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Skincare Chef Yolanda Owens & Her Captivating Garden Day Spa, iwi Fresh, A Place of Culture, Zen

While day spas and nail parlors have certainly been around for eons, there’s never been a location quite like iwi Fresh Garden Day Spa located at 341 Nelson St. SW, Atlanta, Georgia. The mini retreat is an exclusive whole foods spa that carries an assortment of unprocessed products. You won't come close to that unless traveling to Europe and stumbling upon the grand Aeglialis Hotel, where their beauty menu doesn't loom up to the restorative and delightful delicacies at iwi Fresh Garden Day Spa. That's not all. The popular products are packaged in recyclable glass jars. Yalonda Owens, owner of the spa established a program, where costumers get three dollars off their next purchase when they return the jars.

“I grew up with my mom,” Owens remarked fondly when asked about her past. “Our grandmother lived with us when I was a little girl, so I kind of picked up some of her habits. She was a home remedy queen. She had home remedies for everything. I didn’t know that I picked that up until I went off to college."

Although Owens was a gifted girl, who adored the recreation of artsy and dainty things, that’s not the path that her parents set for her. They felt that she should be realistic with her vision and take up a trade that was more beneficial to life.

Respecting her parents wishes, Owens attended college under a math scholarship, with a major in engineering. She agrees that she always had a knack for hair/cosmetology since she was a little diva back at home. She mastered styling by default and became so consumed with hair she would book her roommate as well as other classmates. However, she tucked that part of life away once graduating from college. Getting serious again, Owens started her first job as an engineer with IBM, which opened the doors for her to work at Fortune 500 companies, just because of her expertise.

“There was still a piece that was not fulfilled to me. I always loved my artsy side, which was really who I was. I worked for a company and the company went bankrupt. At that point, I decided that it was a good time for me to step out of the corporate arena, and pursue what I really loved. I decided to create my home remedy skincare recipe, which is what my grandmother used to do anyway. I started making my own products. I went back to school and became an aesthetician. I took nutritional classes as well as few other classes. I started engineering my skincare solutions. I decided to step out on faith one day, about 12 years ago, and I stepped out and opened a spa.”

The Garden Day Spa is located in the Castleberry Hill art district in Downtown Atlanta, GA.

She did more than step out on faith, the inventor took spirituality, passion as well as purpose and made it into an exquisite thing filled with profound possibilities. 

“I cashed in my 401k and opened a spa in Atlanta, Georgia. Currently, I partner with 3 local farms in Atlanta, and I hand pick all the fruits and vegetables, to bring the back to the spa, where I mix them in juice and make skincare recipes.”

Owens is a combo between a cuisinier and an aesthetician, whom acquired the moniker #skincarechef. She follows a strict guideline for iwi Fresh so there aren’t any health risks associated with her products. The containers are never outdated. In addition, she addresses things like storage preservation. “I had to make sure that I was making a product that I believed in and [a product] that I was able to buy and use,” shares Owens.  

About three years ago, we ended up getting our products in Whole Foods,” says Owens. “They were looking were looking for an authentic farm-to-skin spa, skincare products. They wanted raw products, and that’s what we represent, the rawness.”

Macy’s approached Owens and wanted to carry the farm-to-skin products for their diversion program, but Macy’s wanted to change the originality of iwi Fresh. Owens wouldn’t have it. This was her baby, and like any proud parent looking out for her child, she stuck to her convictions, knowing that when one door closes, another will open, and it did.

Mini tour of iwi Fresh Garden Day Spa

As a determined entrepreneur and woman of color, Owens crossed barriers for sure.

“It was a difficult struggle because the beauty industry is so tainted. There are no FDA regulations, and it’s all visuals and smells. It’s all convenient, quick, but it’s all toxins. It’s very bad. It’s all about the money. For me, it was a harder journey because I didn’t fall into mainstream. I was over here on the sidebar. My goal is… I want to be a game changer. We’re the game changers. We’re on the other side. When you’re not part of the mainstream it’s a little harder because everything is built around that mainstream, all the stores, everything is all around that dollar and not really around your health,” she explained.

Speaking of changing the game, and being somewhat a “sidebar” entrepreneur, Owens created an all-natural recipe of vegetables and fruits that thrust her right into mainstream whether she believes it or not. Well, that coupled with the powerful persuasion of social media, word of mouth,  and grassroots. Iwi Fresh is her legacy, the greatest haiku ever applauded, her major accomplishment in life.

