Stacey Grondahl is the self-proclaimed “Boss Lady,” as owner of We Do Men — A Male Concept Spa in Old Town Scottsdale since 2012. The 29-year-old Phoenix resident and her staff “manhandle” clients, beautifying and relaxing them through massage, facial and brow services. Guys instantly feel comfortable in the unique spa environment, which features local art and music by classic artists such as Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Patrons may take advantage of the spa’s Sake Bomb special during September, which features Pumpkin Sake Bomb and Sake Bomb peels for $50 and $70 each, saving clients up to $21 per treatment. In November, the spa celebrates its three-year anniversary with a party November 12, which includes educational aspects about products and specials throughout the spa. In December, catch Grondahl at the Jackalope Art Fair in Phoenix.
Year-round, the spa offers male-centric eco-friendly beauty and relaxation products in its shop. Grondahl shared her beauty philosophies, and you can hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.
What brought you to Arizona?
It was a disability that brought me out here in 2011 to go to the National Laser Institute. I came out here to restart my career and grow as a spa professional. In California, you can’t be a laser tech without being a doctor or a nurse, which is interesting because they have no skincare background. I came out here and have never looked back.
I was born in Williston, North Dakota, and I grew up in Bakersfield, California.
What’s your education?
After high school, I went to massage school in California, and massage was my first career. Right after, I dove into skincare and have worked for resorts, oil companies, doctors in Arizona and myself.
What’s your earliest memory of being interested in the health and wellness and beauty industry?
When I was a little girl, I had the worst acne ever. It makes me sad to see adolescents growing up with it, because it really messes with your self-esteem. I would cry all the time, and my parents would do everything they could to help me with my skin, from going to dermatologists, to buying me creams from the store.
Acne is probably one of the hardest topics to touch on, because unless you really focus on it and make it a specialty, you don’t know all there is to know about it. It’s more than just topical — it’s lifestyle, diet, hormones, everything. Growing up with aggressive acne in my youth is what spurred my interest in skincare.
I butchered my eyebrows when I was little and learned how to do eyebrows that way. When I was a teenager in high school, my best friend’s mother took me to a place called LaBelle in Palo Alto where she worked, and it was my first time seeing a luxury high-end spa. That memory of the experience stuck with me. I never wanted to work for anyone else, and getting into that business was the start of my entrepreneurial journey.
What made you want to be a massage therapist?
I knew I wanted to be in the health and wellness industry, so I decided to work my way through various programs in the most time-efficient order, starting with massage therapy, skin care and laser.
Massage is incredibly tough on your body. My hands were shaking like a beast for about four months before they got strong enough to be able to do the movements. My experience with massage modalities has enhanced my career in the world of skincare.
How did you get injured?
I used to work for a resort in the Bay Area for a couple years, and unfortunately, it was very bad management. Out of seven full-time employees, four of us went on disability. I was permanently disabled in my left hand at the age of 24. We were over-worked, and eventually the entire spa walked out. Unfortunately, those who were already injured couldn’t do anything about it, but I’ve since rehabilitated myself.
Do you have any advice for massage therapists to prevent permanent damage?
Massage therapists are hoarded like cattle out of massage schools to work at massage membership locations where you have to meet a quota. They’re so underpaid, and they are ill-informed about the massage industry. Statistically, the majority of therapists who are injured come from facilities with this structure, and their careers are unfortunately cut short.
You have to build up your muscles, just like when you’re working out. When you start working out, you have to start at beginner’s level and work up to that boot camp level. And still, even when you reach that level, your body cannot maintain boot camp level without rest. You have to know what your body is telling you and what your maximum limit is per week and per day, and make sure you get enough breaks in between. Your body is not a constant machine. It needs to be re-oiled.
The average lifespan of a massage therapist is about five years, so tip your massage therapist well.
Why did you choose to open We Do Men?
It was an accident. I was looking for a place rent to do facials, and I saw an ad on Craigslist for this place in Old Town Scottsdale, which is exactly where I wanted to be. I walked into this space when it was vacant, and it was like running into a wall. I thrive on the energy of spaces, and this particular place had the perfect balance of positive energy, light and potential.
It took me three months to put it together, but we managed to open in 2012.
How would you describe the services you offer?
