7 Questions With … Nicole Bartlett, owner of the Louisville Salt Cave

Nicole Bartlett | Courtesy

In 2015, Nicole Bartlett opened the Louisville Salt Cave with her friend Kim Rash near the corner of Shelbyville Road and Hurstbourne Parkway.

Tucked away in a nondescript strip mall, you’d never know there was five tons of pink Himalayan salt crystals just beyond the doors.

The Salt Cave is a form of halotherapy that is said to boost the immune system, life balance and energy. It also helps reduce stress, as you can’t help but relax and let go when you’re chilling out in a dark cave with 250 million-year-old salt. (I was able to experience it for myself in 2017.)

In August, Bartlett took sole ownership of the business and continues her goal of being a catalyst for good in our community. One of those good things is a free Wellness Series she offers twice a year for anyone interested in a little self-healing.

The latest three-part series, titled “Greeting Your Sacred Center,” starts Thursday, Nov. 1, features two women who have been significant teachers for Bartlett during the transformation she’s been through over the past few years.

Maria Whitley, who will lead first session on Nov. 1, is the founder of Shine and has been teaching music and movement to children and adults for more than 18 years. And Jacque Saltsman, who will lead on Nov. 8, is a certified professional coach and speaker and will share how living in self-love and self-knowledge creates a more authentic, peaceful and powerful life.

Bartlett will host the third session on Nov. 15 and detail her transition from executive to entrepreneur and discuss how to achieve a soul-centered lifestyle that will cover techniques to aid in decision-making. Each session begins at 6 p.m., and each is free, although you have to register online.

“I wanted to share my experience with people and share the expertise of some of those who have helped me so much along the way,” Bartlett tells Insider about the series. “We all have a common focus of self-awareness and love, but with different backgrounds.”

She believes people sometimes forget about personal wellness, herself included, and it should be something that must be scheduled and not be compromised if something “important” comes up.

“I struggle with this myself — and built a business around it,” she says. “It is so much easier to bypass your emotional work and just do tasks that can be marked off your checklist. True personal wellness is uncomfortable. People don’t generally like feeling uncomfortable.”

The cool, dark, relaxing Louisville Salt Cave | Courtesy of Louisville Salt Cave

It’s no coincidence that this Wellness Series is taking place right before the stressful holiday season. Bartlett hopes these sessions, and even a few de-stressing trips to the salt cave, will help people confront a busy few months with confidence.

“In working on being rooted in your own self-worth, you’re less likely to be influenced by outside stress,” she says. “If someone walks away with a greater ability to say no to something that doesn’t serve them, that’s a huge win to me.”

Bartlett has learned to say no soul-sucking stressors through time and practice, and she hopes to pass that self-confidence on to others.

“Everyone who does a session has an opportunity to leave as their better self and greet their outside interactions with love. That’s my why,” she says. “It’s my opportunity to play Leslie Knope (she’s my spirit animal) in the small business world and leave a positive mark on Louisville.”

Before Bartlett prepares her space for the Wellness Series on Thursday, we asked her some very important questions …

What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?

I don’t really feel like I have a Bucket List. I mean, I’d like to travel more, remodel my house, but I’m pretty simple. I ran off the Alps paragliding when I was in college and that was enough. I feel like I’m looking forward to simplicity in old age.

Always been bad.

What poster was on your wall in junior high?

That time was a blur — and not a positive one. The only poster I vividly remember, I got at a book fair in elementary school.

It had a baby with headphones on and a bottle of milk that read “Bad to the Bone.” It cracked me up, and still fits.

If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?

Sadiqa Reynolds, president of the Louisville Urban League. That woman knows what’s up. And I bet she’d feature some beautiful art with her friend Hannah Drake. I idolize them both.

What are your preferred pizza toppings?

I’m a supreme pizza fan, all the way. How can I get any more flavors in my mouth?!?!

If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?

Around 65. I plan to be active and happy, and there’s not much I’d rather be than wise.


What famous person do people say you resemble the most?

Uma Thurman … with a little extra weight. That was actually said to me once by a dear friend and colleague. I’ll take it!

Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?

Probably my brother. He’s handy, so I’d feel safe, and he makes me laugh. I bet we’d have a good time no matter what happened.