Interviews

Jimmy Kolker The Blue Giraffe Day Spa Salon

Located in downtown Ashland, The Blue Giraffe Spa and Salon is celebrating its eleventh year in business. The Spa is owned and operated by Jimmy and Trisha  Kolker. The couple set out to create a luxury day spa, a  place where locals and tourists alike can put aside the daily stress of life and relax in beautiful and comfortable environment. Their business tag line is: “Paradise is within, Let us take you there.” Which certainly can be seen demonstrated when reading any of their Yelp or online reviews.

Currently The Blue Giraffe employees more than 30 people and is open seven days a week from ((9am to 8pm). Spa and Salon services include everything from head to toe: massage,  body treatments, facials, haircuts & color, manicure’s and pedicures, waxing, tanning, peels– even medi spa treatments. The spacious environment provides guest s with dressing rooms, lockers, jacuzzi,  steam room and more. No need to feel cramped or rushed here just kick back your feet and relax. I spoke with Jimmy about the Blue Giraffe’s service, staff and excellent reputation established of being a premier business in Ashland.

Jimmy, thanks for speaking with us today and congratulations on entering your eleventh year of business here in Ashland. Let’s start with a little background which is how you came up with the name and inspiration for the Blue Giraffe.

The Blue Giraffe name came from a ceramic, hand painted statue that I gave my beautiful wife Trisha, when we lived in Florida. She saw it at an import shop and wanted it to ornament our back patio. Right after I gave it to her she went to move it and it accidentally broke, shattering into many small pieces.  I swept up the broken debris, but instead of throwing it away in the garbage I stored it in our garage. About a year later, I glued it all back together and surprised her with the gift again. She wanted to name the spa after the gift. I disagreed. She won. The Blue Giraffe is over three feet high and sits on our front desk today.

The inspiration for the spa came from Trisha’s desire to open up a unique, luxurious, full service retreat in the heart of this amazing, beautiful small town. The other main spa was a few miles away and not easy walking to the hotels, plaza, and Shakespeare Festival. We were truly enchanted with Ashland when we came to visit relatives in 2001, and we loved the creek side location and park like setting where we decided to open the spa. Trisha had some experience in the Spa & Salon business in Maryland, and wanted to create a special place for tourists and locals to come and feel pampered, nurtured and healthy.

When you first started the spa did you ever imagine that it would grow to where it is today?

No, not really. We were both pretty naïve as to the potential and challenges the business presented.  The first few years in business were truly a struggle for us, as we made lots of mistakes, and needed to get our “overall philosophy” and “business formula” solidified.

Customer Service is a number one priority for you and your staff at the Blue Giraffe. What are some of the threads in the fabric that keep the spa operating at such a high level?

Excellence and consistency of service is a goal that is emphasized, monitored, and reviewed throughout the spa & salon daily. From booking appointments, checking in or out, or receiving a service, the customer must feel welcome, appreciated and honored – so every detail is important. In our spa, this requires careful coordination between our various departments, technicians, spa attendants, and receptionists. It is a team effort where every cog is important. Throughout the years we have tried to recognize and train, talented, motivated individuals, and moved them into positions where they could participate, lead, and mentor.

When coming to the spa how does one go about getting setup with all the different services you have to offer?

Currently, you need to call our front desk receptionist to make a reservation, but within a month or two you will be able to book appointments online yourself, with our new software that is “on the cloud”. Of course, for booking multiple services on the same day, especially if it is one of our many “combination packages”, or if you are not sure what it is you’re exactly looking for, it is most helpful to speak to one of our very knowledgeable front desk people. We also handle many small groups for wedding preparation, special events, or “girls getaways” that are more easily handled by talking to a live person, who can also help customize the experience.

Can you give us a break down of each department and what they have to offer?

Our massage department offers all kinds of treatments, including standards such as Deep Tissue, and Hot Stone to  Thai or Therapeutic Medical massage, to name a few. We have a steam room and a hydrotherapy whirlpool bath room for one or two. We offer body wraps and scrubs, using some amazing products, from all over the world.  Our Hair Salon offers cuts, colors, and styling.  Our esthetics department offers Facials, Waxing, Peels, Cosmetics, and sunless Tanning.  The nail department offers natural Manicures, Pedicures, and Gel polish. Medi-spa offerings include Microdermabrasion, Botox and Juvederm. Lastly, we have a large retail selection where we have a wonderful array of skin care and beauty products including Comfort Zone, Naturopathica, Glotherapeutics, Kneipp, Shea Terra, Clarisonic, Bumble & bumble and Eufora. Most of these products we also sell online on our webstore@ www.bluegiraffespa.com

Locals love to come and take advantage of your weekly specials. Tell us about a few of these and any mirco trends currently occurring?

