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Elizabeth McCarthy's Aetheria Relaxation Spa

Aetheria Relaxation Spa

In 2002, at age 30, Elizabeth McCarthy experienced what she calls a mid-life crisis. “I wanted to be in control of my own success or failure,” she said.  This Alabama native thought of herself as a “natural-born entrepreneur” and decided to take time off from her corporate life to consider all her possibilities.

At that time, she had a few friends who were working as massage therapists. She thought that her self-described Zen personality might be a good fit for massage therapy so she decided to give it a try and enrolled in the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy in Westport, CT.

After becoming certified in 2003, Elizabeth gravitated toward working at the newly opened Aetheria Relaxation Spa  in New Canaan, CT, early in 2004—she liked Aetheria’s mission “to deliver exceptional service and promote a healthy, balanced lifestyle through the use of organic skin and body care products,” as initiated by the spa’s founder, Katy Ingulli.

“Our philosophies were completely aligned,” she commented referring to her boss, Katy. In the fall of 2004, Elizabeth expanded her skills by earning her certification in aesthetics.

When Katy was due to have a baby in 2005, she offered to sell the business to her lead therapist, Elizabeth. “There was a lot of loss happening in my personal life at the time, so I was just crazy enough to do it. I figured there was nothing left to lose and this would be the perfect opportunity to empower myself…I became the owner of Aetheria Spa in September 2005,” she said.

At that time, Fran Pastore, CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC), came into the spa as a client. Fran offered Elizabeth an outreach scenario and encouraged her to avail herself of all the benefits of working with the WBDC to manage and grow her new business.

Elizabeth took Fran’s advice and in 2006 she applied for WBC-Stamford’s Hands on Marketing program. During the course of this three-month-long program, Elizabeth was able to create a solid marketing plan to ensure her new business thrived amidst the transition. To this day, she revisits the plan she created in that course to help her manage her company’s marketing and public relations activities at least once a year. “The program was a confidence builder and opened areas of my thinking that beforehand had been blocked,” she said.

Elizabeth also takes advantage of the one-on-one, free counseling that the WBC-Stamford offers to entrepreneurs. Throughout the years, Elizabeth has relied on the guidance of the WBDC’s Janet Siegenthaler to help her through specific business challenges she’s faced. “Janet is delightful! It is reassuring to know that I have a time-tested resource to help me run and grow my business,” she said.

When Elizabeth’s business hit a speed bump during the financial crisis of 2008, the WBDC was there to support her and keep her slow and steady approach to managing her business on track.

Today Aetheria Spa enjoys 10 percent earnings growth year over year. The spa has an outstanding reputation for quality and customer service and hires only skilled and intuitive, licensed professionals. It offers only products that are organically grown with sustainable environmental farming practices.

Elizabeth’s advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs? “No small business person or entrepreneur is an island. You have to have the support of the right people to be successful. For me, ‘the right people’ are the staff members and resource members of the WBDC.”

Company Name: 
Aetheria Relaxation Spa
Location: 
New Canaan, CT