If I were to make a list of women I admire, Lisa Belanger would be at the top.
We’ve been friends for 15 years and I’ve written about Lisa’s spa, Mudwraps to Manicures, on a number of occasions. However, I’ve never really written about the woman behind the spa…what she stands for, what makes her tick…what leaves me so in awe of my friend.
The biggest thing I like about Lisa is that any time I’m with her, I leave feeling better than when I arrived…AND no, it’s not just because often when I visit, I’m getting a mani, pedi or brow wax!
Through the years, whether travelling together for a hockey tournament, spending a girls’ weekend away, enjoying a glass of wine, sitting in a coffee shop or curled up on my couch for a chat…no matter when or where, Lisa makes me laugh, she makes me feel good about myself…she elevates my spirits. I trust her…I rely on her for life advice as she makes it all look so easy from her perfectly chosen outfit to her well-organized house to the huge smile and hug that greets you when you enter her spa. However, behind that well-dressed, well-organized, big-smiled personality…there’s a lot going on and I know that she trusts me and treasures my friendship, as much as I treasure hers.
Where it began:
Born and raised in Cape Breton, Lisa grew up with a simple, balanced lifestyle…attending church on Sundays, being part of the girl guide movement and family suppers at night. Lisa’s mom was “Brown Owl”…and taught her (and the other girl guides) about volunteering in the community and being a good citizen. Her Dad was the president of the Special Olympics program and nothing pleased Lisa more than spending time with him and the kids he coached. Lisa learned early on that she wanted to work with people and make a difference in her community through volunteering…the way her parents did.
Lisa arrived in Halifax for university and after spending a year at Saint Mary’s University, she moved on to the Institute of Applied Aesthetics where she graduated, then began her career. Lisa worked in the field for 11 years before opening Mudwraps to Manicures while pregnant with her second child…building it from a one woman show in a rented room, to her current location on the Bedford Highway with 12 fabulous staff members and a mission to help out in the community!
Mudwraps believes in giving back. Once her career was underway, Lisa was inspired by the work of Margo Kerr, founder of Titz and Glitz…and helped out with her wonderful breast cancer fundraiser. Lisa takes part each year with the Laing House Ball, in support of youth living with mental illness. Each prom season, Lisa contacts the principals of the local high schools to help well-deserved, less fortunate teens have the absolute perfect prom experience. She helps time and time again when she hears of someone in need…often going to the hospital to deliver spa services and offer a little comfort. AND, along with the various organizations she chooses to work with, she also supports youth in sport initiatives through auctions and sponsorships.
With a successful spa both from a business perspective and her community involvement, Lisa still believes she would have benefitted from a Business Degree…learning about Human Resources or Accounting. What Lisa learned was discovered through trial and error and if she had her time back, it’s the one area she’d like a “do-over.” But, despite not having a formal training in business, as an entrepreneur, Mudwraps is a busy spot with spa services but they also house a FABULOUS shoe store and boutique carrying a number of lovely products from jewellery to makeup…and just this year, Lisa launched her own makeup line!
Lisa has worked hard to build what she has. With her husband in the military and often away for long stints, she was often running her business while solo-parenting…chasing two busy boys with very packed schedules as both were heavily involved in sports. Lisa often depended on her mom, known lovingly as Mema, who helped with lunches, drives, laundry and household chores while Lisa put in her time building her career. Mema was at the house to greet the boys for a healthy lunch (often with friends in tow as my son says she makes the best egg salad sandwich anywhere) and, she was there when they arrived home from school to help with homework or get them to practice on time. Now, as Mema is older and faces some medical challenges, it’s Lisa who has turned the table to help out the woman who was so instrumental in helping her household run smoothly for so very long.
Lisa is a caregiver for her mom. Mornings start with getting Mema ready for the day, taking care of her personal and medical needs and getting her organized for the day before heading to the spa to put in a day of work. With a staff she can rely on, Lisa usually heads out around 5pm to help with supper and have a visit with her mom and organize her for the evening…then heads back home to spend a little time at home with her husband and new pup, Levi.
This year, along with turning 50, Lisa celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary with her husband, Christian. They look forward to the next 25 as they’re currently building their retirement home in the South Shore of Nova Scotia where they enjoy spending the odd weekend working on the house or going for a hike. When in town, the couple is often visiting the market for local sourced fresh foods to cook up a feast together…toasted with a glass of red wine.
Lisa and Chris are the very proud parents of two grown boys, Sebastian and Justin.
Seb is an avid outdoorsman, a wonderful young man and quite simply, Lisa’s rock. He’s her right-hand man from helping with anything from walking the dog and fixing things at the spa, to picking up groceries and helping out with Mema. For the last few years, Justin has been living in Vancouver while working, developing a screen play and keeping up with his podcast, The High Button, where he chats about everyday life, sports and quirky things that strike his fancy. Recently, Justin has returned home to spend a bit of time with his grandmother and help out where he can.
Turning 50, Lisa has spent a bit of time reflecting on her life and can honestly and truly say that she’s proud of where she is and what she’s accomplished. She’s been able to support her family through her own discipline and determination…doing the very best job she could possibly do.
Living a balanced, simple life…Lisa wants to retire fit and healthy so she can continue to enjoy living life to the fullest whether it’s at the lake gardening or taking a cycling trip through Italy. She believes there was a time where she was caught up in wanting “stuff”…where designer name brands and the “perfect” life were important to her…but that’s all gone now. Lisa looks at her community and the work she’s done to help people and knows that the most important parts of her life have been built around kindness and doing for others.
Lisa is proof that a working mom CAN have it all…IF having it all means living a happy life filled with kindness and appreciation for what’s around you. If having it all means being proud of what you’ve accomplished. If having it all means being surrounded by a loving family, and wonderful friends…looking at a future filled with both exciting adventures and quiet times at the lake.
Lisa is living a simple, balanced and very wonderful life. She truly believes…she “has it all.”
– – – – – – –
A HUGE thank you to O’Regan’s KIA Dartmouth for allowing me to write about inspiring women for the past few years. I have met the most wonderful, hard-working, beautiful women through these blog posts and it’s opened my eyes to discovering more about the people I meet every single day in both my professional and personal life. This #KIAWorkingMom series of posts started with writing about KIA’s manager herself, Amanda Morvan, who I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know through this partnership. Amanda, Lisa and the many women I’ve met through this series are an INSPIRATION. They’re running successful businesses while raising children and dealing with the various challenges life throws at them…they’re doing it all with style and grace.
Follow KIA Dartmouth on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest news and to see what they’re doing in the community. To read more posts about inspiring women, click on the #KIAWorkingMom link.
Disclaimer: As a Brand Ambassador for O’Regan’s KIA Dartmouth, I’m compensated for my #KIAWorkingMom posts. All opinions, as always, are my own.