Finding Her Niche

It was the mid-’90s. Stefanie Palko sat staring at herself in the mirror while her hairstylist worked his magic on her. She was contemplating life and the direct marketing career that wasn’t bringing her fulfillment. Then her stylist made a comment that inspired an epiphany which would ultimately alter her career trajectory.

“I wanted a change,” Palko says. “And he said, ‘You should get into the beauty industry.’”

Photo: E.J. Carr

Palko’s stylist had just had a visit from the sales rep for Aveda, a company that began making environmentally friendly, cruelty-free, plant-based beauty products in 1978. He thought being an Aveda sales rep would be a perfect fit for Palko, who was intent on being part of a company making a difference in the world. The conversation planted a seed in Palko, and within just a few months, she had switched jobs and was working for an Aveda distributor. “I felt like I had found my niche,” she says, “and I was really enjoying everything about the industry, especially since spas were just becoming a ‘thing’ around that time.” She even met Aveda’s inspiring (now late) founder, Horst Rechelbacher.

About five years in, though, Palko was ready to take things to the next level. After considering a few different locations, she and her husband opened Copperfalls Spa in downtown Castle Rock in 2000, and by 2008, they had added the hair salon. The spa and salon use Aveda products exclusively for their treatments, which include massages, skin care and facials, body treatments, hair services, and nail services.

Palko doesn’t perform any of the services at Copperfalls. “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” she says. “I leave that to my talented and passionate staff, who love what they do and can serve from their heart.” She truly enjoys meeting the people who come in, some who’ve been visiting since the first day the spa opened its doors more than 20 years ago. “They’re not just our guests; they’re our friends,” she says. “To witness the effect our service providers and our spa’s environment have on people’s souls is truly inspiring.”

She also loves watching the growth of her business and spotting current trends in the industry. “Hair … I’m seeing an eighties influence now, with a lot of color—simple and healthy, whether it’s natural color or vibrant color,” she says. “We’re also seeing healthy brow lines, natural makeup and lips, lips, lips.”

Recent events have also contributed to the changes Palko observes in the spa industry. “To say the pandemic changed our world is an understatement,” she says. “People understand self-care in a much stronger way than before.”

Self-care is vital in Palko’s personal life, too. When she’s not working, she always makes time just to breathe, she says. She also likes gardening, being outdoors and traveling to wine-producing regions.

“And let’s not forget my golden retrievers,” she laughs. “My husband claims I love them more than him, and sometimes he’s right!”

Copperfalls Spa and Salon

340 Perry St., Castle Rock