Stop into Sylvia Walker’s new shop at The Jacksonville Landing, and you’ll step into an oasis of health, relaxation and tranquility. And that’s just the beginning. N.A.I.W.BE (Natural As I Wanna BE) is Downtown’s new day spa, offering all-organic services in nail care, skin renewal and massage therapy, plus friendly conversation, to boot. Sit back, relax and enjoy reading our recent chat below with Walker, who knew Downtown was the natural choice for N.A.I.W.BE.
Tell us about the opening of N.A.I.W.BE – how did the idea for the shop come about?
The N.A.I.W.BE Natural As I Wanna BE® official grand opening was Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, at The Jacksonville Landing. A ribbon cutting ceremony was well attended with performances by local jazz musicians, local businesses, supporters and the Downtown community. The ribbon was cut by Aundra Wallace, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority.
The name and idea for N.A.I.W.BE developed more than 15 years ago because of my love for natural products. Natural As I Wanna Be was created to offer others the opportunity to experience chemical-free organic products with moisturizing and healing properties. The retail store was a result of our desire to showcase our products in a day-spa environment that will allow clients to experience a sensory journey of escape, relaxation and harmony.
Describe what N.A.I.W.BE offers customers.
We provide a peaceful, holistic and serene environment that our clients describe as soothing, comforting and relaxing. The evolution of skin-care products has spiraled with a worldwide movement toward eco-friendly, natural products. As technology advances and with new ingredients in skin care, today’s consumer has demonstrated an interest in purchasing products that are made with 100-percent organic ingredients. Our new retail store offers signature organic products and services such as natural manicures, pedicures, facials and massage therapy using N.A.I.W.BE organic products, which further promote healthy lifestyle choices. The N.A.I.W.BE staff is comprised of a registered nurse, licensed estheticians, massage therapists and nail technicians. Many of our local clients and Jacksonville visitors enjoy the decorum so much they say, “Can I just sit in here to read, or just enjoy a cup of organic tea?”
Where are you from originally, and what is your professional background? How did these factors lead you to opening your own retail business?
I am originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., with more 18 years of combined health-care experience as a registered nurse and health care professional, BSN, MBA, MHA, CCP. I worked as a registered nurse for 15 years with an area of expertise in education of chronic health conditions. I have always been concerned about the products my family consumed and used on their skin. I have enjoyed experimenting with organic ingredients and creating organic, chemical-free products over the last 15 years. I was lead to create products for many of my family members that suffered with dry, itchy skin and eczema. After experiencing positive responses from family and friends from different parts of the country with varying climates such as California, Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina and New York, we decided to introduce our products to the Jacksonville community.
Why did you choose to open your shop Downtown?
My husband and I are residents of the Downtown community and wanted to be part of the spirit, energy and revitalization currently taking place. This is a great city with so much potential. We have been a vendor at The Jacksonville Landing’s Friday Market, Riverside Arts Market, One Spark 2013 (as a creator), Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Ed Ball Building Employee Vendor Fair, Bank of America’s Vendor Fair and the Internal Revenue Service Employee Union Vendor Fair. The business has developed a following through ongoing vendor event participation and local media exposure with features on WJXT Channel 4 News, First Coast News and local radio station WCGL AM 1360 SMC Wellness Talk Show. Our experience at One Spark 2013 was truly the spark that created the motivation to open our own store by increasing our exposure to a wider audience. The spark created a fire in us to be a part of the new spirit that is developing in the Downtown community.
What do you love most about owning a shop Downtown?
I love the idea of owning a shop Downtown and sharing the many things that the Downtown community has to offer. But equally, I enjoy the opportunity to be near the St. Johns River in a location where people want to experience the water and new business offerings. There is nothing like meeting visitors from other places traveling on business, conversing with Jacksonville residents about Downtown or Florida residents visiting Jacksonville for the first time. To see the look on their face when they walk in to our organic day spa is priceless.
For those looking to open a business Downtown, what would you say to them?
It is exciting time to be on the front end of change Downtown and part of a diverse community of unique small businesses and partnerships that can create new opportunities for a growing city. I believe Jacksonville is one of Florida’s best kept secrets, and I believe it will be a destination point for many more in the future.
What’s next for N.A.I.W.BE? Any upcoming events, new products, etc.?
N.A.I.W.BE Natural As I Wanna BE® will be a venue in One Spark 2014. We’re excited to be part of a group of creators and venues that will further our exposure to Jacksonville residents and others visiting Jacksonville for the festival. We want to increase our brand recognition in 2014 and be recognized as an industry leader in promoting organic skin care products and committed to developing, providing and maintaining the highest quality organic standards for environmentally responsible skin care products.
Anything else to add?
We’re excited about the opportunity to experience the growth of our business in the Downtown community, being a part of the Downtown vision and developing great partnerships.
For more information on N.A.I.W.BE, visit its website and ‘like’ its Facebook page.