Woods celebrate success in Morristown
Left, Ron and Mary Wood, owners of SpaKiva and Salon, and right, their staff, Debbie Hurd, Tiffany Beard and Tenessa Middleton. The Woods are celebrating 30 years of business in Morristown.
Thirty years together is a certain sign of a successful business partnership. It’s quite another achievement when you’re talking marriage. Ron and Mary Wood entered both ventures nearly simultaneously and are still enjoying the personal and professional benefits.
The owners of SpaKiva and Salon in West Morristown spend operating hours together every business day, the secret to which lies in the fact that “he is in one corner and I am in the other,” Mary said. “We’re best friends. I think its easier because we work together. We know how exhausted each other is. After a long day, there are no expectations of cooking or mowing the yard. But it’s a good tired.”
Ron obtained his license to open a salon in the early 80s and fortune smiled upon him when local businessman John Bible offered equipment he had acquired from another establishment. Classic Touch opened in 1983 in Manley Center and word-of-mouth quickly spread about the comfortable shop setting and the friendly ease that Ron used with his customers. Mary joined Ron in the shop after completing her cosmetology training in August of the same year.
Twelve years later, the couple expanded their shop into a full service salon in a new location on Walker Road, just off West Andrew Johnson Highway and near Lakeway Auto. For a short time, SpaKiva was the only full service salon in Morristown.
These days, the average salon client demands a full menu of spa services and treatments, and there are just a few salons remaining locally that offer one service only, such as hair or nails.
“The whole industry has changed a whole lot,” Mary said.
SpaKiva is an Aveda salon, featuring product lines that include hair care, styling, skin care, body care (toning and treatment) and makeup, all made with naturally derived ingredients (those in which more than 50 percent of the molecule comes from a plant, non-petroleum mineral, or other natural source, like water).
“It’s a continuing education-based system,” Mary said. An eight-inch binder is kept on site, filled with information that Mary uses to train staff. She’s a stickler for details, especially with color mixing and cuts.
“They have to be better than me,” Mary said. “Once they get past me, they’re ready.”
One of Mary’s first questions to a potential stylist is, “Are you a people person?”
“You really become your client’s psychiatrist,” she joked, adding that her original clients’ children are now coming in, talking about their children. “We hear all the trials and tribulations,” she said.
One of Mary’s favorite clients is Ruth Snodderly, who is in her 90s and has been sitting in her styling chair since the beginning. “She feels like family,” Mary said.
Mary’s first love with regard to salon care is the art of coloring. Her esthetician training, completed in Philadelphia, expanded her view of the work day, however.
“I love all of it. I like the variety,” Mary said. “I enjoy providing massage services, especially when it’s a hectic day. It’s nice to be in the quiet back room, with the music and the candles.”
A significant change in the industry occurred immediately after 9-11. The Saturday after the twin tower attacks, Mary flew out to a product and training show in Gulf Shores, Ala. – “They were expecting 10,000 people to attend; only 150 showed,” Mary said.
The fear of flying, and traveling in general, during the weeks after the attacks created a trend of localizing the shows and training that remains today.
“People just don’t have the time anymore,” Mary added. She attends regional Aveda shows that are held in Knoxville, and there are still large shows in cities like New York, New Orleans, Birmingham, Los Angeles and Chicago.
When not traveling for work, the couple likes to visit favorite spots. Ron hikes to Mt. LaConte once a year, and they share a love for staying active as tourists – “He runs and I shop,” Mary said. “We basically hang out together all the time.”
The couple is actively involved with the community. Four years ago, they participated in the ALPS Holiday Tour of Homes, which put Mary’s simplistic, elegant design style on display, as well as the couple’s detailed landscaping projects. With extensive remodeling, the couple had transformed a split-level family home into a custom and welcoming space for entertaining. The home later sold, appropriately to a master gardener, and the couple now resides in in Dandridge. .
SpaKiva is a sponsor of Encore Theatrical Company productions, a tradition that grew from the couple’s many trips to New York City over the years.
“We were always going to Broadway shows,” Mary said. “We just really, really love Broadway and were so happy to see that Encore would be bringing professional-style productions to the area.”
SpaKiva operating hours are Tuesday-Friday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, from 8 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 423-581-5212.
- By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer