We had the good fortune of connecting with Deisy Suarez-Giles and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deisy, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My initial thought process was how was I going to make it work? Where would I find the money to build my business? How will I find clients? Would I be able to sustain and pay my bills? I was petrified of the outcome or of potentially failing. It took me several months to finally get serious and put my fears behind me, and give my all.
What should our readers know about your business?
I own and operate Desuar Spa, a day spa in the heart of downtown LA. Desuar spa started in 2009 inside my 1 bedroom Loft. I began to offer massage & spa treatments from my live/work loft. As time went by, my business started to grow and I moved into a two bedroom penthouse loft to expand my operation and have more space for my spa & beauty services. By 2014 my spa was getting too big to operate from home, and I set out on the task to find a permanent location. Many landlords would not even talk to me for many reasons, one of them being that I was a single female, and I would use the words ‘spa’ and ‘massage’. There are so many taboos & negative associations with those words. This didn’t work in my favor. I was getting discouraged. Right around this time my now husband, Keith, moved in with me. Keith was actively involved in helping find a location, and when he started to show up with me for my rental meetings, landlords started to take me seriously. It was unbelievable to see how totally different things were when a Latina woman of color would show up with a white man to these meetings. I realized my opportunity for renting was best with Keith by my side, so I used him to validate my business and secure a lease. The process of finding a place was not easy, but it was so much easier with Keith alongside me. After securing my space we started construction, but this was going to be a long ride, navigating the city for permits was going to be a lot of work. So meanwhile my new landlord allowed me to use a temporary storage room until my space was built out. I was so proud of being able to convert this small chimney storage room into a hidden speakeasy spa. Many people were telling their friends and family and writing reviews. It was so amazing to see my little space grow daily. Running this small space allowed me to grow my clientele, and create a email list for when I open my much larger spa. During this time I also enrolled in online school, and started attending UC Irvine to get my certification in Spa and Hospitality Management. This accomplishment was one to be proud of, it took me a year to finish this certificate, and this program prepared me with the tools I would need to properly run my new spa larger business. Would I say that building my business was easy, absolutely not! It was a lot of hard work and sleepless nights. I gave my whole and buried myself in my project. I disconnected myself from all that was familiar to me, in order to give my undivided attention to my new project. I didn’t want any distractions, and my end goal was to become successful at running and operating my business. I faced many challenges; one major one was running out of cash and getting denied permits by the city of LA. How I overcame those challenges was some sort of miracle. Money was tight, but I found a way, I was able to qualify for a short-term, high interest rate, loan that helped us keep going. In addition, I came up with a plan to expand my small storage room and make it easier to host more than one client at a time, so this helped bring more income. About fighting the city; I attended this event that I knew some city officials would be attending. At this event, I pretty much stalked the manager of LA Building and Safety, I took this gentleman’s business card and I didn’t stop stalking him until he approved my permits. The most rewarding day was getting my business occupancy permit.
Some of the lessons I’ve learned is to not give up, that some people will give you their back when you most need them. Some people will try to take advantage of you when you are desperate and in need of help. My advice is to be prepared to receive a lot of let downs, learn to budget, and be comfortable saying NO if things don’t feel right. My brand; Desuar spa is a wellness gem, a place you can spend an hour or day without feeling the guilt of breaking the bank. A place you can disconnect and get away from the city to be taken into a place of relaxation and total body wellness.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a mixture of city & island and love the beach and city life. My first stop would be the beach there is something about that ocean breeze. Some cool places I enjoy for a nice Sunday outing would be Moonshadow in Malibu they have an amazing brunch menu and outdoor seating which is perfect for the new Covid normal. My most go to place for Monday fun is Floridita, this is an old Havana style Cuban restaurant that in the evening is turned into a professional dance ballroom. People go there to eat good Cuban food, drink cocktails, and enjoy live salsa music and great salsa dancing, right now Floridita is only available for takeout, but I can’t wait to get back there and dance. Tuesday I would say definitely plan a nice hike at Runyon Canyon. The rest of the time I would be exploring downtown’s local bars and restaurants. I love the density of DTLA the creativeness and individuality of the unique businesses. There is so much history in some of the bars and places in the area. One of my all-time favorites is the Edison club, located in the first power station building in LA. I think this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. Before the pandemic every Thursday they would do burlesque shows and it was so amazing to watch. Olvera Street, El Pueblo in downtown LA is full of history and has its own unique charm. Grand Central Market and Mezcalero for drinks, and good tacos. I would also recommend Perch in DTLA to enjoy a nice dinner while catching the sunset with their amazing rooftop patio seating I would definitely take my friends to visit this area. Manhattan Beach is also a good choice to spend a whole day laying down on the sand and enjoying the ocean.