It’s an absolute honor and delight to kick off our Sisterhood of Significance series with my college friend, Amy. I asked Amy to be the first member of the Sisterhood of Significance because intuition told me there was an incredibly powerful story behind Amy’s new day spa long before I knew any details about how it came to be. Amy and I have much in common. We were both sweethearts of our future husband’s fraternity. We both married fraternity brothers. We both have daughters named Maisie! We both went through significant, life-changing experiences that altered the trajectory of our life. We both left long-time careers in order to follow our dreams. And we both understand what it’s like to simultaneously be pursuing the best and worst idea of your life on any given day. I’m telling you, I’m not a spa girl, but I’ve had a facial and a couple’s massage at Woodhouse Day Spa, and Amy’s made me a believer. It’s clear that Amy is living a life of significance, whether she knows it or not, whether she believes it or not. With that, it’s my sincerest pleasure to introduce you to our first member of the Sisterhood of Significance. Welcome, Amy! It’s an honor to call you sister.
For 20 years, Amy worked faithfully and whole-heartedly for advertising, marketing and content marketing agencies, as well as a marketing to women consultancy. In October 2006, Amy’s husband, Marc, was transferred from Minnesota to North Carolina for work. Amy, Marc and their two children lived in North Carolina until 2014 when they moved back to Minnesota.
At the time of their move, Amy was working for PACE, an agency in Greensboro, North Carolina. At first, the transition from North Carolina to Minnesota was easy because PACE allowed Amy to keep her position and work remotely from Minnesota. Amy traveled lot during that first year back. She flew all over the place to clients, and to PACE’s home office in North Carolina. Typically, she traveled at least twice a month (usually full weeks) or would take a few shorter trips. Eventually, the travel and time away started taking a toll on Amy’s health.
In October 2014, Amy found herself in the emergency room with horrible pain and a terrible ear infection. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and told Amy she couldn’t fly, but the brutal and unfortunate truth was that she was in San Francisco and really needed to get back home. The hotel graciously packed up Amy’s belongings, and Amy took a cab to the airport. On the plane ride from San Francisco to Minnesota, Amy’s eardrum broke and exploded everywhere, which was immediately followed by Amy throwing up everywhere. Right there. Right on the plane. Right in front of everyone within eyesight and earshot.
Thankfully, Amy made it home. She called the doctor with updates, and was told she should continue taking antibiotics.
Amy was deathly sick for five days straight, landing her back at the doctor’s office. She was sent for a CT scan which revealed a MASSIVE mastoid infection. The ear infection had spread into Amy’s skull; the only way to remove the diseased cells was through surgery.
In December 2014, Amy underwent a surgical procedure called a mastoidectomy, in which the surgeon drills a hole in your sinus and clears out the mastoid. Your mastoid sits behind your ear in your skull and is typically filled with a honeycomb of cells. The fluid from Amy’s ear had gotten in that space and become infected. So the surgeon went into Amy’s skull and basically hollowed and cleared out that whole space.
Amy had been so seriously ill and was so concerned about the situation that she was fearful she might not make it through surgery. She promised herself that if she made it through surgery, she’d make a major life change and do something different for work.
For a while after her surgery, Amy went back to work and kept at it. She’d been put on a 3-month flying restraint, so she wasn’t able to keep up the travel schedule she’d maintained prior to surgery. Work just wasn’t the same.
Amy remembered the promise she’d made to herself – that if she made it through surgery, she’d make a major life change and do something different for work.
Years prior, Amy and her husband, Marc, had been dreaming and spent time online searching for business ideas they might be interested in pursuing in the future. One business in particular, Woodhouse Day Spa, captured and kept their attention all those years. Yes, that online search never escaped Amy’s mind. She knew she was happiest when she was working face-to-face with people. A spa seemed like a fit with her personality and professional experience. So when the three-month flying restraint lifted, Amy and Marc planned a visit to Woodhouse Day Spa in Texas, which ultimately had to be canceled due to issues at home and work.
