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Local Business

A salon with soul: Meraki's team works to elevate the spa experience

The new Meraki Spa Salon team is pouring their hearts and souls into this new adventure in relaxation.

The newly renovated shop at 106 River St., once home to a local photographer, has been transformed into a serene and tranquil space, with the salon on the first floor and the spa upstairs in a former apartment.

Owner Vanessa Rubright opened her salon after being inspired by other local estheticians, and her team consists of stylists Lissa Jones, Kaila Langley, Sarah Reyes and Heather Solomon, who do combinations of hair, facial waxing, lash lifts, makeup and extensions; massage therapist Hillary Liebing; Karli Schmitt, a part-time esthetician; and Sarah Welty, who handles Meraki’s active social media sites – it’s on Facebook and Instagram – and takes care of other office duties.

“They are such an amazing group of girls,” Rubright said.

The spa offers facials, power peels, waxing, sugaring and more.

Rubright, in fact, is a huge fan of facials – it’s the gift she prefers, she tells her family members. Those who get them regularly do so every 8 to 12 weeks, but a facial also is a great way to treat yourself any time, she said.

The Meraki team also is putting together relaxation packages for those who want to spend the day.

“I want to see wedding packages soon, too,” Rubright said. “Maybe a bridal party and come get her hair and makeup done, get dressed here, and go get married on the riverfront.”

Rubright and her family have lived in Dixon for 17 years, where she worked as an elementary school nurse for 13 years, and then 3 years at Dixon High.

“I absolutely loved it. It was a huge blessing. The kids were a blast, and I really miss them.”

Rubright also has coached a little volleyball and track. “I did what I could to help out the district,” she said.

Meraki’s story began in 2017, when Rubright’s daughters, Madisyn and Alivia, were 14 and 12. She was accustomed to spending her summers off with her girls, but that was their first summer away at camp, and that changed everything.

Suddenly confronted with some free time, “I thought, well, the first thing I’m gonna do is go get a facial.”

After spending some relaxing time at the salon, Rubright thought, “What a perfect job. You could help people relax and feel good. That woman has the best job in the world.”

She went home and told her husband, Jason, an electrician, that she might want to be an esthetician.

During the 2017-18 school year, Rubright worked at the school during the day, attended esthetician classes in Sycamore a few days a week, and volunteered at the salon that inspired her the summer before.

“It was a whirlwind year,” Rubright said.

She tried but failed to buy a business, then she and Jason stumbled upon the perfect building for Meraki Spa Salon, right along the riverfront.

“I thought, this place is beautiful. I could see exactly how I would make it into a salon and spa.”

Jason, always supportive of her mission, said, “Let’s see if we can make it happen.”

They put in an offer, and bought the building the same day. They signed the papers on Sept. 10, and began remodeling right away.

As their work began, Studio 404 in Dixon was closing its doors, and three of its stylists joined the team, along with a few others from around the area.

The Meraki salon opened in January and the spa in February.

After looking for hours for the perfect word to encapsulate her mission, she found “meraki” while sitting at the pool with her husband, Rubright said.

It’s a Greek word that means “to put soul, creativity and love into your work, to be truly passionate about something you believe in.”

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