Visiting a spa is supposed to be a self-indulgent experience full of relaxation and restoration. Years ago, however, Paula Barger had a horrific waxing experience that left her skin burned and ripped. The incident lit a fire within her.
“I never wanted another person to endure something so awful, so I decided to alter my career path,” says Paula, who was attending medical school at the time.
She promptly switched gears and enrolled in esthetic school.
“Not only did I love the work, but loving on people was the business model I wanted to follow,” says Paula, who became determined to eventually open her own spa.
It was a tough road however, as Paula, a mother of five (two of her children are biological and three are adopted from Ukraine), was going through a difficult divorce and struggling to make ends meet. Armed with a fierce love for her family and a driven spirit, she was determined to see her vision through to fruition.
In early 2012 Paula met Dean Barger, a divorced father of three who was hesitant to open his heart to love again. Though he was not looking for a romantic connection, he couldn’t deny the spark between them.
“I literally realized after our first date that this was the person I wanted to spend my life with, do life with and dream with ” Dean says.
The two admitted their true feelings and began dating exclusively. In the meantime, Paula realized her dream and opened Bare Wax and Spa in September of 2013. Dean, who had worked in the corporate world for 32 years, helped out behind the scenes with the Bare logo, the web site, marketing and social media.
Over time, word spread and Paula’s client list crew exponentially. Bare Wax and Spa began to grow quickly and currently offers unisex full body waxing, lash and brow services, facials, skin care and semi-permanent cosmetics. In 2014 Paula moved to a storefront boutique and hired four additional staff members.
“At that point, Dean made the decision to leave corporate America,” Paula says. “Because we needed him full time at the spa.”
The latter decision worked out well, and Dean, who has a background in art, became licensed and certified in microblading and semi-permanent cosmetics.
In July of 2014 Paula and Dean were married on the shores of Key West, Florida, and the couple wrote the names of their eight children – Kelsie, Lake, Sydney, Natasha, Chase, Vika, Colin, and Anya – on seashells placed by their feet during the nuptials. When they returned home to Greenwood, they threw a big celebration for family and friends.
In 2017 Bare Wax and Spa moved to its current location on East Main Street in Greenwood, and in 2018 Paula and Dean added the Lash Lounge. The couple, along with the help of Paula’s father Charles and Dean’s best friend Mark built out the space, which included the addition of several service rooms, painting, decorating and much more.
“My daddy, Mark and others were amazing assets to help us out,” Paula says. “It was tough. Through all of that we still had the spa open, so we were working 90-hour weeks.”
All of their hard work has most definitely paid off. The spa attracts clients from surrounding areas including Avon, Shelbyville, Columbus, Muncie, Brown County, Bloomington, Bedford, Terre Haute, Lafayette, Richmond and even Cincinnati. Paula even has a lash client who travels from Washington, D.C., twice per year.
People come not only for the top-notch products and services, but also because they appreciate the heart and soul of the staff.
“We have a heart for our clients and that’s the key to running a successful business,” Paula says. “If you’re in business for the right reasons, every day is a great day! Maybe I’m a romantic, but I truly believe that.”
Paula also believes in transforming lives. She refers to the spa as her outreach ministry, and says she regularly sees people come into the spa downtrodden and leave completely changed. She recalls a lady who came to the spa to have her lashes done. Afterwards the lady was crying, and when Paula asked if she was OK, the woman said she was crying happy tears and that her spa experience left her feeling pretty for the first time in a long while.
“She was welling up with pride because she felt so much better,” Paula says. “That’s the most beautiful feeling in the world.”
Bare Wax and Spa is located at 916 East Main Street, Suite 106 in Greenwood. For more information, call 317-672-5949 or visit barewaxandspa.com.