Any woman would be impressed when scrolling through Parlour J’s Instagram page. Beautiful, clean photos ooze serenity and showcase the facial, massage, eyebrow and nail treatments on offer at the new spa in the regional NSW town of Jugiong.
This is a credit to owner Emma Graham, who was working as a marketing professional in Sydney, managing AMP Capital’s Australian and New Zealand shopping centres, just two years ago.
It was through her husband, Angus – a sheep, cattle and cropping farmer – that she moved to the charming country village of Binalong, a short drive from Jugiong in the NSW South West Slopes, in January 2017, with their firstborn in arms.
“I stayed working in Sydney up until I had Hunter so it wasn’t until we got out of the hospital that I moved to the country and we lived together,” says Emma. “It was an interesting experience!”
Since settling into country life and welcoming their second son, Sinclair, to the farm, Emma decided it might be nice to add a touch of city life to her new home and has found her second calling with the opening of Parlour J in November 2020.
Working together, the husband and wife have achieved the spa’s chic design and state-of-the-art infrared sauna by using European reclaimed oak and stone imported by their second business, Woodstock Resources, which is located inside the 4 Doors Up building.
After seeing the business space next door to Woodstock Resources vacant for almost a year after Tillia Withers from The Yard Studio left, Emma floated the idea of a spa with Angus in a bid to attract more visitors from the highway on Jugiong’s doorstep.
Around the corner, The Sir George inn had recently converted its 1845 stone stables into accommodation and Emma saw an opportunity for guests to indulge on their weekends away.
“Jugiong is an amazing destination in that it’s so small there are probably 200 people who live here, yet on a weekend you can’t get a park,” says Emma.
“While people are coming and there are wonderful food and drink experiences to be had, and beautiful little shops to meander through, there isn’t much else for people to do when they come to stay.”
Without a background in beauty, Emma was eager to find a local beautician to open the business with, but that proved to be challenging.
“At first, I didn’t have the confidence to do it ourselves,” she says. “Then, I don’t know if it was COVID-19 or something else, but we had more time to think and it was actually Angus who said, ‘Why can’t we do it all by ourselves?’ So we decided to go ahead.”
Despite putting a call out to arms online, Emma was still struggling to find staff until she discovered the good old fashioned bush telegraph.
“It really became through word of mouth that I found my staff,” she says. “I think in the country, where I’m still learning the way, your network of people is so important.”
Emma also reached out to the local TAFEs and beauty schools and realised there is a large number of girls studying beauty, but who often end up in another industry because there aren’t enough local employment opportunities.
She is also about to embark on a beauty course to join the team as the spa’s popularity grows.
“There are a lot of groups of women who like to come from Canberra, Wagga Wagga and Sydney, stay locally and experience a spa treatment together,” says Emma. “So we need more hands at the spa to cater for that.”
While beauty may not have been Emma’s first foray, she has certainly jumped in feet first, even making her own all-natural, organic product range by working with a botanist from the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Emma wants people to feel they can relax and unwind in Jugiong, and has chosen to run the spa using a holistic approach that looks at both the mind and body.
The cleanser, two moisturisers, and vitamin A and vitamin C serums she has made are all used in the spa’s signature mindful facial, which includes a guided meditation.
“I’ve really enjoyed the process of opening a spa and making a beauty range,” says Emma. “It’s like my baby.”
Parlour J is located at Shop 2, 4 Doors Up, 3619 Jugiong Road, Jugiong, and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday from 9 am to 1 pm.