Studio Tour: Savor Spa Celebrates Mindful Beauty
- by Christine Huang
- Feb 24, 2016
The minute you step into Savor Spa, an eco-conscious spa and boutique in West Village, it’s easy to forget you’re in NYC. Though Manhattan has no shortage of flashier luxury spas, Savor Spa sets itself apart with its relaxed, welcoming vibe, organic hand-crafted products, and wonderfully attentive service.
Savor Spa and Om Aroma & Co., the line of sustainable skin care products sold and used at Savor Spa, are the brainchild of Angela Jia Kim, a former concert pianist turned green beauty goddess. Angela, who calls herself an “accidental entrepreneur,” first became interested in sustainable beauty when she was on a concert tour and developed a serious rash from using a “natural” lotion before her performance. After her performance, she investigated the ingredients in her lotion and was stunned by the fact that there were fifty-five ingredients in it. “The first ingredient was water, the fifth ingredient was a formaldehyde preservative,” she says. “I wanted something luxurious yet organic and good for the skin.”
In 2009, a month after she gave birth to her daughter, Angela opened her first pop-up store in NYC. Today, Angela owns and operates two Savor Spas (one in West Village and one in Woodstock, NY), the Om Aroma skincare line, and Savor the Success, a career coaching initiative for women entrepreneurs.
In addition to being sustainable, the Om Aroma skincare line is beautifully ethical. By partnering with the Dollar and Scents program, Om Aroma works with women in the Hudson Valley who are transitioning back into the workforce, all of whom choose their own hours. The result: fresh skincare products made daily in Hudson Valley that also empowers the makers.
I chatted with a few Savor Spa staff members who helpfully pointed out some of their favorite products: the Lavender Toning Mist, which their aestheticians say “keeps New York out of your pores,” the Raspberry Serum, an intense moisturizer with the added benefit of SPF, and the Manuka Honey Masque, which works to detoxify and clear breakouts. They provided me with a bottle of their signature Pumpkin Seed Serum to sample, and it has been a fantastic addition to my winter skincare routine. It is delightfully fragrant, easily absorbable, and a perfect antidote to cold weather dryness.
I also got the chance to ask Angela herself about developing her own skincare line, opening her own business, and sustainable living.
What were the early parts of the product-development process like? How did you begin learning about different ingredients, and what types of research did you do?
I started making products in my kitchen. At first it was like mixing kitchen pantry items like olive oil with coconut oil. As I woke up early in the morning to play with the oils and butters day after day, I educated myself on the different benefits of more sophisticated ingredients like Rosehip, Meadowfoam, Carrot Seed, and Pumpkin Seed Oils because of their transformative skin-loving properties. I also love essential oils like lavender, rose, and jasmine —not only for their anti-aging benefits but also for the intoxicating aromas. When I realized that people actually wanted to buy my skincare products, I hired a holistic chemist to make sure the pH levels were balanced and that the products were properly formulated.
What were/are some of the biggest challenges you face in creating organic skin and body care products?
The first thing that was most important to me was that my mom and sisters would love using the skincare. If you know Korean women, you know they are serious about their beauty routines and will often invest in the best of the best. At the time, my aunt had breast cancer, so not only did I want the skincare to be pure, but I wanted it to have the most effective anti-aging benefits. I love nothing more than seeing my family and our clients using Om Aroma religiously now.
On your website, you talk about the fact that you tried 1,000 times to perfect your organic creams. How did you stay motivated and sane throughout that process?
I became obsessed with formulating a cream that worked on my skin, and I was not going to stop until I got there. The advantage I may have had was that as a concert pianist, I was used to practicing one phrase a thousand times until it was perfect. My husband was also an amazing support for me. I used to blindfold him and ask him, “Which texture and scent do you prefer, formula #676 or #677?” What a sweetheart he was to take the questions as seriously as a dude can and try to help me in support of my creative endeavor!
What was is like transforming a hobby into a business, and what advice do you have for people looking to do the same?
Creativity is your million-dollar ticket to success, and it’s so much more fun to try out-of-the-box ideas that spark your imagination. When I founded Om Aroma & Co. I got creative and mixed luxe ingredients like Champagne, Caviar and Truffles with organic extracts. The press loved the counterpoint of luxe and organic, which helped us to launch the brand and get loyal fans and followers.
The best beauty tip I have is to live your dream. I’m so passionate about helping others to make it happen. I always say that I created a “cream that inspires others to dream.” Many people were asking how I was able to make this transition so I created the Daily Action Planner and Manifest Method School to help others do the same.
Has being in the sustainable beauty world changed the way you live personally? What other holistic wellness practices have you adopted in your life?
I love eating healthfully and being mindful of what I cook. My husband is a wonderful amateur chef, and we eat as sustainably as possible. We have a place in the Hudson Valley and try to buy our fresh ingredients from local farmers as much as possible. I also have my yoga instructor come to my place twice a week in the afternoon. I find that trying to attend yoga classes is a noble effort but it often gets sideswiped by office “fires” so if he just appears in front of me, I have no choice but to get my “om” on!
Finally, tell us a few of your favorite eco-friendly restaurants, fashion labels, and beauty lines!
Let’s talk food, first, because this is my absolute favorite topic. We love farm-to-table eating, so here are my top three picks:
- Blue Hill:: This is the most delectable five-hour experience we’ve ever had. They were surprising us all evening with little works of gourmet art.
- Wallflower: A sweet hidden gem! Perfect intimate and cozy date night spot with seasonally fresh dishes.
- Mas Farmhouse: Seasonal ingredients from sustainable farmers in New York. Try to nab the corner back table for a romantic night out!
Now onto fashion! I try to focus on finding conscious companies to support, and I love supporting women designers. Some of my favorites women-owned fashion brands are:
- J’Amy Tarr: Elegant, glamourous, a touch-of-surprise interesting twists for outerwear. I just discovered her at a speaking engagement in California and fell in love with her designs.
- Marie Turnor: When I found this “brown paper bag” clutch, a fun twist on the underarm clutch, I immediate had to own it! Created by designer Beth Goodman and made in Southern California.
And finally, beauty! We curate and sell the following at Savor Spa. You can call us to meet your match by texting or emailing us a photo and we will put together a package and deliver to your doorstep!
- Antonym Baked Blush: I’m obsessing over how pretty the packaging is and whenever I put it on, I always get compliments on the girlish glow.
- Vapour Luminous Foundation Stick: a busy mom, wife, business woman’s dream come true… perfect complexion on-the-go!
- And, of course, our new Om Aroma mini-serums. They are so cute and I put them into a pouch everywhere I go. I apply the Pumpkin, Carrot Rose, and Raspberry serums strategically throughout the day as needed.