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THREE CHEERS — Hip Hip Hooray!
This column salutes REAP businesses that are finding ways to increase their success.

Massage therapy the centerpiece of grand reopening of “The Emerald Spa”

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. That’s what one entrepreneurial woman in north central Nebraska is doing after going through a year of treatment for leukemia. Jan McNichols opened “The Emerald Spa” in O’Neill in October, 2002.

Eugene Rahn, Senior REAP Business Specialist, assisted with business plan and a micro-loan to get the Spa started. Jan had to put the business on hiatus last year during her treatments, giving up her leased location while hoping someday to rebuild her massage therapy business when healthy enough to do so.

Change is really nothing new for Jan. She went to massage therapy school in 2001 after working on a cattle ranch for 20-plus years as a livestock veterinary assistant with primary responsibility to perform ultrasounds on cows.

Jan feels there was a correlation in her career change through her interest in using non-invasive ultra sound techniques in the livestock industry to learning massage therapy for humans as an alternative medical treatment.
After recovering from her treatments, Jan found a very supportive landlord who values women-owned businesses and has a vision of a full-service salon, run by independent women business owners. Jan reopened The Emerald Spa on April 1 in the Shear Reflections Salon.

With added financial assistance from one of the Women and Company Microenterprise Boost Program $1,000 cash equity awards from REAP, Jan is well on her way to improving customer service by adding a wet room for hydrotherapy body work, body polishes, and herbal wraps.

Jan says getting back to doing massages has been great therapy for her hands, which felt numb since her treatments. She thought advertising her re-opening and move would be necessary, but word of mouth has spread quickly, and she’s been plenty busy so far.

The greatest challenge in this business is educating clients on the health benefits and what massage therapy services can do for them. The greatest reward is being able to help clients with chronic problems. It’s great to have them realize results!

Life has changed a little in focus for Jan since her illness. She is tuned into “quality of life” issues now. Her family likes to camp, and she keeps active with school activities as a parent of a 10-year old boy. She plans to get active again with the Chamber of Commerce in O’Neill and do what she can to promote local business in the area.

Jan’s positive lemonade outlook and determination to succeed are quite noticeable. And REAP is proud to say we’ve been able to help!

Jan McNichols operates The Emerald Spa, offering massage therapy from a full-service salon run by independent business women in O’Neill, Nebraska.
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