After a year in which a trip to the grocery store was a weekly highlight, one of the first things I couldn’t wait to do post-pandemic was to go to a spa for a massage. Working from my home office for the better part of a year— and sitting at a desk far more than I’m used to— wasn’t the most comfortable setup. In fact, it created a lot of physical strain (something my achy back and shoulders tell me every day). So, I was excited to visit Colorado-based CBD skincare brand Color Up at its recently opened Wellness Center for some bodywork. Located in Denver’s industrial Valverde neighborhood, Color Up’s Wellness Center is like walking into an oasis. The airy reception area has a warm, vintage-industrial vibe, with a laidback mix of suspended Edison bulbs, exposed pipes, vintage metal cabinets and tufted sofas. The space is also the center’s retail shop, selling a variety of healing crystals, the Color Up skincare and wellness line, and handmade mala jewelry and art by local artists.
After I arrived and got a temperature check, I was greeted by Shauna Blanch, Color Up’s co-founder and chief operating officer. A New Jersey native, Blanch originally worked as a pharmaceutical sales rep on the East Coast and then in California, where she discovered the holistic wellness world. She made the switch from pharmaceutical sales to wellness in 2011 upon learning that two of her friends had become addicted to prescription opioids. Her quest to help them—and ultimately others—through alternative health and wellness practices led her to obtain certification as a reiki master, massage therapist and yoga teacher. She also became increasingly interested in the burgeoning medicinal cannabis industry.
After visiting Denver in 2013 to help out with some cannabis-focused events, she decided to relocate here. That same year, Blanch met her future business partners. Will Parker and Bryce Conley had been working as cannabis growers for many years. The trio decided to create a skincare and wellness line of products infused with their star ingredient: organically and sustainably grown, hemp-derived CBD. CBD is non-psychoactive (it contains less than 0.3 percent THC), but it is loaded with good things for skin, such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Color Up officially launched in 2015, and established its first Wellness Center two years later. After being in several locations, the business owners recently decided it was time to put down some roots, which led them to purchase the facility at 1448 W. Cedar Ave. in Denver. “We recognized the need for consistency and stability for both our customers and the professionals working within our building,” Blanch says. They made the most of the 8,800-square- foot warehouse space, as it functions as both a headquarters and spa. It includes an on-site lab, where Color Up formulates its products, and seven treatment rooms for 10 local therapists, who offer services ranging from facials to CBD-infused pedicures. In the spacious indoor/outdoor lounge area, Color Up hosts educational and entertainment events for the community. It offers classes in breathwork, yoga and dance (socially distanced, of course), and this summer, it will be adding an outdoor concert series to its programming.
After my tour of the building, I filled out an informational health form for my therapist, and was escorted into a low-lit, private treatment room for my 90-minute deep tissue massage. Color Up prides itself on extensively training each of its estheticians and massage therapists, while also allowing them the freedom to find their own work style. My therapist—Mishelle Gonzalez—combined breathing techniques and stretches with traditional massage. She managed to work out an upper arm issue I’d been having, without me even mentioning it to her, along with the aches in my lower back. If you’re looking for a relaxing massage that puts you to sleep, this style probably isn’t for you. But if you’re in need of bodywork to release tension and reset your muscles, this is it.
Of course, the various oils and salves that the therapist used during my treatment were Color Up’s own. The standout product was the Full Spectrum Salve— a balm that left my skin feeling hydrated rather than slick and greasy. Plus, it did double-duty, as it helped alleviate inflamed, achy joints. I’ve decided it’s a medicine cabinet must-have ($10-$36).
Color Up’s Wellness Center has been so successful in Denver that the brand is in expansion mode. This summer, the company will be opening up a second Wellness location in Phoenix, Ariz.“We will be partnering with Archipelago Social Clubs, which we work with here in Denver, to bring a high level of community connection, plant medicine integration and education, and self-care to the people of Phoenix.” Educating consumers on the benefits of CBD and holistic healing is a message that Color Up says is here to stay.
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