The Tree House is a hidden treasure on Abbot Kinney in Venice, up some stairs behind what was Om Salon (and soon will be a new eatery). The windows look out on the tree tops, so it probably named itself. I just had my first visit, and it will certainly not be my last, because I believe it was the best facial I've ever had. Pure relaxation and total pampering.
My facial skin was embarrassingly overdue for attention after a Summer on the beach and a below zero visit home for the Holidays. I checked in with Meenoy Kemball, the owner of The Tree House, in her little former sauna office, and then went upstairs to be pampered by the charming and soothing Ashly Smith, my esthetician. Ashly was just that warm and inviting sort that feels natural to hug meeting for the first time. Her voice is like someone you want teaching your kids (which she used to do), and her technique is so calming, lovely, and gentle, you actually feel kind of like a baby yourself (and your skin winds up feeling like one's bottom). I know I tend to gush, but in this instance, I would defy anyone not to.
The beds were super soft and you just melted right in under an equally soft blanket. Ashly asked what music I liked to relax to (vs. forcing the standard New Age spa dribble on you), and I'm the sort who says, "Surprise me", so I wound up chilling to some tunes that were perfect. Though I don't even really know what they were because I was already totally relaxed and in my own head. She has you take three deep breaths before she begins, and that sets the stage for the blissful hour ahead.
Usually in facials that I've had, the skin therapist leaves the room while the steamer is on your face to open up your pores. Not Ashly. That time is spent gloriously rubbing your head and scalp. I don't even feel like writing now, I just want to be back right there, right now. Every product (all Tree House Roots - ALL organic, wild-crafted and sustainable) smelled like you not only could, but would want to eat it, and felt like a dream. Even the extractions, which usually - especially the nose ones - make you almost get TMJ to get through, were completely calm and manageable. Her motions when rubbing the stuff into your face were like little angel wings, no hyperbole. When I was a kid, our Mom would sometimes come wake us up with a warm washcloth on our face to greet the day, and I hadn't thought about that for years, until Ashly did the same loving motion. And she talked hardly at all (which I love, in therapists of all kinds), unless it was to softly ask if things were oll korrect (I recently looked up where OK came from, ok?).
It was done too soon, as things of this nature always are, and when I looked at my face in the mirror, the over-used term "glowing" was really the only one that came to mind. I wanted to call my friends to come over just to feel my face. They're all here right now, and they concur - PREEMIE baby's bottom. Ashly and I chatted a bit afterward, and said that she'd gone to school to be a Parent Educator, and work in Child Development (she'd be perfect), but after a while of that, she wanted to be back in adult world. Her Mom had always been really into skin care, and Ashly wanted to be in the business of making people happy. Which her facials certainly do. She said, "Facials are my therapy as well" - that connection with people, increasing their sense of well-being and beauty ... she feels like it's a mutual gift. She's also a Master Waxer .. brows, bikinis, I even saw on the menu "The Manzilian". Intriguing.
Though we could have kept the girl talk going for ages, Ashly is in demand and her next client was waiting, so I went downstairs to talk to Meenoy some more. She is a wonderful Venice woman, born and raised in Northern Canada ... which you can tOtally detect in her speech, endearingly. She is of Black and Chinese descent, and became interested in skin products when, as she said, "Try finding something for Black Chinese teenage skin with acne in Alberta, Canada." Good luck. Meenoy was/is a Massage Therapist by trade, but found that all the business-y parts of running a business (accounting, janitorial, marketing, blah) were too much on top of being on your feet all day, massaging peoples' stresses away. So she opened The Tree House (which her Son, Jazz, named, it turns out) to support independent practitioners in doing what they love. That theme has been very prevalent in Blogtown this week, and in Venice, always. DO WHAT YOU LOVE!
The Tree House has been open since 2003, and the product line, Tree House Roots, is brand new (after two years R&D). All the products are named after Venice streets and places, and like Meenoy said, "The Tree House roots are the Community." You'll find Speedway (Line Reduction Serum), and Windward (Uplifting Body Polish), and Amoroso (Oil Reduction Serum), and Grand Canal (Green Tea Exfoliant), among many more local shout-outs/skin perfecters. Soon there will be Flip Flop Foot Cream (free sample if you can say it five times fast), and a line of Baby skin products too. It was very important to Meenoy that they be ALL Organic, which hardly anything is when they say it is. But they are. She knows the two farmers that grow the ingredients. It's legit. And many contain the almighty, though underused, Hemp. As all the products are organic, the facials only go up to "Lactic" peels, as anything above that tends to involve gnarly chemicals. Lorn-Nicole Robinson is the Advanced Medical Esthetician at The Tree House (the most medically experienced one, having dealt with the heavier chemicals and lasers and stuff like that), and she explained the acid peel why's and why nots to me. I felt happy that my face was just organically toned as I sat listening. Of the Tree House Roots delicious smelling products, Lorn-Nicole said, "these products are good for everyone", meaning all skin types, all stages of ages. Farm raised!
Facials and Waxing are the focus of The Tree House, and soon in 2010 they will begin the "Sugaring" hair removal process, which I hear is fantastic, and superior to the ol' wax stripping, as it leaves skin far softer after the process. I'm in. And so are a lot of people, as The Tree House is not as secret as it seems, especially since it's so easy to make an appointment on their online scheduling page, 24 hours a day.
Meenoy's Tree House fits Venice perfectly, not just because of the home crowd product names, but because the town and its denizens "evolve naturally ... There is no push or shove to be a certain way here ... The sound of the waves are like negative ions, so just being at the beach is like being in a spa." Like most of us, she wanted to live here because of the creativity, the Artists. "It's powerful when your life is coming from your heart."
So, as our theme continues ... DO WHAT YOU LOVE! A good start would be by having a tranquil hour or so up in the tree tops of The Tree House. Because when you leave, you feel loved, and that is awfully catchy.
The Tree House:
1629 1/2 Abbot Kinney Blvd.