Josie Ann Lee, co-owner of Balance Massage Therapy, took her first steps in her parent’s country market in Metamora. She says, “I was raised in the store. When I was a baby, my crib was in there. After school, I’d work in the store.” Those first steps included life-long lessons about owning a business.
Chris Draybuck, also co-owner of Balance Massage Therapy, graduated from UM with a degree in political science. Massage was Chris’ path. She says, “Life took me this way. Originally, I wanted to go graduate school. I connected with massage after graduation (in 2004) and thought it was going to be a hobby. In massage there’s lots of problem solving and everyone’s different.” Chris earned her certification in a yearlong course at Ann Arbor Institute of Massage Therapy.
Josie, also a UM graduate (1996) oversees the marketing, the day-to-day management, operations and she’s in charge of the web site and blog. Before Balance, she worked in Chicago in IT management for seven years and moved back to Michigan in 2005. Both women met while they were working at Caribou Coffee. Josie says, “We started talking in December of 2007. Chris was working at another massage studio and we had thought about franchising with the studio, but we wanted to control our own destiny and be able to run our business the way we wanted to. We methodically planned it out. Chris worked at GM, she had her GM buyout I had my investments. We decided to take a risk, pool everything and see what we could do and in October 2008 we opened for business.” Ann Arbor has taken notice of Balance. They were voted runner up in Current Magazine’s Best New Business.
There are six other massage therapists working for Chris. She notes, “All the therapists have different strengths. There’s Swedish, deep tissue, hot stones and relaxation massages and energy work (Reiki and Chi Gong). On the sports side, we are more specific to someone’s aches and pains and what they’re doing in their daily life, whether they’re a weekend warrior or a serious athlete. We can combine or mix and match what we do to meet people’s specific needs. There’s prenatal massage which relieve aches and pains and eases labor and anxiety.”
In addition to Balance Massage’s various services, Chris conducts case studies with the therapists. “Every quarter we select someone who’s in the community and has come to us. The person we worked with was in a severe snowmobile accident years ago and had many issues. We had four or five different therapists working with him. The therapists reviewed what they did. It’s free to the client and it’s a good way for our therapists to get their hands on people who need a lot of work and discuss the different techniques,” Josie says. Chris teaches monthly classes ranging from massage and nutrition to couples classes, stretching 101 and introduction the massage modalities. Tuesdays and Thursdays are Happy Hour from 3 to 8 p.m. Clients receive 25 percent off any service. The HEROES Program is for police people, firefighters, EMT or veterans. Anytime they want to come in for a massage it’s $45.
Josie addresses their philosophy, “Our whole focus is the wellness side. Massage has to be affordable for anybody so they can make it part of their directed wellness plan. It’s not a luxury, it’s a right. Wellness is your right. We believe massage should be affordable, adaptable and accessible that’s why we started Balance and how we continue to grow it.”