Alex and Emilie Jackson sat down in March 2015 and wrote out their dream business — an operation that would be a place where Alex, a holistic health practitioner, could have his clinic while Emilie could share her passion for the art of tea.
“We wanted to combine our interests in a complementary way,” she said. “Both of our businesses are rooted in ancient traditions and culture.”
By August of that year they had enrolled in E-Scholars, a nine-month long training program for entrepreneurs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Just before they graduated, Emilie scanned floor plans for commercial sites in Waldo and found one that seemed ideal. Later her husband pointed out that it was the same building that had once housed a bridal shop, the same shop where she had purchased her dress for their 2011 wedding.
They purchased the building at 8131 Wornall Road, painting it a Mediterranean blue with copper trim, and spent months rehabbing the inside.
Never miss a local story.
Centered Spirit - Cultural and Holistic Center opened in January with four treatment rooms, offering acupuncture as well as traditional Maya medicine, wellness classes and other holistic therapies.
Emilie’s French Teas, a French tea room, opened in June. Emilie, a native of Nantes, France, sells Dammann Freres teas, a French brand with roots dating back to 1692. The teas are available “by the ounce, by the tin, by the go or by the pot,” the owners said.
The couple pull out various tins of loose leaf teas so customers can get a whiff of the exotic aromas — Jardin Bleu (black tea from India and China with rhubarb and wild strawberry flavors, punctuated with a sprinkling of cornflower and sunflower petals), Anichai (black tea flavored according to an Indian recipe with pieces of ginger, red berries, cloves and cardamom), L’Oriental (green tea with fruity aromas of passion fruit, wild peach and wild strawberry) and more.
“Tea is as fascinating and complex as wine,” Emilie said. “The same tea can be picked two years in a row and not have the same flavor because of the weather. Or they can differ by the region, one from China, one from India, they are all different. That’s why I like people to smell it. It is part of the ritual.”
Emilie also asks customers to speak softly and put their cell phones on silent mode.
“I want people to disconnect from their busy lives,” she said.
Some customers of Centered Spirit often stop at the tea room for a cup just to help transition to the bustling world racing by on Wornall.
The tea room is open weekdays but starting in October will be open Saturdays, serving French pastries, both savory and sweet. Emilie also is offering tea classes; the tea room is available for private events.
Within a couple of years, the Jacksons hope to again combine their interests in a new Temazcal sauna therapy system in the back of the building, using herbal teas over volcanic rock.
New Waldo retail
Elinor Hagan Lowe is proud to be a fourth-generation shop owner.
She joined the family business, Paco Designs in Lenexa, after college, 30 years ago. It is known for its custom jewelry and accessories, including mother’s and grandmother’s bracelets with children’s names and birthstones. But the family’s retail roots go back four generations to Hagan’s Clothing Co. in Mexico, Mo., started by her great-grandfather in the 1920s with the slogan “to be Haganized is to be recognized.”
She opened Hawthorne and Ivy in Weston in January, naming it with a nod to her native Missouri’s state flower and her English husband’s native ivy. She added a Waldo location this summer, taking part of a 1920 gas station building at 7142 Wornall Road, near the popular Betty Rae’s Ice Cream.
The Hawthorne and Ivy stores have a wide variety of items to appeal to multiple demographics - dresses and tops, scarves, jewelry, wallets, seasonal items, finger puppets, ponchos (a particular favorite at the recent Waldo Fall Festival), and signs with such sayings as “Be the person your dog thinks you are” and “Mr. & Mrs.” Store designer Elizabeth Quinn Babcock also does custom signs, and the shop repairs jewelry and can make custom jewelry.
“One customer had a vintage pin collection, suffrage pins even. It was crazy,” Lowe said. “We took them and made a necklace out of them. She just loved it.”