Becki Brauen, literally, began her business, Lilli Pie Lotions, in a garage six years ago.
Literally, she pounded pavement and knocked on doors; she set up a table at Qwanlin Mall.
Just like many craftspeople in the Yukon, she saw her first blush of success at Spruce Bog.
Today, Brauen is the BDC’s Young Entrepreneur Award winner for the Yukon.
“This is fantastic,” says Brauen, in the waxing and makeup room of her 2,000-square-foot spa treatment centre, which is now called Lilli Pie Lotions Natural Spa. It is a decidedly long way from that garage on the Mayo Road.
“It made me so happy. There is no money award, but what is fantastic is the recognition.
“Running a business is thankless. You work so hard and get only the satisfaction of a job well done.
“This is a ‘Way to go!’; it’s a ‘It’s successful!'”
Besides hard work, Brauen took chances. She quit her job six years ago to devote her time to creating a line of body-care products using such natural ingredients as honey, milk, oatmeal, grape-seed oil, vinegar, cocoa butter, mango butter, beeswax, lanolin and shea butter.
She helped people fight aging with the anti-toxins that prevent wrinkles; she soothed muscles and joints, prevented sunburn, reduced stretch marks and even prevented split finger-tips in the moisture-sapping Yukon cold.
Samples were placed in “Caboodles” and dropped off at offices on Mondays, picked up on Fridays and orders filled on the next Monday.
Then came the other risk: moving into a retail location at Horwood’s Mall. When that did not seem to be a good fit, she risked paying two rents by quickly moving to the 2nd Avenue location beside Doc’s Diner.
This past summer, Brauen took another chance by moving upstairs in the same building. It was bigger, yes, but it had a larger rent and defied the traditional wisdom of staying at ground level.
“I moved June 1,” says Brauen. “I was holding my breath.”
But she brought with her a loyal clientele that she had nurtured for six years. And, now that she can offer massages, body wraps, body glows and waxing — “That’s a huge part of esthetics” — she is seeing many new faces.
Lilli Pie Lotions Natural Spa now has three full-time estheticians and two assistants and lots of room to move in.
Starting at the reception/retail room, visitors can look through her shelves of products that are made here.
“There is an old kitchen in this room, although you can’t tell,” she says. “It’s the hub.”
The tour then zigs to the functional “Green Room” where manicures and pedicures are given. The stations form a semi-circle so that friends can chat during Ladies Nights that are booked.
“It has a living room feel to it,” she says, mentioning also that it was, indeed, once a living room.
“The downstairs location was very social and customers would chat with people who came in. ‘I hope you don’t lose that cozy feel,’ people said to me. They were worried about that.”
Zagging now to the “Purple Room”, the mood is now deep and settling. This is where massages, body wraps, body glows and exfoliation happens. There is even a shower in this room.
Finally, the tour ends at the bright and cheery “Orange Room”. This former bedroom is for waxing and makeup.
Choosing the exact colours from her old location, the walls are hung with women-centric art by Nicole Bauberger, Heidi Hehn and Heather Hyatt.
Brauen received her award Oct. 21 in Vancouver, making her 10-year-old daughter and business’s namesake, Lilli Paterson, “really excited”.
Upon her return, there will be more work and more chances to take: she will be marketing her Yukon Green product nationally to health food stores.
“I got my hands on this Yukon healing clay,” she says, excitement creeping once again into her voice.