why did you open your space?
I wanted to offer the public something totally different than what had been available in Toronto. No one has focused on bringing natural solutions to these quicker services – and almost everyone I know gets at least periodic pedicures (meaning they are being exposed to dangerous chemicals and they are supporting businesses that expose their employees to these chemicals). I wanted to create a space where all of our clients know we’ve done our homework and everything is safe, a space where our employees are safe, a space where expecting moms can feel comfortable, a space where customers can feel comfortable talking and learning about natural alternatives, a space that doesn’t smell like chemicals.
When you exist, why would anyone go anywhere else?
There are places that customers could go that are cheaper, however, there is no comparison regarding quality, safety, and cleanliness. Also we simply do not offer certain services that don’t lend themself well to high-quality in short time periods, such as body wraps so if a customer is looking for that they will have to go elsewhere. Though we are constantly adding to our service offerings!
Some of the cleaner nail polishes tend to have really outdated colours, and don’t apply well. What brands do you use? And how do they wear compared to their toxic competitors?
We use two different brands: 1) Karma is a 4-Free brand of non-toxic polishes. It applies just like a traditional nail polish and we find it often lasts longer than traditional brands. They have a great selection of colors as well. 2.) Acquarella is our water-based option and it is a completely different approach to nail color than most people are used to. Because it is water-based it requires what I call a curing time for the water to soak into the nail plate and allow the polish to bond. Once it bonds, the polish will last as long as traditional polish. They also have a wide variety of colors, though since it is water-based tend to be a bit more translucent.
How do you support the community around you?
Helping the community is a huge focus of our business and we’re always looking to do more. A few things we are involved in are:
We collect traditional nail polish and ensure it is disposed of properly – as it is a toxic substance it can’t just be thrown into the trash.
We host a variety of speakers in the spa on a wide range of holistic topics of interest to the community.
We are a part of the Environmental Defense’s Just Beautiful campaign
We have donated a portion of profits to various charities and hosted a spa day for people living with cancer.
We form partnerships with like-minded businesses in order to further initiatives/grow that the businesses are engaged in.
What is your favourite indulgence?
I’d say good red wine & “Katie time” – time where I can completely decompress.
Who would be your dream client? The one person you’d love to see walk into Alma
Honestly I can’t think of one person in particular but our dream clients in general are the ones who are also passionate about making a difference – who want to learn more and more about what they can do to make healthier choices, who ask tough questions and insist on real answers, who won’t stand back and let someone else decide for them what they expose themselves and their families to, someone who insists on challenging the status quo.