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Heavenly Bodies 

It's fitting that Venus Experience (8011 Maple St., 865-7112) draws on the name of a celestial orb, because every service and product at this Maple Street body-care boutique is geared toward creating heavenly bodies in heavenly surroundings. Along with its menu of manicures, pedicures, waxing (the specialty), lash and brow tinting, facials and massage, Venus Experience offers an array of enticing indulgences from lotions and lingerie to chocolates and candles, all selected so clients can treat themselves (or someone else) to additional pampering at home.

An esthetician on Maple Street for 20 years, Venus owner Linda Steinbrink -- who started her career with the trailblazing doyenne of New Orleans' now-booming spa industry, Lulu Buras, and later worked at Makeup Art -- already had a loyal, built-in clientele when she set up shop for herself five years ago. And though the day she opened her doors -- Sept. 11, 2001 -- would be seared into the national consciousness for a very different reason, business was strong from the beginning.

"Experience means everything," says Steinbrink, who originally is from Honduras. "We have lots of regular clients. Some have been coming to me for more than 10 years. We treat our customers like family. Their children are welcome. There's an easy, neighborhood, family feel."

Customers of all ages, most of whom are known by name, frequent the cozy Maple Street cottage. Its convenient Uptown location, one-on-one attention and special student discounts (students can get a pedicure and manicure for $40) have made it a particular favorite among college students, who provide consistent word-of-mouth support.

Venus Experience is best known for its expert waxing technique, which leaves skin feeling soft and smooth. Two years ago, Steinbrink teamed with her longtime client, event planner Cheryl Ellsworth, to add retail items to the mix. Since then, Venus has become a popular stop for locals looking for skin- and nail-care products like Niven Morgan creams, Mark Lees sunscreen, OPI polish and Nailtiques; and for luxury items like Slatkin & Co.'s scented candles, Eberjay and Thinque Pinque lingerie, Claire Pettibonne couture sleepwear, chocolates by Valerie Confections, jewelry by David Tishbi, Lori Jack sandals and bags by Vera Bradley.

"We keep the fashion and home merchandise in sync with what's going on in L.A. and New York and in the magazines," says Ellsworth. "The idea was to provide tempting gifts inspired by Botticelli's Venus, the temptation of all mankind."

click to enlarge Expert waxing is the specialty at Venus Experience.
  • Expert waxing is the specialty at Venus Experience.
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