The day spa as "oasis" may be a shopworn beauty industry cliché, but, as far as Detroit's newly opened Innergy salon goes, it's a term that fits. Nestled in a cozy two-story brownstone on Beaubien, not far from Niki's Pizza and the Greektown Casino, Innergy, which opened in early February, beckons with flickering candles at the front window and the promise of an inviting atmosphere within. In a refreshing departure from the typical spa experience, which can feel sterile and elitist, visitors are welcome to stop in and enjoy a moment of solace during the day, free of charge.
The lower floor features a tea room, where folks lounging in plush chairs strewn with sparkling pillows can sip a cup of tea, whether they'll be receiving any treatments or not.
"It feels like a home away from home," says co-owner and massage therapist Aida Brown, who, along with aesthetician and longtime friend Keli Hearon, launched the salon a month ago. "When you leave, we want you to feel like you've come away with some kind of peace."
Upstairs, clients are treated in one of the two themed rooms. There's the Love Room, dimly lit and furnished in rich, warm hues, and then in the opposite wing, the Acceptance Room, which features a brighter, more dynamic color scheme. In between them is a space dubbed the Honor Room, a reading room of sorts, where clients can relax between treatments, thumb through various books on spirituality and personal growth, or help themselves to fresh fruit. Innergy's décor a blend of cool sages, warm earth tones and lush burgundies reflects the yin and yang of its owners' personalities.
"Aida is very calm and I'm very lively and colorful," explains Hearon, a petite, thirtysomething African-American woman with an effervescent smile and easy laugh. Her counterpart is taller, and soft-voiced with large, pretty eyes and a quiet demeanor. "Where you see color, it's usually my influence," Hearon says. "And where you sense calmness, it's hers."
The themed rooms aren't just cutesy wordplay. "Our motto is love, honor and acceptance for everyone who comes in this place," says Hearon, "We don't see color and all the stuff on the outside. We look within people and greet everybody with love and [the exterior] doesn't matter. We have a saying: 'We meet you where you are.' There's a faintly spiritual but not religious undercurrent in the air, but it's not at all intrusive and claims no particular affiliation.
The two women met nine years ago and struck up an instant friendship. "We really consider ourselves to be soul sisters," Hearon says. "We bring out the best in each other. Where I fall short, she picks up and vice versa." Both Brown and Hearon were raised in single-parent homes, an experience that helped inform their outlook.
"I think all the ideas were inspired by women's issues mothers always being the nurturers and not taking care of themselves, for example. After volunteering in battered women's shelters, we saw that there was a need for women to be pampered, somebody to focus positive attention on them. The people who can't afford spa services are the ones who truly need them."
Hearon, who graduated from Wayne State University, has a background in business and urban planning and worked as a development director for the Detroit Urban League. Brown was a journeyman electrician as well as a member of the Local 58 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers when she decided to take the plunge and go to massage school. "Something told me, 'Go do it,' and I did. I was in school for a year and during some of that time I was working as a foreman, running a crew, then leaving work and going to Irene's." After finishing massage training, Brown worked at different salons while continuing to take short jobs as an electrician.
When it finally came time to get Innergy off the ground, Brown and Hearon knew they wanted to do things a little differently from the rest. "Everything is karmic," Brown says. "After seeing working behind the scenes and seeing how people cut corners to make money that way of doing business just didn't sit right. We said 'We can do this and do it the right way.'"
Their services include personalized facials and body treatments, such as exfoliations and back facials ($50-$90), makeup artistry, including airbrush application for special occasions ($40-$65), natural (not acrylic) manicures and pedicures ($20-$70), and waxing services ($10-$60). Brown performs a range of massage techniques, including Swedish and deep tissue massage, reflexology and hot rock treatments ($50-$95).
Clients can also book "spa parties," which allows a group to rent the space out for an afternoon of pampering, food and games. In addition to treatments, small gift items are available for sale, including beaded and crystal jewelry of Hearon's own design, crystal-studded tank tops with the Innergy moniker, and tea infusers.
At the end of the day, the focus stays on helping others. As Brown puts it, "When you come across someone whose spirit is low, who feels like the wind has been knocked out of them and you share your talent with that person you can see the light come back into their eyes. That, for us, is the greatest thing. That's what keeps us going."
639 Beaubien St., Detroit; 313-961-0525
Hours: noon-6 p.m. Sunday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday