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moving on up at the upkeep shoppe (giveaway)

The Upkeep Shoppe has been one of my favourite spots in Ottawa for ages, since even before they opened. Let me tell you how. In the spring of 2012, my always-awesome and always-on realtor Bill Edelson dropped me a note saying one of his commercial clients was opening on Preston (right in my 'hood), and his client was hoping to connect with other locals since she'd just returned to Ottawa after years away.

At the time I was running a little events and PR company and was always eager to hear about new businesses, and Bill rightly guessed that I'd want to know about this place. He put me in touch with the lovely owner, Natalie, and she invited me to what would become The Upkeep Shoppe. I was honoured she let me explore her work in progress; here's a photo I shot on that first visit waaaay back when:

Natalie threw open the doors just a few weeks later and I've been a dedicaetd client ever since. Women and men have flocked to her comfortable and gender-neutral space, drawn to her no-nonsense approach to, well, personal upkeep. I've been to fancy spas throughout North America where I paid two and even three times as much for services that were't half as good (talk about buyer's remorse). Natalie set the bar high and people took note.

Fast forward three years and business is still booming. The only issue? The Upkeep Shoppe had gotten so popular that they sometimes had to turn away customers because they were fully booked. A great problem to have, sure, but a problem nonetheless. If you've ever met Natalie you know that her entrepreneur's mind never stops, so naturally she started thinking up ways to take The Upkeep Shoppe to the next level.

Rather than opening a second location, Natalie decided to focus her efforts on her existing location in the heart of Little Italy. Late this summer construction began above the shop to turn a former apartment into additional space for the shoppe, and Nat personally oversaw every single detail of the renos. I'm happy to report that as of just a few days ago the dust has settled, and The Upkeep Shoppe has now doubled in size thanks to the brand new Upkeep Upstairs!

Upkeep Upstairs is complete with a comfortable lounge area, a tea station, a brow bar, and two brand new treatment rooms for facials, massage, and more. Natalie wanted to offer a quiet retreat away from the bustle of the mani/pedi stations, and that's exactly what Upkeep Upstairs offers.

She invited me in to try her brand new brow bar and a facial in one of her new treatment rooms, and I was so excited I practically ran there (one does not simply walk to the Upkeep Shoppe). First up:


The brow bar at Upkeep Upstairs is a semi-private environment where you can have a thorough, professional, and efficient service: you'll be in and out in as little as 20 minutes with fleeky new brows. I settled into the chair and Natalie sized up my current brow sitch: decent shape and arch but skinny and sparse. I told Natalie I was eager to try tinting because in the mornings I'd be able to just get up and go. And also because my pals at Country Meet City say they swear by this trick to make brows look fuller. If you've ever seen one of C Meet C's photo shoots you'll know their brow game is ALWAYS on point. But back to my brow sitch. I told Natalie I was nervous about waxing and I didn't want to be left with too little, because no one wants anemic 90s brows anymore, right?

Sorry Gwen. You're lovely but you're a repeat offender. And don't get me started on "Friends" brows.

Anyway, Natalie got to work. She mixed the perfect shade of brown tint for my colouring and applied it to my brows. The tint only needed a few minutes to do its thing, so she removed the excess and I was thrilled to see fuller, less-wimpy brows emerging. Next up was the wax which had me a bit on edge. But Natalie totally understood my concerns about 90s brows and was conservative and careful in her approach. She waxed just enough to define my shape but not so much that I had that perma-surprised look (you know what I mean). Finally, she set my perfectly groomed brows with Upkeep's new in-house tinted brow gel and used their new in-house powders to conceal any redness from the waxing. That's right: you can head straight out to dinner or drinks without looking like you've got a really strange sunburn. SMART. Below on the left you can see what my brows look like when I haven't penciled, powdered, and otherwise filled them in. And below in the middle: my new brows, tinted and waxed to perfection, and ready to go a soon as I roll out of bed in the morning. No more pencils for me!

Here's a quick word about Upkeep's new brow gel. I'm a beauty junkie and it's pretty hard to impress me because of the sheer number of products I've tried. I love a great brow product but so many of them don't deliver, you know? Natalie applied the new brow gel in "brunette" and I thought to myself, "alright, we'll see how this does". I was so impressed with the shape, colour, and HOLD (no wonky eyebrows even after a whole day!) her formula provided that I marched straight back to Upkeep the next day and bought a tube. I love it. It was only $19 and it's far better than pricier brow gels I've tried by well-known beauty brands -- including one brand that has specialized in brows for years. This is good stuff, folks.

THE FACIAL, $100 - $125 FOR 50 MINUTES

I love a good facial. I was 100% overdue and since I just had a birthday that placed me firmly in my mid-thirties, I was game for some anti-aging action. I'd heard people rave about Upkeep's Beyond Botox Facial ($125), so that's what I opted for. My esthetician, Paige, greeted me with a firm handshake (the first sign you've found a great esthetician, IMHO), a warm smile, and offered me some tea. She invited me into the beautiful new treatment room and asked me a few questions about my skin, any allergies, and any sensitivities.

For the next 50 minutes Paige totally loved up my skin with massage, a double cleanse, a scrub, a light peel, extractions, an antiaging mask, and finally, a thorough moisturizer. And while the facial products worked their magic she treated me to a fantastic scalp massage. Note: their new treatment beds are so comfotable you may doze off a few times, I'm pretty sure I did. Sorry Paige! By the end of my appointment I was thoroughly relaxed and my skin was glowing. And I have to mention I could actually feel the moisturizer working throughout the rest of the day: my skin felt dewy without looking greasy or shiny. I'm swimming in product right now so I didn't buy it this time, but it's on my list.

So there you have it. Based on my experience, I'd say Upkeep Upstairs is off to a great start! And you can check it out for yourself at their launch party this Wednesday night.

On December 2, 2015 from 4:00pm - 8:00pm, join Natalie and her team for a cup of cocoa, a glass of bubbly, and some holiday treats. You can be one of the first to try Upkeep's new eyebrow bar AND they'll event be offering free brow tinting with all brow waxing services during the party. That means you can get both services for just $22! Space is limited so call them right away at 613- 695-9100 to reserve your spot. Upkeep will also be unveiling their new spa packages; here's a sneak peek:


But you know me, I love giveaways. So let's hook you up with some brows shall we? I'm giving away a complete brow bar experience at Upkeep Upstairs, which means one lucky reader will win brow tinting, brow waxing, and one of Upkeep's signature brow gels in the winner's shade of choice. We're talking $55 worth of love for your brows! Here's what to do:

3. Post a comment below telling me about your brows. Love 'em? Hate 'em? Not sure what to do with 'em? Tell me!

Contest closes Wednesday December 2, 2015 at 12:00pm EST and is open to local residents only. Get those entries in!


We've got a winner! Nicole Salter was our lucky winner of a complete brow makeover at The Upkeep Shoppe. Enjoy your service Nicole and share some pics with us!

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