By Dana Kroll, Uptown Marketing and Communications Specialist
As our breathtakingly beautiful summer continues its journey towards autumn, we continue our journey as well. That is, our journey to learn and discover Uptown through as many different lenses as we can. We hope you’ve enjoyed journeying right alongside us! So far we’ve met with Uptown retailers, lounge owners, neighborhood butchers and chefs, cafe owners, and more. Today, we chat with a business owner whose industry is one that everybody loves…the self-care industry. Let us introduce you to lovely Femé Naigow, owner and head esthetician of Apsara Spa.
Femé ‘s experience and expertise in the esthetics industry has been recognized and celebrated through global brands like Decléor, Estée Lauder & Lancôme, as well as through her loyal local clientele. She and her team strive to make the Apsara experience one that is at once comforting, relaxing, indulgent, and healthy. They invite you to consider an afternoon spent in their capable hands, “a little getaway for the body and soul.” Who doesn’t want to get in on that? Services range from facials and skin treatments to massages and body care.
Apsara Spa is located in our famous Eastown Building, where those who are in the know, know to go. When it comes to finding a plethora of small businesses in one central location, well, this building is where you hit the jackpot. Two full floors house a wide range of locally owned shops, spas, eateries, pubs, and much much more. Pay attention – in Femé ‘s interview, you’ll hear her reference more than one favorite small business that you can find “downstairs”. That is because her spa is located on the second floor of this cool building. Imagine enjoying a massage upstairs, followed by a trip to the bakery, or the pub, or the salon, downstairs. Heaven, right?
With that brief introduction, we hope we’ve planted a few ideas on where you should consider for your next day of relaxation, your next gift of a treat for a loved one, your next favorite spot to find luxurious products for a special occasion, or of course, all of the above. And now – on to Femé ‘s Uptown faves:
You have a free morning, where are you going for happy hour or lunch?
“If I ever get a free afternoon with a two-year-old, which is rare, I love to get my hair cut, blown out, at Bella Versais, and then go from there to get a good bottle of wine, pickup dinner at Tamales Mary, and then go to Redux Books to get a book to read hopefully later on, and then grab something at Hop Scotch to keep the little man busy.”
We told you Femé knows Uptown. In our very first question, she already has four fabulous suggestions for you to try out! In order of appearance:
Bella Versais: An upscale hair studio whose stylists have a true passion for offering exclusive cuts, color, and styling options for all textures of hair. The lovely space is urban loft meets elegant French-inspired salon. Find them in Suite 214 of the 1514 Eastown Building.
Tamales Mary: One of GR’s most beloved spots for truly authentic Mexican and Veracruz-style nosh recently opened a seconed location, right in our very own Eastown, and we couldn’t be happier about it.
This is where to head for delicious, handmade tamales, and they have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options as well. 1551A Wealthy St SE.
Redux Books: This used book store is definitely a local fave as well as an institution, given just how long the Hogeterp family has owned and operated it. They specialize in rare, out of print, and antiquarian books, but almost anyone can find a stack of tomes sure to interest them, just by spending an afternoon scouring their jammed stacks. We love the old school feel of this cozy little bookstore, and we know you will too. 1349 Lake Dr. SE.
Hopscotch Children’s Store: Hopscotch is located in our East Hills business district. They carry learning games and toys, baby gear, cloth diapers, children’s gifts and more. Their mission is to help their customers discover unique, educational products that will inspire children and parents, including quality items that are locally made, organic and sustainable. 909 Cherry St. SE. Or, if you like online shopping, be sure to head to their website for an impressive e-commerce presence as well.
You have a new neighbor, where are you getting a gift for them?
“New Design Floral would be either where I send them, or get a nice floral arrangement from them,” Femé says.
New Design Floral nestles into the cutest little flower shop space, right in the midst of East Hills. This is a fantastic go to spot if you’re looking for a bouquet or an arrangement that is crafted with artistry and an extra discerning eye for design. And with plants, plant pots, and floral arrangements available to help you to add more everyday green to your space, New Design Floral is also an excellent fit for if you’re aspiring to sharpen your at-home horiculture skills (or just make it look like you have)! 973 Cherry St. SE.
You have a sweet tooth, where are you going for dessert?
“I always don’t have a sweet tooth, I sometimes have a savory tooth, downstairs at Bee Side Kitchen, we have Nibble + Nosh GR which have great little boxes, a little sweet a little savory. But if I really have a sweet tooth, Sweet Details – also downstairs,” she suggests.
Nibble + Nosh GR : This team curates a variety of charcuterie board-style offerings, but with everything all packaged up tidily in takeaway boxes. They help you to make your next gathering gracious and delicious, with little to no effort on your part. You’ll find options for assortments of cheeses, chocolates, veggies, meats, and more. Leave the fuss to them, we promise you’ll be glad you did.
Sweet Details Grand Rapids: This delightful cake studio is where to head to find bespoke cakes and desserts, hand decorated cookies, unique sweets, and more. We think that the goodies that owner Vanessa crafts are among not only some of the most delectable around, but also some of the most beautiful.
Both Sweet Details GR and Nibble + Nosh GR (and quite a few more bakers and chefs, for that matter), craft their offerings at the Bee Side Kitchen, which is a collaborative “ghost” kitchen that exists to help small businesses and culinary makers get their brands off the ground by offering them a fully outfitted commercial kitchen in a way that is more accessible when just starting out.* We’re proud of the example that is set by the success of this shared kitchen space. We think it speaks volumes about the generous spirit of support that you’ll find amongst our Uptown small business community. Head to 425 Norwood SE and check it out!
*Sweet Details GR additionally has their own studio space located adjacent to the Bee Side Kitchen.
Someone’s new to town, where are you sending them next?
“If someone was new to town, I would send them over to YT gallery and gifts, there’s a wide assortment of gifts, items, and cool things, that are a little bit more unusual for them to either gift to somebody or to just treat themselves for the moving that they’ve just done,” says Femé.
Yours Truly Gallery and Gifts is a great retailer to head to for all things eclectic, fun, and vibrant. Whether you’re looking to buy a gift for someone else or in the mood to treat yourself, you’ll find accessories, games, and greeting cards at the ready. They do a very nice job of stocking offerings for people of all ages, from baby and toddlers to fun-loving grownups, and everyone in between. 1405 Lake Dr. SE.
What do you love about being in Uptown?
“You can be authentically you. There are spaces for everybody here, I love the fact that people feel a lot more comfortable coming to our spa here, they feel like they can come as they are.” HEAR HEAR, friends!
Whether it’s an upscale night out, a casual day of strolling and shopping, or a brunch date with friends, Uptown always has something exciting to offer. Uptown consists of four vibrant districts: Eastown, East Fulton, East Hills and Wealthy Street that are full of character and personality. Whether you are visiting us for the first time or the hundredth, there is so much in our district for you to explore and enjoy. Plan your next visit to Uptown today.