Tucked away from the busy Market Square on the side street Union Ave is Wild Lavender Spa.
You'll often find the shop open but the overhead lights off, a calm mood settling in the space. Sage green walls with original floor tile exposed, wood furniture and a concise color palette envelope you in that sense of calmness. The first time I walked by, it was evening and the shop was closed. I could see through the large picture window that this place was special - it wasn't kitsch, contrived, or adhering to a generic trend. Standing outside, I could tell this place was different.
When I met Hannah Easterly, it was on a considerably down day and her space acted as a sort of refuge. Quiet, cool, instantly lessening my personal disappointment that my job hunt had gone so poorly. Hannah seemed wise beyond her years and lent a kind ear to the day's tribulations. We mused over choosing work in line with our passions, discussed our similar tastes, and shared in the unique challenges that come with being a 'specific' person. Specific about colors, about ingredients in products, about arrangements.
This specificity is what makes Wild Lavender a space to behold and be held by.
I would later learn that Hannah too experienced disappointing return on her own job hunt - which led her to open Wild Lavender Spa.
After our first encounter, we connected on Instagram and periodically kept in touch. I'd drop into the shop and she'd reply to my Instagram Stories. A few weeks passed and the right time arose to get coffee and make a concerted effort at a friendship. Being new to town and with as much admiration as I held for Hannah, I was grateful for the opportunity to forge a new relationship in this unfamiliar place.
Hannah and I talked for quite some time, largely about our journeys and how we came to be where we were. She'd decided to leave college and pursue Esthetician training, graduating from Aveda and promptly seeking work at a local spa. No luck. She kept hunting for a job, applying with her recently obtained credentials, but was rejected each time because of her lack of experience.
The unavoidable catch-22 of higher education (in any form): A job is needed to gain real-world experience, but almost all jobs require experience.
All Hannah needed was one person to believe in her so she could start her life as an Esthetician. As it happened, believing in herself gave her the best experience possible. With a little help from her family and supportive partner, she opened Wild Lavender Spa on Union Ave - still considered a hot downtown location with decent foot traffic. At 22, Hannah Easterly was a business owner. Today, she has one of the poshest spas in Knoxville.
Natural products seem to be reserved for trendy online shops or expensive investments like Origins.
At Wild Lavender, all products are curated for their quality, ingredients, and varyingly accessible price offerings. Having browsed unabashedly as much as I have, I've been surprised on more than one account to find skincare products said to last 4 - 6 months in the under-$25 price range, which included ingredients like fresh herbs, goat's milk, and natural proprietary fragrance essences to make you swoon. Knowing all this, it wasn't the products or the price that kept me reserved in scheduling a facial. I adored Hannah, knew she would be effective and intentional in her craft, but I was still held back from scheduling my first facial (ever).
I felt guilty. About investing in myself. About the judgement that may come from spending money and time on what others might perceive as impractical pampering.
Silly, right? I was holding myself back from getting my first facial ever - from an amazingly talented friend - because I was afraid to tell people that I'd got a facial. How often I have heard women who get regular manicures chastised for being frivolous or had someone roll their eyes at me when I say I had a massage that day. In this day where self-care is the hot topic and there are endless lists online to inspire you to take time for yourself, I was finally done being afraid of being judged for investing in myself.
My facial with Hannah at Wild Lavender Spa left my skin feeling nourished in a way I've never felt before.
I wouldn't describe the experience as pampering. There's no qualm here with the word, but it doesn't fully capture the essence of what I encountered. While I did feel indulged and I was very comfortable, there was something deeper I was feeling in my skin and in my bones.
indulge with every attention, comfort, and kindness; spoil.
provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.
After the treatment, my face was plump, supple, glistening. It was moisturized in a way that made me think of the first spring rain after a dry winter. When I smiled, it felt easier. My eyes blinked and it was as if the skin surrounding them had been properly oiled so they could move smoothly. Beyond that, as I looked in the mirror, I looked and felt healthy.
It would be no challenge to rave about my experience at Wild Lavender Spa. As my friend and now, as my esthetician, Hannah infuses feminine confidence, wisdom beyond her years, impeccable skill, and her poised style into every interaction. She created a safe space for me to feel free to relax and receive nourishment and helped me to banish the shame I felt investing in my self-care. Beyond what I could have expected or hoped, this was more than a facial. My experience imparted the importance of being self-assured in your choices, the power of believing in yourself even when others do not, and creating the necessary time to be nourished.
You can visit Hannah Easterly at Wild Lavender Spa
525 Union Avenue, Knoxville TN
If this blog post inspires you to drop in, let Hannah know where you heard about Wild Lavender. Even if you just go to window shop, enjoy the ambiance of her space and take time to introduce yourself. I'd love to hear from you - do you take time to nourish and care for yourself, and even let others take care of you? Share your experience in the comments below!