Gervais Day Spa and Salon is located at 111. N. Central Ave., in Medford. Photo by Julia Moore - Julia Moore

Caring for the body, caring for the Earth

Sheree Boyer chose her salon because of the products it uses.

"I came here for Aveda products. I like that they are organic and cruelty-free," says Boyer, a Medford resident and longtime customer of Gervais Day Spa.

In addition to getting her hair done at Gervais, Boyer also buys her perfume and shampoo here. She's even got her husband using Aveda face creams.

Gervais is located on busy Central Avenue in downtown Medford, but that world disappears when you step inside. On a cloudy Friday morning, Norah Jones croons over the sound system, and light pours through the skylight and reflects off hardwood floors. Bamboo and broadleaf plants are scattered about, some in floor pots, and the scents wafting through the room are subtly floral.

"We use a lot of lavender and rosemary, which are Earth-derived rather than chemical-based," says Jessica Winney, a hair- and skin-care specialist at Gervais. "For example, crushed berries can provide color, and flower essences are used in the perfumes."

A quick perusal of skin creams for sale reveal ingredients made from such exotic tropical seed oils as mango, babassu and jojoba. Minnesota-based Aveda Corp. buys ingredients directly from indigenous and peasant growers around the world, including many in tropical rainforests. Aveda and Gervais currently are engaged in a special fundraising campaign for indigenous peoples.

"We're selling these hair ties and other accessories made out of Tagua nuts," says Winney. "The money goes directly to indigenous Colombian women. They get more money because there's no middleman."

Eliminating the middleman is part of a larger Aveda philosophy.

"It's the 'soil-to-bottle' principle," says Lila Spiritwalker, owner of Gervais. "It's fair trade: The cost can go to directly to the producers. It allows Aveda to develop a personal relationship with farmers in places like Bulgaria and Guatemala. They did this not only for fair trade but also for quality control."

Spiritwalker started Gervais five years ago as an expansion of her massage-therapy practice. She and her daughter added the salon based on success of two Gervais Day Spas in Eugene, both owned by another of her daughters. They have created their businesses as full-service salons.

"We do all the usual hair services — cuts, coloring, perms, extensions — and also facials and waxing," says Spiritwalker. "And manicures and pedicures, of course."

The bodywork at Gervais begins with massage. Therapeutic, deep-tissue and craniosacral are among the offerings. Take a sauna, if you like, to relax before your massage. Other body treatments include detoxifying body wraps and skin exfoliation that use Dead Sea salts and a choice of oils.

Aveda has added an annual fundraising campaign that extends its Earth-friendly philosophy, and Spiritwalker jumped right in.

"For the last few years it's been about clean water," says Spiritwalker. "Last year, we sold Earth Month candles, and Aveda sent all the proceeds to (the environmental nonprofit) Global Greenworks."

Aveda also picks more local organizations that appeal to its affiliate stores.

"We offered our guests five extra minutes of service for five extra dollars. That five dollars went to (the advocacy group) Columbia Riverkeeper," explains Spiritwalker. "Some of that money came to the Klamath and Rogue Riverkeepers."

The environmental emphasis of Aveda's business model is what attracted Spiritwalker, who sees it as part of the bigger picture.

"What's important is not just how you look," says Spiritwalker. "It's how you relate to the world."

For more information about Gervais Day Spa, see www.gervaisdayspa.com.

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