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Merritt Medi Spa Entrepreneur Spotlight: Anastaszia Cash

Owner/Operator of Desert Divas and Dons Medi-Spa

Experience Nicola Valley’s Sit-Down with one of Merritt’s Newest Storefronts

 

Merritt Medi Spa : A couple of weeks ago I put together a promotion at Community Futures Nicola Valley. I wanted to promote some local women entrepreneurs here in Merritt BC for International Women’s Day on March 8th. This was how I met the owner and operator of Merritt’s Desert Divas and Dons Medi-Spa, Anastaszia Cash.

Merritt Medi Spa Anastaszia Cash

Anastaszia was a fantastic collaborator to work with during the International Women’s Day promotion. We wound up having a huge success over on the CFNV social media; but I could tell there was a larger story at hand and I wanted to investigate for myself. Luckily, I write a series of articles about Nicola Valley entrepreneurs on Experience Nicola Valley!

Merritt Medi Spa Owner Entrepreneur

Photo Credit: Anastaszia Cash. Anastaszia and her dog, doing ministry work.

Merritt’s Desert Divas and Dons – The Beginning

Upon request for an interview, Anastaszia made arrangements quickly and easily. I got a sit-down interview spanning about an hour, as well as a guided tour of the Medi Spa! During our interview, I learned more about both Anastaszia and her husband Wes, who helps run this Merritt Medi Spa. They had an unreal story to tell, and I was honoured to be given the opportunity to hear it.

Meet Wes and Anastaszia 

Wes and Anastaszia’s career moves led to bicoastal American opportunities in New York, LA & San Jose. Wes was in international demand as a body builder and a fire suppression technician. Anastaszia had made a name for herself as an international gospel preacher, martial artist and master in the beauty industry.

A Long Road Leads to the Nicola Valley

A string of back to back, multiple car accidents, however, would interrupt their plans with countless surgeries. Wes, in particular, endured a broken neck & back. Anastaszia with a severe brain injury, two back to back heart attacks and kidney issues.  Anastaszia and Wes found their previous lifestyles unsafe to continue to pursue, so bottom line – things had to change. A relocation from the Vancouver area felt like a fresh start because the couple found the big city was lacking a personal touch.

Community: The Missing Ingredient

During my interview it became clear, time and again, just how much the Desert Divas couple value community. For example, since opening, first responders and military personnel receive 20% off all services. Anastaszia works closely with members of Kids Play Foundation to provide scholarships for youth in need, and she’s even networked with shelters and care centres across the BC interior to provide restorative services for people who may be bearing the scars of abuse.

And There is More Too!

As I was wrapping up this article, Anastaszia contacted me about another initiative she has taken on. In response to the growing reports of dangerous activity in BC, she wanted me to inform readers of a secret “menu item” when it comes to a “desert facial”.  Anastaszia prides her patrons somewhere safe and secure to wait if they’re concerned that they might be being followed or harassed.  Desert Divas staff will contact authorities if requested. 

It’s a lifestyle centered around bringing good to those around you – and I found it very inspiring on a personal level.

A Desert Diamond in the Valley

This commitment to community is inspiring! But how does the Medi-Spa itself stack up? Admittedly, I felt a little out of my depth here; as a rural twenty-something boy, writing about spa life. But where familiarity fails, research prevails, so I hit the web and studied as much as I could in advance of my interview. As far as my newly enriched understanding could tell, Desert Divas and Dons represents a world class experience!

Technology At Work

The technologies at work here are huge, international names; treatments like OxyGeneo and DermaStamp are available at a price point that Anastaszia says leaves enough savings for her coastal clientele to commute down and see her. The medi-spa itself is Health Canada certified, with a massive emphasis on safety, sanitization and professionalism.

A Passion Stemming from Personal Experience

Anastaszia has spent several years working in what is considered the beauty industry. However, there is significant stigma against the industry. One point in case, vanity can lead to body issues and negativity. Admittedly, I used to see things from that angle myself. Anastaszia however, relates the procedures she performs back to her own life and previous experiences with abuse. She sees opportunity for people to find a fresh start by healing wounds and erasing pain – both physically, and emotionally. In her own life, aesthetician work has helped her find confidence and start again.

