Nahil Gebara and Jessica Lundberg are the mother-daughter duo behind Rivage Day Spa in Birmingham. They share how they got started in the spa industry and what they love most about their jobs.
By Chelsie Dzbanski
1. Tell us about yourselves and your professional backgrounds?
Spa Director Jessica Lundberg: I have been involved in the spa and salon industry for over 20 years. While I have been trained and certified in many of the spa services, I prefer using my degrees in communications and business by overseeing the day-to-day logistics of the spa. I really enjoy traveling all over the world on spa excursions and to spa trade shows, learning all the insider techniques on services, products and how to make your spa experience even better. As we approach our third year at Rivage, my true passion is bringing awareness of self-care and self-love to individuals and giving back to the community as a business.
Spa Propietor Nahil Gebara: With over 35 years of experience, I have been a part of the beauty industry working closely under the supervision of some of the community’s best doctors to help serve my client’s needs. My exclusive eight years of training in Paris was only the beginning for me and my love of the beauty world. I have had the honor of being featured in the Detroit News and Free Press, Eccentric, Eagle, Kelly & Company, FOX News and Channel 4 for my expertise in skin care, close attention to detail and for my true passion of making women (and men) look their best. From my early days at the Jacobson’s Beauty Shop to days at the late, great Mira Linder Spa in the City, my repertoire keeps my clients coming back. I truly enjoy donating my permanent makeup services to the Alopecia Areata Foundation and to cancer patients at William Beaumont Hospital as well as skin care treatments to various local charities. I pride myself on making my clients not only look good, but more importantly feel good.
2. How did you get started in the industry?
Jessica: My mom was pregnant with me when she worked at the infamous department store, Jacobsen’s, and so I like to think I was born into the industry from day one. I have always had a deep appreciation and interest in the beauty industry and have even received certifications in many of the services, but it was in business school that I truly started to love the business aspect of the spa world and always used my experiences for projects and reports. Through high school, college and my masters, I always had one foot in a spa or salon working the desk or apprenticing with my mom.
Nahil: My sister-in-law had a spa and school in Paris, and I had the chance to learn everything there for almost eight years! There were many services and products they had there way before it ever came to the U.S., and so when I moved here, I felt like I was ahead of the industry.
3. What is your favorite thing about what you do?
Jessica: Our business is to make guests feel relaxed, and I love being able to create that energy all while having an amazing staff and beautiful space to do so. My favorite thing is seeing everyone’s face when they walk in as they are taken by the beauty of it and their face when they leave as they enjoy one of our many exceptional services.
Nahil: I love to make women beautiful! I love trying new products and services on myself first and then introducing them to my loyal clientele. They are also my favorite part of my job — I have seen clients grow up to be college students, to getting married, having children and all of life’s ups and downs. It’s wonderful to have that bond with so many of them through the years.
4. Can you share some of your career highlights or moments you are most proud of?
Jessica: We had been officially open for three months, and we received an email from a national spa magazine, DAYSPA, that they wanted to feature our spa in their magazine in their list of “The Most Beautiful Places to Relax,” and we were beyond excited. It was such an honor to be recognized but also to be in the category with such elite spas in our industry. A year later, we were featured as “Spa of the Month” in another national spa magazine, Les Nouvelles Esthetiques & Spa — a magazine we would always look through and read for over 20 years. They were both defining moments in our careers that all that hard work did and continues to pay off.
5. What does a typical day/week look like for you?
Jessica: I work eight days a week. At least, it feels like it! My daughter just turned a year old and with being a new mom, running a business that’s open seven days a week and trying to keep my teeth brushed and my sleep in check, my bills paid, my days are filled with a lot of chaos and gratitude.
Nahil: I work a lot. I work five days a week and sometimes 12-15 hours a day. And the other two days I spend the time baby-sitting my granddaughter, Colette, who just turned one! But I love what I do and even when I am not at work, I am always taking advanced classes, seminars and educating myself to become better. There is always something new in our industry!
6. The most rewarding and the most challenging thing about working with your mom/daughter?
Jessica: The most rewarding thing about working with my mom is that we have a true understanding that she does what I cannot do, and I do what she cannot. And I know what a true blessing it is to be able to say I love working with my mom! The most challenging thing is that I feel like I never get to see her — we are both that busy.
