Radiance celebrates 40 years of business

Radiance Herbs and Massage co-owner Karin Olsen will help the downtown Olympia business celebrate 40 years in business later this week.
Radiance Herbs and Massage co-owner Karin Olsen will help the downtown Olympia business celebrate 40 years in business later this week. Staff photographer

This month Radiance Herbs and Massage marks 40 years of business in downtown Olympia, as well as 40 years of being a female-owned business.

That calls for a celebration, so the owners of Radiance, Karin Olsen and Andrea Seabert, will throw a party at Sylvester Park, complete with live music, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s our opportunity to share it with the community,” said Olsen, 44, who, along with Seabert, bought the longtime business in 2005.

Long before she bought it, though, Olsen was already familiar with Radiance, calling herself a grateful shopper for many years.

“As soon as I could drive, I came here,” she said, adding that “it still feels dreamy to own it.”

That’s because the business has always shared her values, such as being good to Mother Earth or supplying natural medicines in the form of plants and herbs.

The store sells more than 200 bulk herbs, which Olsen said has to be one of the largest selections on the West Coast.

“When you walk in the door you can feel the relaxation,” she said, adding that she can almost hear an audible “ahhh” after her customers come into the business.

Radiance has spent most of its history on Fifth Avenue, starting with 5,000 square feet and later expanding to 10,000 square feet at its current address.

Before moving to Fifth Avenue, Radiance opened on Fourth Avenue in July 1975.

Massage therapy has always been a big part of Radiance, and the 10 massage therapists bring years of experience, Olsen said.

The business also has expanded into skin-care products, making sure the products have the right ingredients and are good for their customers to use.

That has been an unwavering aspect of Radiance, even during the recession, Olsen said.

Business might have slowed and forced the owners to take a closer look at how to run Radiance, but they still made sure that they were working with fair-trade products, local suppliers and remained conscientious about packaging and the ingredients in the items they sell.

“The original tenets still stand,” Olsen said.

Radiance also has two employees who have worked more than 20 years at the business, including Carol Trasotto, herb buyer for the store.

This September will mark 23 years for Trasotto, who years ago visited the store for the first time with a friend. Call it magic, or call it serendipity, but Trasotto was invited to return and become an employee, she said.

Trasotto considered the offer, made a subsequent visit to the store and then decided to relocate.

She said she’s always been impressed with the store’s emphasis on quality and education, including a reference library which helps customers learn more about herbs and how to use them skillfully.

“It made Radiance more than just a retail establishment,” Trasotto said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403


Radiance Herbs and Massage

Location: 113 Fifth Avenue S.E. Olympia.

Owners: Karin Olsen and Andrea Seabert.

Years in business: 40.

Employees: 26, including 10 massage therapists.


Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays.

Advice to business owners: Happy employees do good work, said Olsen, who added that part of her job as an employer is to create a good environment for them. “It’s always been an important value,” she said.

Did you know? Olsen is a third-generation retailer, following in the footsteps of her grandfather and father, both of whom ran Olsen Furniture in Shelton. Her brother, Rod Olsen Jr., runs the business today, Karin Olsen said. In addition to co-owner of Radiance, Olsen also ran a massage business in Shelton for about a dozen years. And she still ran it after buying Radiance, but running two businesses and raising a toddler became too much, so she sold her Shelton business, Kaleidoscope, to an employee.