Anastaszia also provided this picture of herself, on duty as a chaplain.

A Learning Experience

I came to the Merritt medi-spa feeling a bit out of my depth. Someone with my lifestyle, I had figured, is going to be a pretty unlikely client. But the experience I found here was surprisingly genuine, deeply sincere and honestly kind of moving. I wound up specifically appreciating the joie-de-vivre on display here at Desert Divas.  Anastaszia and Wes have lived a tremendous story together, and while pain has been a significant part of their story, they refuse to let it be a story of pain. It’s a huge distinction, and it’s one I don’t know if I understood before having this meeting. 

In Conclusion

Anastaszia got in touch with me a few more times after the initial visit to see if I needed any help with the article? Anastaszia, also let me know she has taken more steps  to becoming a community leader. For example, Anastaszia Cash EDU, an education program for aestheticians that she developed herself is off to a great start. Her work with Kids Play Foundation is developing more and more each day, and she continues to seek local youths to provide mentorship at her spa, offering the opportunity to get Merritt residents a foot in the door on a valuable career opportunity. 

Merritt Medi-Spa: My Takeaways

For my own part, I got to make two great new friends! Wes and Anastaszia are welcoming and open, and their commitment to community is inspiring. Stigma is often attached to smaller towns like the idea that if you’re not born here or raised here, you won’t be given the chance to belong. Anastaszia and Wes admitted that upon first opening their business, some people were hesitant, but with time Merrittonians have come to appreciate that it’s the real deal! 

I left personally inspired to be more positive in my day to day interactions, as well. We’re rarely given the opportunity to change the hand we are dealt, but we’re always in charge of whether we accept it with a smile or choose to let it beat us. Thanks for the chat, and the words of wisdom, Anastaszia and Wes!

CONTACT US:

2101 Quilchena Ave, Merritt, BC V1K 1R6

(250) 936-9200

info@desertdivasanddonsspa.com

Facebook / Instagram

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Considering Participating in Movember in Merritt?

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Movember Musings from a Goatee Greenhorn

 

I remember hearing about Movember in Merritt BC. Some called it “No Shave November”.  However, back in high school I thought it was an awful idea. No, I don’t mean the millions upon millions of dollars in charity raised each year for vital causes like mental health and cancer treatment! I just meant that I was a scraggly teenager. I had inadvertently participated in every previous Movember without much to show for it. But times have changed.

Wiser Movember in Merritt

I’m a twenty something year old man now. I have my own place and I drive around in a responsible midsize sedan.  Perhaps most surprisingly, after a recent camping trip when I forgot my shaving kit, I looked in the rearview mirror as I got on the highway back home and decided I had begun my clumsy foray into the world of ‘stache ownership. Therefore, I had to decide? Was I in or out on this ‘stache movement? 

My Movember in Merritt

While I can’t say that my newfound crumb catcher is a result of a Movember pledge – this was more of a mid-September thing. The convenient thing about being early is that I can pass some potentially life-saving advice. Advice passed down to any readers who might be considering, or already well on their way through a no-shave challenge. Without further ado, here’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of participating in Movember’s most popular campaign, a month without shaving.

 

merritt movember blog intro picture

I got this nice picture while out camping. Let us know if you’d like to hear more about this spot!

The Good: New (and Bizarre) Compliments

I was lucky enough to get by the most awkward stages of stache development. Hiding  in the woods for nearly a week will do the job. If you’re not able to isolate from society for 3-6 days and let the “did your shaver break or are you keeping that?” days roll by that way, just try to tough it out! You’re doing this for charity and to look more like Chris Hemsworth; both very honourable causes. 

No-One Recognizes You After No-Shave

Anyway, regardless of how long it takes you to grow your ideal facial hair. Do not worry, and especially during these bizarre COVID times, friends and acquaintances will be seeing the new look for the first time anyway. We tend to recognize people by their faces, so significantly changing up that familiar face has a way of getting people to really tune in; what I’m trying to say is that you were always a handsome son of a gun – they’re just noticing it more!

merritt movember blog post camping

I had gone a few days without shaving by this picture. Luckily I got to spend those days outdoors!

