June 11, 2004

To truly love what you do, you must do what you love.  That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.  But, what is an entrepreneur?  In this case, it is a woman with the desire to develop her personal and professional life.  That’s an entrepreneur.  Her life is her endeavour.  The provision of physical, mental and emotional health of her clients is her net profit.
Monique Robitaille had a plan when she left her job of ten years with a government ministry.  She wanted to share her interest in the benefits that natural products can bring with the people of Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, and the surrounding West Nipissing and Sudbury areas.  In 1997, with the support of the SEB Program, she established the Herb Hut in a 500 square foot basement office on the corner of Main and John, where she sold a variety of herbs, vitamins and essential oils.  Since then, her business has grown to include six employees, with the potential to expand to hire more.  Now, the humble Herb Hut resides in a 2400 square foot location now called AVEO…Your Alternative Spa/Herb Hut.
Monique began her alternative healing training in 1996, at the Gestion Bio-Plex in Nedelec, Quebec.  Training in Herbology, Pyto-therapy (the use of herbal medicine) and therapeutic uses of essential oils, gave her enough knowledge to open the Herb Hut for business on January 21, 1997.  By 1998, the business was experiencing success.  With the support she received through the SEB Program in her first year, she set aside some money to enable the expansion of her business.  She relocated to a more visible location at 64 William Street.  There, she was able to form partnerships with others who could offer therapies on a part-time basis and provide additional products, such as tanning beds and esthetic services, to her clientele.
Monique’s business and partnerships just kept growing bigger and bigger, and she found herself moving again in 1999 to a 2400 square foot location at 179 Main Street.  It was in this location that AVEO…Your Alternative Spa/Herb Hut came into being.  AVEO today is a full-day spa that consists of several types of services.  In addition to a variety of body care, giftware and tanning products, AVEO offers a combination of esthetics, massage therapies, stand-up and lay-down tanning, and oxygen chamber detoxification treatments in the only hyper-thermic oxygen chamber between Toronto and Edmonton.  Clients can choose spa packages that last anywhere from two hours to an entire day worth of pampering, with lunch included in packages of 5 hours or more.
AVEO…Your Alternative Spa/Herb Hut was able to expand because of a commitment to customer service.  Most of AVEO’s business comes from repeat customers, whose treatments are custom-tailored to suit their needs.  One happy client, who received a spa package donated by AVEO, recalls her day as an experience of a lifetime.  “I cannot fully describe what that day meant to me or how totally wonderful it was…each person made me feel like I was the only client they had ever had, and went out of their way to accommodate me and make me happy.”
Establishing a business in an area with a small population can be a challenge, Monique once said.  In doing so, however, she has been able to increase the economic situation and improve the standard of living, by improving and promoting good health to the citizens of Sturgeon Falls and surrounding areas.  Her staff is happy to help clients in need of relief.  They are also able to educate clients on how a spa experience can be relaxing and contribute to a healthier frame of mind.  Science has proven that long-term stress and tension can result in many forms of “dis-ease”, and can be a contributing factor in most cases of cancer, ulcers, depression and premature aging.  Many people are unable to take relaxing vacations, due to financial problems or time restraints.  Clients find that just a day in the spa can relieve them as much as a few days away.
Monique Robitaille’s passion for excellence has grown into an enterprise with a clear identity:  one that provides a natural alternative to common beauty and health regimens.  From small beginnings to a successful enterprise with an array of wonderful treatments, AVEO has continually delivered the best service, the best products, and knowledgeable information to its clientele.  Monique has hired the best people in their chosen field, and given them a specific and clearly defined role, whether it’s working under contract on a part-time basis or at the spa full-time.  As an entrepreneur, one must know the industry you are in, and be an expert in the field.  Monique has accomplished this through her training, education, and experience.