It’s been one year since Melissa Parent followed her dream of opening her own spa and she’s marking Ilume Wellness Spa’s first birthday with a grand opening celebration.

The spa, located at 638 Manawogonish Rd, will offer free mini facials and hand moisturizing treatments complete with a massage for those tight typing tendons. And, of course, there will be treats (like Parent’s favourite, macarons) and prizes to complete the day.

The event takes place Wednesday, November 23, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Parent says it’s been a bit of a journey getting to this point. Like other Saint John entrepreneurs who opened people-centric businesses since 2020, the uncertainties of Covid-19 have made staying afloat difficult. She couldn’t hold a grand opening because of the unpredictability of public health restrictions but has endured it all with a smile–not only on her own face but for her clients. Now, she says, she gets to celebrate with them.

“We do teeth whitening, that’s a newer thing that we’ve been offering that’s really popular, for Christmas especially,” says Parent of her clients’ recent requests for the holiday season.

“But because of the teeth whitening we recently brought a toothpaste that’s very, very gentle. It’s blue in colour so it neutralises the yellow right away. This has been selling like crazy; we can’t keep it on the shelf!”

“People will come and buy like 50 bottles in one trip. I’ll ask what they’re doing with those bottles, they say, Well, I’m gonna give it away to all my family and my friends for Christmas.”

Originally from the Campbellton area, Parent found her way to Saint John through an interest in aesthetics and an opportunity that arose at Nakai Group that had her move from Moncton where she had been a student, to Saint John. IT was a brave move considering she didn’t know anyone here and was still learning English.

As much as she learned from her experience working at the well-known spa, after 10 years Parent knew it was time to strike out on her own.

“I wanted to be a psychologist and [the spa] kind of feels like that,” she says. “Some people, they feel lonely and they come every two weeks just to hang out and get their service done. Anytime we do a service, it’s going to help their body, it’s going to help their mental health. We really believe that self-care is the most important thing that you can do for yourself. We like making people feel good and building that connection with clients.”

One of the most popular services Ilume offers is sugaring, an alternative method of hair removal. But Parent says she’s also invested in a SharpLight machine which is one of the few in the city.

“We’re launching new laser services. So we have three. We have acne treatments, skin tightening, and a face contour that’s coming,” says Parent. She adds that the SharpLight trainer is expected to make an appearance at the grand opening and demo some of the features of the machine, and there may be special packages available.

Parent is happy to lead her team at Ilume into a new year with the uncertainties of the past behind them.

“I have a really good team, two estheticians and three others who rent space, my marketing team and reception. Right now I would say we’re really steady and my clients are amazing. Like I always say, I have the best clientele. It’s my clients that made that made me want to continue.”

Alex Graham is a reporter with Huddle, an Acadia Broadcasting content partner.