THUNDER BAY -- When Kate Lamers decided to open her own business in Thunder Bay, she believed that creating a community vibe and rooting herself in the local business community would get her established – and she was right.
Stella WaxBar opened in September 2017 with one employee, and now business is so good there are three service providers and one receptionist.
“For a small business, growing that quickly is amazing,” Lamers says. “Everything we do is local – our furniture is local, somebody local made our dresser, someone made our desk, a local company made our sign.”
Located near the corner of Algoma and John streets, Stella WaxBar occupies the space where Believe in Beauty, a salon that specialized in wigs for cancer patients, used to be.
The owner retired, and Lamers decided to rent the space for Thunder Bay’s only salon that focuses exclusively on hair removal.
Geared towards young professionals and students, Lamers offers affordable membership programs where customers can pay a monthly fee (ranging from $15) to receive substantial discounts on services and products. “I think our membership program is what really made us,” she says, noting that they have about 250 members now.
Lamers has worked as an aesthetician for 12 years, and she spent most of her 20s being a career student in Toronto while working at various restaurants and spas.
“I’ve always been working with client-based businesses, and I’ve been a manager of almost every business I’ve worked for since I was 19. When I moved back to Thunder Bay, I was the general manager of Silver Birch restaurant,” she explains. After a while, she decided to open her own business instead of managing other people’s businesses. “The best thing to do is go back to your roots; do what you’re good at. And Thunder Bay really needed a place that strictly did waxing.”
“Waxing is a bit of a scary service to get done, especially Brazilians.” she says. “But that’s 90 per cent of what we do; that’s specialty and that’s pretty much what we do all day. I think that’s kind of why it’s taken off so well; because people know we do one thing and we do it well.”
Lamers’ newest idea for Stella WaxBar is renting the place out for bridal parties. Clients can bring their own booze, have the salon to themselves for two hours, and all members will get a service of their choice. “It’s a new bridal experience Thunder Bay didn’t have before,” she says.
Stella WaxBar also sells its own line of products, all made in Canada. The soaps are from B.C., the bath bombs are made in Saskatchewan, the candles are made by a local company called Peace and Quiet, and another local business, NH Designs, makes an essential oil diffuser bracelet.
Their recent bestseller is Persian everything – Persian soap, Persian candles, Persian sugar scrubs and Persian shampoo bars.
“It was really popular at Christmas time because it’s a really good way to send a piece of home to friends and family that live of town,” Lamers says. “The candles were selling our every three days; the candle maker could hardly keep up with production!”