It’s critical, pandemic or not
By Carolyn Culbertson
Marci Delaney hardly had a moment to blink before shutting her spa down in line with COVID-19 safety restrictions. Delaney, owner of Spa 131 on State Street in Cayce, South Carolina, said the shut-down was devastating for her and her team. “I’ve got people that are single moms, people that rely on this for their livelihood to pay their rent, to buy their groceries, to feed their children,” she said.
Like many small business owners at the start of the pandemic, Delaney hustled. “We had to get creative,” she said. The spa was shuttered for seven weeks. But during that time Delaney pivoted to virtual services, including Zoom facials for groups and individuals. Virtual facials are still on the menu, and some customers buy the kits alone for a DIY night at home.
How Delaney used the pandemic to move forward
By the time they opened back up, Delaney and her staff found some of their clients so relieved to find care at the spa again that they would come in and just be weeping. “Humans crave human touch and interaction… when you have a massage, it releases a lot of serotonin,” she says. Since it reopened, Spa 131 has had COVID-19 protocols in place to protect its workers and clients. Steps to the end include mandatory temperature checks and masks, weekly COVID-19 tests for employees, and increased sanitation.
Although the pandemic has not laid an easy road for Spa 131, Delaney sees her business and the industry itself — already worth billions of dollars worldwide — taking on an enormous role in a post-pandemic world. “One day, when people are more confident in going out because of that crave of the human touch, I really do see that this business is going to be more and more and more desired,” Delaney says. Beth McGroarty, vice president of research for the Global Wellness Institute, predicts the same, saying that the post-pandemic market looks “bullish” for the wellness industry.
The value Delaney brings, pandemic or not, lies in a term often used but hardly nailed down. Spa 131 is its definition: “This is self-care, self-maintenance — and it is not selfish,” she says. “As women we are so numb from putting ourselves on the back burner.” The spa has three massage rooms, four aesthetic rooms, one spray tan room, and a tranquility room (currently closed), and most importantly, a team of women that takes care of each other as much as they care for clients.
Delaney considers them family, and the spa is her lifeblood. “I love what I do…there’s nothing else I would rather be doing,” she says. “There’s never a day that I’ve woken up and not felt joy about coming here.”