Women in Wellness Wealth

Mar 6, 2024
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When Valine Wheatley, the new owner of Eden Street Salon & Spa, reflects on her career journey, she doesn't frame it as a full circle but rather as a transformative evolution that started in her late teens. Recalling her initial encounter with the facility, Wheatley shares, "My mom brought me here for my birthday when I was about 18 or 19. It was a complete experience with a facial, pedicure, manicure – the whole package. I was instantly hooked and found myself coming here regularly."

Driven by this passion, Wheatley enrolled in an advanced aesthetics program and eventually established Sage Spa in 2007, first starting out of her home. In 2016, she moved storefront to keep up with growing demand. While initially offering both aesthetics and medical spa services, Sage Spa underwent a shift as the medical aspect gained unexpected momentum. Wheatley acknowledges, "The medical side started to dominate and grow faster than I anticipated. We had to scale back on spa services, which I didn't like, but we simply ran out of space. So, expansion became the next logical step."

Coincidentally, Candice Lowery, the long-time owner of Eden Street Salon & Spa, was contemplating a slow down after nearly two decades of ownership. Expressing her desire for a smooth transition, Lowery shares, "I entered this business at 28, and after many years, my goal was to pass it on to someone within the industry seeking growth, preferably someone from our community."

Helping facilitate the transition was Ramon Ramirez, partner of Chinook Business Advisory. He notes, "The synergy between the two businesses made the acquisition a natural fit. Sage Spa taking over Eden Street as part of an expansion strategy through acquisition just made sense." The entire process took approximately six months to finalize.

Under the acquisition, Sage Spa has rebranded to specialize in medical spa services like laser treatments and medical aesthetics, while the 3700-square-foot Eden Street Salon & Spa remains a haven for hairstyling, manicures, pedicures, massage, and other wellness treatments. Both Wheatley and Lowery, who have known each other for several years, express enthusiasm for the growth of both companies. "We've known each other for a few years," says Lowery "back when I was a manager at the gym she frequented, I witnessed her career growth."

Valine Wheatley's journey from client to owner at Eden Street Salon & Spa is a transformative tale. Sage Spa's growth aligns seamlessly with the strategic acquisition of Eden Street, promising success under collaborative ownership. The shared vision reflects resilience and adaptability in the dynamic spa industry, symbolizing a vibrant future for both establishments. Wheatley's story is a testament to passion, dedication, and community spirit in an evolving landscape.

International Women's Day Interview with Valine Wheatley

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur and start your own business, particularly in the spa industry?

“Eden Street had a lot to do with that. My mother surprised me with a spa day for my birthday in my late teens. It was the first time I had been to a spa. It was a full day spa package. I remember walking in there thinking 'I want a place like this someday,' I could see myself being in an environment like this. So, I started with my holistic health course, I trained in nutrition, acupressure, shiatsu and added the aesthetics to that. It was actually the founder of Eden Street that encouraged me to become an aesthetician. I wanted my own place, and I built my own place, and now it's come full circle and I own Eden Street as well."


As a female entrepreneur, have you faced any unique challenges on your journey? How did you overcome them?

"Loans. Getting loans and financing as a single mother was very difficult. I built Sage from a very small loan from Community Futures along with three friends that came forward and loaned me money. In addition to all my savings. I took everything I had to build it. The banks wouldn’t even look at me as a single female. And still to this day I still have that same struggle. Even though my income has grown, they still look at me as a single income. I’m grateful to Community Futures, as they let me prove myself through other means. I’m also thankful to those friends that stepped forward and helped me and supported my dream. It was a risk, but they believed in me, and that means so much! “


Reflecting on the early days of starting your business, what advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs who are just beginning their entrepreneurial journeys?

"If you want it bad enough, you can figure it out, 100%. I was a single mother with two small children. I had no help. I worked my butt off in the first level of my home to build my client base and save what I could to reach my goals. When I kept hitting roadblocks, I just put my intentions out there. I received a lot of information from people telling me try this try that and I just went on this personal journey knowing 'I am going to do this.' Asking people for help is so important, the worst they can do is say no. And you’d be surprised how many people say yes. Before I knew it, I had a location, and this amazing team that came together. Many of which are still with me today. My manager Erin has been with me since day 1 and is the most amazing cheerleader. She is the glue that holds us all together, and I don’t know what I would do without her.”

Can you share a memorable story or accomplishment that stands out in your entrepreneurial journey?

"Building Sage Spa was still one of the biggest achievements of my life. That was some serious blood, sweat and tears. I was doing renos until about 1 o’clock every morning and then I would be back by 5 AM. I’d paint and then I would run home and work a 9 to 10 hour day. I had to save money where I could because I didn’t have a lot to work with. So, I had to jump in and do the majority. I was always grateful when somebody would show up to help. It was a real labour of love, and everybody came together. I’d have an army of friends and family who would show up to assist me anyway they could. We learned together. When my brother came down from Calgary to take over the finishings that took a lot of pressure off me once we opened. I’m so grateful for his support.

It was a big space, nine rooms. And nine rooms was not the plan. I was thinking more along the lines of four. But here we were with nine. So, I supplemented the income in the beginning by leasing four of the rooms, and that’s how I built the medical portion. I had a friend who operated her laser business out of one room, and a doctor that operated injectables out of another. We all grew together until we were all in the position to operate on our own. We definitely leaned on each other in the beginning which was a great support system." 

Do you have any final thoughts to share?

"It’s not all rainbows and sunshine. There’s a lot of ups and downs, but don’t let that deter you. It can be really intimidating when all of a sudden, things feel like they’re going wrong, but it’s just a matter of how you look at it. I believe there is a positive in every negative, and there’s a reason why it’s happening. You just need to keep going and you’ll always come out the other end, stronger for it. Every challenge has a lesson that helps you grow into a better business owner and employer. I am not the same person I was eight years ago. I have learned and grown so much over the years for the better. You need to be grateful for all struggles that challenge you. They are always the biggest and hardest lessons to learn. They are the growth that happens daily, and without them you aren’t moving forward.”

We would like to thank Valine and Candice for letting us feature their stories, and for taking the time to interview with us. It was an honour to be of small assistance in your incredible entrepreneurial journeys. Thank you for sharing your words, and hopefully inspiring other women out there to persevere.