By Carly Riter

Everyone deserves to have a safe place where they can let go of their stress and just relax. This was Kelly DeBerg’s driving purpose when she created AURA Salt Cave and Wellness, a local business that offers natural and holistic services for the overall wellbeing of the body, mind, and spirit of their customers.

Located on Transit Road, AURA is practically in our backyard here at East. Upon its first opening four years ago, the business offered a hand and foot detox room, two infrared saunas, a retail space, and of course, the salt cave.

AURA’s Salt Cave

Since then, AURA has rapidly expanded. Kelly said, “It wasn’t anything we planned, but I do feel that when the universe presents you with an opportunity, it’s probably a good idea to take it.” As of now, AURA provides a much wider array of services including a wheelchair accessible halotherapy room, massage, reiki, reflexology, hypnosis, past life regression, waxing, and all organic facials. In terms of retail, they carry a large selection of salt lamps, CBD products, loose leaf teas, herbs, spices, crystals, and so many more wellness products. 

But how did this all start? I sat down with Kelly in AURA’s hand and foot detox room, and she told me her story over meditative music and the soft trickling of water. The room’s ambient glow from the salt lamps was a sharp contrast to Kelly describing her 25 years in corporate before founding AURA.

Kelly said that her previous job, “was more stress than it was helping people, and I felt like to feel fulfilled myself, I needed to do something to help everyday people.” And so that began her journey from auto-ID and barcode distribution to holistic wellness. 

Kelly said that her personal mission with AURA is to, “make sure that everybody that walks through the door is treated with dignity, respect, compassion, and love.” She wants everyone to leave, “feeling better than they arrived.” Although this may seem like a simple goal, Kelly puts a lot of time and thought into just the right team she needs to build in order to maximize the customer experience. In fact, she even described staffing as one of her biggest challenges with running AURA, since the right fit is the kind of person that, “truly wants to help people.” Based on  the repeated use of the words, “knowledgeable, kind, and helpful,” to describe the staff in AURA’s Google reviews, it seems that Kelly fulfilled her objective.

It isn’t just AURA’s employees that make a lasting impression on customers. Kelly herself has an incredibly soothing demeanor that puts everyone at ease, and she also always works to go the extra mile for all of her customers. Terry Riter, the Director of Services at AURA (and this writer’s mother), recalled a special memory she had of Kelly. A customer had come in looking for a certain crystal that she felt helped to ease her anxiety. Unfortunately at that time, AURA didn’t carry the specific gem she wanted. Kelly very casually offered to keep an eye out for the crystal, and by the next time the customer came in, there was a whole selection for her to pick from. Terry said, “That’s just one of the many genuine things that Kelly’s done, and in that instance, it made that customer let go of her anxiety and just feel cared about.” This scenario has happened several times, each occurrence leading to a more expansive and accommodating collection of gemstones, because all Kelly wants is for people to feel that they are heard. If she can relieve some of their stress and provide for them a new source of happiness, then Kelly will make it happen.

In addition to having kindness and empathy, Kelly needs to be very well rounded in the natural wellness fields. Arguably the most important part of her job is guiding people towards making the best decisions for themselves once they step out of AURA and back into their everyday lives. She said, “A lot of it is about us giving knowledge to the average person, and just explaining different ways of going about their daily routine and different changes that they can make to help them along the way.” AURA’s large selection of loose leaf teas and crystals has lately been a very popular method amongst customers to implement natural wellness into their life. Upon approaching the crystal display at AURA, customers are greeted with shelves upon shelves of gorgeous gemstones. It is not uncommon for people to spend quite a lot of time just gazing at the natural beauties. Many purchase crystals for the purpose of meditation, easing anxiety, grounding, and for some, merely decoration. Kelly said, “You’ll even notice on TV now, instead of having vases on tables, you’ll see crystals. It’s very widespread now and we do offer a lot.”

The next room over is just as impressive with a Harry Potter-esque sliding ladder attached to large shelves filled with all organic loose leaf teas. Having become an avid tea drinker since the nation-wide lockdown, Kelly vouches for all of the medicinal benefits to drinking tea. She said tea is, “good hot or iced… they all have their own health benefits as well as just something to look forward to.” Kelly orders all the teas in small batches to make sure that customers only get the freshest products, and she is always working to make her company better and better. Keep an eye out for the upcoming release of sister company websites Buffalo Tea Company and Buffalo Crystal Company for an even larger online selection of AURA products.

Kelly pours her heart and soul into AURA. All of the products and services offered there are a reflection of her passions that can serve to help those who visit. Perhaps one of Kelly’s most surprising interests demonstrated through AURA is her love for nurturing saltwater fish tanks. She cares for two massive tanks, one of them being located right inside AURA’s Halo Room. Kelly said, “I like having [the tank] here because not only is it a part of me, but I do feel like it helps people relax. Just as you might see aquariums set up in dentist’s, doctor’s offices, hospitals, it is because it is scientifically proven to help people relax… it’s a very important part of what we do here because a lot of it is mental health.”

Kelly’s tip to living a healthy lifestyle physically, mentally, and spiritually is to practice mindfulness. She said that it is something often overlooked, and that, “it’s really important to be mindful and create ways for yourself to get that time and peace to get some mental clarity.” Everyone should put lots of thought into what makes them happy. For Kelly, the answer was simple: “We were put on this planet to help people.” And she did just that with AURA Salt Cave and Wellness.

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