Newport Bodhi Spa owners named RI Small Business Persons of the Year
Two Newport business owners have been named 2020 Rhode Island Small Business Persons of the Year.
Harmony Oschefski and Cedar Hwang, owners of The Bodhi Spa in Newport, were announced as the recipients of the honor on Tuesday.
“Harmony, Cedar, their partners and the Bodhi team have built an exceptional business,” said Josh Daly of RI Small Business Development Center at URI, who nominated the sisters for the award. “Their commitment to a beautiful and peaceful experience for everyone who walks into their spa is clear, but what impressed me the most was their equal commitment to patiently do the hard work necessary for growth and to expanding their business, regardless of the challenges that may arise. I am proud of them for this well deserved award.
In 2013, the sisters born in Newport and Nova Scotia began planning the Bodhi Spa, a hydrotherapy day spa focused on the well-being of the whole body. The spa offers massages, beauty treatments, body treatments and, above all, the restorative experience of the ancient Roman-style thermal circuit. Harmony and Cedar secured an SBA 504 loan from the Ocean State Business Development Authority to purchase and renovate their location in Newport. In June 2015, once the renovations were completed, the Bodhi Spa officially opened.
In 2013, they started planning the Bodhi Spa – a hydrotherapy day spa, focused on the well-being of the whole body. The spa offers massages, beauty treatments, body treatments and, above all, the restorative experience of the ancient Roman-style thermal circuit. Oschefski and Hwang secured an SBA 504 loan from the Ocean State Business Development Authority to purchase and renovate their location in Newport. In June 2015, once the renovations were completed, the Bodhi Spa officially opened.
“The SBA was imperative for the opening of the Bodhi Spa. Although Cedar and I are both US citizens, I had only recently returned to Rhode Island after living in Canada for 30 years. The leave left me with no real credit or borrowing leverage. The SBA saw my unique case and offered options to overcome these setbacks. What this has reaffirmed and will always carry with me is that there is a solution to every problem. With the right conversations we can usually overcome any obstacle and in the end there is growth, ”Oschefski said in a statement.
As of 2020, the sisters employed 31 employees, had nearly $ 2 million in annual sales, and had a second location pending in Providence. As COVID-19 took hold, the sisters found themselves in dire straits. The spa faced regulations that required guests to stay away. With no income, Harmony and Cedar had to lay off their employees, but were instead able to secure a PPP loan from Berkshire Bank and an EIDL loan from the SBA. These loans allowed the sisters to keep their staff employed until state restrictions allowed them to reopen.
“Without the PPP and EIDL loans we would have had serious problems and both sites would have suffered tremendously and may not have survived,” Harmony said. “All of the help from the SBA has absolutely saved our business during this time and we are very grateful to have such support,” she added.
“We have overcome a lot in the last 7 years. Building a business that has never been done before in this state is a blessing and a curse. We enjoy the creative process of being first, but being first also means creating the plan and making the mistakes along the way, ”Oschefski said. “We have grown tremendously and are grateful that the process has only just begun. We will continue to offer a place of well-being while developing the brand and sharing health! We’re already talking about # 3!