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DIY tips for creating an indigenous spa menu
We were so inspired by what all learned about the burgeoning “farm to spa” movement while grilling locavore-friendly pros for February’s Green Scene (Local Heroes, page 54 in the print or digital issue), we were curious about simple ways to start “going local.” Luckily, one locavore pioneer, Cynthea Hausman, owner of Cynthea’s Spa in Burlington, Vermont, insists that creating her guest-pleasing farm-to-spa menu was "super easy.”
Here are her tips on getting started:
Figure out what makes your area special. “You want to give your guests a strong sense of place by taking your region’s natural strength’s and incorporating them into spa treatments,” Hausman says. As such, Hausman's Vermont-based facility highlights indigenous maple syrup, berries, apples, coffee and more. “If you’re in Colorado, look into sage; Washington, apples,” Hausman suggests. “Identify with what your area is known for.”
Stock up on fresh, indigenous ingredients. If you’re lucky enough to live near a farm or a natural food co-op, this part’s easy. Otherwise, Hausman suggests hitting up your local farmers’ market. “I like to challenge myself by asking, ‘What is the shortest possible distance my products could travel?’,” she says. “Say I’m using strawberry treatments and there are three vendors to choose from; I buy from the farm that’s located closest, because that decreases my spa’s eco-footprint. It often can cut costs too.”
Source your dry treatment supplies locally. “Talk to friends in other businesses about cross-promotion opportunities,” Hausman urges. “We get our dry cocoa powder for chocolate treatments from the Vermont Brownie Company, another female-owned company located only 20 minutes away. To create winter coffee scrubs, I work with a mother/daughter-owned, fair-trade coffee business, Speeder and Earls. And I also buy organic essential oils here in town. We then promote these companies to spa guests.”
Design treatments! It's now time to get creative. Hausman suggests starting with mani/pedi soaks and scrubs, and eventually moving on to body scrubs and wraps. “This requires very minimal staff training,” she says. “We have a scrub bar set up where clients can custom-create an experience with their therapists. Right now, for Valentine’s Day, we have kitchen canisters filled with Dead Sea salts, dried organic rose petals, coffee and cocoa butter—but the scrub bar ingredients rotate all the time, based on what’s fresh. Therapists create individualized scrubs in bowls, with spoons.”
Get the word out to locavores. Hausman and her team pitch a tent to set up a “pop-up spa” at farmers’ markets and other local festivals, where guests can sample the custom scrub bar and receive complimentary hand treatments. “It also helps us network with other local food vendors,” she says.
For information about making your spa menu even more indigenous, write Hausman at firstname.lastname@example.org. “I’m on a mission,” Hausman says, explaining her willingness to help. “Think of it like Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution—only for spa treatments!”