Nahil: I love to work with my daughter and have been for the past 15 years. She’s my right hand, and I value her beyond measure. If I could spend every minute with her (and my granddaughter), I would.
7. What are your most popular services for men and women? Guests love our massages and facials, especially those that are joining us for a special event. We host an abundance of spa events in our space, whether it be bridal, corporate, birthday or couples night. They schedule services, rent out a private room and cater food and drinks to their liking, and it’s become so popular, we are booking into the fall months already. A few specific treatments we offer like our Detox Pedicure, HydraFacials and Luxe Hydrating Wrap are also quite requested by both men and women.
8. If you could recommend one service to splurge on at Rivage Day Spa, what would it be and why? We offer so many tailored spa services and carefully select the products, the details of the services along with being sure our staff is educated and confident in performing the services. Many guests may or may not know we also offer state-of-the-art medical spa services as well. From laser hair removal, microneedling with radio frequency and IPL (intensive pulse light), one we both highly recommend and would splurge on would be the NuEra skin-tightening treatments. It’s a machine that uses both heat and radio frequency to help plump collagen and tighten the skin. With the ability to use it on both the face and entire body, it’s almost like an iron smoothing it all out!
9. Your best skin care advice?
Jessica: Wash your face at night! Both my mom and grandma taught me that from a young age, and it really has helped me keep my skin clean, even and youthful. Even on the longest days, I make sure to wash it before bed.
Nahil: Mask. I mask at least three to four times a week, and it’s always a routine I tell all my clients to add to their skin care. It helps bring nutrients to the skin, giving it an extra boost of radiance. There are so many masks. I love to switch it up from hydrating to deep pore cleansing.
10. If you weren’t in the spa industry, what would you be doing?
Jessica: I would probably be in a career or field that helped take care of others, like nursing. But I love our industry so much and I suppose indirectly I do help others, that I just couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Nahil: I always wanted to travel the world and wanted to do something where I could be at ease — like be a flight attendant. Back in the day, it just seemed so glamourous.
Now on to some fun…
11. What was your first job growing up?
Jessica: My first job was working at the front desk at Heidi’s Salon in Somerset (hope that this doesn’t date me). I actually got the job complaining about the front desk and sure enough a month later I was working there!
Nahil: I was a French teacher at the private school Sacre Coeur. At one point, I have had over 150 students.
12. What’s currently on your music playlist?
Jessica: Nursery rhymes and Baby Einstein and pretty much all of ’90s hip hop.
Nahil: Charles Aznavour, The Gypsy Kings and anything that makes you dance.
13. Favorite book?
Jessica: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
Nahil: “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran.
14. Three things you can’t live without?
Jessica: I hate to admit it, but my phone is definitely one of them. I also can’t live without my family — they give me air — and I can’t live without wine, because wine.
Nahil: My amazing clients and job, my beautiful family and dessert. Anytime I go somewhere to eat, I look at the dessert menu first.
15. Dream vacation destination?
Jessica: Vacation? We have no idea what that words means! Truthfully, I was blessed to travel quite a bit post college, and I still have the urge to see places and experience them. However, I’ve reached that time in my life that I’m all about doing those things with those I love. So, even a staycation would be amazing, as long as I’m surrounded with my best friends and/or family I’m all about making memories.
Nahil: My dream would be to take my family to the French Riviera and Italian Riviera.
Your Local Love List…
16. Favorite local spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
17. Your favorite place to shop locally in Metro Detroit?
Jessica: I love Ferne Boutique in downtown Detroit for myself, and I love Lil Rascals for my little girl. Anywhere you can still get that old-school customer service, unique items and you support local, I find myself always drawn to.
18. Your go-to for a good cup of coffee?
Jessica: My favorite coffee is our Nespresso at the spa. There’s something about the taste and smell and quietness of the spa, and it’s almost a slice of heaven.
Nahil: My favorite is the latte at Svenska Café in Birmingham. It’s delicious!
19. Favorite thing to do on a weekend in Metro Detroit?
Jessica: Eastern Market and brunch somewhere delicious. We have so many new restaurants, and I just love trying new places. I like to think I’m an equal opportunity food lover.
Nahil: See a show at the Fisher or a musician at the Fox.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by?
Jessica: Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.
Nahil: Only you control your happiness. You have the power to make yourself miserable or you have the power to make yourself happy!