Massage Envy: Success Reflects Thriving Industry: A conversation with Nataliya Kisseleva
While jobs and sometimes whole industries have disappeared in America’s tough economic climate, the massage industry just continues to grow, supplying jobs in Westchester and beyond. Nataliya Kisseleva, owner of Massage Envy Spa at the Shoppes @ Eastchester in Scarsdale, NY, has seen that growth first-hand as more people recognize the health benefits of massage. We chatted with her about Massage Envy’s services and its unique, membership-based business model.
Massage Envy is a franchise that has blossomed despite the economy. How many locations are there now in our area?
There are three of them in Westchester right now, and there is one more opening up very soon.
When and why did you open your Massage Envy franchise?
We opened the Scarsdale location just over two years ago. It started as an investment idea and developed into a real passion for this business. I’ve always loved the health and wellness industry, but I’d never had the experience or funding to start my own business from the ground up. Massage Envy was a perfect fit for my personal interest, and it also offered an amazing territory that was wide open at the time—Westchester. We were the first location to open in our county, and we had a lot of fun with it.
What sets Massage Envy apart from other spas or massage therapy services?
It’s membership-based, so it’s very economical. Our first-time guests get the introductory rate of $59 (plus tip) for a one-hour massage session or $69 for a one-hour facial session, and they can choose to become members on that first visit. Members pay $69 a month for a one-hour massage session, plus $59 per session for any additional massages that month—they can get as many sessions as they’d like as often as they’d like. If they’d prefer to use the membership for facials, then that first, prepaid session is an extra $10, and any additional facials that month are $69 apiece. Many of our members take advantage of the special rate for 1.5-hour massage sessions: those are just $25 extra for the prepaid session and $84 for any additional sessions that month. There are so many ways to use your membership at Massage Envy that it’s hard to cover them all here. It’s really best to come in and learn about it at one of our three Westchester locations.
How many massage therapists work at a typical Massage Envy location? Do they earn a good salary?
The most therapists at one location that I know of are 40. But it really does vary, depending on the size of the location. Massage Envy therapists make money by staying busy. A full-time therapist—that’s generally considered to be 20 hours a week—can make up to $40,000 a year. I call it “full-time pay for part-time hours.” The therapists who work here like to be busy, and they like the fact that they can focus on massages without worrying about running their own practice. Some of my therapists are fairly recent graduates from massage therapy school; others have more than 25 years of experience. Essentially, I employ therapists who like working in a team environment and concentrating on their clients. They want to show up, help their clients and get paid for it.
So tell me about the different massages and facials you offer.
Our massages are customized—that’s really the best way to put it. Our therapists are trained in a lot of modalities, and so they incorporate different techniques during their session. Most people ask for deep-tissue or Swedish massage, but we also offer prenatal, trigger point, craniosacral, hot stone, reflexology, sports … it’s a really long list! The key, though, is that each massage is customized for the specific needs of that client. We also offer several signature Murad facials. There are ones for anti-aging, acne and sensitive skin, and then there’s our “environmental shield” vitamin C facial. Our estheticians analyze your skin and then decide which one will work best for you. That’s why we don’t book a specific facial; we just schedule it as customized.
Besides the prices, what are the benefits to being a Massage Envy member?
Yeah, you can’t beat our rates, especially in Westchester. Another big benefit of membership is being able to get a professional therapeutic massage seven days a week, even in the evenings, when most massage places are closed. And as a member, you decide how frequently you want to have your massage or facial—a lot of our members come in every week. But I think that our main asset is our therapists. Our clients can have standing appointments with the same therapists or jump around and try several of them until they find their perfect match.
As a woman who is a small business owner, how has starting this franchise worked out for you? Do you have any advice for other women considering starting a business?
You have to love what you do. That’s the best advice I can give anyone who’s looking to start their own business. My son is only two months younger than my Massage Envy location—it’s fun getting birthday balloons for him and for our clinic at the same time every year! Owning my own franchise is challenging and fulfilling at the same time. And I do get my massages every week!
There are three Massage Envy Spa locations in Westchester, with a fourth opening soon. The three current locations are at 777 White Plains Rd. (Rte. 22), The Shoppes @ Eastchester, Scarsdale, NY (914.902.9200); 365 Central Park Ave., Archway Shopping Center, Scarsdale, NY (914.422.3689), and 737 Bedford Rd., Bedford Green Shopping Center, Bedford Hills, NY (914.244.3689). There will be a grand opening in December for the newest Westchester location, 158 S. Ridge St., Rye Ridge Shopping Center South (next to CVS and Elevation Burger), Rye Brook, NY. To find a Massage Envy Spa near you, visit MassageEnvy.com.