Q&A with NAIWBE’s Sylvia Walker

naiwbeYou may have seen NAIWBE®  featured in our “Relax in #DTJax” blog just a few days ago. We were so intrigued by this successful woman-owned, built-in-Jacksonville business that we wanted to learn more. I was lucky enough to pick Sylvia’s brain about her spa, products, business in Jacksonville, the industry and the road to success. Sylvia is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable people in her industry and we are so lucky to have her here in Downtown Jacksonville.

Q: Why did you choose NAIWBE® as the name of your spa and what does it stand for?

A: NAIWBE® (Natural As I Wanna Be) is something I created 20 years ago. I was what we called a “greener” before organic was cool. It was all about finding eco-friendly products. Whether it was beauty products or cleaning products, we were always looking for something environmentally friendly. My concern has always been about preserving and sustaining everything around me – recycling and up-cycling, not creating waste.

Q: When did the spa open? Give us a little bit of history about how it all started.

A: I’m a registered nurse and a certified health coach and in 2010, I was brought to Jacksonville by a company for these skill-sets. I created products for my own skin issues and once I realized that I could help other people and their skin issues with these products as well, I wanted to get the word out. We did some research into the landscape and layout of Downtown Jacksonville and realized that neither the Omni or Hyatt hotels had spas! I figured a spa would be the best way to demonstrate the products and spread word about the brand. I opened the spa in October of 2013. Since then, I’ve gotten my products into Sam’s Club and JAXPORT. It wasn’t easy getting my products into Sam’s Club but I was assertive and persistent and I think that they liked that fact that I’m a registered nurse and that I didn’t create these products to smell good, I created them to perform well and be effective because of my own skin issues. Now I’ve been in Sam’s Club for two years.

Q: April is National Stress Awareness Month, how would you say your products and services help relieve stress?

Leila – Nail Technician

A: I’m so excited that you ask that! April being stress awareness month is great because it’s also the time that we start exposing more of our skin. You know, in Spring and Summer, you want to feel your best because you’ll be showing more skin. A good thing to do is have your natural nails taken care of. We have a very experienced nail technician. When you have services performed by someone who is very experienced and knowledgeable, you see benefits like increased circulation and cell turnover. These things make you feel more confident and better all over.

Q: Why did you choose to open your business in Downtown Jacksonville?

A: First of all, Downtown Jacksonville is beautiful. There aren’t very many places where you have a mall and revitalization of a city that is surrounded by water! I’ve lived in a lot of places like Atlanta, Brooklyn, and Jefferson City. When my husband and I got here, we were so elated about how beautiful Downtown Jacksonville was. We realized that in most places, residents don’t get to experience the city like tourists do and we didn’t want to take that for granted. It was really a natural choice to be located in Downtown Jacksonville, Natural As I Wanna Be!

Q: Tell us a little bit about the products you sell, are they made locally or all natural?

Lemongrass Hands, Feet & Body Moisturizer

A: The products are made in Florida and what makes them unique is that they are Certified Organic. One of the best products for this time of year is the Lemongrass Hands, Feet and Body Moisturizer. You can use it all over your body and it’s a great aftercare product for after being out in the sun. This product is great because it’s also an insect repellant and we’re at the point in the year where we’ll be outside, maybe heading to cookouts. Dry skin affects most people. A side effect of most medications these days is dry skin and if you work in an industry like entertainment, hospitality or nursing, your hands are dried out from washing them so frequently. Most products sit on top of the skin but this lotion penetrates the surface of the skin to heal, protect and moisturize.

Q: Lastly, what advice can you give other women who dream of running their own business?

A: I’ve been through and learned a lot in 7 years. You really gotta keep dreaming your dream, nourishing your dream until it becomes your reality! That’s the best advice I can give any woman. You gotta see yourself making it. Just achieve one goal a day, then you’re getting closer. Take baby steps. Find out top trends in your industry and capitalize on them – that’s why I created my app. I was chosen out of thousands of businesses to appear on the producers of Shark Tank’s show “Hatched.” They didn’t choose to invest but I kept moving forward. Now, they called and asked if they could re-feature me. This is really my second chance so I’m fortunate for that. It’s already been filmed and will air in May.

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