Celebrating and Supporting Women in Business

Friday, October 19, 2018

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The number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. has risen 3,000 percent since 1972. It’s an impressive statistic, especially considering the fact that women were required to have a male co-signer in order to get a loan up until 1988.

Women have come a long way since the then. October was designated as National Women’s Small Business Month. In this month and beyond, it’s an opportune time to recognize and celebrate the impact female entrepreneurs have on our economy.

Tehama County supports a wide range of women-owned businesses, from restaurants to retailers, design firms and more. Kelli Graves is one such female entrepreneur. Her business, The Spa Downstairs, was voted “Best Day Spa” in Tehama County for four years in a row by readers of the Red Bluff Daily News.

Graves is grateful for the support and says she prides herself on offering the type and level of service she would personally want to receive. “I work really hard for my money and want to receive good value for it. That influences my services and how I interact with people.”

The reason Graves got into the spa business initially is because, after relocating to LA in 2000, she was unable to find a competent waxer, despite paying a premium at fancy day spas. Determining that there was an opportunity here, she decided to train in esthetics.

The licensed esthetician program she completed includes education about waxing, skincare and makeup techniques. A week into her schooling, she was hooked. Graves says she loves to be able to help clients improve their skin since it has a positive impact on self-esteem.

“I grew up with acne and had never known what to do about it. Learning about the histology of skin and using professional level products was life-changing for me. Becoming a licensed esthetician completely changed my career direction,” she says.

After completing 600 hours of schooling and passing the required test, she worked at a spa in LA for a few years. Though she had fantastic mentors and learned a lot, she felt constrained working under somebody else so she decided to start her own business. She ran her own spa for several years in LA before deciding to move up to Redding.

“I was done with the big city,” she explains. “I came up here for blue sky and no traffic and a small town, slower pace of life. I love it up here.”

Graves opened The Spa Downstairs in Red Bluff. She has had a couple of different locations over the years and feels her current space on the main street block is ideal. A key reason Graves relocated to this location was a desire to be part of a woman-owned cluster of businesses.

“The majority of businesses on the block are female-owned and run. I think that’s impressive, I love that,” she says.

She notes that it’s a supportive environment, not just for small business owners but for female entrepreneurs. Indeed, research suggests the presence of women in business leadership roles helps give other women the confidence to start their own businesses.

Graves says she’s thankful to have found her niche in Red Bluff. “I love my clients and I love what I do. I’m fortunate and grateful to be able to make a living doing what I do.”

The Spa Downstairs has a name change and rebranding on the horizon (since the spa is no longer located downstairs) and it will be adding a new service at the beginning of next year. Customers can tune into Facebook or Instagram for details.

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