A story of reslience and growth
The Adam n Eve Day Spa profile
Adam & Eve Day Spa's newest location at 56 Old Hope Road in the Corporate Area (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Kimisha Walker's dream of operating a full-service spa and salon would eventually become a reality after meeting her future husband Garth. And he, not wanting to disappoint her during their courtship, would underwrite her vision once they were engaged.

The Walkers recently shared with the Jamaica Observer their story of starting Adam & Eve Day Spa together and growing the brand to where it is now. Though Garth admitted he did not share the same passion and interest in the business in the early days as his spouse, over the years he has become more invested — both financially and emotionally — having seen its growth and the potential to scale. And Kimisha is grateful for the support Garth has given over the years.

"My vision is now his vision as well and [so] I have to highlight him and big him up on that," she said.

Adam & Eve Day Spa's co-founders Gartha and Kimisha Walker pause for a frame in the mani-pedi spa room.(Photo: Joseph Wellington)

For Kimisha, her desire to operate a spa and salon was borne out of a frustration to access all the services — hairstyling, nail care, massage therapy, and facials — in one location. Additionally, she recalled with nostalgia helping her women friends and family members style their hair, or using "white out" in high school to create French lines on her nails.

Though at 19 Kimisha had become general manager of used car dealership New Line Motors, her love for self-care was like unquenchable fire fuelled by research into the wellness industry. At that point she had met Garth and, according to her, "To be honest, everything just started to flow…all the dots started to connect."

Not afraid to share her belief in the Lord, the co-founder said He has been at every juncture of her entrepreneurial journey. Even her conceptualising the name of the business Kimisha credits to an epiphany while thinking of the "creation story" in the Bible.

Adam & Eve Day Spa co-founder Kimisha Walker (fifth right) shared a photo with her team members during a recent staff awards. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

"I have a spiritual foundation through my mommy. She's a prayer warrior," she told Business Observer.

Having done the research and projections, she presented her findings to Garth, convincing him that an "an opportunity is there [and] we have the space at New Line".

In 2007 the couple embarked on creating Adam & Eve Day Spa, an 1,800-square-foot facility at 114 Constant Spring Road, on the property of New Line Motors in the Corporate Area. It comprised two spa treatment rooms and stations for hair, nails and facials.

"We started out with eight — and eight employees at the time when we entered the industry was a lot," Garth recounted.

Co-founder of Adam & Eve Day Spa Kimisha Walker (left) presents an award to Kay-Dean Walker (no relation) for her consistent performance during a recent staff awards ceremony. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

"That buildout at the time cost $12 million; at the time that was a lot of money for an industry that we didn't know anything about," he continued.

In preparation for the opening Garth and Kimisha created membership cards for their friends, expecting overwhelming support. However, on day one there were no customers and no revenue. This trend would continue into the following week after Kimisha hit the pavement with her employees, sharing flyers with businesses in Half-Way-Tree, Manor Park and as far as Portmore.

Soon the customers started trickling in and Adam & Eve Day Spa began developing a consistent customer pool.

"Back then doing $50,000 a day was the biggest thing," Garth beamed.

Adam & Eve Day Spa's rainforest treatment room (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Just a year later Kimisha and Garth would face yet another challenge. At the back end of 2008 one of the hardest financial downturns ever seen began taking a toll on the Jamaican economy.

"It hit the business hard because our services at the time were considered luxury," Garth informed Business Observer, adding that with people having less disposable income, the first thing they cut from their budget is being pampered.

As much as revenues picked up in 2009 the business was still "haemorraghing". In late 2011, at the tail end of the Great Recession, the owner of New Line Motors sold the property and Adam & Eve Day Spa would have a new landlord who eventually asked them to leave. With this development the Walkers weighed closing the business or relocating.

"[In 2012] we found a property in New Kingston. We were moving from 1,800 square feet in a time when the recession had just ended…to expand to a location three times the size. The lease would have tripled as well," Garth explained.

Chairman of Adam & Eve Day Spa Garth Walker recalls the many phases and changes the company has gone through in its 16-year history. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Moreover, he said they invested over $30 million into renovating the building at Trinidad Terrace, especially with plumbing coming at a high cost, aside from painting and landscaping.

Still, Kimisha held on to the maxim of where one door closes, another opens. Despite the heavy traffic in the New Kingston area the company embraced a new marketing strategy, promoting the business as an oasis in the "hustle and bustle" of the city.

"We got a lot of corporate support at the time so it was like we tripled in business in terms of [revenue]," she pointed out.

In 2016, however, that growth began to taper off and the building began to deteriorate. Kimisha recalls having to deal with bees, termites, ants and rats. Garth, on the other hand, said customers started to realise that the environment did not reflect the Adam & Eve "standard". With these challenges the Walkers decided to move yet again.

A treatment room at Adam & Eve Day Spa at 56 Old Hope Road (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Having reviewed the business structure and taking note of the growth in revenue over the years, the couple thought it was time to move into a building of their own, and by December 2019 they had secured a property at 56 Old Hope Road.

Though many had raised concerns about the new location for Adam & Eve Day Spa due to its proximity to the volatile Swallowfield community, Garth was undaunted having been enamoured with the property upon his first visit and envisioning the possibilities within the walls. He further disclosed that one of the pull factors was not being asked to leave by a landlord after making a significant investment.

But while preparing to open in February 2020 the Walkers faced the worst-possible scenario they did not anticipate — the novel coronavirus pandemic. With a building 95 per cent complete and staff complement of over 40 now ready to work, they questioned how they would manage the dilemma of paying a mortgage and salaries without revenue.

Again, Kimisha turned to her faith in God. With her husband they decided to keep paying employees while waiting for the Ministry of Health to give the all-clear for reopening. On Mother's Day in 2020 Adam and Eve Day Spa reopened at its present location.

Looking back, Garth noted the development was unwittingly COVID-proofed due to the architect's foresight.

"The truth is the architect really put some thought into the design and gave that nice, open feel so it really worked out for us during the COVID period," he outlined.

That period of inactivity also allowed Kimisha to reset her goals for the organisation. In fact, she shared that listening to a speech from Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett on Jamaica's natural resources inspired her to create the spa's signature Rainforest massage, among other products from Jamaica's natural herbs.

Additionally, she now aspires to create more linkages between her company and Kingston-based hotels accommodating tourists, reasoning that it's time to renounce the stereotype that Jamaican businesses can't offer quality service.

For Garth, there is still more scope for growth, noting that his goal is for Adam & Eve Day Spa to be the "number one standalone spa in the Caribbean — and we're moving towards that goal".

With this in mind, he shared plans to expand locally and regionally, starting with locations in Portmore and Montego, and possibly another operation in Kingston.

"I also want a percentage of my revenue coming out of the Caribbean as well so in the near future we definitely want to open a location within the Caribbean as well," he stated.

Recognising that Adam & Eve Day Spa has achieved its original goal of waking up the industry, Garth proceeded to list some of the achievements of the company over the years.

Among them, the only spa that allows booking and paying for an appointment online, providing a beverage of choice to clients irrespective of the price of the service they request, and offering a cold rag upon entry.

"We have heavily invested in technology and e-commerce, and we introduced the birthday club for clients," he added.

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