Entrepreneurial Spirit: Essential’s Lisa Boyd

Entrepreneurial Spirit: Essential Massage Therapy’s Lisa Boyd

(Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News, April 15, 2012 ed)

Watching the healing that takes place in chiropractic’s office is what gave Lisa Boyd the inspiration to go into the healing art of massage therapy.

“I love chiropractic and chose massage as sort of my second choice.  I worked in a chiropractor office and we’d do massages before doing chiropractic.  It would help patients relax and loosen their muscles.  Making people feel good was important in their bodies healing.”

Boyd was 15 when she got an after school job at Stacio Chiropractic in Warren.  There Dr. Craig Stacio was very open about his business and encouraged employees like Boyd to learn as much as they could on the job.  “Not just about the physical practice of chiropractic, but all the aspects of the business – how he did accounting, how he’d let me sit in on consultations.  He taught me how to do x-rays, everything.  He was an awesome person to work for because he was so open,” Boyd said.

After a brief interest in auto design, she returned to her healing roots and went to massage school.

At 21 she opened her first salon, and as she has grown in her personal life, her business has grown at a similar pace.

“When I was in massage school I worked at Claddagh Chiropractic.  I found out there was an office available downstairs.  The foot doctor, Dr. Lefkowitz, is the landlord.  I was 21 years old and just starting out, but Dr. Lefkowitz was so supportive.  I was still in massage school and I had three months left before I was licensed, but Dr. Lefkowitz held the office three months for me.  In Sept. 2003 I opened a 400 square foot office.  It was tiny compared to where we’re at now, but it worked.

She did not have big plans.  As the business grew it happened naturally, without pressure or lofty expectations.

“I always expected it to be just me and my little office.  I thought, if I can just do this and support myself, I’ll be happy,” she said.

One year and one month after opening, Boyd hired another massage therapist.  And on November 4, 2004 she moved Essential Massage Therapy to its second home at 22939 Woodward.

“I really liked that spot,” Boyd said.  “We were there six years.  It was surreal to go from 400 to 1600 feet.  We had five rooms and slowly added therapists.  I added people slowly because I wanted to make sure that each person was a good fit.  I wanted people that were good with the customers and really knew what they were doing.”

That same year, another wonderful something happened.  She went to Pine Knob and met a handsome snowboarding instructor named Nate.  The two hit it off instantly. “He was one of seven kids, and almost his whole family worked at the lodge. But I didn’t know that at the time.  So his mom and his other relatives were all watching us all weekend and how much we liked each other but didn’t say anything.  It was really cute, and they were all really happy for us.”  Now they are living here in Ferndale, and they have two children, four-year-old Aiden and two-and-a-half-year-old Brock.

The next big move for Essential Massage Therapy was further up Woodward, this time into a place she designed and decorated herself at 22941 Woodward.

The reception area is bright, with large windows and a generous welcome desk (complete with smiling, efficient receptionists ready to sign clients in). The waiting area is mainly purple, with minimal décor that is cool and comforting, yet still lets the sunshine warm those who are waiting.  And finally a long hallway leads to several private rooms, all with cool colors, dim lights, and comfortable tables to relax on.

Among the friendly staff are people who Boyd cherishes as co-workers and friends.  “Rachel has been with me for over eight years,” she said.  “Everybody gets along.  Maybe it’s because we don’t work directly together, but it’s also that they’re all just great people.”

For all the steady growth and happiness, there have been lessons along the way.  Fortunately only one that was costly.

“This was back when I was dating my husband,” Boyd said.  “I would bring Molly, my pit lab mix in with me to work. She’d be good except when other dogs walked by she would growl.

‘After a while I got to thinking, boy there’s a lot of people walking their dogs in this neighborhood.  Then I thought, with so many people with dogs walking by, this would be a perfect place for a pet store.

‘My next thought was, ‘Hey, if I hurry, I can open up the weekend of Dream Cruise, which of course was a bad idea.  It was so chaotic, but we did it.”

Boyd secured the space, which is now Green Thumb Garden Center, and quickly set up shop. Fetch was an adorable and fun boutique pet shop that bled money for almost two years before she finally called it quits.

“There were so many reasons it didn’t work,” she said.  “Mainly if we had done any research we’d know there is no way to compete with the big guys.  The price of dog food is just too high if you don’t have the buying power.  And the margin on other items just made it impossible to compete.”

It was March 2009 when the final blow came.  “Someone came in one day and wanted to buy a $100 gift card, and I just couldn’t do it.  We’d been on the fence for so long and I knew in my heart we weren’t going to make it.  I couldn’t think of selling this man a gift card if there was a chance he wasn’t going to be able to use it.  So I told him ‘please don’t tell anybody yet, but we are going to be closing soon.’ And we did.”

Boyd said that the business was costly, but that she doesn’t regret it.  “That’s how you learn,” she said.  “And besides I got to meet a lot of great people and it was really fun.”

Now, after almost nine years in business, Boyd is happy with the calm balance of running a business and raising a family.  “I don’t feel like I have to be here 24/7 anymore,” she said. “Both times I took time off for my babies and everything ran smoothly.”  She said she still loves her work because every day, and every client, is like starting a new. She still does about 20 massages a week herself and said “I love knowing my clients and hearing about their families.  But we also always get new people that come in, and most times I walk out of the room saying ‘oh, I really liked that person.  I’m glad they came in.’ Because of clients like that, we always have a really good day.”

Essential Massage Therapy offers the following services:

Find out more about Essential Massage Therapy at http://www.emtherapy.com/.

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