By Susan Burke March
Despite the charming nature of colonial Cuenca, there’s no denying the negative effects of the city’s 21st Century pollution. Between the buses and cars, construction and just the dryness of our city, I don’t know about you, but my skin, nails, and hair suffer much more here at 8,200 feet, compared to when I lived at sea level in humid Flagler Beach, Florida.
Taking the time to treat yourself right is not just an extravagance. Our internal health and external appearance are intricately entwined, but when we look our best, we feel better about everything, don’t you think? Thinking about a new hair cut, a brightened color? How about soaking your feet in bubbly hot water, then enjoying a foot scrub and pedicure — hmmm — It’s your time to unwind and de-stress, and feel fabulous about you.
So, what could be better than to just kick back and be pampered for a few hours? And that’s what you’ll enjoy at Sojo Spa. Whether you want the Beauty Day spa experience, where you can rejuvenate from head to toes, or you just need that perfect haircut…at Sojo Spa, you’ll find what you need.
Whether you’re new to Cuenca, or have lived here your entire life, Sojo Spa is the place for all things that make you feel beautiful. From a precision haircut, to custom color and rejuvenation treatments, to massage, facials, and expert manicures and pedicures…plan your visit soon.
Recently, I met with the owner and founder of Sojo Spa, Armando Sojo.
S.B.M.: Armando, please tell me about your professional history?
A.S.: I was born and raised in Cuenca. After graduating with a university degree in accounting, I decided to pursue my dreams and for the first time traveled to the United States. I settled in Chicago, landing a job as a busboy at the famous Shaw’s Crab House in downtown Chicago. I was only 20 years old, and didn’t speak English, but worked hard during the day, and went to English class at night. In 1994, the first of many of my dreams were fulfilled — I enrolled in the Latin Beauty School to become a cosmetologist. Within three months one of my instructors said to me that I should try to gain entrance to the AVEDA school of Chicago, because it would give me better training and more opportunities.
AVEDA is more than just a beauty school — students receive a world-class education in cosmetology and esthiology, and unlike other schools, AVEDA trains you in the business of beauty. Graduates of AVEDA schools are known in the industry as the most capable and talented, able to operate their own salons.
After graduating in 1996, I completed a 6-month advanced AVEDA color class in Milan, Italy. I followed this training with a yearlong advanced cutting class in Mexico City, Mexico, and when I returned to Chicago in 1998, AVEDA Chicago hired me as an instructor — recognizing my advanced training and talent. And now that I was bilingual, it proved to be a significant professional advantage.
I taught at AVEDA for two years, but in 2000 I heard about an opportunity at the Elizabeth Arden Salon, the ultimate destination for luxury services, located on Michigan Avenue, the nicest part of Chicago. I was hired as just an assistant to one of the hair stylists, but within three months I had my own station. And so another of my dreams came true! I stayed with Elizabeth Arden for four years.
In 2004 the third dream was fulfilled. I, along with my partner, opened our own salon in Chicago, which we operated successfully for 10 years.
But finally, in 2014, after being in the USA for 17 years, I decided that it was time to return home to Cuenca. I missed my family and friends, and I knew that with my skills and experience I’d be able to duplicate the success that I had in Chicago.
S.B.M.: Can you tell us more about your special services at the Sojo Spa?
A.S.: At Sojo Spa, we’re very proud to offer the finest products and services available in Cuenca. For example, we don’t offer just a pedicure — we offer special spa pedicures, where you relax in our imported massage chairs. The pedicure includes special foot and lower leg exfoliation treatment, using naturally sourced minerals and salts from the Ecuadorian jungle and coast. We use OPI and Shellac nail products and our professional staff will pamper you with a special design for that special occasion, or a French manicure and pedicure for that clean look.
All our hair products are top of the line Elgon from Italy, and Silky from the USA. We also offer the remarkable natural Keratin complex treatment, which eliminates frizz and curl as it straightens without burning your hair. Keratin can be used on color-treated hair too. The treatment is amazing.
Our spa facials are designed to both cleanse, exfoliate, and rehydrate and brighten your skin — we use only Casmara products from Spain, which are all-natural, made with ingredients like goji berry extract honey, and avocado oil, to nurture and repair.
And of course, I will cut and style your hair to your specifications — with my years of training, I’m confident that you will be happy with the results.
S.B.M.: Thank you, Armando. What’s the latest at Sojo Spa?
A.S.: From now through the end of the year, we are offering a very special Beautiful Day, a 3-hour package of our very best services, at a very special price. For just $70 you can enjoy five services: a precision cut plus custom color, plus a manicure and pedicure, and a spa facial.
Seventy dollars represents a 30% discount compared to purchasing each of these services separately.
I should mention that Robyn Luck, licensed massage therapist from Miami, is also part of our team at Sojo. She’s trained in deep tissue, reflexology, lymphatic drainage as well as sports therapy massage. Schedule your Beauty Day to include a hour-long massage for an additional $30, or make an appointment for another day. Massage is not only good for reducing stress, pain, and muscle tension, but it’s helpful for headaches, insomnia and even digestive disorders. A massage can increase energy, and promote blood circulation. If you’re feeling kind of foggy and tired, it can be relaxing and invigorating at the same time.
And don’t forget, we’re a full-service spa! We also offer the ultimate in party preparation. Going to a wedding? Maybe you need to have professional photos taken? Don’t take chances — instead, come to Sojo. We have a fabulous makeup artist who’ll make you look your very best for that special occasion. If you have long hair, try a special up-do, or even if you don’t, we offer the latest in hair extensions — they last forever and can give you the new look you’ve been dying for. We always offer you a glass of sparkling water or wine, so you can completely enjoy your experience at Sojo.
Call us today, and if you mention that you learned about the Beautiful Day Package in Cuenca HighLife, you’ll save an additional 10% off the price of the package through December 2015.
S.B.M.: And the holidays are coming up. I know you also are offering a special gift certificate promotion – buy any denomination gift certificate now through December, and save 20%! What a great idea for a gift. Thanks for offering such great services at such great prices, and I’m sure you’ll see me at Sojo soon.
Spa services – manicure & pedicure, facials and massage; custom color and cut; Beautiful Day Package; and gift certificates.
Open Monday – Saturday 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
José Astudillo y Eduardo Crespo Malo
+593 98 385 7531
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