Photos by Jane Primerano
By Jane Primerano
The Pamperin sisters were too close to the World Trade Center on 9/11 not to have second thoughts about remaining in corporate America.
Tracy Pamperin was off that day, but saw the planes hit the towers from her home. Kristin Pamperin was in her office near the Battery. Both worked in graphic arts.
“But I wasn’t making a difference in anyone’s life,” Tracy Pamperin said.
In 2003, they embarked upon a new journey. The sisters were interested in wellness and natural healing and their first thought was to start a full-service wellness center. When the location they found turned out to be next door to a yoga studio, they changed their thinking a bit and founded Urban Muse on Broadway in Denville.
“We were thinking of Morristown or Ridgewood,” Kristin Pamperin said of their first preferences for a location for the spa. However, they were familiar with Denville and when a friend noticed the space was available they looked at it. There was no question it was a perfect location.
“I love everything about Denville,” she said. Her involvement with the town makes that obvious: she is a former president of the Chamber of Commerce and is now chair of the Business Improvement District.
The Pamperins are now renovating the building, taking advantage of the space in slightly different ways. They are adding a salt room. Dry salt therapy is very popular in Europe. The salt air in the room is good for detoxifying the respiratory system, healing skin conditions, promoting better breathing, sounder sleep and overall wellness.
Kristin Pamperin said people who work in salt mines have pristine lungs, unlike other miners, and also have good skin. There are only a few salt rooms in New Jersey, she noted.
The salt therapy room will join the massage rooms and two relaxation rooms.
Urban Muse started with two rooms, expanded to six within six months, then added two more in 2008 and now is going up to 10. There are also steam showers and will be saunas and post-sauna showers.
One of the massage rooms will be for ashiatsu massage. Literally foot pressure, ashiatsu is a barefoot massage therapy applying deep broad constant pressure with the therapist using her feet and body weight. Workmen installed parallel bars above the table for the balance, support and safety of the therapist.
They are choosing some new colors for the new rooms.
The current motif is a subdued “chocolate and vanilla,” Kristin Pamperin said. One relaxation room features two hand-made kimonos on the walls and lamps with hand-painted shades. The new palate is bringing in greys, she added. All of the décor is soothing as is the instrumental music piped into the rooms. Art was carefully chosen for each room
But soothing doesn’t mean bland. From the lines of the furniture to the choice of art on the walls, the highlights of the décor catch the eye pleasantly.
Business was not always smooth.
The upward trajectory of the business hit a roadblock in 2011: Hurricane Irene.
While Hurricane Sandy devastated the shore area, Morris County and other parts of the northern and northwest part of the state were hit harder by Irene.
“We only got 14 inches of water,” Kristin Pamperin said, noting it could have been worse. Two-thirds of the businesses in Denville were damaged.
“We had to cut open the walls,” her sister added, and replace much of the first floor.
The town worked with FEMA and Kristin Pamperin, as president of the chamber, was in the thick of it.
“We had to get permits to demolish what was damaged and get rid of the material before it smelled any worse and mold started to form,” she said.
“We had to let everybody know the town was open,” Tracy Pamperin added.
The damage forced every business to do a make-over, but the town was already working toward that.
“I heard about Main Street USA in 2007,” Kristin Pamperin said, “and decided to explore that.”
She went to the first meeting that created the Business Improvement District. The creation of the Denville BID was delayed by Irene, but got going with the only unanimous council vote to create a BID in Morris County. She speaks to the Morris County Chamber of Commerce and neighboring towns about the BID concept.
“It’s not a quick fix,” she said of the BID, but she is seeing the effects of some of the events on the businesses, especially some of the newer businesses. Broadway, Bloomfield Avenue and Diamond Spring Road have very few empty storefronts.
One of the impacts of the new renovation is less space for retail since one half of the front of the building will now house the salt room and new massage rooms, but the sisters and their employees are weeding items out discreetly and keeping the most popular items.
“We are learning to curate for the best,” Kristin Pamperin said.
“We have a great team of buyers,” her sister adder, “and we focus on quality.”
Earrings sparkle on the counter racks as jewelry is their best seller.
The jewelry is from local artisans. Popular local artist Georgene Novak is well represented as are other local jewelry makers. The front window is ready for winter with handmade hats, gloves and scarves. Giraffe and piglet-themed baby items line another wall. The baby clothes are made from all natural fabrics.
At the back of the shop are packages of sage and trays of sorry stones and crystals as well as essential oils and infusers.
Holly Edge is the crystal expert.
“I communicate with the energy of the crystals,” she said, noting she has been able to do so forever. She holds a crystal in her hand until she “wakes it up” and can feel it vibrate and then passes it along to the customer.
Edge has been with Urban Muse for four years and has a large following. She does crystal energy healing. She also puts together house blessing kits, including sea salt, rose quartz and amethyst, and an outdoor mix for nature spirituality. She also interprets cards.
The Urban Muse is cutting out some of its books, leaving mostly the books on crystals.
Also carried is an herb-based facial line featuring high-quality botanicals and another line of products with a sugar scrub.
A big seller also offered in the relaxation rooms is Tea Forte. Its white ginger pear is Urban Muse’s signature flavor.
The tea and the comfortable rooms are only part of the customer service.
“We ask people to get here early for their appointments and we don’t kick them out right away,” said Kristin Pamperin. She also noted Urban Muse doesn’t offer Botox or microdermabrasion, relying on more natural processes.
And the name came from her love of urban energy and inspiration.
She said the renovation should be done within a month, but doesn’t want to predict an exact date.