Citizen Spotlight

The undeniable resilience of Alethea Austin

After experiencing unthinkable loss, Alethea Austin invested in the wellness of the community.

Opening a business is not for the faint of heart. It takes nerves of steel, compassion and a belief that success is possible. Alethea Austin has all of that in spades. And then some.

She’s the co-founder and CEO of Achieve Wellness Spa, a successful Fort McMurray business specializing in traditional and medicinal treatments. With three locations—two in Fort McMurray and one in Calgary—and another on the way, Alethea beams at her success, saying, “I’m most proud of the path I’m on. I wanted to create a wellness centre unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I wanted to create a place of total healing.”

Some people build their businesses because they want the freedom that comes with it. That’s true of Alethea, but the inspiration for creating Achieve Wellness runs much deeper than that.

Before deciding to open her business, tragedy struck. Alethea’s son was in a fatal accident. In an instant, everything changed.

Through her own grief and healing journey, Alethea sought help. But it was hard to find. She saw that the existing spa model didn’t work the way she needed. She was looking for something that offered everything. Not finding that let her know there was room to innovate. So Alethea and her husband, Tom, got to work building a business that would provide a more comprehensive healing experience.

Since opening in 2014, Achieve Wellness has received multiple national awards for their work. And in 2019, Arlene Dickinson signed on as a partner in the business.

Even as she sees her business growing to other markets, Alethea acknowledges the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo community that helped her find success.

“Most people were not born and raised here,” she says, “and I think that makes it more accepting and open to friendships. This is a very giving and loving community.”

Alethea remains focussed on the business, nurturing up-and-coming leaders within it, and serving up a wellness experience that covers everything from esthetics to physical therapy. It’s a budding enterprise with a lot of moving parts. When asked how she and Tom stay motivated, the answer is simple and profound. They do it for their son.

“We work extra hard in his name. He was and continues to be our inspiration.”