In August, New Canaan’s Main Street retail district welcomed the arrival of Calmë, a wellness center offering sauna and spa services. According to its website, Calmë offers customizable infrared saunas with sound and light therapy that are scientifically proven to help detoxify, heal, relieve and relax the body. The new business also provided chromotherapy and acoustic therapy sessions, as well as a proprietary line of skin care products sold at its location and through its website.
In this edition of Suite Talk, Business Journal Senior Enterprise Editor Phil Hall speaks with Meghann Smith, the owner of this new company.
What inspired you to create this business?
“I’m a mom of three and I live in New Canaan. I come from the spa world. I worked for the Wella Corp. for a number of years and worked in a lot of different hair salons and spas. I wanted to create something for my community where you can be surrounded in luxury and something really good for yourself in an hour. As a mom of three, with anything longer than an hour I feel guilt. I find an hour is just enough time to give something good to yourself. And our price point is right. We’re $65 an hour.”
What are the benefits of an infrared sauna versus a traditional sauna?
“The main thing about infrared is that it is going to give you a detox. The purpose of it is to heat the body and not heat the air around you.
The traditional sauna is around 200 to 230 degrees. All you can stay in it is about 10 minutes because it is too hot and all it is releasing is water, not toxins. The infrared sauna is going to be around 130 to 150 degrees, and it is going to heat you. What it does is create a false fever in the body, and when the body is in a false fever it releases toxins.”
How does it release toxins?
“Infrared takes the toxins that sit on your fat cells and pushes them out, so what you get is an oily sweat. People who haven’t smoked for decades can start using the sauna and start to smell the tobacco and cigarette smoke coming out of them. Sunlighten Saunas were down at Ground Zero after 9/11 for the police officers and the firefighters, and they sweated black out of the skin. That’s how much toxins were inside of their bodies.”
Are there other benefits to an infrared sauna besides flushing out toxins?
“The purpose of infrared is to detox, but it also helps blood pressure, anxiety, depression, seasonal depression, inflammation. It helps defog the brain and helps calm.”
Are there different settings for the infrared sauna?
“We have three different infrared spectrums: Far, Mid and Near. Far goes furthest into the body, which is where you are going to get the detox. Mid is the epidermal level of the skin and can help with psoriasis. And Near is the topical level of the skin.”
What happens after sitting in the infrared sauna?
“We have a post-sauna lounge where you can relax. It is cooler in the lounge. Because the body was heated up you need to cool down. You’re going to sweat for a good eight to 10 minutes after your sauna session. In the lounge, you can have water or tea, and we have two full showers. It is recommended that you shower when you are done, because if you don’t, the toxins are going to go right back in.”
Who are the Calmë clients?
“A huge variety of people. We have women using it like a true spa — they come in, do their treatment, hang out and then go for lunch. We have NHL players that are using it as part of their reconditioning. We have football players using it. And we have people using it to aid them when they are sick. We had one client come in with Alzheimer’s, but she had to sit with her daughter.
“It has become a special place in the community. People come in and hang out without using the sauna. They talk about how they’re feeling.”
How many clients do you serve?
“We’re up to about six to 11 a day. We could probably do 30 a day.”
The interior design of the space is very relaxing. Did you play a role in the décor?
“Yes, I love design. I am not formally trained, but I love creating. I had to create something that both men and women feel comfortable in. You have to feel you are escaping from the sidewalk. The moment you come in, you feel like you’re experiencing something very different, and you don’t remember that you are on Main Street.”
Have you thought of franchising Calmë?“I don’t know about franchising. I want to keep the specialness. I like being in a space in my community where I get to know people. I like the hospitality part of it, but I don’t want to dilute the brand. I don’t know yet.”