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A great wax isn’t the only thing the boutique studio offers, though – Kelly also created a signature product, bush & ivy buttercream, for softening and soothing skin. We caught up with her to talk business and what’s next for the shop. (Image: Kelly Skahan)

Meet the boss lady behind Ballard's popular waxing boutique

Ballard’s own bush & ivy was founded just over a year ago by Christa Kelly, who brings over a decade of experience in waxing to the table. A great wax isn’t the only thing the boutique studio offers, though – Kelly also created a signature product, bush & ivy buttercream, for softening and soothing skin. We caught up with her to talk business and what’s next for the shop.

Seattle Refined: Tell us a little bit about the business. What does bush & ivy do, and what was your goal when you opened up shop?
Christa Kelly: bush & ivy wax boutique is all about taking care of and empowering you – making you feel fetching in your skin. I provide customized waxing services, with a special focus on Brazilian waxes, and also carry my small batch, homemade buttercream moisturizer, along with other local goods made by local artisans, like Estrella Soap Company products and Elixir Fixer cocktail syrups. Everything at bush & ivy is designed to be simple yet luxurious, good for your skin, good for your senses and good for the earth.

What makes bush and ivy different?
bush & ivy brings a singular, dedicated “strictly waxing” focus to its services. We use only the highest-quality products to ensure the smoothest, long-lasting wax experience, and we use world-renowned Lycon wax for all hair removal, choosing the proper wax type based on the hair type and service area - and designing each overall waxing treatment specifically for each client.Each client’s skin is prepped with organic raw coconut oil before a waxing treatment to protect the skin, as well as after a wax, using the oil’s nourishing anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties.

You're not just a wax bar - you have a product for sale, too.
My focus is providing a customized service for all who enter and creating a space that people love to be in. It’s also on providing my clientele with products that are thoughtfully sourced and beneficial for them to use and enjoy in between their waxes.

My bush & ivy buttercream is so luxurious – I wish I could take a bath in it! It has a light, refreshing scent and makes my skin so smooth. My customers love bush & ivy buttercream for its softening and healing properties, as well as for the thoughtfully sourced all-natural ingredients that I use – just organic coconut oil, avocado oil, jojoba, shea butter, vitamin E and essential oils.

How far in advance did you plan to launch the business? What was the prep like?
I remember the exact moment I knew I wanted to open a little business for myself. My resolve for autonomy and creating a healthy and inviting environment was as clear as a sunny day in Seattle. It took many months of brainstorming, educating myself, searching for the right space and building a community to actually set the ball in motion. However, looking back, with all the challenges that arose, a new opportunity also presented itself. For that, I feel very blessed that it has all worked out.

What sort of research did you do before launch day?
I met and spoke with a lot of wonderful friends and colleagues who own or have owned their own business, and they were willing to share their knowledge and experiences with me. I also had a mentor at Seattle SCORE and read books on how to start and operate a successful small business. I did tons of online research as well in regards to the city’s demographics, especially given the rapid growth in Seattle’s general population and business population, to ensure I was as prepared as I could be.

What was the biggest challenge in prepping the business?
I guess, for me, the biggest challenge was finding the perfect space for bush & ivy to thrive. I definitely had a vision of where I wanted to be and what my customer base would look like. There were so many other factors that came into play as well and it felt like I was on Craigslist FOR-EVER (because I was) to identify potential spaces to check out. But the second I walked in to the space that I have now on Ballard Avenue, I just knew. It was perfect!

Let's talk about goal setting - what were your goals for the first year of business, and how are you moving forward now that you've been open for a bit?
I would be lying if I said I had the whole thing planned out to a T. I knew that by opening in early Fall of 2016 that it was going to take a lot of perseverance, dedication, a positive attitude and a healthy dose of good luck to get me through to spring and summer this year. I will say that even when things got a little hairy (no pun intended), I would sit and do some soul searching, and I always found that it still felt “right” to keep going. It was scary and stressful at times but felt like I was on the right track. I am also incredibly blessed to have an amazing support system that always found a way to brighten my day. And hopefully I give the same in return. Now that bush & ivy is a bit more of a name on the streets as well, I want to keep that going in as much of a positive and productive way as possible. My clients are a great asset to me, sharing positive reviews and recommendations of the boutique to bring their friends in and establish them as clients as well.

Finally, what's next for bush and ivy?
Looking ahead, I would definitely like to open my doors a few more days a week to accommodate all the hairless needs of my ladies and gentlemen.

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