WHITEFISH – “Grab a jar, open, sniff, and scoop,” directs Jennifer Krack after pouring a quarter cup of heavy whipping cream into six colorful bowls, one sitting in front of each of us. From old fashioned flip-top glass canning jars, we ladle out spoonfuls of orange peel, soy flour, raw sugar, cornmeal, coffee grounds, carrot seeds, seaweed to make a concoction resembling oatmeal.
The gritty cream, however, is not for our taste buds, but rather to scrub our faces. Five of us – three women and two men – sit around the kitchen table inside Remedies Day Spa. Krack, the owner and originator of the Kitchen Fassage treatments, presides at the head of the table, leading us through the five step process of rejuvenating our faces with her home-bred products. While noted for massages, soaks, and wraps, Remedies Day Spa stands out in the spa business through unique body pampering crafted from all natural home-made products and marketing a down-home feel.
Many spas mimic luxury with tile and marble, an effect that can border on clinical, but Remedies defines itself by housing the business in a home. Tucked inside a cozy 100-year-old railroad house on Wisconsin Avenue, the ambiance is strikingly alter-spa. “People walk in the door and say, ‘who lives here?’” says Krack. Besides the reception counter and walls lined with soaps, lotions, lip balms, and oils for sale, walking in the front door feels like entering a friend’s creatively decorated home.
The Fassage takes place in the open kitchen around a dining table. “I wanted to create something with a very Montana feel,” says Krack. This is about as hometown feeling as it gets – a plate of fresh baked cookies sits in the middle of the table.
Krack, herself, is probably the best advertisement for Remedies. Her bronze hair sets off a flawlessly smooth, makeup free face, with a smile that progresses into a genuine laugh. No need to whisper and tiptoe around for fear of disturbing someone’s meditation to New Age music. This spa is about fun.
When Krack opened in 2000, she didn’t plan to expand beyond the current location. But today, Remedies has grown into the biggest spa in northwest Montana with five “express locations” offering streamlined services: Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier, Belton Chalet in West Glacier, Morning Eagle and Kandahar Lodge at Whitefish Mountain Resort, and Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish.
While 75 percent of Remedies’ clients are tourists, drawn to the spa via its Web site (www.remediesdayspa.com), services like the Kitchen Fassage attract locals for special occasions like wedding showers and birthdays. Krack trademarked the term “Fassage” to explain what she does – a massage version of a facial. Krack and her staff are certified massage therapists who use natural products, rather than chemicals, and they don’t do manicures, pedicures, extracting or plucking.
Using items for the Kitchen Fassage found in cupboards at home, Krack demonstrates each step on herself as we copy in a party-like atmosphere. After donning aprons and tasting the chocolate fondue, we mix concoctions choosing our own ingredients from jars on the table. She guides us through a scrub, steaming, a mask, toning, and moisturizing. We laugh at the cornmeal on our faces and huddle under towels over basins of steaming water infused with peppermint and eucalyptus. Periodically, Krack jumps up from the table to nab a lemon from the refrigerator and add its zest to our steaming water or blends up a moisturizing mayonnaise of egg, olive oil, and lavender.
Krack’s formulas are all food based, made in small batches without preservatives. In keeping with her back-to-Montana-roots theme, she discovered many of the treatment recipes in historical books. “People had been beautiful for ages. There’s no reason why we can’t do that, too,” she remarks. “I just use old recipes with new twists.” Pointing out that the skin is the body’s biggest organ, she advocates natural treatments rather than chemicals that soak in to the body. Her newest product is a cellulite-reducing soap in a loofa sponge, made with coffee and grapefruit essential oil.
In building up the product sales, Krack struggles with limitations. Mass marketing is hampered by the small kitchen size and the ability to churn out product by hand. Right now, she’s identifying consistent formulas. “There’s a big step from Grandma’s cup of this and spoon of that to grams, production, and labeling,” she laughs. Also, with one- and two-year-old boys underfoot, she can only produce so much. “Yesterday, I found one of the boys eating the lip balm,” she laments.
Krack’s business fills a unique niche in the spa market. While she attributes her accomplishment to creative women in her past, she’s savvy enough to know success takes more than a great idea. She concludes, “Success takes being wise enough to see what the market is and not copy everyone else.”
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