While it was certainly disappointing that Amy and Marc had to cancel their first trip to Woodhouse Day Spa, Amy received crazy confirmation she was on the right track with the spa idea! On Valentine’s Day 2015 – while Woodhouse was still a dream, before they’d visited Woodhouse in Texas – Marc purchased Amy a spa day in Minneapolis. After an incredible day at the spa, Amy stopped at Kowalski’s, a local grocery store, to purchase Valentine’s gifts for her children. When she was perusing through MadLibs and other activity books for her children, she found an envelope tied in yarn with “OPEN ME!” penned in caps on the front.
On the inside it read…
“Hi friend! Thank you for picking this up, because I am about to make your day! You have found this because you need to be reminded that you are an amazing, beautiful, and lovable human being! Thank yourself for finding this and giving yourself the chance to put YOU first, and to let yourself shine your light! Be the light that you are, and share your gifts, because there is only ONE of you, and nobody else can be you, but you! You are not a mistake or a left-over; you are Divine! You are magnificent! Ask yourself whether you are truly living for you – and if you’re not, well…do it. Have no fear, because the universe WILL support you. Stay strong, because you are on the right path! Love, Your Earth Angel.”
Amy looked all over Kowalski’s to see if that Earth Angel had left cards all over the place. But NO. There was only ONE letter in Kowalski’s that day. The ONE Amy found.
That spring of 2015, Amy and Marc made their long-awaited trip to Woodhouse Day Spa in Texas. After the visit, it took them two weeks to sign an agreement to open a Woodhouse Day Spa in Minnesota. Amy admits that her husband, Marc, was “blindly supportive” of her business adventure. “I had to make a decision quickly because I knew my head would overrule my instinct,” said Amy. “If I don’t do it now, when will I do it?”
In August 2015, Amy gave her official notice at work.
When she made the news public, a lot of people weren’t sure what to make of her decision to leave agency life to open Woodhouse Day Spa, saying things like “Woah. You’re taking a big risk.” Amy has learned that you “Can’t listen to people who doubt you. You have to choose who to listen to.”
Plans moved forward.
Amy and Marc selected a location for their soon-to-be Woodhouse Day Spa.
“Every day it was the best and the worst decision I ever made,” noted Amy.
On August 13 & 14, 2016, Woodhouse Day Spa opened for family and friends only.
August 15, 2016, marked the first day Woodhouse was open to the public.
October 15, 2016, was the Grand Opening of Woodhouse Day Spa at The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove, Minnesota. The Grand Opening was a reminder to Amy that this was REAL, this was actually happening, this dream had come to life! Amy remembers her husband, Marc, leaning over during the Grand Opening and telling her “You should be so proud of yourself.” How many people get to fulfill and live out their dreams in such a big, tangible and visible way?
Since opening Woodhouse Day Spa, Amy has “learned more in the last six months than [she had] in 10 years.”
“I still feel like the boss is going to show up,” admitted Amy. “I hope I can make someone’s day better. We need to fill them back up today. What can we do to anticipate needs?”
More often than not, guests come to the spa to celebrate a special occasion such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries or girls’ day out. But there are other, more sobering moments in life in which the spa can soothe a guest’s soul, including illnesses, miscarriages and major life transitions.
Amy and the providers at Woodhouse draw out their guests’ needs and familiarize themselves with what brings guests in for services. When they know the guest’s favorite color, favorite coffee, favorite sweet treat, current challenges and issues, they’re best able to serve them. Amy appreciates specificity. If guests tell her what they’re looking for, she’s willing to accommodate. “We are palms up. We wait with baited breath as they check out hoping they had an amazing experience,” says Amy about her approach to customer service. “But things don’t always go perfectly,” admits Amy. If the guest did not have an amazing experience, they “make it right.” If, for any reason, an employee feels like their client didn’t have a great service, Amy works to resolve the situation and meet the needs of the guest.
