Quest to look best, feel best drives Maricopa Wellness’ dynamic owner

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[Victor Moreno]

She’s a mom to two young children, a wife, a business owner, a national trainer for a medical device — which requires frequent travel — and as of August a holder of a doctorate degree obtained in 13 months in a program that typically requires 18 to 24 months.

She’s been wired for success since she was a little girl, growing up in a home with a pair of entrepreneurial parents who’ve owned several businesses. It’s no surprise, then, that Kristina Donnay is a high achiever.

Donnay founded Maricopa Wellness Center in 2019 after obtaining an associate degree in nursing from Central Arizona College, then bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Arizona State University and Grand Canyon University, respectively. She capped it in August with her doctorate as a family nurse practitioner from Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

“She just doesn’t sit still,” said Debi Sovis, Donnay’s friend, client and hairdresser. “She’s incapable of relaxing.”

Bill Day, who, with his wife Levina, is approaching two decades as a Maricopa resident, recalls the day in 2018 their daughter approached them about going into business together.
“And I’m literally, ‘No — but tell me more,’” Day recalled.

Donnay then laid out her plans for what would become Maricopa Wellness that Donnay and her husband Chris and her parents now own at 41600 W. Smith Enke Road, Building 14, Suite 3.

But there is no question the dynamo behind it all is Donnay.

Kristina Donnay is a mom, wife and owner of Maricopa Wellness. In August, she added a doctorate to her resume. Here’s a look at both of her worlds through the magic of photographer/visual illustrator Victor Moreno.

“I saw that Maricopa didn’t have a facility like this,” she said. “It can be so beneficial, but because it is a cash-based business, we’ve seen in Chandler and Phoenix too many practices like this opening with maybe not the best values and I didn’t want it to get a bad name. So, I wanted to open one here first before anybody else to prevent the city from seeing these services in a negative light.”

As a cash business, Maricopa Wellness cannot accept insurance, according to Donnay, although patients can submit to their insurance on their own for possible reimbursement. The center is not a primary-care provider but a med spa, a hybrid of an aesthetic medical center and day spa that provides nonsurgical aesthetic medical services — Botox injections, chemical peels and hormone injections and other treatments — under the supervision of a licensed medical practitioner.

“We started April of 2019, and we did not have our first client,” Day said. “We literally went into this with just our positive attitude. The last time one of our email campaigns went out, I believe we had about 1,200 active clients.”

By the end of its first year, the high-tech facility offering cutting-edge treatments with state-of-the-art, FDA-approved equipment, was named the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year and Best New Med Spa in the Southwest, and on its way to great things.

And then came the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You know, that wasn’t in our business plan,” Donnay, 39, said with a laugh. “My dad and I put together different business plans: If this happens, if a recession happens, how are we going to deviate, grow and change? A pandemic was not part of that planning.”

And the pandemic wasn’t particularly small-business friendly.

Donnay, the medical director, and Day, the office manager, were forced to shut down, but they made the decision to continue paying their employees.

“And this was before any of the COVID-relief programs, PPP and those things,” Day said.

Consequently, Maricopa Wellness re-emerged with essentially its entire crew intact, “but, looking back, we probably came closer than we would have liked” to not making it through, according to Donnay.

During the time it was precluded from rendering its usual services, the center was the first in Maricopa to offer COVID-19 testing and among the first to offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until it could reopen for aesthetic treatments.

“Honestly, it’s been difficult. We saw a lot of clients suddenly move, and not just move into Chandler or Tempe but move out of state without warning,” Donnay said. “The pandemic definitely threw a wrench into it.”

Kristina Donnay is shown with her father, Bill Day, who is a partner in the practice. [Victor Moreno]
Prior to COVID, a box of gloves cost Donnay $5. After COVID, the price jumped to $25-$30. Paper sheets to cover beds that had cost 2 cents before COVID, skyrocketed to 50 cents each.

“So, finding supplies — alcohol, wipes, disinfectant, gloves, masks, you name it, the list goes on and on — it’s still a struggle,” she said. “During this whole process, I’ve really tried to not raise my prices. We’ve taken a huge hit on those profit margins, mainly because, in my head, I keep thinking, ‘Well, it’s got to get better.’”

The clients are coming back, and Sovis said Donnay’s approach is among the reasons.

“First, her knowledge base is off the chart,” Sovis said. “She’s way too smart for her own self. She has such a great way of explaining things that you completely understand it. She doesn’t give you false expectations, either.”

Day recalls a story illustrating his daughter’s determination. She was turning 16.

“We bought her a car, a little VW Cabriolet, and it was so funny because Kristina didn’t know we had bought it, and we parked it in the driveway,” Day said. “I had the keys, and we gave her a book, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ I told her she had to read that book before she was going to get the keys. You should have seen the look on her face. And I told her not only do you have to read it, because I’ve read it multiple times, but I’m going to ask you questions to make sure you’ve actually read the book.

