That's because her mom is gay and often experienced discrimination.
These memories were her motivation behind opening ZeSpa, a spa catering to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirited, queer and questioning (LGBTTQ) community.
Sonnichsen said she wants her home-based spa, where she offers services such as manicures, pedicures, waxing, facials and relaxation therapy, to be a “comfort zone” for her clients.
“I want them to feel at home here and be able to come and be themselves,” she said.
She said she thinks her service will be welcomed, as she's heard stories about transgendered people being made to feel uncomfortable at traditional spas.
“They were looked at differently, and people got very nervous with them,” Sonnichsen said.
She said people who aren't gay are also welcome at her business, as long as they're respectful to her other clients.
While services catering to the gay community are common in larger communities such as Toronto, she said there isn't much here in Sudbury beyond Zig's, a night club.
Sonnichsen worked as a waitress and janitor before she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and was unable to continue with these physically demanding jobs. Although she could have gone on social assistance, the idea didn't appeal to her.
“It's very hard for me to just lay back,” she said. “I was not ready to give up yet.”
That's when she enrolled in the esthetician program at Sudbury's Modern College. Because she planned to open her own business, upon graduation, she received business training from the Learning Initiative.
“I learned a lot,” she said. “Anybody who just opens doesn't think of the bookkeeping part and doesn't think of the marketing.”
Now that ZeSpa is open for business, Sonnichsen is busy reaching out to the gay community. She said she plans to offer free nail polish application at Zig's from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Valentine's Day.
ZeSpa is located at 455 Frood Rd. For more information, phone 705-586-2563, email [email protected] or search for ZeSpa on Facebook.