Squeezed out of Venice by gentrification, the business throws a party for its new digs in the basement of Andrew Keegan’s Rose Avenue spiritual center
By Kathy Leonardo
Julia Lolita Martin-Wrobel opened NiteSpa in 2005 on Santa Clara Avenue, just off Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Offering after-hours manicures, massages and other pampering to people who spent their days at work, NiteSpa catered to a hip crowd and threw destination parties to prove it.
But then Abbot Kinney got even hipper—and more expensive. Longtime locally owned retail shops such as Altered Space, Bohemian Exchange and Just Tantau fell victim to rising rents, and soon the same fate befell NiteSpa.
When the building that housed NiteSpa was sold last year, Martin-Wrobel was forced to relocate to a second-floor loft in Mar Vista. She had a tough time getting her customers to come with her, so when that second building was sold she saw it as a sign to return to Venice.
“I knew it would take some magical thinking and a clear vision,” Martin-Wrobel said.
That’s when she met Andrew Keegan, founder of the Full Circle Spiritual Center at 305 Rose Avenue.
Keegan, a longtime Venice resident, said he’s witnessed the impacts of gentrification and admired Martin-Wrobel’s entrepreneurial spirit.
“I want to do everything I can to keep talent in our community. It’s so important that local entrepreneurs have a place here where they can thrive. It’s a service to the community to allow a space where this can happen, which was another motivating factor for me,” Keegan said.
“I feel like I won the lottery,” said Marin-Wrobel, who shared the downstairs space with Beach Beauty Culture. “I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to create an amazing salon, boutique and gallery space one block from the beach in one of the hottest hoods in town.”
Andrea Nobile of Beach Beauty Culture and Martin-Wrobel connected more than a year ago, when both were experiencing the same challenges. Nobile owned a hair salon at Rose Avenue and Speedway.
“As soon as the tech companies moved in, the prices went up,” said Nobile. When her salon’s building was sold, she also had to move, and her business suffered. Nobile called meeting up with Martin-Wrobel and bringing both businesses into Full Circle a case of “divine timing.”
At Full Circle, NiteSpa will continue its nonprofit effort SpaKarma, which offers free spa services to patients fighting debilitating illnesses and their caretakers.
“It feels great to have this fresh wave of feminine energy downstairs and show what’s possible when you get creative about finding solutions. It’s all in the collaboration,” Keegan said.
On Saturday, NiteSpa and Beach Beauty Culture celebrate their new location with a Boho Disco dance party soiree featuring original art by Michael Baroff, Bethany Londyn, Jules Muck, and Stephen Schubert. In addition to dancing, magic performances and refreshments, there’ll also be some spa services, of course.
The Boho Disco party begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, at Full Circle, 305 Rose Ave., Venice. The entrance fee is a pay-what-you-can donation to SpaKarma. For access to a VIP pre-party from 6 to 8 p.m., call (310) 390-5122 or visit gofundme.com/wdad5bk.