The magnate’s clientele list includes Kelly Rowland, Gabrielle Union, Iyanla Vanzant, Lil Scrappy, Eric Roberson, Rashan Ali, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and 2016 Olympic winner, Kristi Castlin just to name a few are a few of the celebrities who enjoy her Farm-to-Spa Garden Spa and/or products.

“One thing about iwi, it’s the way that I created my vision. It’s like a garden inside. When you walk in, it’s literally like you’re walking into an oasis, the garden. It’s a lot of plants, herbs, and berries. It’s just simple and natural. That’s what I wanted to give. I wanted to give the feel of that. It smells clean. There are no toxins. We don’t even use acrylic. We don’t do any chemicals so when you walk into the spa, you don’t smell anything. My nail techs don’t wear mask. People love that [cadence]. What I’ve learned about people is that people are wanting natural stuff. They want raw stuff! They want the real thing. A lot of celebrities are interested in wanting the real thing."

Legendary artist, Sheila E., Mathew Knowles, Former Mayor and Civil Rights activist, Andrew Young, Mario Van Peebles, Lance Gross, Taraji P. Henson, and countless other celebrities marvel at the ambiance of iwi Fresh.

When talking about labels and authenticity behind an indie brand, iwi Fresh nails it. It’s the reason inhabitants of Atlanta, moreover the celebs, frequent the oasis. It’s completely green, and Yolanda Owens stands by that guarantee.

Amid the massage chairs, tables and bowls, the ambiance should be an absolute gesture that iwi fresh is a soothing token of heaven. Greenery in the form of plants and flowers stretch through the place like a mystical corridor in your favorite Greek mythology tale. It's divine. 

The farm-to-skin spa sits adoringly in the historic part of Atlanta, Georgia. It’s open to the public. Of course, there are celebs popping in from time-to-time, because they can’t get enough of iwi Fresh. You never know who you might see while getting that bomb facial or fab mani & pedi.

#SkincareChef #YolandaOwens said that she’s on a mission to empower individuals to love themselves more through the care of their skin."

Owens manufactured a unisex moisturizer called 14 Carrot Glow .

“It is my favorite because it’s a great moisturizer that’s toxin free. It’s made with fresh carrots, with Beta carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. The '14 Carrot Glow Cream' is very light and penetrating. It serves it purpose. It’s not some fluff-fluff. You will need to refrigerate it and it will last about two-and-a-half months. It’s the best thing and it’s good for all skin types no matter what ethnic group you’re in. Carrots are really good for the skin.”

Owens suggests that women should use a little more moisturizer during the winter than they would during summer. She also says that women should do an avocado mask for their face at least once or twice a month, and drink lots of water even if you must add fruit to your drink. Water is good for hydration.

Are you paying attention, because by this time, you should know that there are many dynamics to natural foods and their healing anesthetics.

Interestingly enough, Owens carries a uniquely labeled product called, “Hot Butter Grits.” Yes, you read that correctly.

Hot Butter Grits is my body line—It’s my body oil and body scrub. Basically, it’s made with real grits. It’s an exfoliate and it’s made with oatmeal, honey and brown sugar. It’s good. Oatmeal is great for the skin and so is honey. The grits are an exfoliate. A lot of people love “Hot Butter Grits.”

The chemist created a men’s line called, “Atlanta Hot Shave,” for the beard gang.

The most graceful part of her journey is meeting people… “I inspire people just by being myself,” says Owens. “People know that I come from corporate America, and I’m a single mother with 3 children. I have women that come to me that tell me, “I’ve watched you and seen what you do. You’ve inspired me as a single mother, to really step out and pursue my passion.  My mission is to motivate and educate, while feeding their skin the truth. I want people to really be conscious of what they’re putting on the largest organ of their body [their face].

“The other thing about our spa, a lot of mothers come to our spa that are pregnant, and they have babies. It’s safe there.”

Iwi Fresh Garden Day Spa is definitely a mood. It’s a wellspring for the purist and a tranquil vibe for the anyone else looking  to relax after a long days work. 

Owens shared that her daughter, who works at the spa, is planning to create a vegan polish.

It’s quite evident that genius runs in the family, and the creative apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Speaking of genius, Owens hosted her third annual Farm-to-Skin Cookoff, where three chefs compete while using completely raw dishes that they use from the farm. While the chefs are cooking off, Owens creates a skincare product from the same ingredients, which go to show that the products are salubrious whether on the skin or in the tummy.

For the months of October and November light of breast cancer and skin awareness, Owens is doing a pumpkin and sweet potato mask, that’s made with turmeric, so drop by get a facial, sip some green tea, and get in the mix.

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