The Business of Relaxation

Industries & Trends

“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”
– Drew Houston


Creating Space for Self-Care

By Rinn Smith | Photography by Donna Irene Photography

Here in Chattanooga, where we have both a booming business scene and a wealth of recreational opportunities at our disposal, it can be easy to get swept up into a fast-paced lifestyle. With so many activities to choose from on any given day, it can be difficult for many of us to find time for peace, quiet, and intentional self-care. Here, we spoke with the owners of four local businesses who have made relaxation a priority for both themselves and their clients. From salons and spas to health and wellness clinics, read on to learn more about how these successful businesses are promoting relaxation in our community.

bliss luxury spa

Bliss Luxury Spa

Ava Castello

While working as a massage therapist at Natural Body Spa Chattanooga, Ava Castello quickly became enamored with the spa industry. “I was able to help guests feel better and relax while educating them on the importance of self-care. It quickly became an addiction, and I wanted to bring this experience to the people in Cleveland,” she explains. Castello opened Bliss Luxury Spa in April of 2003 and has continued to foster a love for the business of relaxation since then.

Two years after opening, Castello partnered with Aveda to make Bliss the first Aveda spa in the Cleveland area. “I wanted to provide the most natural, high quality products for our guests. Today, Bliss is still the only Aveda spa in the area, and with this partnership we are able to continuously bring new products and an abundance of education to our guests,” she shares. This education largely focuses on teaching guests the value of self-care and how to properly implement a regular self-care routine. “It has to be a top priority in our daily lives,” Castello explains. “We strive to educate our guests on the importance of healthy eating, exercise, meditation, stretching, and relaxation.”

For Castello, the best part of working in this industry is creating lasting relationships with clients and seeing the spa’s positive impact on their well-being. “They become family and it’s so rewarding to share in their lives,” she says. This focus on the client experience begins from the moment they enter the spa. “Every spa guest is greeted by a guest care team member and escorted to a locker area where their visit begins by slipping into a plush robe and slippers. They can then either relax in our beautiful whisper lounge or infrared sauna prior to their spa experience. We also provide a refreshment area with an assortment of healthy snacks and drinks,” Castello explains.

With a focus on specially tailored experiences, Bliss Luxury Spa offers a number of massage therapy and spa treatment packages designed to address specific client needs. Castello says, “Massage therapy is our most requested service. Our massage team consists of nine highly skilled therapists offering a wide range of modalities from neuromuscular to Swe-Thai. We offer a true one-hour, hands-on massage experience for each of our guests. Aromatherapy is always included at no extra charge.”

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rev optimal living

Photo by Anh Bao Tran-Le

(Back Row L-R) Dr. Matt Smith, Dr. Loren Smith, Dr. Bryan Stotz; (Front Row L-R) Dr. Erica Rodgers, Dr. Monica Smith, Stephi Stotz

REV Optimal Living

After overcoming personal health challenges with natural healing, Drs. Matt and Monica Smith were inspired to open REV Optimal Living, a holistic chiropractic clinic focusing on nervous system regulation in Chattanooga’s Northshore neighborhood. “Health challenges had left us feeling defeated and hopeless, and it wasn’t until we began to understand natural healing that it all changed,” Dr. Monica recalls. “Cultivating our wellness and balancing our nervous systems radically healed our symptoms. Through this experience, we were inspired to help others experience the same healing.”

Since opening REV in 2016, their mission to help others has grown in more ways than one. Dr. Monica says, “Not only have we positively impacted thousands of people in Chatta-nooga over the past eight years, but we have also added four other family members to support the REV mission and vision as well as two additional employees that FEEL like family!”

With six-way ownership shared between them, the REV family tree has cultivated strong roots in the Scenic City as locals have fully embraced their holistic approach to healing. “We are chiropractors by license, but practice very differently from the traditional chiropractor (hence why ‘chiropractic’ isn’t in our name). Our approach is extremely gentle and works with the energetics of the nervous system, the master computer of the human body that controls and coordinates all functions,” Dr. Monica explains. “Our main product is our neural integration sessions. Clients love it because they come into our beautiful space, lay on the tables and let their bodies process and heal at higher rates. They leave feeling more like themselves, relaxed, and like they have offloaded a bunch of weight that they had been carrying. They love that they are sustainably healing from within and feeling like themselves again.”

