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Nellie” grow one of Bethlehem’s most successful relaxation businesses? Jennifer Burns, proprietor of Healing Hands Mas- sage Therapy Center, says the secret is to remain focused on the needs of her clients. “I always put myself in other peo- ple’s shoes,” explains Burns. “I ask myself what I would want, and I’m a pretty picky customer. I just stay focused on making people happy.” That focus has allowed Burns to


grow from a one-woman enterprise to a robust business that currently employs 18 massage therapists and an estheti- cian. But despite her current success, her career in massage therapy almost didn’t happen. Back in the early 1990s, Burns had planned to study physical therapy. She was looking for something to do over summer break when her uncle recommended that she take a


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Therapeutic Relaxation H


ow does a self-described “nervous


massage therapy class with him. “As soon as I placed my hands on some- one, I knew this was what I wanted to devote my life to,” she says. She ditched her plans to be- come a physical therapist and never looked back.


Upon gradu- ation, Burns


was employed for two years by some- one she describes as “to this day, the best massage therapist I’ve ever known.” When that business closed, Burns worked wherever she could, “in a clinic, in people’s homes, in my grandmother’s attic” until her brother- in-law encouraged her to rent her own space. Only 22 years old at the time, Burns decided to go for it, and to figure it out as she went along, a strategy that continues to serve her to this day. She found basement space in the building


her business still occupies, only now she’s the owner. Back then, it required a big leap of faith, along with a loan from her grandmother and the help of her then-boyfriend who, as luck would have it, was a construction foreman. She signed a lease, designed the space, and began renovations. Though Burns admits to learning much from trial-and- error over the years, she was commit- ted to the customer experience even then, choosing to divide the space into two larger, luxurious treatment rooms instead of four smaller ones. “I wanted both clients and therapists to be happy in the space,” she says, noting that “ev- erything is in the details.”


Her business soon grew enough to


warrant hiring two massage therapists to keep up with demand, and eventu- ally expanded to include the building’s entire basement and upper level. When the main level became available last year, Burns’ brother (who is also her partner and a manager) suggested she look into buying it. In October 2016, she completed the sale “against all odds” and immediately began renova- tions on the main level to accommo- date the expansion of services. Those larger rooms Burns initially designed helped set the standard for the level of comfort clients can expect, and allow ample space for couples’ massag- es, which Burns says are her most re- quested service. Healing Hands’ menu of services features virtually every type of massage, including Swedish, deep tissue, neuromuscular therapy, sports massage, prenatal massage, Thai mas- sage myofascial release, even oncology massage for clients undergoing cancer treatment. Reflexology and Reiki are also offered, along with facials, wax-


28 Lehigh Valley


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