Natalie Esau is the owner and manager of The Upkeep Shoppe offering manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing, and massages along with a tea boutique. It’s like a little oasis in the heart of Little Italy.

Natalie Esau
Owner/Manager

The Upkeep Shoppe | Ottawa, ON

Explain the concept behind the Upkeep Shoppe and how it differs from a traditional spa?

The Upkeep Shoppe delivers honest, beauty treatment results to both men and women. We are a classy beauty bar that has been designed as a social environment with a cozy layout. Guests can effortlessly host private parties, group events or simply enjoy a service on their own.

Before opening the Upkeep Shoppe, you started in the beauty industry as an esthetician and a skincare trainer. Tell our readers a little bit about that part of your career.

I began my career in 2003 working as an esthetician in a high volume spa in Montreal. I remember within the first week of being hired, my boss at the time told me that one year of working at this spa was equivalent to 3 years experience elsewhere. Boy oh boy was she ever right. I gained so much experience which allowed me to critique my service timing and technical skills as well as learn how to build a clientele with a fully booked schedule day in and day out.

After that I became a skin care educator for a Canadian skin care line. This position had me traveling across North America to some very luxurious spa properties. This overall experience helped me build a solid foundation on how to successfully run a spa, coaching others in the industry along the way.

Do you find that people are intimidated by skincare?

Yes and no. More and more clients are becoming skin care savvy, keeping up to date on the latest trends. That being said every skin care line has a different approach or concept which can be intimidating at times.

Manicures have evolved into an art form – from complementing collections on the runways to alternative art with bling and other embellishments. Do you often have clients come in with ideas they’ve found on Pinterest or Instagram?

We sure do! We have a few nail artists in the house that have been inspired by clients or who have come up with their own creations. Check out our Instagram page for some of our work.

If you could design your own custom nail polish, what colour would it be and what would it be called?

A deep red wine burgundy named “Polish off a Bottle.”

Innovation is the key to having a successful business and brand – coming up with creative ideas that offer an experience that is unique and different. Tell our readers about Happy Hour Wednesdays.

Happy Hour Wednesdays have been a success since week one! We offer complimentary cocktails for groups of 3 or more between 5:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. We have recently evolved this concept by creating tea infused cocktails using our signature tea blends. We are currently working on a winter cocktail using our snow maple white tea and some spiced whisky.

I’ve heard many people say, that owning a business is like having a child that never leaves the nest. There is so much to deal with than what appears on the surface – paperwork, staffing, marketing and compliance with health codes and regulations – the list goes on. It’s not an easy feat by any stretch of the imagination. What advice do you have for aspiring spa owners?

Do not think that owning a spa is all about getting your nails painted. I choose to open this business because I am truly passionate about the esthetic industry. At the end of the day the demands and responsibility of being an entrepreneur are not for everyone but if you choose this path it can be very rewarding.

Since we are a fashion and beauty blog, would you mind answering a few personal questions?
Do you have a daily beauty routine?

I am often testing out new products so I certainly take the time to cleanse and moisturise as a minimum daily and love adding in weekly mask nights.

How would you describe your personal style?

Business casual. I love adding statement pieces of jewelry to my outfits as well.

What is your favorite way to pamper yourself?

I love soaking in the tub with something that smells divine.

I have a book of quotes – whenever I read a book or hear a line in a movie I like – I write it down. What is your favorite quote?

I recently came across this quote which has really inspired me.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” – Lao Tzu