Tough as nails: entrepreneurial mom opens Barrhaven spa

Portraits by Melissa

When Delana Perrier first moved to Ottawa in 2001, she never imagined she would open a glamourous, full-service spa.

“It was a totally different world for me,” says Perrier, 42, who grew up in small-town Newfoundland. “I grew up in the woods; we pretty much lived off the land – my dad’s Aboriginal.

“I came in hiking boots – I didn’t even own a purse; I didn’t wear make-up, I didn’t do any of that stuff.”

As a warden for Parks Canada, Perrier was accustomed to being outdoors, but her boss told her she should develop her career by spending time at the department’s headquarters in the capital.

“So I came here kicking and screaming,” she says of the six-month assignment. “I didn’t want to be in a city, I wanted to be in a national park.”

But her friends took her out to explore Ottawa, and even managed to convince her to put on some make-up. She began to have fun with it, and realized she was pretty good at it.

Portraits by Melissa

“I started exploring it,” she says of make-up application. “Then my friends started asking me to do their make-up and nails.

“I just fell in love with that; I was never exposed to it.”

Perrier married in 2005 and started a family with her husband, Martin Camirand. Her first son, Tristan, was born in 2006. Since Martin’s job required him to travel extensively, Perrier held down the fort at home.

“With my husband travelling all the time, it was just a little much,” she says, recalling the commute to Gatineau with her son in daycare. After her second son, Maxim, was born, she and her husband made the decision that she would stay home with the kids.

Then, while on a family vacation, Perrier and her husband went to visit a spa at the resort. It was a pivotal moment for her.

“While we were there, I just looked around at the estheticians and they looked so professional and happy and glamourous,” she explains. “That night, I looked at my husband and I said, ‘This is it! This is what I want to do; I want to own a spa.’”

Since she was on extended maternity leave, Perrier took an eight-month esthetics course. She then became pregnant with her third child and went back to Parks Canada for a short time, only to be offered a voluntary layoff due to massive job cuts.

With a compensation package in hand, she returned to school again – training for eyelash extensions, advanced make-up, and computer courses to help with her future business.

When her daughter, Mikèle, was starting school, Perrier and her husband began building the spa.

“He’s a little bit of an over-achiever; he’s a perfectionist,” says Perrier of her husband as she shows off her gleaming, modern space in the basement of their family home in Barrhaven. “He definitely contributed a lot to getting things going.”

In March 2016, Perrier opened the doors of the Pampered Mom Spa. Simultaneously, she realized her dream of working in esthetics and giving mothers the chance to be pampered.

“I think it can change a woman’s life when you do things for yourself,” says Perrier, who knows first-hand how hard it can be to carve out time for yourself when you’re a parent. “You lose yourself – it’s so easy to do that.

“Yes, kids need to be a priority – but you need to be a priority, too.”

Portraits by Melissa

Perrier hired Meghan Pyne to act as spa manager, and says together, they’re a great team.

“We work really well together; we’re a lot alike, we travel well together, we go to spa shows every year,” Perrier says. “I would say that Meghan definitely was a big contribution to the success where I’m at right now; she’s amazing, I have never met an esthetician like her.”

Today, 90-per-cent of the clients at Pampered Mom Spa are mothers, although her male clientele is growing.

Perrier and Pyne try their best to accommodate parents who bring young children to the spa. There’s a baby bouncer and an Exersaucer on hand, and moms will often breastfeed their babies while receiving a pedicure.

“We have so many moms that bring their babies here,” says Perrier, adding that she needs to know in advance if a customer is bringing a young child so she can schedule a bit of extra time for the appointment.

“I want us to be able to do the most perfect job and the client to feel like she’s the one and only person there and we’re not rushing you through.”

Between the spa’s Facebook page and social media accolades for Perrier and Pyne’s meticulous esthetics work, business is booming; bookings are now made two to three weeks ahead.

“A lot of people come because they want to support local, they want to support small businesses,” says Perrier.

Although juggling family life and a home business can be challenging, Perrier says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love my life right now; it is amazing,” she says. “It’s been a fun adventure for sure.

“If you’d asked me when I was finishing high school, I would never, ever have imagined that this is where I’d end up.”