Massage therapist, small business owner says skills are her blessing
It's Melissa Wright's job to give massages, but for the self-employed owner of Nourish, 1301 N. Astor St., her career is almost a calling -- and one that's built a loyal following in her nine years in the industry.
She's now in her third year of running a one-woman show, and Wright hasn't had a hard time getting the word out.
"I was blessed to have a clientele that decided to follow me," she says. "It's been word of mouth."
From her quiet Downtown office, a space with hardwood floors, a fireplace and walls pained in soothing hues, her long-time customers actually account for only about a quarter of her business. It's her reputation, she says, that has booked Wright more solidly than many massage therapists.
"Evening hours and weekends fill up faster, and some people decided it was easier to book a year out," says Wright, almost humbly, since she never like to turn clients down.
That means that Wright, though she doesn't like to dwell on it, is pretty much working all the time.
"I do work a lot, but having your own business means there are a lot of other things to do. But when I walk through this door, any sorts of troubles or stresses go away."
That's correct, Wright says that giving massages is actually therapeutic, too. And that's because she says that this profession is really her calling.
Says Wright, "Honestly, I think this is what I was supposed to do with my life. I love doing it, and for some reason, I'm just blessed with good hands."
Wright says she's thought about expanding, but she says that bigger isn't always better. She's considering bringing in another person to fill in during her days off or for administrative work.
But for now, business is good, even if the rates at Nourish are a bit less expensive than some of her larger competitors. An hour massage, for example, costs $70.
"I just raised my prices by $10, but for my experience level, it's on the lower end. Some places charge extra for hot stones or essential oil. I like using those. That's what makes my treatment a signature of Melissa. I'm not going to charge extra for those things.
"I still want to make it reasonable so everyone can afford to come and continue their treatment," says Wright.
Wright is a licensed aesthetician, too, so she provides skin care like facials and waxing. She does ear candling, too, but massages make up the majority of her business. It's where she did the bulk of her training; after school, where she also taught, Wright worked at a number of Milwaukee salons and kept current on techniques with continuing education classes.
And through her professional journeys, Wright has heard that the market is saturated. But she doesn't believe it: "There are enough people to go around."
Maybe it's because anywhere Wright goes, she hears the same comment when she tells someone what kind of business she owns.
"They tell me about their aches and pains, they say, 'My back is sore,''" she says, laughing. "And I tell them my back is sore, too."
However, Wright's business is about connecting with people, and word of mouth is her best advertising.
"I never mind talking about work, and that's not a problem," says Wright.
Wright says the she draws the most gratification when she can make a different in a client's life. Having worked on cancer patients, pre-natal clients or just people who need to unwind, she really does consider her vocation a blessing.
"We live in a high-stress society, and we're always on the go. The world isn't going to stop because your back hurts. It's very healing just to have the time for yourself, when you can get back into your body and balance things out."
Melissa is the ABSOLUTE BEST massage therapist I've ever had! I've had massages at Canyon Ranch, Camelback Spa in Scottsdale, Mario Tricocci in Chicago, as well as places all over the world (Sydney, NYC, etc.) and Melissa is better than all of them! She is blessed with hands of gold and can work out any knot I have! She has also given me the best facials I've ever had as well. Her other amazing gift is her personality. She truly cares for her clients. I always look forward to the conversations I have with her as well as the services I get. Her prices are very reasonable also! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND MELISSA! Just don't book her up so much that I can't get a massage! :)
Melissa is the best! I have been going to her for years and she is the BEST massage therapist as well as a very sweet and kind person. There is nobody that compares to her!!
What a great thing for my massage therapist!! She is awesome and I tell everyone I can. Great hands and an even better person. Now I have to go call you before everyone reads it....
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