I do brow grooming, skincare and massage therapy. Everything is very hands-on and limited with tools and technology, and I only do what I feel people really need. We have facials, basic peels and medical-grade peels. We have full-body massages that people have never had before, that are facial/massage combinations, and brow tailoring.
Everything is very natural with quality skincare products, and the other thing that makes us stand out is the education factor. I spend a lot of time with each client. I don’t believe in facial time frames or quotas. I work with the client and tailor everything to that one person and give them a full-blown skin care 101 session. That’s what I’m an advocate for, because there are too many scam artists and people in this industry who are pushing products they don’t really believe in. Every product I have in my spa is a product I love and want to share with the masses.
Why do you choose to target men?
I grew up with boys. Women can be very difficult to work with. Men are easy, they’re loyal, they’re appreciative, and they love to learn. I work with them for 90 minutes to two hours a pop, and I don’t charge an arm and a leg because I want them all to be able to come here and experience the spa as their second home.
I felt like it was a unique industry and something I could do. I call it “the art of manhandling,” which means to handle roughly, which you have to do with men.
I do allow some ladies in by initiation. I take care of their moms, children and the ladies in their lives if they so request.
Why should men be interested in your services?
Women age progressively, and men hit a wall. It can happen when they’re 40 or, if they’re lucky, when they’re 70 or 80. They have more pronounced aging, so they have deeper wrinkles and deeper folds because they have thicker skin. Where us women keep getting our peels and messing with our faces, they don’t really know what to do.
Most of them complain about their eyes and the bags, and the sagging skin under their chin, which is why many of them grow beards. I help them condition their beard and assist with grooming styles. I also work with the underbeard and teach my clients about the maintenance and preventative measures that work with their personalities. You can’t reverse aging, but you can slow it down.
Why is using natural products important to you?
Just like you are what you eat, you are what you apply. There are not many regulations for the FDA in skincare, and people don’t know what they’re putting on their face. They could be putting on carcinogenic agents or ingredients they are allergic to, causing them to be completely red and sensitive, and which are destructive to their skin. The moment they step outside, the natural elements will start to break their skin down if it is over-abused and under-protected.
Nutrition and skincare go hand in hand. By putting quality ingredients on and learning about what ingredients to avoid, it’s beneficial for them. I look for the coolest of the cool products across the United States. I don’t put animal byproducts in. I like things that are aesthetic-grade.
What have been the biggest benefits and challenges to being a business owner?
There’s a quote I love that being a business owner is like staring into the abyss and eating glass. I think you really learn as you grow. It’s about surrounding yourself with the right people who maybe know something you don’t, about really knowing your strengths and delegating your weaknesses.
It’s definitely terrifying. It’s hard, but I have big plans for this place. I have a women’s spin-off, retail shops, online shops — so many ideas with the product. I also have an idea to create lines of products with companies I work with and create really cool branding and marketing behind them.
What are your goals?
I want to be a leader in the man spa business. I want to blow the top off the industry and do something completely different, even with massage.
I’d like to make my spa similar to a men’s general store, where people can purchase products and can even pre-order products for pick-up, as well as expand my online store and have continued and unlimited access to education.
What advice would you have for aspiring beauty professionals?
Figure out what your niche is, and specialize in it. The new age is the specialty. Don’t try to do everything to make a dime. Find what you’re really good at, or the few things you’re really good at, and be the best at it. When you are, people will seek you out. Form a really great network of mentors around you, and never stop learning.
What advice do you have for aspiring business owners?
Put a lot of money aside in a savings account. You never know what kind of bumps in the road you’re going to hit, and whatever you think the startup costs are, double them.
Find people who know how to do things you don’t know how to do, and work together so you benefit each other.
Why should people visit We Do Men?
What we do here is awesome. I find the best products and strive to offer the best possible services. We have your best interests in mind. I want people to always feel at home when they come here. It’s a place where you can just be yourself.
Learn about other Valley beauty professionals:
Learn more about MelRuce Salon co-owner Bruce Robert here on Phoenix People.
Learn more about Strawberry Hedgehog founder Tracy Perkins here on Phoenix People.
Learn more about Park Avenue Blow Dry and Beauty Bar owner Holli Christensen here on Phoenix People.