Enviama Spa owner Penny Ordway turned her passion for promoting human wellness and eco-living into the city’s first green spaPenny Ordway faced a dilemma: She was passionate about her human wellness work, but the spa where she was employed regularly used processes and products she found questionable. She wanted to be a good employee, but not at the expense of her clients. In 2001, she decided to start her own business, Eviama Life Spa—the first green spa in Philadelphia.
In the 12 years since, there have been many milestones. “Surviving the first few years, learning who’s in your corner, navigating City Hall, crossing the $500,000 threshhold for gross earnings in one year—there are many small achievements that add up to the whole,” Ordway says.
The biggest milestone came this year: recreating, designing and building their new location at 13th and Chestnut Streets. After 11 years at 16th and Spruce Streets, they were refused a new lease. “We miss the old location with its two beautiful and majestic black locust trees out the back windows,” she says. “While we mourned, we also found inspiration—it’s the best thing that ever happened, landing in this light-filled space in Midtown Village.”
The interior of the spa, which features exposed brick and natural textures, was built with salvaged and recycled materials, non-toxic finishes and paints, and low-voltage or natural lighting. Guests enjoy purified air, distilled water and special herbal teas, as well as products that are carefully vetted, a process that can prove to be tricky. Ordway says that even organic products can contain undesirable preservatives, and that makes the decisions more complicated. “The plant’s polypharmacy—its healing properties which we may or may not know fully—can trump a small dose of a less desirable chemical,” she says. “I have my work cut out for me in this respect.”
Eviama’s services go beyond standard facials and massages to include energy work such as Reiki, vibrational therapies and Mayan spiritual healing. But even the cosmetic services incorporate Eviama’s holistic outlook. “We have our sights set on transformation,” she says, “even when you’re getting a brow wax!”