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Vendor Love: Meet Two Medford Faves of the WI Wedding Scene

James and Katie Stokes are the husband-and-wife team of James Stokes Photography located in Medford. The goal of their small business is capture the simple true-to-life moments of playing, laughing, and loving, which bring joy to the heart, tell the journey, and enrich the soul. While they do this beautifully full-time with their wedding clients, we love seeing it come through when working with a fellow local Medford vendor, The Bella Zenn Salon Spa & Eco-Boutique.

Chelsea Zenner, owner/lead stylist of Bella Zenn, dreamed of owning a naturally focused salon and spa in her hometown community. In 2011, she opened the doors with a “humble little rented space,” but quickly outgrew it. Just 18 months later with two teammates by her side, Zenner built a completely new spa that is now home to her team of eight. Brides come from all around to this gem of the northwoods for salon services.

With new branding and website, Zenner paired up with James Stokes Photography to shoot promotions for her business, and the work is playful, unique, and fun. Below is what happens when two awesome vendors pair up, as well as a Q&A with Zenner about her business. We’re stoked!

Bella Zenn

Q: Why did you start your business?
A: Being a naturalist from the beginning of my career and living the benefits of healthy choices in my personal life, I knew my work life and professional life needed to collide. I trained at an eco-institute and after a few years experience working in a traditional salon, it quickly became a necessity for me to get back to the basics and away from the harsher toxic products that have become the industry norm I was surrounded by daily.

The dream of working in a peaceful atmosphere surrounded with organic aromas and like-minded beauty care and wellness professionals needed to become reality for my own health, not to mention that of my clients or their service results, or I was no longer going to be in this industry.

Our small little town had a million salons already but nothing that offered ONLY non-toxic services/products, so I took a leap of faith, which has been one of the best decisions of my life (other than marrying my wonderful hubby who supported this dream to the point he literally broke both his arms building it).

Bella Zenn

Q: What makes your business special?
A: We offer only completely non-toxic products and services, and we do the research so you don't have to! Our cosmetic industry has been overtaken in the "big beauty" game of making items with cheaper ingredients to make bigger bucks and unfortunately all of us who use such products end up with limited safe options. Some may not believe it's important to avoid or even care what's in the products we use; maybe they figure if it's sold on a shelf it must be OK. But not only is the cosmetic industry not regulated by the FDA but also the regulation standards it does have are so minimal it's scary.

Your body/skin is a sponge and more than 60 percent of what it comes into contact with it goes directly into your bloodstream. Most women have more than 200 chemicals pass through their bodies before they even leave their homes in the morning, in the way of shampoo, conditioner, makeup, toothpaste, coffee creamer, dish soap, and more. Think about the fact that there are known carcinogens in your shampoo alone, but because it may be such a trace amount, it's considered OK by regulation standards. If you use that shampoo daily, or even every other day, when does that "trace amount" passing through your body stop being a "safe amount," and what about all of the other products you use daily and their safe "trace" amounts? That's why we hunt, test, and only use products that are free of anything toxic.

We greatly rely on the cosmetic safety database to check everything we use before we offer it. This site has a plethora of known personal care products, brands, ingredients, and rates each for their toxicity, whether it be a paraben (hormone/reproductive disruptor), carcinogen, or something as simply overlooked as fragrance (artificial), the most common undiagnosed allergen.

Bella Zen_wedding
James Stokes Photography captures bride Jessica getting ready at The Bella Zenn Salon Spa & Eco-Boutique.

Q: What is your favorite part about working with brides/weddings?
We particularly love working with wedding parties and brides because it gives us an opportunity to share our passion for healthy beauty while still being extremely creative and breaking up the normal routine. This gives us a chance to help make a bride really glow from the inside, and we can be completely confident in knowing we are using highly professional but completely nourishing products to make her day absolutely perfect! Nothing glows like a bride when she not only looks beautiful but feels it, too. We also love to share our space as we keep it quaint and let the bridal party take over and choose the music we work to and just love how every party can feel so relaxed and at home in our space.

Bella Zenn_wedding

Q: Do you have a favorite story/experience of working with a bride/wedding that you can share?
We really love every bride/wedding, and there's always something interesting at the end of the day, but our favorite parties have been when we get to work with sweet brides that are all about the "big picture" not just about the wedding. Instead it’s about their marriage they're about to start, the love they're celebrating, and how they’ve really poured their hearts into representing that on their day. It's even better when we get to work with other local talents, such as James Stokes Photography, The Wedding Gallery Decorators, and Creative Crumbs, all who share our love for such brides. It's epic when we all get to work together!

Bella Zenn_wedding

Q: What tips do you have for brides based on what you see in your business?
Relax and enjoy these moments! Stressing out over details is only going to make you a mess; no one else even knows if your bridesmaids' dresses were supposed to be coral not burnt orange, or that your planner forgot to put the wedding favors on the tables not in a little basket by the guest book--all minor in the grand scheme of things. Most of all, have fun, and not just at the reception. Do so by choosing close friends/family that mean the world to you and your groom, and who will be there for the rest of your life, good and bad. And, of course, have fun by enjoying the pampering you do beforehand, too!

Bella Zenn

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