Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Urban Environmentalist NYC: The Spa

August 19th, 2008 · No Comments

Here’s one of our weekly features from the Center for the Urban Environment (CUE). This week’s interview is with Green Spa NY Blog and The Spa co-owner Maria Ingardia. CUE found her through the Sustainable Business Network NYC, a network of businesses dedicated to building a vibrant, diverse and responsible local living economy in New York City. For more information on SBNYC check out www.sbnnyc.org.

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I am originally from Bay Ridge Brooklyn where The Spa & Wellness Center & Green Spa NY.com is located.

Q: When did the Green Spa NY open and what lead you to start up the venture?

A: Green Spa New York aka “The Spa & Wellness Center” celebrated its grand re-opening on April 22, 2008 (Earth Day) after ten years in the spa business. We transformed one floor of the day spa into a three floor Green Wellness Center during a two year renovation—teaming up with great partners and putting together an entire Wellness Center block by block. We constantly evolve the business by staying on top of industry trends—and, in some cases, creating some of them.

Q: What does it mean to have a green spa?

A: For me, having a green spa and being the first in NYC is a great challenge. Having a green spa not only means using green products, but the entire environment must be as green as possible. Over and over, when someone told us that something could not be done, we challenged them and found the “green” way ourselves. The constant re-thinking of how & why keeps us above the rest.

Q: How do you source your products? Do you look to other New York businesses for the products they use?

A: We have actually created our own “Wellness” line of skin care, organic & soy candles, teas (our signature tea is “Red Sun”) and organic snacks. We have very high standards and do not settle for anything less than the best. When we couldn’t find it elsewhere, we created our own!

Q: How did you choose the location of your business?

A: That was easy. Being born and bred in Bay Ridge, I knew the neighborhood and the people—and that the area was missing something. What better guests to service than my very own peers and neighbors.

Q: What do you like best about your neighborhood/community/customer base?

A: My neighborhood is very special and our customers are like family to us. We know that without them, we would not exist. For many years Bay Ridge has been known for its restaurants & bars but now people know it for its wellness— which is a fantastic addition to our community.

Q: If you got together with other business owners what would the hot topic be?

A: Of course anything green, eco-friendly and sustainable. A friend said to me a while back, “green is the new black.” This is especially true with the Bay Ridge Green Team that meets regularly to talk about just that – greening the neighborhood.

Q: What are the salient challenges that face your business?

A: Some of the challenges that face my business are hiring new staff because of the rapid growth of the business. Specifically, finding qualified new staff who possess the same level of passion for the business as our team does.

Q: What are its greatest rewards?

A: The greatest rewards are when clients and guests call or write to tell us that they had the most unbelievable experience or that they are inspired about how we went green. I then see that what we made here in this great neighborhood can make a real difference in people’s lives.

Q: What are some of your businesses environmental practices?

A: Windmill powered energy, dual flush toilets, high efficiency washer and dryer, non-toxic cleaning products, recycled paper, recycled toilet paper and paper towels, garbage bags, organic cotton used treatment, gift cards made of corn plastics & printed with soy ink, soy roof (keeps building 15 degrees cooler), recycled paper for our menu of services, business cards and shopping bags, soy ink (for all printing), sustainable tin ceiling tiles, zero voc paint and clay on walls, zero voc Japanese stucco on store front, paperstone countertops in workstations, all natural signature tea line, all natural skin-care line, vegan spa nailcare products, salvaged antique furniture, bamboo flooring, energy efficient light bulbs, recycled denim insulation, organic vegetable and soy wax signature candles…and the products used for treatments are all natural and chemical free! Organic wherever possible!

Q: Have you seen any rewards associated with these practices?

A: There are many rewards of the environmental practices we put into place. Working in a non-toxic environment is a reward all on its own. We are wasting very little so our carbon footprint is shrinking – a reward for years to come. And just doing the right thing sometimes is the greatest reward of all.

(Interview conducted by Vanessa Knight, Manager of Social Ventures at the Center for the Urban Environment. As an educational guide to a more sustainable New York City, the Center is dedicated to educating individuals about the built and natural environments. For more about our work visit www.bcue.org.)

Tags: CUE · Urban Environmentalist