This story appeared in the Fall issue of Our House Magazine
How a B.C. woman transformed her home into a skin-care spa.
From an early age, Leah LaVanway struggled to get her acne under control. As a gymnast and horseback rider, her athletic pursuits made it difficult to keep her skin healthy and clean. It was those personal struggles that also led her into the medical skin-care industry.
“It was always my mission to learn more about skin and try to figure out why my skin was breaking out,” she tells Our House magazine.
LaVanway graduated as a Certified Medical Esthetician and sought to start her own business in B.C.’s Lower Mainland. But life got in the way, at least for a few years. Just as she was getting her spa business up and running, her boyfriend, William, a trainer of racehorses, was injured in a car accident and couldn’t work for a couple of years. She put her business on hold to help with the equestrian work that her boyfriend—now her husband—couldn’t do.
But once he got back to work, LaVanway wanted to get back to helping people.
She set up her spa business in a few retail locations around the Lower Mainland, but none seemed to be the right fit. The storefronts didn’t offer the privacy that she felt her clients wanted. They were also telling her if she ever set up at home, they’d come to her there.
She did just that, moving her spa into her home. Since 2012, LaVanway, 32, has been operating Essence of L Medi Spa & Laser Clinic out of her White Rock, B.C., home, and hasn’t looked back. “People love it. They come in and they feel comfortable. Especially since a lot of my treatments are for acne… a key reason to keep it here was the privacy,” she said.
LaVanway also noted some pretty big advantages to having a home-based business, including offering a flexibility in her schedule.
But the spa isn’t some little office space. She’s transformed nearly her entire home to give it a true spa feel. Walking through the front door, you wouldn’t know it was a residence too.
A grand entrance leads into the studio space on the house’s main floor. The studio is completely separate from the living space. And since there are no children in the home, there are no toys or other items strewn about.
Over the years LaVanway has changed the entire front entrance, adding parking, a waiting area and an outdoor fire table. The first piece of advice she would give anyone looking to start a home business is to make sure it’s as separate from the living area as possible. If you have clients coming to the house, she recommends spending a little extra money. “Just so when they come in [to your home], you’re proud to show your home and to welcome them,” she says.
There isn’t a better time to start a home-based business, LaVanway believes, and the statistics back her up. According to the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), there are 1.1 million small businesses in the country. Another 2.7 million people are self-employed.
“In my opinion, this is one of the best times to have a business at home because it’s so flexible, interest rates are great, and our lives are getting busier… It can change and build how you planned to have your dream life to supplement your income by having something else at home. It’s definitely the time to do it,” LaVanway says.
Before committing to starting a business in your home, check with your municipality regarding rules and bylaws governing such businesses. While very few cities and towns ban home businesses outright any more, they may not permit signage or customer visits, for example. Condominium and townhouse dwellers will need to confirm what their building’s regulations will allow too.
Financing a Home with a Business
Starting a home-based business like Leah LaVanway’s can be an appealing way to make a living, but there are a few things you need to consider if you’re about to take out a mortgage on the property.
Nancy Ingram, a DLC mortgage specialist in Guelph, Ont., notes that lenders will be looking at the sustainability of the business and whether the borrower can repay the mortgage. Lenders will also be looking at the history of the business for things like regular deposits. If it’s brand new, lenders will be considering whether the business venture is viable.
“They would really look at the whole scenario to make sure they’re protecting themselves and their investors’ money to ensure they [borrower] can pay it back,” Ingram says.
Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, Lead Writer, Dominion Lending Centres