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PROFILE: Complexions Day Spa: Downtown day spa has glowing business Irvington native focuses on organic products, attracts clients from entertainment, sports scenes

May 15, 2006

Complexions Day Spa Downtown day spa has glowing business

Irvington native focuses on organic products, attracts clients from entertainment, sports scenes

Trinia Cox's venture builds on a 10-year career in skin care and makeup artistry with stints in Chicago and Los Angeles.

And the location of Complexions Day Spa on Massachusetts Avenue was a good fit with her background in the arts, including gigs as a singer with Dr. Bop and the Headliners and her own group, Trinia and the Gypsies.

Her first spa, opened in 1999, was at the "garden level" below Aesop's Tables restaurant at Massachusetts Avenue and East Street. In 2003, she opened the 3,000-square-foot location down the block. At street level, the new shop has a red brick storefront and blue, black, gray and white striped awning over large picture windows that invite passersby to step in for a peek at her boutique offerings. Cox also bought out Larry Williamson, a founding partner.

The 40-year-old Irvington native started her business by drawing funds from her 401(k) retirement account. The new shop required a Small Business Administration loan from Fifth Third Bank.

"We've been really happy with her performance," said Guy Judson, a Fifth Third banking center manager and assistant vice president. "Her numbers have exceeded her business plan."

Cox's business plan was one of the best he'd seen, rich with research about the spa industry in general and about spas in Indianapolis. The business plan, her resume and the fact she had some of her own money in the project are what sold the bank on the project, Judson said.

Cox said she's been able to build her business through her entertainment contacts, but she's also leveraged the city's sports scene, hosting a private party for Phillip Morris executives during the recent NCAA basketball Final Four. She markets the spa by word of mouth and targeted promotions to downtown businesses and residents.

"We're very much ahead of the game in Indianapolis. Not many spas are true spas. They are more salons with a bed in back. They call it a spa, but are not focused on the overall well-being of their clients," said Cox, who has a bachelor's degree in music and theater from Roosevelt University.

Her spa specializes in organic products formulated with no animal testing. She offers hair and nail care, acupuncture, facials and massage. She has five treatment rooms, including some equipped with specialized cleansing devices and procedures that make a body glow.

Sheila Suess Kennedy has been a client of Complexions Day Spa since it opened below Aesop's Tables. As a downtown resident, Kennedy said convenience was key.

"The new location is really well done, so you feel very pampered, and there is free parking provided in a lot a few steps away. I think she carries a nice assortment of 'impulse' items; I've seen lots of people buying things, and I'm sure that's a profit center. In short, I have found her business approach to be very well-thought out and intentional," Kennedy said.

"I know she did a lot of research before she opened the new place. She spent a couple of years researching everything from equipment to marketing, etc. She has always had a business plan, and seems to have a good grasp of the economics of the business as well as the importance of keeping customers happy. For example, if I've had to wait an undue time, or a mistake was made when booking the appointment, or whatever, she will reduce or eliminate the charge, or provide a gift certificate-that sort of thing," Kennedy said.

Cox recently hired a spa manager, which frees her up to attend to the business end of the shop.

"Continuing education is also a challenge and so important because of the ever-changing advancements in our field," Cox said.


Beyond her career in skin care, spa owner Trinia Cox is a singer with her own group.
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