SPA PHILANTHROPY: Runway Magic

A Massachusetts spa gives back to a women's cause that hits close to home.

Maison Esthetique Christine Bourque

When women work together, there’s not much they can’t accomplish. This philosophy has certainly rung true for Danvers, Massachusetts’ Maison Esthetique Christine Bourque Spa ever since its inception eight years ago. The spa’s co-owner and namesake, Christine Bourque, had harbored aspirations of starting her own spa, but for many years she lacked the business experience to make this dream a reality. So, she turned to her longtime friend and veteran of the corporate world Jayne Patrikas, who left her job to become Bourque’s co-owner. After acquiring esthetics licenses and conducting extensive industry research, the duo drew up a business plan.

The two women have proven to be quite the dream team, as evidenced by the luxury spa, which, despite the impact of the recession, is still thriving. The three-level facility, designed in the style of a Victorian home, features a relaxation lounge, juice bar, nail room, treatment rooms, sauna, hydrotherapy tub and locker rooms to accommodate a range of clients hailing from the suburban areas north of Boston.

With this women-thrive-together mentality, it comes as little surprise that Maison Esthetique set its supportive sights on a female-focused organization. After some searching, Patrikas and Bourque learned of VOCAL (Victims of Crime And Loss), a local nonprofit, which offers therapy and shelter to victims of domestic violence. In 2010, the spa’s staff organized its first VOCAL fundraiser, “Show the World You Shine, Bring Hope to Light,” held at a nearby country club. The event included dinner, a silent auction and a fashion show highlighting attire from local clothing stores. The luxurious evening seemed to strike a chord with its 150 attendees, as it netted some $6,000 in donations to women in need.

DAYSPA recently checked in with Patrikas to find out what made this partnership such a powerful success.

DAYSPA: What brought you to VOCAL?
Patrikas: We were looking for a way to give back to the community, when an associate of mine mentioned VOCAL (a division of the nonprofit he worked for), which seemed like a great program. I tend to gravitate to causes for women and children, mainly because our business is primarily female—the majority of our employees and clients are women.

Did your clients participate in the fundraiser?
Yes, some clients attended the fashion show as guests, but we also had several of them work on the organizing committee with us. We’ve developed close relationships with some of our regulars since opening, so we asked if they’d be interested in lending a hand. Some of our clients devote a great deal of their time to volunteering for different causes, so they were able to offer invaluable fundraising expertise.

Of which aspect of the event are you most proud?
I think the most compelling part of the evening was when two women who had previously received support from the VOCAL program shared their stories with the audience—the violent traumas they had survived and how VOCAL supported them. You never know how many people in the audience are suffering from domestic problems or abuse. After hearing how these women rose above what happened to them, some guests noted that it offered them the hope of being able to rebuild their lives and start over.

Putting some faces to the charity sounds like a great idea; how did you arrange that? Beforehand, my staff was able to meet with a group of women who benefited from VOCAL, and those two women kindly volunteered to share their stories at the event. They were from the local community and had never been to a spa before, so we offered them a makeover beforehand. Our staff donated their time to give them makeup tips, massages, complimentary facials and information on proper skin care. We also enlisted a local hairdresser to do their hair. These ladies even went home with some products, so they could keep up with their staff-recommended skin regimens.

Has Maison Esthetique been involved in any other charitable events?
In 2006, a local paint company experienced an explosion in the middle of the night, destroying many of the homes and businesses in the area. We opened the spa on a Monday—when we’re normally closed—and let the community know that anybody who was a victim of the explosion or was displaced from their homes could come in and enjoy a day at the spa. We’ve also had “Teacher Appreciation Day,” so that before teachers go back to school, they could come in for complimentary facials.

Any charitable initiatives in the pipeline?
We were recently contacted by TV correspondent Maria Menounos’ group, which is raising money for girls’ schools in Africa. She’s a celebrity who grew up in the area, so I’ve spoken to her fundraising coordinator and we’re looking to put on an event to raise money for that cause. It fits our goal of empowering females—in this case, young girls.

Do you have tips for fellow spa owners looking to support others in need?
Network and get to know the local nonprofits in your area. If you look to your community at large, you’ll find organizations out there that need help. We explored our community and found an organization that would truly benefit from our support.

Kevin Mathews is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer.