Young Businesses Win NOCO Over

In a region known for its small businesses, new ones pop up all the time. But not all of them have the support or business acumen to make it, and very few of them achieve Best of NOCO status in their early years. That’s what makes the ones that do so special: They’ve put in the work, immersed themselves in the community and made a lasting impact in their fields, and all of that has paid off.

Here are a few young businesses that earned a place in our Best of NOCO contest this year.

The Facetté team celebrating their Best of NOCO wins. Photo by Megan Simpson Photography.

Facetté Medical Spa & Facetté The Hair Experience

1st Place Med Spa, 1st Place Hair Salon

Facetté Medical Spa opened in January 2018 after business guru Amanda Wicker-Newton, medical aesthetician Erin Jones and registered nurse Mina Muirhead formed a partnership. The three had previously worked together in various capacities and concluded that the industry lacked something important in Northern Colorado.

At the time, it was thought that you had to go to Denver to get a luxury spa and hair salon experience under one roof, Wicker-Newton says. She knew that there were incredible providers here; it was just a matter of creating the right space for a spa and salon to come together. So, the founders partnered with two industry-leading hairstylists and opened Facetté The Hair Experience adjacent to the med spa in December 2018.

“They go hand in hand if you think about the transfer of trust and referral,” Wicker-Newton says. “You would always ask your hairstylist where to go for this or that, and vice versa. We have a 90 percent crossover between the two businesses.”

It’s not just the convenience and quality of referrals that keeps clients bouncing between the med spa and salon. It’s also the supportive environment Facetté fosters that clients pick up on when they walk through the door.

“Even though we’re in two separate spaces in one building, we’re still a united, cohesive team,” Jones says. “It’s an incredible thing to see that there is so much love and care for each other. It’s always, ‘Do you need help? Let’s work on that together.’ That comes across to our clients on both sides; they feel the compassion and nurturing from every provider and the management staff as well.”

When COVID hit, that love was tested, and the founders rose to the occasion. Rather than laying off their staff, they kept every single provider employed and paid them to further their education. Every week, the team met over Zoom to share what they had learned, from new styling techniques to the latest skincare technology. When Facetté reopened, they had more team members than they’d closed their doors with.

“The other thing we did was really take care of our team during that time,” Muirhead says. “We delivered Easter baskets to everybody and brought them weekly meals. That was just to make sure our staff knew we loved them and cared for them in a time of uncertainty.”

They also found ways to help other businesses during the pandemic. The meals were a big part of it: Every week, they’d order their staff meals from local restaurants, and they’d check in with other businesses to make sure they felt supported. After all, not everyone had business partners to lean on like Facetté did.

Even in normal times, giving back to the community has always been important to the founders. They’re a partner of United Way’s WomenGive program and Be the Gift, two organizations that support single moms in Northern Colorado. On top of that, Facetté chooses a different nonprofit to donate a portion of their profits to every year. In 2022, it was Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County, and the year before that was Crossroads Safehouse.

“If one of our team members has a nonprofit that’s close to their heart, we try to give back to them, and of course, there’s all the little things, whether that’s donating a basket or taking our team to a fundraiser,” Wicker-Newton says. “The community here has always been so incredibly loving and supportive. I feel like the small businesses really encourage each other in Northern Colorado, and that’s been a cool thing to see.”

Urban Air Adventure Park

Urban Air Adventure Park

2nd Place Kids Activities

Abby Hussey and her husband owned a private preschool in Denver when their two sons, now college age, were in elementary school. Having come from corporate jobs, they relished the opportunity to take their careers in a new direction they were both passionate about. They loved providing a space for kids to learn, play and grow, so when the opportunity arose to open an Urban Air Adventure Park franchise in Fort Collins in June 2019, they jumped on it.

“We knew that this was a great transition from one kid-related business to another,” Hussey says. “Really what Urban Air allows us to do is serve the families and kiddos within our community.”

More than just a trampoline park, Urban Air has climbing walls, go-karts, a ropes course and many other attractions, including the infamous Sky Rider, a high-up indoor zipline that allows kids to soar through the air.

Providing a place for kids to escape the hardships of their daily lives is important, Hussey says. She recognizes that it’s difficult to be a kid these days, partly because of social media, and she loves that Urban Air is a place for kids to burn off some steam and have some “good ol’ physical fun.”

“You can watch kids take big leaps and build confidence and self-esteem,” Hussey says. “Those things are priceless and can be done year-round inside our four walls. It’s more than just ‘that place I took my kid for a birthday party.’ It’s a venue where families can come together, share new experiences, have fun and make memories.”

However, Urban Air isn’t just for kids and their parents. It’s also a first job for many teens who love being a part of the fun. Hussey takes pride in providing that space for young adults to learn what it means to be a great employee and interact with families in a professional manner, both of which are great life skills, she says.

“Young adults are really busy, and we love that Urban Air can be a great escape as a first job,” she says. “A lot of them have demanding schedules, with sports, band, drama club and all kinds of other activities, so we really make an effort to accommodate them.”

Hussey attributes the success of Urban Air to the world-class attractions (they speak for themselves, she says) and the support they’ve received from the Fort Collins community and beyond. Families drive all the way down from Cheyenne and come over from Weld County to get in on the fun.

She also thinks the outpouring of support has to do with Urban Air’s involvement in the community. They’re a sponsor of the Colorado Eagles’ Kids Club and a partner of Future Legends Complex, and they regularly host fundraiser nights for elementary and middle schools, churches, PTOs and other organizations. She says families love coming together for those types of events.

“We’re very happy that our community feels the same way that we do about them,” she says.

Anastasia and Sean Kelly, creators of the NOCO Date Nights Instagram page. Photo by
Mrs. Ferree Photography.

NOCO Date Nights

3rd Place Local Social Media Influencer

If you’re a couple, you might have come across the NOCO Date Nights Instagram account while searching for fun date night ideas in Northern Colorado. The account is run by Anastasia and Sean Kelly, two entrepreneurs in their mid-20s who discovered the importance of going on dates when their lives got busy several years ago.

The Kellys met while playing sand volleyball on CSU’s Intramural Fields in 2016 and started dating that fall. Now married, they both run their own businesses—Anastasia as a cyclical alignment and business mentor for menstruating entrepreneurs and Sean as the owner of Fort Collins flooring company Kelly Hardwood. Their success has kept them busy, but so has becoming parents.

During the pandemic, the Kellys were presented with the opportunity to adopt two of Anastasia’s younger brothers who were in foster care. They gladly took them in and, like most other middle schoolers, the boys spent their days at home doing virtual coursework until schools opened back up. Anastasia and Sean became parents and teachers overnight, but they never let date nights slip down their list of priorities.

“We quickly learned that you still need to have a date night in order to be your fun, quirky selves and get out of that parent role,” Anastasia says. “We make time in the week and put it on the schedule and it’s there. It’s something exciting to look forward to, and we don’t feel guilty for prioritizing it.”

Researching places to go on dates gave the Kellys lots of ideas. One of those ideas kept Anastasia up one night. She asked Sean, “What if we created an Instagram page where we share date ideas for people?” He was all for it.

The Kellys made their first post on Sept. 29, 2022, and the account quickly gained a following. Just over a year later, the account has more than 6,000 followers.

On Mondays, the couple posts a carousel with five date ideas for each day of the week. They make sure to include at least one free date idea per day as well as an outdoor activity or something a little more active. They also include a daytime activity for each day, if possible. Every Friday, they post a Reel of the two of them having a date night of their own.

“We try to include athletics, the arts and some of the more nerdy stuff that Sean likes,” Anastasia says, flashing him a grin. “Star Wars trivia,” he replies.

While they try to be considerate and inclusive of everyone’s wants, the Kellys also have high standards for the events and activities they post. If a business reaches out about featuring an event, they make sure their values align before posting it.

“It’s really about asking, ‘Would our audience care?’ and ‘Is the business reputable?’ If not, it doesn’t belong on the schedule,” Anastasia says.

Even with their 6,000-plus followers, everything the couple does with NOCO Date Nights is organic. They don’t pay for ads or followers, and any collaborations they do with local businesses are an exchange of experiences for posts. They haven’t made a dime from it—in fact, making money off it has never been the goal.

“We’ve talked about maybe turning NOCO Date Nights into a nonprofit at some point, or at least creating a fund that could help couples who can’t afford to go out,” Anastasia says. “That’s a big goal.”