“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
A place where women support women to relieve stress, trauma, and pain.
That’s the goal of Reflex and Refresh, an all-encompassing day spa for women that focuses on alternative medicine.
“It’s a place where you can get a little bit of everything and we’re just trying to promote that this is a safe space where women can come and heal and learn about some things they may not have known about,” says the owner Asheena Tilbury.
“All of our services provide women a place to de-stress and help with pain management.”
Tilbury says most of her clients have plantar fasciitis or other foot problems.
“People will also come to see me with neuropathy, which is a numbing in the hands or feet. We’ll also see chemotherapy patients, people who are looking for pain management and who can’t take medication. And then there are women who are just stressed. They are living the mom life, working full-time jobs, they are trying to have a social life and then they realize four years have gone by and they have not done one single thing for themselves.”
Tilbury says Reflex and Refresh is the place they go for an hour of bliss.
“We’ll talk during the session because they just need a sounding board or sometimes it is as if they can just take a nap at that point because we want this to be a place where you can just relax. Now that we have all these great women in place in one business together, we can hit all those targets in someone’s life.”
The business has been open and operating for about four years and for the last year they have been located at 995 Stockdale Road – but are now moving to 240 1st Avenue West as their current building has become too small for their operation.
“The business has just continued to rapidly change,” says Tilbury.
“I always thought that I was just going to do this by myself, but I've found a really amazing group of girls that I work with now. Angela is a foot care nurse who also does reiki, which is another holistic modality. I have Kayla who does reiki and astrology readings which are very popular right now and then I have my cousin Darby who is a licensed esthetician which is expanding that side of the business.”
Tilbury says she originally planned to stay at the Stockdale Road location for at least three years and grow the clientele. However, she says “It was only six months later when I brought on other team members and realized there wasn’t enough room in there and it was 'make or break' and we had to get the ball rolling on expanding.”
Tilbury says expanding is exciting and terrifying, “especially in our current market.”
“The opportunity was there to grow and everything just fell into place all at once and it’s amazing to see. I just hope going forward that Reflex and Refresh can stay within ourselves. Even though we are a 'day spa' we don’t really want to identify as an aesthetics spa. We’re not like a regular spa; we want to focus on alternative medicine and that’s our avenue, but how nice is it to be able to offer some of those things? The new building and all the new space will continue us on that path.”
Tilbury worked in several different fields before landing in holistic medicine, mainly in the animal care environment. But she says what put her on the path of alternative care was when she was pregnant with her son.
“I was right near the end and I was so sore and really swollen and I just kept searching for someone to help me with my feet and ankle pain,” says Tilbury.
“In massage therapy, they do a little bit, but only spend typically five minutes on one part before moving on to the rest of the body and it was my father-in-law, who has since passed away, but he had cancer and the doctors recommended him to do this kind of therapy.”
Tilbury says this type of pain management is on the Canadian Cancer Society’s website as something that can really help chemotherapy patients.
“I tried it, and I absolutely loved it and just thought ‘why isn’t this more mainstream?’” she says.
“That drove me down the path to pursue holistic or alternative medicine and bring Reflex and Refresh to where it is now.”
Tilbury says the industry is growing.
“When I first started four years ago, it wasn’t covered on insurance benefits but we are now covered under some programs and as a whole, it’s really booming right now as people are trying to advocate for their own health more than ever before.”
She says that is one of the effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on her business.
“People's thought processes changed, where a lot of people seem to be more concerned about their health – and therefore it actually helped my business.”
But the downside was the constant start and stop she endured during those early pandemic waves.
“Even though I was only open for six months out of the year for the first two years we still did well because people were really trying to take control of their own health,” says Tilbury.
“I started as a mobile service, and I never really planned on getting a brick and mortar set up, but after a while, I said ‘let's just see what happens.’”
Tilbury says she signed the lease for the first small space she opened on March 1st, 2020 and two weeks later she was shut down.
“That first year it was very sporadic and we focused more on fundraising and promoting more awareness for the business. The year after that I was opened for about eight months out of the year and business really picked up and I was able to build a really good client base and that’s when we moved to our location on Stockdale Road,” says Tilbury.
Now, one of the biggest obstacles Tilbury is facing as a business owner is the rising costs of inflation.
“Gas and grocery bills and leasing are all increasing and it's so hard to predict anything right now,” she says.
“There is a drastic effect on us because our industry is really capped at what you can charge. It’s not like we can raise our prices with inflation because I’m not going to be able to charge someone $150 for the same service, I was charging for $60 four years ago. It’s unfortunate but this is why I took the leap of faith and bought a building instead of signing a lease.”
Tilbury says they have grown tremendous support from their clientele and that being a woman in business in a northern community is something that other women rally around and want to see succeed.
“Women in business is growing and women entrepreneurs seem to really want to and need to support each other on their journey,” she says.
“Everything we’ve gone through whether it's with COVID-19 or Black Lives Matter or with Indigenous people and reconciliation or with what is happening in the United States of America and the abortion laws, women’s rights are kind of rattled right now and so banning together and staying strong and supporting each other's businesses is really important right now. Having a space that is safe where we can all feed off each other and listen, love and learn is super important.”
One example that Tilbury points to is her connection to another local business.
“We also support local, we work really well with BRealStudios in North Bay, we get a lot of our products from them and we coordinate workshops with them as well. They are a holistic nutritionist and so we reach out constantly to brainstorm.”
Tilbury adds, “So many women that I have met in the last four years of this journey have been in their own business and are doing fantastic and it's great to see, but a lot of us never really had another female mentor to look up to. So, it’s nice that we can provide these services and have other women seeing what is going on and that it is possible to strive and advocate for yourself.”
If you have a story idea for “Jobs of the Future” send Matt an email at firstname.lastname@example.org