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Apsara: Not Your Ordinary Spa

Feme Naigow relaxes and beautifies Michael Hintz.

Femme Nagiow cleans up the eyebrows of Michael Hintz.

Femme Nagiow cleans up the eyebrows of Michael Hintz.

Femme Nagiow cleans up the eyebrows of Michael Hintz.

Femme Nagiow cleans up the eyebrows of Michael Hintz.

Feme Naigow, local purveyor of beauty and personal wellness, is launching her new venture, Apsara, next month in the heart of Eastown. Adjacent from Capelli Salon and Sip juice bar, Apsara is set to be an intimate destination spa, providing skin and body care along with other services and products. 

Well versed in the full spectrum of beauty treatments and makeup artistry, Naigow’s specialty lies in body waxing. "I’ve always loved waxing," Naigow says. "It's instant gratification. Someone can come to you and 15, 20 minutes, or an hour later, the job is complete. It's very methodical and I also like to figure out things. No two bodies are the same, so you wax each person slightly differently."

Although she spent her formative years in Liberia, Naigow hails from Wisconsin where she completed aesthetician training through the Aveda Institute of Beauty and Wellness, in addition to the bachelor’s degree in Business she obtained through Michigan State University. Since then, Naigow has worked for brands like Estee Lauder, Lancome, and Decleor in salons and shops like the former Smooch Beauty Boutique along with extensive freelance work, all of which helped hone her skills and allowed her to develop a personal philosophy.   

"I do have certain techniques I gravitate towards," Naigow says. "I [focus on] what’s the best way to get this done and cause the least amount of discomfort to the client. I’m such a perfectionist in that way. If I was getting this service done, what would I expect? My standards are very high."

Those standards and Naigow’s commitment to customer relationships is why she is sought after for her facials, peels, and waxing packages, along with eyelash application, special event makeup and body treatments. "I will do anything below what can be done in a dermatologist office," she says. 

Beyond helping people look their best, Naigow seeks to enable and empower clients. "I [am] notorious for making people put [makeup] on themselves," she says, explaining that buying makeup you can’t apply properly is like purchasing a car without knowing how to drive. 

"I have people try themselves,” she says, to see where clients are coming from and to help guide them through techniques and products. "I think makeup should really accentuate your natural beauty. I look at their lifestyle and what they are looking for."

Naigow recently became an authorized distributor of Decleor cosmetic products, which is one of her signature favorites, and Apsara will be the only location where you can purchase items from the product line locally. Naigow has studied with the Decleor team in Paris and freelances for the company, in addition to using their balms and essential oils in many of the body treatments she offers. 

"Their philosophy is your well being, almost like a mind body connection. All their treatments are designed to relax and treat not only your skin, but your well being and your mind. After receiving a Decleor treatment you should feel refreshed, revived and restored," says Naigow.

Beyond offering services that will leave you with soft, glowing skin or perfect eyebrows, Naigow recently became certified to teach professional classes and train aestheticians in various techniques. 

"One of my dreams has always been to become an aesthetic instructor. I love what I do and I love to teach," she says. 

With her 13 years of experience in the field, Naigow will be passing on her hard won knowledge through small group workshops covering specific topics and treatments. While working at Smooch, Naigow often took time to continue her own education in subjects such as eyebrow threading, semi-permamnent mascara, and even ayurvedic classes. 

"Just to round myself out,” Naigow says. "Even if you don't do the service, just to know what's out there."

As Apsara grows and develops, Naigow has a few innovative ideas she will be rolling out. 

"Normally in the industry, we are always asked to give cards for things and asked to donate. [I'm] looking at being able to give back and give back from more of a service stand point," she says. 

Rather than offering buy-one-get-one deals on products and services, she is focusing on buy one-give-one incentives to "give it forward." 

"How many times have you gone for a job interview and wished you had your brows done? People are so generous and clients are so generous," she explains. Through this program, if you purchase a service like a brow wax, for example, you could in turn be providing someone with less means to receive the service as well.  

"Think about a woman, man, or somebody in need who needs that job. If you can give them the polish and finish for them to be highly considered for that job, you not only are feeding their self confidence, you are feeding a family," says Naigow. "It is a luxury service, but think about if you look at somebody who is perfectly coiffed and groomed, and look at somebody who (isn't). We as a society are conditioned to give them greater consideration."

While this isn't the first business venture Naigow has embarked on, Apsara is set to be a full expression and distillation of her extensive experience in the field, providing sought after beauty techniques alongside customer care and wellness in a space that feels inclusive rather than exclusive or haughty. 

"I have to remember how I felt going to makeup counters when I first started. It's scary. You're asking a complete stranger to almost judge you and tell you what you need. I think sometimes to be able to genuinely smile at people, find their best feature, and compliment them [is the best approach]," Naigow says.

Apsara is set to open this summer at 1514 Wealthy St. SE and will also serve as a sister shop to neighboring Capelli Salon, enabling clients to enjoy a one stop beauty experience where they can receive body and skin treatments, then pop over to the salon for finishing touches like hair and nails. 

Audria Larsen is a freelance writer, entrepreneur and professional entertainer. Her work has been published in Rapid Growth Media, Revue Magazine, Michigan Blue Magazine and Hooping.org. She is the founder of Audacious Hoops, Grand Rapids' original "hula" hoop company and produces a myriad of art and entertainment ventures. 

Photography by Adam Bird
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