We typically post our monthly specials on our website and facebook, as well as some of the local magazines. They are usually tied into a seasonal or holiday promotion. We have had recent great success offering a few year round “Living Local Deals”, as well as some discounted introductory offers on the web. As to trends in the industry, one of the main thrusts for spas and salons has been to offer more wellness and beauty oriented services, as well as organic products. We have done all of these. We are currently looking to add on chiropractic services.

Of course mother’s day is right around the corner, what do you suggest?

We have four customized packages for Mother’s Day for $150 each, although you can purchase any service that meets your budget from a $30 aromatherapy soak to an all-day “Works” package for $345.  Mother’s Day Spa Escapes include: a “Mom’s Head to Toe” which is a Facial, and express Manicure and Pedicure, “Hot Mama’s Treat”, which is a Hot Stone massage, Mini-Facial and Steam, “Mom’s “SPAAHH Treatment” –a Massage, Sea Salt Scrub, Steam & Whirlpool Bath, or the “Mother & Child Reunion” – a side-by-side massage, steam & shower.  We also have some great Mother’s day gifts including the Clarisonic Mia, a sonic cleansing system for daily use, or our amazingly popular imported VanKlee Spa robes.

Note: Dads you can also get a gift certificate and let mom choose.

Your staff really goes out of the way to make sure every experience at the Blue Giraffe is great. One review on yelp reads:  “I always feel like Queen For A Day when I walk in … from the warm neck wrap, foot bath and tea I’m treated to as soon as I enter the lounge area to the customized care in the massage and facials rooms to the perfect mani/pedi that somehow manages to last weeks, this place is my de-stress paradise”

I am not sure who Susan R. is but we thank her for her glowing review. We are exceedingly aware that people who come to our spa are looking for a perfect experience, whether it is an escape from stress, a relaxing body treatment, or a beautification service. While we cannot always be perfect, our staff is happy to go out of their way to try to please the client, no matter what. In most cases, if a client is not completely satisfied with a service, we will make it right for them.

Tell us a little bit about your medi-spa treatments?

A few years ago we started to offer Botox and Fillers to our clients, provided by Tamara Dixon, a licensed and specialty trained RN.  These services provide almost immediate results and have been amazingly popular. The procedures can be done safely at the Spa, and in a more relaxed environment than a Doctor’s office. Other advantages are more flexible hours, lower costs and ease of appointments. We also have seen a big boost in clients receiving Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peels.

Introduce us to a few of your long term staff members?

Our Manager, JoAnne DeRoo, has been with us over 6 year and has done an amazing job, as has Tara Chambers, our assistant manager and Nail Dept. head, who has been with us for over 10 years. An early on employee –  Lilia Medina, has been with us since the first day we opened and we now employ her step daughter Marilu Medina. Julie Schmiess our Hair Department head stylist will be coming up on her 3rd year anniversary, as will Jessie Hoppe, the head of our aesthetics Department. Kathleen Oliver, has worked as a concierge for about 4 years. I doubt we would have succeeded so well without their participation.

Do you also offer 1/2 day packages or can people make their own spa treatments?

Probably our most popular half day package is the “Spafari”, which includes an aromatic Swedish Massage, aromatic bath, BG Signature Facial, and Spa Pedicure.

What is the optimal time that someone should set aside when coming to the Blue Giraffe?

Your time at the spa is completely dependent on what kind of service you choose. We love it when people book our combination packages and spend the day with us, utilizing our steam/shower, bath, lounge, dressing rooms, and different treatment rooms. Having said that, even if you book a 15 min. waxing service, we encourage clients to relax in our lounge, browse in our retail area, and talk with our knowledgeable staff.

In observing and working with your staff, what areas do you focus on that help to make you establishment unique.

As previously mentioned, we try to recognize people who take initiative or provide leadership and give them responsibilities that help the organization and allow the individual to feel empowered and grow. We basically have seven departments including hair, nails, massage, esthetics, retail, medi-spa and concierge — with department heads that focus on the needs of their department. One of the things that makes us unique is a desire to run our small business as a more egalitarian “bottom up” organization rather than a “top down”. We hold monthly meetings and usually quarterly events to maximize participation and feedback. We reward long term employees with liberal benefits, including in-house education, paid sick and vacation days, to name a few.

Finally, any last words of advice or wisdom to share with the audience.


Trisha and I would like to thank the many clients who have made our business successful over the last 11 years, and the Ashland Community for being so wonderfully supportive.

Learn More

The Blue Giraffe Day Spa Salon
51 Water Street, Ashland, OR 97520

Phone: 541-488-3335
Website: www.bluegiraffespa.com

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Shields Bialasik

Hi, I am Shields. I am the creator or LocalsGuide. The mission or my company is to provide a positive media platform for my community which in turn makes it stronger and more resilient. I hope you will enjoy and feel inspired to start your own LocalsGuide in your town or community.

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