Amy has 24 providers on payroll at Woodhouse. She is committed to a thorough interview process for employees, hiring “extremely talented and trained therapists to set us up for having excellent service results.” Amy prides herself on paying employees a living wage, and loves hearing stories of how employees have connected with guests. “We are all about long-term relationships and making a positive impact on our guests’ wellness and happiness. This happens by developing a relationship [built] on trust.”
“The big question is AM I DOING ENOUGH?” said Amy.
Now that the spa has been open for seven months, Amy is committed to continue bringing in new guests while retaining guests who have been in for services.
Amy and the providers at Woodhouse Day Spa go above and beyond, anticipating and meeting the needs of every guest. “There’s nothing I’ve put in this business that I’m going to take away,” proclaimed Amy with a sense of assuredness.
“We always ask who we can thank,” noted Amy. Who can they thank for calling? Who can they thank for walking in? Who can they thank for referrals?
Woodhouse always has fresh flowers at the spa. They bring in guest favorites – special sodas, sweet treats, anything that will make their day. The night before, they create a personalized welcome sign, and lay out the proper robe and shoe size by the guest’s locker in the changing area. This month, they’re leaving spring treats by each guest’s welcome sign. After guests have changed into their robe and sandals, they’re escorted to a luxurious waiting area filled with plush chairs, cozy blankets and reading material where they can rest and rejuvenate in peace and quiet. Guests are offered the gracious gift of a warm neck wrap, are pointed to treats and snacks on the side table, and are promptly delivered water or a warm beverage of choice. Once the guest is on the table, providers have permission to use any product needed to provide top-notch service. When the spa service is complete, Woodhouse leaves a box for each guest with a note from the provider, a complimentary gift, and products used during the service in case they wish to purchase anything for use at home. Amy is intentional about communication, sending each guest a hand-written thank you after their service.
Recently, Amy traveled to Texas for a marketing meeting. Four Woodhouse Day Spa owners were selected to work with the home office to design the Woodhouse Day Spa brand story. “Ultimately, it was an incredible opportunity to speak with very experienced owners about some of the challenges I have as a new owner. We discussed guest experience more than anything. I was reenergized as an owner, and ready to take my business to the next level of guest experience,” Amy reported enthusiastically.
Opening the spa was “stepping way out of the box” for Amy. Business ownership triggered a healthy fear in her. Without a doubt, those of us who have taken risks and made life-changing decisions to follow our dreams know that stepping way out of the box is certain to trigger fear. Perhaps the founder of Woodhouse Day Spa said it best when she encouraged Amy with these words of wisdom at the marketing meeting: “There comes a time when you replace FEAR with FAITH.”
With that, Amy was reminded of the day she sent her sister through the spa to provide impressions from a guest perspective. After a splendid and relaxing day at Woodhouse Day Spa, Amy’s sister encouraged her with this truth. “All the things you’re worried about are invisible to your guests.”
Fear or Faith?
“How do you want to live the rest of your life?,” Amy says poignantly as she reflects on the weeks, months, days and years that brought her to this moment at Woodhouse Day Spa.
Welcome, Amy. Welcome to the Sisterhood of Significance. See the significance of your story.
On January 6, 2017, I woke with a crystal clear vision for the Sisterhood of Significance. I shared my story of significance on March 8, 2017, then passed the torch and nominated Amy as the next member of the Sisterhood of Significance. I’m excited to announce that Amy has nominated Kristine who will ALSO become a member of the Sisterhood of Significance! Soon, I’ll be meeting with Kristine. She’ll share her story of significance, I’ll take notes and photographs, and will feature her story on the site. Kristine will pass the torch and nominate someone who’s living a life of significance, whether they know it or not, whether they believe it or not. And that woman will join the Sisterhood! So goes the chain, on and on, until we have hundreds of women in the Sisterhood of Significance. Follow the hashtags #theSOS and #SisterhoodofSignificance, and CLICK HERE to learn more about the Sisterhood of Significance!