The Bad: Patches, Invisible Hairs, and More

I was fortunate enough to have spent the formative days of my goatee journey toasting up marshmallows and reading by the campfire. However, once I got back to work, I realized just how out of sorts the whole thing was panning out. While I was gunning for a tidy, definition building goatee, I was a bit more Inigo Montoya and a bit less Walter White. There’s a few things going on here. Therefore it is important to note any burgeoning beard is going to come with a handful of patchy and uneven spots. And yes, these do eventually fill in! Perhaps more interesting however, is the breadth of colour that the average mustache is likely to represent.  

Reality

In real life, you’re liable to see your regular hair colour, about three or four shades on either side of it, gray(!), black and “invisible hairs”.  This mix-match of colour is easily remedied in the movies with a little beard dye. If the colour does not suit the cause then you can deal with it, either by taking matters into your own hands or consulting a pro. Local beauty salon TC Hair & Medspa offers an intriguing one hour long beard colouring service that’s likely to assuage even the most picky among us. Check them out and tell us how it goes!

The Ugly: Remember Those Marshmallows I Mentioned?

As you might have surmised by the title of this section, you’re going to be sharing your food from now on out. In other words the good news is you’ve got a tea strainer with you wherever you go! The bad news is, it’s also a soup strainer, crumb catcher, marshmallow shredder, and a few other things I won’t get into. However, you can style your stache and rein it in to prevent some of this. Although long term you’re going to need to learn to keep on top of this new problem. I’m serious about this one. There’s an entire YouTube channel online dedicated to keeping food out of the face furniture. In addition,  you’re going to eat a little bit of mustache hair. Sorry. At least you know all those famous bearded celebrities are, too!

In Conclusion

There we have it – everything you probably never wanted to know about Movember participation. Jokes aside, participating in a fundraiser challenge or even just a show of solidarity like this is a very commendable endeavor. This cause has been supported in many different and interesting ways by the Movember Foundation since it’s inception and we’re lucky to have a challenge on our hands that is arguably even more do-able in the current COVID situation. Consequently, and unfortunately,  other raffles, runs, and competitions have had to take the year off

Movember in Merritt BC

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Mason Bees in Merritt BC

Bees in Merritt BC are some of the best friends your garden can ever have.

Mason Bees in Merritt BC – These solitary, non-aggressive little bees are not only great pollinators but also just one nest of them is more than enough for the average back yard in Merritt BC Canada.  And when I say they are non-aggressive, I mean it! I have never heard of anyone ever being stung by one. In addition, Mason Bees in Merritt BC are abundant. To attract and also to keep these nature friends in your garden, you need to know a few things.

Life Cycle Of Mason Bees in Merritt BC

Mason Bees in Merritt BC emerge from cocoons when the daytime temperatures reach 14 degrees C(57 F). They mate shortly after emerging. Then, immediately after mating, the female starts foraging for pollen to provide her nest. She goes into a tube about 15 cm  (6″) long, creates a pollen lump, lays an egg on it and then seals it with mud, plant material or a mixture of both. Each egg hatches out into a grub or larva and feeds on the pollen lump until it is fully grown. Then it rests before spinning itself a cocoon. Inside the cocoon, it first changes into a pupa, then into a bee.
By the end of summer, the cocoons contain adult bees. Both male and female bees remain in their cocoons until spring when the cycle starts all over again.

mason bees in merritt bc

Mason bee hard at work pollinating

Mason Bee Nest Requirements 

If you want to encourage Mason Bees in Merritt BC, build them a nest and meet their few requirements. They like their nests about 5 ft. from the ground and facing east. Preferred nesting spots are in dry tubes about 6″ long and 5/16″ deep, with only one entrance. Wood, masonry or even paper will do. It must be protected from wind, rain and extremes of cold and heat. Also, early flowering plants are also essential for bees in Merritt BC since the female must provide pollen lumps for her eggs. In addition to these few things, your Mason Bees will also need mud to seal in their eggs and protect them.

