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crystal carlson

Ladywell’s Vitality Spa & Sauna: Then & Now

It’s 2007, and Crystal Carlson is a successful bakery owner. But she’d like a change; she’d like to open a spa. And not just any spa: a spa as in the Latin term solace per aquum, or “health through water,” in the European style. She has a vision for a workspace where she can hire women, serve women, and contribute to the health of women.

However, Carlson didn’t have the capital to finance. First she worked with investors, but wasn’t able to raise enough to find a space to suit a “truly European-style spa.” She went to banks and was not able to receive funding, but asked: “If you can’t help me, what would have made you say yes? …Where would you suggest?” And that’s how she found out about Business Impact NW, then Community Capital Development. Through Business Impact NW, she was able to receive financing with a “phenomenal” loan officer. “Someone was with me every step of the way. The loan process was really clean, easy,” remarked Carlson.

Then, the market crashed in 2008 and Carlson had to put her dreams on hold. A consummate entrepreneur, she was able to continue working with her bakery, her first brick and mortar store, which she would own in Ballard for a total of 12 years. Before that, when she was a kid, she “always had a lemonade stand and a paper route. When [she] moved to Seattle from Montana, [she] set up a blanket in the park and sold bracelets that [she] made until [she] had enough money for an apartment” With this can-do spirit, once the market started recovering, Carlson set out to find a space again. It took two years to locate a retail location that could support a spa, not only the 3600 square feet and atmosphere it required, but quite simply, “the weight of all that water.” Two years later, Business Impact NW was able to re-approve the loan so that Ladywell’s could open in 2012.

It’s 2017, and Ladywell’s Vitality Spa & Sauna in Greenwood is in a “struggling neighborhood” that “is rejuvenating.” Carlson sees her spa as part of that rejuvenation. “When you take a business of this caliber and put it into a neighborhood like this, it makes a difference.” Ladywell’s serves hundreds of women per week at the “health-based facility for self-care, recovery,” and “sweating out the toxins.” Carlson believes in philanthropy, hiring women, and providing a space to promote good health.

In the future, Carlson sees “new experiences.” Like so many other small business owners have shared “It’s so much more intensive and expensive than I ever thought it would be!” However, her love for what she does and the women that she is able to help is apparent. She has received offers and requests to expand to other neighborhoods, and designed her business to be a “turnkey operation to franchise.” She’s versed in the value of systems, procedures, and repeatability, so she hopes to one day fulfill these requests.

Overall, Crystal Carlson’s passion for entrepreneurship and making a positive impact on local communities will continue through Ladywell’s Vitality Spa & Sauna and in her future experiences. Business Impact NW is proud be a part of Carlson’s story.

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