Spa owner's downtown dream now a reality
Perseverance and dedication to the craft for 10 years helped Amy Esner achieve her goal of opening a downtown location of ThaiMe Spa.
Esner studied massage in Thailand and has practiced for 14 years. While looking for a downtown location, she instead set up shop in a rented space in a shopping center on Highway 7 south. At that time, it was just her, learning everything she could about building a website, brochures and business cards in between working with and finding new clients.
“When you don’t have money, you have time and you have to learn how to be resourceful,” she said. “In hours and hours of working, I got to where if I wasn’t in the store working, I would be out finding customers. I was going around doing free massages, anything I could do to get people into the building. If I did a free massage and they liked it, they would come back and pay or they would send a friend, buy a gift certificate. I didn’t have business, but I had time and I had hands that I could give someone work.
“Because I enjoy giving massage and because I really want to help people with their problems, a lot of people that would come in to me were people who had pain and when they finally had resolution, they would say ‘You know, I’ve been getting massage for years, but I’ve never had anyone who really worked on my knots.’ For me, that’s what I thought massage was.”
Six months after opening her original location, Esner said she broke her arm. She was completely booked with customers and found herself learning to build a team that was consistent in the service her customers were accustomed to.
Esner said she never lost sight of her dream of a downtown location, but it was put on hold for a time. In the meantime, she opened an oxygen bar downtown, Oxy-Zen, which also featured aqua massage. The downtown location is now home to all three businesses.
“We’re the only oxygen bar in the entire state,” she said. “I’m not sure if there’s any aqua beds anywhere else.”
The location also houses Argentinian Coffee & Wine Bar, which has the only self-serve wine dispenser in the state, she said.
“The cool thing about the dispenser is you can try one ounce, a half glass or a full glass, and we’re allowed to have 16 bottles open without them going bad,” Esner said. “It has a layer of ennoble gas on the top of it that protects the oxidation so they day you try that glass of wine versus a week later, same flavor. It protects the integrity.”
The bar serves wine ice cream that has 6 percent alcohol content. While not a restaurant, Esner said the location is more of a tapas bar with finger food-type selections including a variety of olives, cured meats and Argentinian empanadas.
“Our coffee is from Argentina, too,” she said. “Something that’s unique about our coffee is the way they roast the beans. There’s not a place in
the U.S. that I could find that would roast our beans that way. … They use sugar to roast the beans that creates a caramelization and in turn by doing that it actually protects the beans. If you have the beans roasted in that sugar, instead of after three weeks them going bad and having to throw them in the trash, it preserves them. It also keeps in all the antioxidants and the caffeine.”
The spa offers a wide range of services and products to meet the needs of everyone who walks in.
“In the spa, we make our own essential oil blends,” she said. “Everything else that we use in the spa is organic. We use a product called Eminence which is the No. 1 organic skincare line in the world. It’s made in Hungary and the products smell really good. A lot of people who are sensitive to chemicals and sensitive to things in general, and that’s the kind of thing that when they say ‘I don’t want a facial, I’m too sensitive,’ that’s when we say ‘OK, you want a facial because you may have just found your new products.’”
The spa also carries the Jane Iredale line of makeup, a pure mineral makeup line perfect for people with sensitivities and that promote healthy skin.
As far as massages, Esner said “pretty much every massage you’ve ever heard of is probably on our menu.”
Ten licensed massage therapists and estheticians make up the downtown team for a total of about 15 employees through the whole business, she said.
“We had to install the bamboo bars on the ceiling because so many of the therapists use their feet,” she said. “We’ll walk on you. We’ll use our hands. We’ll use every tool we can find.
“We have therapists that do what’s called ashiatsu where they only use their feet. Or you can do Thai massage where they use their feet or stretching. We also do hot stone massage. We do prenatal massage. We’ll have two massage therapists working on you doing a four-hand massage.”
The downtown location also features aroma therapy baths with Thai-Me’s own blend of bath
salts made with Himalayan salts, Dead Sea salts and Epsom salts mixed with essential oils.
“No, you’re not getting the water from the springs, but yes you’re getting the minerals from the salts,” she said. “The Himalayan salt, when you heat it up, it’s similar to how a salt lamp works with the toxicity in the ions. So when you’re heating it up in the hot water, it’s doing similar things.”
When asked how she was able to make her dream a reality, Esner said the road blocks she met along the way never deterred her from her goal. She hopes her story will inspire others to accomplish their goals.
“In life, we always hit roadblocks and sometimes in life, the things we want to happen don’t happen,” she said. “It could be because that’s not where we should be and it could stop us so that we could go a different route that will lead us to where we need to go. I had a lot of blocks and instead of getting discouraged and seeing these blocks as ‘Let’s just quit,’ I saw it as ‘Let’s just try a different way.’
“When I look back now at every time I was blocked I was be- ing protected. I feel like a lot of people get down and depressed, and feel like they have dreams and they’ll never get there, but if you just take that a step at a time, 10 years is going to go by.”
Amy and Josie Esner