Early flowering plants for your Mason Bees

I checked with Vicki Hansen at Petals & Plants Flower Shop at 2052 B Quilchena Avenue for some suggestions for early plants in our area. She suggested the following: bleeding hearts, bachelor buttons, snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and, of course, lilacs. If you need more information, contact Vicki on Facebook, Instagram or phone her at: 250-378-5575. 

merritt mason bee pollinating

Spring is here and Mason Bees are hard at work

Constructing your own Mason Bee Nests

The easiest way to do this is to purchase paper straws, crimp the ends and tape them together so the open ends are uneven. Next, wrap the taped straws with cardboard glued together, then wrap in insulation to protect them from heat and cold. Paint the bee house in bright colours. Bees see colour and this helps them to find their nest. While you’re at it, why not paint the ends of the straws too.

Securing your Mason Bee nest

Paint the inside of a large, plastic bucket a dark colour. Insert the straw bundle in the bee house and put the whole thing into the plastic bucket turned on its side. Drill holes on the under side to let out water if rain gets in. Mason Bees in Merritt BC have many predators, so remember to cover the open end of the bucket with chicken wire. Also, keep the wire at least 3″ away from the nest entrance to keep pests out.

nesting mason bees in merritt bc

Example of a home-made Mason Bee nest

Harvesting Mason Bee cocoons in Merritt

Sometime between October and December it will be time to harvest your cocoons. If you use paper straws for your nests, harvesting is easy. Make a small cut in one end of the straw and unravel it carefully over a paper covered surface. Place cocoons in a container.

Merritt Mason Bee Nest and cocoon cleaning

Clean nests and replace straws as previously described. Between late September and December bees will not emerge from cocoons at room temperature, so clean the cocoons then. Mason bees in Merritt BC have a lot of wasps that parasite  them. Because of this, a thorough cleaning is necessary.

mason bee hotel

Mason Bee hotel and accommodations

How to clean Mason Bee cocoons

Place cocoons in an ice cream bucket. Add 8 cups tepid water. Wet cocoons by gently rolling and moving them for 5-15 minutes. Remove and place in a large strainer. Rinse again adding 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon of water. Rinse well under gently running water. Remember, you have delicate, live bees in there.

After at least two washings, check for mites by placing the cocoons on a white paper towel, cover them with a wet paper towel and leave them to drain.

Mite check for your Merritt Mason Bees

After an hour, remove the paper towels and check the cocoons. You are looking for small orange spots. These are mites. If there are 5 or fewer per square inch, your cocoons are OK. If there are more than this then wash your cocoons again until there are fewer than 5 orange dots per square inch.

Which cocoons have  Mason Bees in them?

Cocoons with bees are dark grey and firm to the touch. “Parasitized” cocoons are lighter colored and feel crispy or look empty. Keep suspect cocoons in a clear container. In spring if wasps emerge, freeze and destroy. If bees emerge, cool them for 30 minutes in the fridge and release them outside.

Now you have Mason Bees in Merritt BC . Store the dry, clean cocoons in a cardboard box cushioned with toilet tissue. Keep the box in a metal, lidded container so pests can’t eat the cocoons. Punch some holes for air.

Releasing your Bees

In February, keep the box in the fridge over a damp paper towel until flowers bloom and the bees have food. A temperature between 2-4 degrees c. is ideal but colder could kill them; warmer could cause them to emerge too early and starve.

Emergence of Mason Bees in Merritt

Cut a small hole in the box for the bees to emerge. Then, place under the cleaned nesting box protected from rain, wind and of course, birds. However, remember to provide mud for your Mason Bees.  Also, remember to keep it moist so the bees can scoop it up as needed.

Smile every time you see one of your bees foraging in the garden!

Need more information?

Check out our local Merritt Public Library
address: 1691 Garcia
phone: 250-378-4737
website: tnrl.ca

Your senior blogger
Diane

Mason Bees in Merritt, B.C.

Creating a home for your Merritt Mason Bees


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