A friend of mine, who is familiar with my features on women entrepreneurs, suggested getting in touch with Aba Bailey, as she had known her for years and loved her energy…and what Cher-Mere’s products had done for her skin! We got connected and decided to collaborate. First of all, you have to know how excited I was to have an urgent reason to visit the locally cherished business. I had heard such amazing things about this gem of a day spa, I swear I was like a kid on Christmas Eve. And my kids’ behaviour the day before made sure I was EXTRA ready for some pampering “me time.” The universe was even helping along with my need for serenity…I got a parking spot right out front! I was greeted with a huge smile from Toula behind the desk before getting a big hug from Aba. I felt like I knew them even though this was the first time we met. The atmosphere was welcoming, fresh and joyful! Speaking of joy, I was excited to browse through the new lipsticks recently released from Oh So Pretty, my favourite cosmetics line, which Cher-Mere so conveniently carries in-store. In fact, my friend Erin Berry, the owner of Oh So Pretty Cosmetics, works at the spa a couple of days a week, and I was lucky enough to have her doing my session that day! Erin is an absolute sweetheart and if you look back in my archives, I have featured her on Arrow It Forward as well. Let’s start with learning more about Aba and the background of Cher-Mere, followed by my personal experience with the products and services I’ve come to know and love.
How long have you been in business in Kingston?
We opened in August of 2013, so we are into our fourth year running our business here.
I know there is a deep family history with Cher-Mere, fill us in!
Cher-Mere was started over 25 years ago, by my mother, Cheryl Bowles, a biochemist by trade. She was inspired by my grandmother who was an esthetician, who encouraged my mother to make more natural products. Inspired by Caribbean plants and remedies, she decided to start Cher-Mere. Our first product was our Herbal Hairfood which still is one of our biggest sellers! We then branched off to make products for skin, body, men and baby and also started our spas so that people could experience the products.
What was it like helping out with the company as a child?
I had the nickname, “ the little boss,” because I like things done in a certain order and in a timely manner, I suppose! I enjoyed being part of the process, it was ingrained in my everyday life. I remember doing tradeshows with my mother from a very young age and have done every aspect of the business from production, to esthetics, to business management.
What memories stick out in your mind?
Going to tradeshows, challenging myself to correctly weigh out herbs and ingredients in the first shot, pushing myself to sell products, and my first pedicure!
Do your kids help out with the business?
My kids are pretty young still, so their help usually is coming to set up for an event or lending a hand to “clean up” outside the spa.
What is important to know about the products?
We have been making them over for 25 years and we grow or source the highest quality ingredients. They work…otherwise, I am not certain we would be still be here after 25 years! Also, our products contain no parabens, sulphates, artificial colour and are not tested on animals. We use recyclable and post consumer recyclable for our packaging. Something very exciting and valuable to us is that we use solar panels in our manufacturing process!
How do you want people to feel when they enter your spa?
Comfortable and welcomed. I want people to feel like you don’t have to fit a certain profile to come in and be pampered. I want them to genuinely feel that we enjoy making each client part of our community, rather than just another person coming in.
…and then when they leave?
I want them to feel relaxed, happy that they came, excited about the products and how they feel, wanting to tell others about the experience.
What are some of the most popular treatments?
Our aromatherapy facials, massages, waxing!
What is the most fun thing about being an entrepreneur?
Getting to meet such a wide range of people and personalities and being grateful for that opportunity.
There are so many roles to play, do you struggle with knowing when to ask for help or take a break?
Yikes! People who know me, know that taking a break is not my strong poin…what’s that saying “give a busy person more to do”…lol
What type of people do you choose to surround yourself with?
People that I can be myself with. I am very open and honest and want people to be the same with me in a constructive and respectful manner. I need people to keep it real, to support me, to cheer me on, to give me alternatives when my ideas may not be as great as I thought. Also, I love spending time with people I care about, usually over a good bottle of wine and some food!
What do you think are the best ways people can support local businesses they’ve fallen in love with?
Tell others what you like about that business, referrals are definitely one of our back bones! Give them reviews on social media, as that’s the reality of the world we live in.
Anything new on the horizon for Cher-Mere in 2017?
Building upon our existing community of clients and also our Kingston community through fundraisers, donations and support when we can.
Just for fun….what is a word that would describe you on your most frazzled day?
…and what about on your most kickass day?
Killing it! (I know that’s two words!)
Now that I have you intrigued by the company history and excited about paying a visit to Cher-Mere, whether it will be your first or 17th time there, I would like to share my experience as a Cher-Mere newbie.
For those that know me well, I have likely shared the loving tale of my second child WRECKING my skin with hormonal acne during my pregnancy, only adding truth to the “myth” that daughters “steal their mother’s beauty.” I rarely break out now, other than the odd pimple and stubborn blackheads (due to my genetic oily skin, which, if looking for a silver lining, will at least help prevent wrinkles), so Aba suggested microdermabrasion to start working on my scarring.
I followed Erin down the hall to get started and in no way did I feel like I was in Kingston on a rainy day. There was obvious intent to make visitors feel a bright and airy vibe within the walls of Cher-Mere, with intentional Caribbean love echoed in the decor. As I had never had microdermabrasion done before, Erin took the time to explain the process and what I could expect. I was a bit nervous it would hurt (it did not) or make my face completely red (it did not). I loved it. In the way that a deep tissue massage feels good and slightly uncomfortable at the same time, I could tell that this procedure was going to be of benefit. I immediately knew I would want to come back for additional sessions. An amazing facial and massage followed the microdermabrasion session (the bickering of my two kids now only whispers in the wind)….pure bliss. And even though Aba scolded me for touching my face after (a rule I am definitely aware of as someone who has fought acne since adolescence) I couldn’t help it, my skin was amazingly soft. What I didn’t expect was how smooth my makeup went on the next morning, I used less foundation than normal and got such even coverage, I was thrilled!
To keep up the groundwork we had laid, I brought home the acne line, which included a cleanser, toner, day gel (amazing base for makeup and kept my skin more matte than normal), night lotion and a mask to use once or twice a week. I loved the whole line, and felt good about how natural and soothing everything was, but I would have to say my absolute favourites were the toner and the day gel. The toner because it smelled like a spa and softened my skin, I can’t explain it any better unfortunately, it just gives me ten seconds a day where I feel luxurious! And I bet that’s something you wouldn’t turn down either!
Want to win a glorious spa package which includes a facial and products suited just for you!? Go to my instagram @mleprout or my Arrow It Forward facebook page for details! You have until May 24, 2017 to be entered, tell your friends!