Eulanda Saunders didn’t know all of the benefits associated with massage therapy when she first considered opening her own business.
She was simply a client who enjoyed the relaxation element.
“I just thought it would be a really nice job,” she said.
So nice, in fact, that in 2003, while working for a medical supply company, Saunders made a business plan – just for fun.
“I don’t know why,” she said with a laugh. “I got to thinking about it and thought, ‘If I did, what might that look like?’
“It’s just who I am,” she continued. “I have to write down my ideas.”
And once her ideas were on paper, she tucked them away.
It wasn’t until 2013 that the idea occurred to her again.
She explained 2012 had been a difficult year as she unexpectedly lost her son as well as her job when Mountain State University shut its doors.
Out of work and grieving, she began seeing a therapist who eventually recommended she find a job.
“But I knew I couldn’t go to an employer and take all that sadness with me,” she said.
“So I thought, ‘Maybe now is a good time to go to massage school.’”
After graduating from Mountain State School of Massage in Charleston, Saunders, encouraged by two local massage therapists Yvonne Wilcox and Betty Fisher, put her business plan to work.
Anew You Massage & Spa, which celebrated its grand opening at its new South Kanawha Street location Oct. 28, has changed a lot through the years.
When Saunders graduated, she started off building both techniques and clientele in a room above a local salon.
After six months above the salon, Saunders said she believed she had enough clients to strike out on her own in 2014.
Over the next three years, she said she ran the business a bit like a “hobby,” building slowly and having fun.
She said she considers herself fortunate that her husband is the “backbone” of their family in terms of finances.
“I didn’t have to grind at it (the business) to make it and survive,” she said. “I was able to have more fun and enjoy it as it grew.”
That’s not to say she didn’t have plans for the business, as she moved to a new location on North Kanawha Street in 2017 and brought additional therapists on board.
The timing of the growth, however, wasn’t right.
“I tried,” she said. “I stepped out there thinking I wanted to grow the business, and I failed. But that was an education on how to do it better the next time.”
That time, Saunders said, is now.
“It feels like it should be now,” she said of the growth. “I feel today I’m better equipped.”
Though Saunders is quick to point out Anew You’s 2401 S. Kanawha St. address is “a new location but not a new business,” she said there have been some changes. Saunders recently graduated from Palm Beauty Academy in Cross Lanes and is now a licensed aesthetician.
“It’s just something else I can offer my clients,” she said, explaining services include skincare and body hair removal as well as body sculpting with cryotherapy. “Sometimes it’s just helping them feel good about themselves.”
For now, it’s just Saunders and a receptionist, but she expects to add a second aesthetician by December and potentially others down the road.
“I want to work alongside women – and men – who want to hone their craft,” she said. “I just want to come alongside them and help them make their way and succeed like those women (Wilcox and Fisher) helped me.”
And she said she wants to teach people what she was just learning when she made her business in 2003.
“Massage is good for a lot of different things,” she said. “It helps with relaxation, pain and stress management, disease processes and a lot more.
“… I just enjoy it,” she continued. “It’s the best career move I’ve ever made.”
Anew You Massage & Spa is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For appointments, call 304-731-5785 or visit www.massagebook.com/biz/anewme.
Email: [email protected]