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Navigating the first year of opening a business for the first time is difficult in its own right. Doing so one month before an unexpected global pandemic is indescribable.
That’s the reality Jessica Grandorff faced when she opened The Healing Sister, a massage therapy business, in February 2020 on South Market Boulevard.
“It was a little wild,” Grandorff said. “But I feel confident it’s only up from here.”
Grandorff had left her old life behind to pursue massage therapy after working for years as a bartender and later a barista. Eventually, it became too hard of a lifestyle being a bartender and parent at the same time. She would work late nights tending bar and not be able to tuck her kids into bed at night.
“That in itself is the No. 1 reason I walked away from bartending,” Grandorff said. “It got to a point where I couldn’t be the parent I wanted to be.”
Grandorff left bartending to become a barista for Avenue Espresso, which allowed her to attend massage therapy school and pursue a career she’s more passionate about. She went from serving people alcohol to dishing out massages and, in turn, helping improve their quality of life.
Grandorff graduated massage therapy school in December 2019. She was already a little intimidated about going straight from school into starting her own practice. But being a local, she already established myriad connections in the community. Once family and friends began coming to her for massages, they started spreading the word. Now the No. 1 reason new clients are coming to her is because of referrals and word-of-mouth.
“My friends and family really got me off the floor running,” Grandorff said. “They were coming in, supporting me and they were spreading the word. It’s been steady ever since.”
The start to her business-owner career wasn’t the one she anticipated, however. Grandorff shut down in late March, just a month after opening, during the outset of the pandemic, but decided to open back up in May.
She was forced to implement a slew of COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions while also learning the ins and outs of running a business. Fortunately, protocols and cleanliness standards for massage therapists were already thorough, even before the pandemic arrived, and Grandorff was already sanitizing everything between clients. It also helped that Grandorff shares the same office as Wilson Chiropractic, run by Dr. Justin Wilson, who is also in his first year of opening his business.
“Taking that first step in May and opening back up was a little intimidating,” Grandorff said. “But we felt confident in the steps we were taking to ensure a safe environment. We are providing a service to our community, and people’s health and safety is my No. 1 priority.”
Luckily, business began booming once Grandorff reopened, and it’s still going strong seven months later. She’s currently booking two weeks out. People need massage therapy now more than ever, she said, with all the stress from the pandemic building up.
“It’s not only serving their physical body, but there are a lot of folks struggling with their mental health right now,” Grandorff said.
The biggest changes to safety protocols have been making sure clients are healthy before they come in, thaty they’re wearing a mask and occasional temperature checks. She goes through a full list of checks and balances with clients that come in; basically a COVID-19 waiver to make sure they haven’t been in contact with anyone who’s tested positive.
Grandorff is more than just a massage therapist. She’s currently offering what she calls body, mind, bridge, a modern hypnotherapy/guided meditation program, where she helps people overcome traumas from their past that are impeding their lives.
“It’s like having direct access to a deeper awareness inside you that knows how to release exactly what’s hindering the healing,” she said. “I just guide people into their own inner awareness, and help them find it on their own.
Grandorff couldn’t be more thrilled with being booked two weeks in advance, but she’s now looking for another massage therapist to work alongside her and treat clients so she can provide help to everyone who needs it.
“My No. 1 takeaway from becoming a new practitioner during the pandemic is people are still hurting,” Grandorff said. “People are probably hurting now more than ever. And some utilize massage so they can manage their stress and anxiety. I’m not going to turn them away.”
The Healing Sister is currently open 2 to 8 p.m., Monday and Thursday; noon to 8 p.m., Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
More Information on The Healing Sister
Owner: Jessica Grandorff
Location: 1637 S. Market Blvd., Chehalis
Hours: 2 to 8 p.m., Monday and Thursday; noon to 8 p.m., Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday
Social media: facebook.com/thehealingsister