To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, ?She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.?
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand?s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
The instructors at Kaivalya Yoga believe that, like yoga practitioners themselves, the rules of yoga should be highly flexible. They pioneer fresh approaches to Vinyasa techniques inside their University Square studio with the aim of inducing kaivalya—a state of freeing personal enlightenment. Heated and nonheated classes cover fluid posture transitions that synchronize breath with stretching rather than having students take one long breathing break halfway through class. Each session aims to eradicate the body's toxins and boost mental clarity, whether students are attending a free beginners workshop or hefting small weights during Power Sculpt.
Many of the teaching staff joined the yoga movement to combat physical ailments, such as slipped disks or chronic migraines, and now they deepen their practice through Kaivalya's inventive curriculum. They inject posing sequences with pieces of individual flair—Hally Marlino's classes embrace freestyle Vinyasa set to music, and director of teacher training Alex Pfeiffer leads groups through spiritually focused, dance-like routines. Certified massage therapists are also on hand to work muscles into an even noodlier state with Swedish, deep-tissue, and sports modalities.
Kaivalya Yoga's central location is no accident. Owners Dave and Tim met at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1998 and maintain ties with the school as an employee and a graduate student, respectively. They've engineered their venue and schedule to suit the student population: classes provide a meditative escape close to home, scheduling never interferes with Wisconsin Badgers games, and the boutique carries chic headbands, T-shirts, and hoodies from their exclusive Mad Yogi clothing line, ideal for moving from dorm to dining hall to yoga studio in comfort.
Samantha Sargent, the experienced, licensed massage therapist at Synergistic Health, soothes sore muscles and relaxes away cares with custom massages. Each muscle-melting session kicks off with an initial consultation to evaluate desired outcomes and unearth medical history, allowing the therapist to create a personalized massage or ghostwrite the memoirs of back muscles. Soft, ambient music plays as Samantha’s expert hands attack aches and pains with techniques from many traditions, including medical and sports massage, acupressure, tui na, and Thai massage. For some types of massage, the therapist smoothes light oil over skin to ease friction and help build empathy for salad greens. Before or after their massage, guests can sip tea amid the tranquil reception area’s gentle orange walls and soft lighting. Synergistic Health bolsters freshly de-stressed bodies with its own line of organic, handmade beauty products. The lotions and balms eschew parabens in favor of all-natural ingredients, such as coconut oil, beeswax, and fresh-squeezed sun rays. Each potion is designed to exfoliate and pamper skin, outfitting faces, lips, and cuticles with younger-looking appearances.
The Hair Co.'s staff lends a rapt ear to patrons professing their style preferences before performing hair, nail, skin, and massage services. Big Sexy and Pureology products coddle manes during cuts, and Redken products transform hair color without the mess of emptying a bottle of ketchup on your head. Nails painted with CND shellac get color that lasts up to two weeks after a brief drying session under the UV lamp. Patrons also line up for Bioelements facials.
Wisconsin Vision’s crew screens eyes for aberrations and illnesses and presides over an extensive selection of designer frames and lenses. At each location, optometrists perform thorough exams, producing prescriptions that recommend single-vision or progressive lenses from Zeiss. Newly ground lenses can then be fitted into any number of designer frames from the likes of Ray-Ban, Coach, or Calvin Klein. Antiscratch coatings protect the glass panes, and Transitions lenses allow any set of specs to turn into sunglasses when one steps outside or auditions for a classic-rock band.
The stone accent wall and cherry-wood counter in Agea Spa's lobby form a barrier against the stresses of the outside world. Upon entering, clients are encouraged to cast aside their cell phones and laptops before enjoying a relaxing shower in one of the private changing areas. This is only the first step, though—within the spa proper, a team of aestheticians and stylists stands ready to pamper visitors from crown to ankle.
The aestheticians' facial treatments incorporate organically sourced skincare ingredients—including anti-inflammatory plant extracts, natural fruit acids, and aromatic steam—formulated to hydrate the skin and imbue it with a healthy glow. The massage therapists target knotted muscles with Swedish, deep-tissue, or hot-stone modalities, and they can also use reflexology or reiki techniques to promote holistic balance. The stylists pamper clients' tresses, designing flattering new looks with a combination of well-placed snips, coloring products, and texturizing treatments.