How One Wellness Business Thrives Despite COVID

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FROM LEFT: Tuya, DC licensed massage therapist; Agli, DC licensed massage therapist/DC licensed aesthetician; Frances Lutz, DC licensed acupuncturist and owner Jaime Bohl.

When Henry Ford said, “Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success,” he could have been describing Lavender Retreat on Capitol Hill.

While many small wellness businesses have struggled or closed because of the pandemic, international businesswoman Jaime Bohl said 2021 has been the best year since opening her wellness club seven years ago. 

Lavender offers clients an oasis in which to escape everyday stress through therapies such as massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, reflexology, naturopathy and skin care. It also accepts insurance for physical therapy and acupuncture.

“The reason why we survive is we work as a team, not as individuals,” she said. “I encourage my staff to maintain a level of integrity. I encourage them to thrive. I always have their back and they know it. We support each other.” 

Bohl has had patience, consistency and perseverance. It has taken years to get the balance just right, but she attributes Lavender’s financial success last year to her extraordinary team of practitioners and her remarkable clients. “I look at my employees’ strengths and don’t focus on their weaknesses,” she said. “I meet my staff where they are. It’s okay to have situations. Together we find a solution.” She said she has put together a staff that accept each other, exchange information and, for the most part, look at the glass as half full.”

Bohl has built in time between sessions for practitioners to rest and regroup. She also instituted a mandatory shutdown from 2 to 3 pm daily for lunch and also shut down one week in the summer and one week in the winter to allow practitioners vacation time. “I honor my employees by giving them time for themselves.” She said she learned that one can’t keep giving to others and never give to ourselves without experiencing stress. “I want to make sure my therapists are happy and get adequately compensated.”

No COVID Outbreaks at Lavender

Bohl said even before the shutdown she had a system in place. “My facility was always clean. My practitioners and our clients recognized that.” In preparation to reopen, Bohl drastically changed the look and layout of the interior of Lavender. “I removed all the books and magazines in the waiting rooms,” she said. “I ripped up the old carpet and put in a new one. I took out all the pillows, cleaned chair cushions, removed the sofa and put up new wallpaper. I took anything out that could be contaminated and reconfigured our design inside to accommodate COVID guidelines.”

Bohl also temporarily cut off a source of income. “I used to sell Lavender Retreat products but because of COVID I didn’t want people touching the items so the inventory is greatly reduced for now.”

 “When our doors reopened everyone was vaccinated.” Bohl went to extreme lengths to ensure her business was clean, germ-free and welcoming. She bought industrial sanitizer. She took temperatures. She used disposable cups instead of glass. Practitioners not only wore masks but also wore face shields. Clients had to wear masks and show a vaccination card. During a session clients are asked to speak very little and speak before the session begins. “In order to provide our services we had to be safe for clients.” Bohl was also strict with clients’ entering the building. “We kept six-foot distances. I let a person in as one left.”

Bohl posted a lengthy letter to clients on Lavender’s website detailing the safety protocols Lavender Retreat would take and how business would be conducted upon reopening. 

At a time when many businesses are raising prices, Lavender Retreat reduced the cost of services and reduced their length as well. “I used to offer an hour service. But I was concerned about my therapists getting tired so I reduced the price and reduced the time to 50 minutes.
It works out well for both clients
and therapists.” 

Businesses like Lavender Retreat often have employees who are independent contractors. Only Bohl, as a full-time employee, could benefit from the government PPP loans. But Bohl had something other small business owners did not. She had a financial cushion built into her business plan. “I started my business correctly,” she said. “I built in what I call “wiggle room.” I allowed for clients not showing up, mistakes that would be made and continued upgrading for clients.” When the pandemic hit, Bohl had a cushion to carry her through the shutdown.

But ultimately, Bohl said. it’s the quality of Lavender Retreat clients and staff that is the key to her continued successful business.

For more information call: 202-450-2329 or lavender-retreat.com.

Pattie Cinelli is a health and fitness professional and journalist who has been writing her column for more than 20 years. She focuses on holistic and non-mainstream ways to stay healthy, get well and connect with your true self. Please email her with questions, comments or column suggestions at: [email protected]