“She did it. I think she really learned and has taken that through. My wife and I owned a dog-grooming and pet store in the ’70s, owned five bridal shops, I owned a trash-hauling company in Phoenix. Kristina’s always seen my wife and I, our drive, so she’s been around it all of her life.”

Building a reputation
There are no secrets about the mission of Maricopa Wellness: Donnay wants clients to look good and feel good.

Men and women are treated. The profile of an average client is age 35 through 55, working-class adults with children and family, wanting to live their healthiest life, Donnay said.

Bio-identical hormones — or hormone replacement — is the most popular service.

“By the time somebody comes to see me, they’ve spent a lot of money, probably, seeing other people, buying stuff over-the-counter that just did not work,” Donnay said.

Sometimes, she said, we just need that win, that thing that’s going to actually work, that you feel you’ve actually invested appropriately for. Once that happens, she believes, it changes our perspective of what we can accomplish overall, how great we can feel, how good we can look.

“I want to provide people with that win,” Donnay said. “I want to provide people with the safe, effective treatment that makes a positive difference in their lives.”

Maricopa Wellness owns four state-of-the-art, InMode aesthetic lasers, on which Donnay not only is highly trained but flies around the country training others on their use.

“Education and training help me provide the best services safely and effectively,” she said. “We’re top of the line, cutting edge. We’re using the newest technology. I have invested in science behind everything. I am extremely diligent. Any treatment we offer, any product we offer, has to have significant research and science behind what I’m recommending.

[Victor Moreno]
“I hope I’m good at explaining why it’s really safe. Some of our machines are the first aesthetic lasers to have artificial intelligence and so it’s regulating the temperature at 1,000 times a second, making it extremely safe. These aren’t the old lasers that caused a lot of down time and difficulty recovering and look scary. These aren’t that.”

Day said his daughter’s status as a national trainer for InMode is a great benefit for Maricopa Wellness by her knowing and implementing the latest procedures and how to get the best results.

“That’s really put us on the map nationally,” Day said. “We have people that come from California, Utah, and the farthest we’ve ever had was someone from New York to have procedures done here at the spa.

“We’ve had many people come into our facility tell us, ‘This is so nice, you could be in Scottsdale.’ That’s what we want to promote. Kristina and I both feel Maricopa people deserve just as good, if not better, service than they get in Scottsdale. We want to provide the quality services for people so they don’t have to fight the (State Route) 347 traffic to go into town for procedures.”

The Days as well as Sovis and her husband Richard, a cardiac nurse with Banner Health, all are on hormone-replacement therapy at Maricopa Wellness.

“When I first started coming in, I was just looking for amazing facials,” Sovis said. “Then I did hormone replacement. My husband and I both do that. It’s life-changing.”

Day, 64, echoed Sovis’ assessment.

“My wife and I have been on it three years now,” he said. “It’s turned the clock back 25 years for me. I have the kind of energy I had when I was 40.

“People get great results. Kristina really does her due diligence and research into these devices and what we’re doing here. We’ve always tried to do things where people are getting results. When they get results, they look good and they feel better.”

Sovis, 53, was among Donnay’s first clients.

“First thing, her staff’s amazing,” Sovis said. “She’s had basically the same staff since she opened, which says a lot about her: She doesn’t go through employees. I just like the relaxed atmosphere and they’re so professional, with a little sense of humor thrown in on the side.

“I am also her hairdresser. I just kept looking at her hair and going, ‘Girl, I can help you.’ She’s so beautiful. She wants everyone to be the best they can possibly be and that’s what I love about her.”

But, Sovis added, Donnay never stops working.

“She’ll be getting her hair done and hear somebody talking about a hot flash or a facial and she’s like, ‘I can fix that, I can help that,’” Sovis said.

“The funny one was me going through a change of life when I was doing her hair and she just looked at me and said, ‘Oh, honey, you don’t have to suffer any longer. Please let me help you.’ Even when she’s getting her hair done, she’s talking to my other clients about what they can do. I try to get her to just relax while I do her hair but that’s a very foreign thing to her. I wish I could say something bad about her, but I cannot. She’s just a good human.”

Donnay says she counts herself fortunate to be in Maricopa and thriving.

“Over the years, I’ve been able to see other female business owners be successful and growing in Maricopa,” she said. “Myself, my husband and my dad continually see the ones that continue to grow and the ones that don’t make it. It’s how well you can adapt and change. As our city grows, people’s needs change. So, we don’t have this rigid plan of X, Y, Z. It has to be flexible.”

After a long week recently, which included a trip to San Diego to give a training session, Donnay said she attempted to unwind and spend a few extra days on the coast with Chris, their 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter.

“We’re finally taking vacation time together,” Donnay said. “It’s been really difficult managing being a mom, being a wife, being a business owner, provider, national trainer and getting a doctorate. It’s been quite a year.

“I’m excited to take a couple of days of quality time with my family.”

That brought a chuckle to Sovis.

“I’ll believe that when I see it,” she said.