When it comes to self-care, it is important to factor in both the mind and the body for optimal health, and that is the ultimate goal of REV Optimal Living. “Self-care is everything. Those of us who have lost our good health understand that when you lose your health you can’t do anything. Our health should be our number one value because only when we are healthy can we fully show up for our family, friends, business/career, and more – You can’t pour from an empty cup,” Dr. Monica concludes.

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good fortune soap and spa

Good Fortune Soap and Spa

Steph & Chris Gannar

When married couple Chris and Steph Gannar decided to go into business together, their goal was to incorporate their shared values of supporting the community and protecting the environment into their business practices. “We bought Good Fortune Soap and Spa a little over a year ago,” Steph recalls. “We looked at several businesses, but after touring Good Fortune, we knew it was where we were supposed to be! It fit right in with our love for all things peaceful and crunchy, and the spa industry is very similar to my background in healthcare.”

Good Fortune Soap and Spa offers a range of spa packages and luxury skincare products that are kind to the planet while promoting self-care and relaxation. “We want our spa to be a space reserved strictly for relaxation and our products to promote health and wellness,” Chris shares. “That’s why our skincare/body products are made with clean ingredients and all our spa services are geared towards total relaxation. We want everyone who comes in to leave in a tranquil haze and with products they can trust.”

From start to finish, spa services at Good Fortune offer clients a chance to relieve stress and feel better. For example, one of the spa’s most popular add-on services is a hot oil scalp massage, which Steph highly recommends. “You would be surprised at how much tension the scalp carries. If you carry tension in your neck or shoulders, you also have tension in your scalp,” she says. “The scalp massage is done towards the end of the service, making it the icing on the relaxation cake!”

For the couple, Chris says the best part of owning Good Fortune is working together and giving the local community a place to unwind and focus on self-care, which can be difficult for some people to prioritize. “Most things in our lives demand time and energy. It is very easy to get swept up in our busy lives and not even realize how little time we take for ourselves and how exhausted we are emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually,” Steph says. “We can accomplish much more from a place of rest than we can from a place of fatigue. We believe to show up well for others, you must first show up for yourself. So, self-care is one of the most important things to make time for.”

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pasha salon

Pasha Salon

Kathryn Werk

Looking your best often goes hand in hand with feeling your best, and hair salons are a great place to accomplish this. With an equal focus on providing an excellent salon experience and maintaining eco-friendly business practices, Pasha Salon offers services that clients can feel good about as well.

It can be difficult for the eco-conscious to relax and indulge in beauty treatments, but Kathryn Werk, owner of Pasha Salon, believes that you can treat yourself to these luxuries without compromising on your ethics. “After doing some research, I was shocked to discover that the beauty industry sends 877 pounds of waste to the landfill every minute,” Werk recalls. “I saw the need for a sustainable and cruelty-free hair salon in my own community, and that’s when I decided to create Pasha Salon. We were the first salon in Chattanooga to partner with Green Circle Salons, and through this partnership we are able to repurpose and recycle at least 95% of all salon waste – including hair!”

With six years in business under her belt, Werk has continued to prove that high-end salon services can be great for clients without being bad for the environment. “We align ourselves with only the most high-end, sustainable, and cruelty-free businesses in our industry. We no longer double- and triple-book clients; by focusing on one client at a time, we believe we provide the most relaxing and enjoyable experience while achieving exceptional results,” she explains.

For the Pasha Salon team, self-care is more than skin deep. “When we show ourselves love and care, we are able to pass it on! We are kinder to ourselves, and we become kinder people – when you feel good, you do good!” Werk explains. To this end, Pasha Salon is dedicated to providing a relaxing customer experience from start to finish. “You will always be greeted with a smile, and you can relax knowing a highly trained artist is taking care of you,” she says. “I love spoiling our guests with premium chocolates, coffee, luxury teas, cocktails, wine, craft beer, and more. We have acoustic pads throughout the salon to improve the sound and art for people to enjoy throughout our space. Divine pressure-point head massages, hot towel service, scalp analysis and scalp peels, treatments, and oils set the tone for every experience.”

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