A PLACE TO RESET: Woman’s career change brings day spa to city

One of the massage rooms at A Focused Touch Day Spa in Greenfield. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD – Amy Hughes formerly spent most of her time as a stay-at-home mom. Then she became a single mom.

“I was kind of capping out at like $13 an hour, and I was in a relationship but I knew that if I was ever in a circumstance where I had to raise my two daughters by myself again, it just wasn’t going to be enough,” she said.

After thinking long and hard about potential careers, she eventually found herself pursuing a new passion, and now owns her own business in that field.

Hughes opened A Focused Touch Day Spa at 330 W. Osage St. in Greenfield in September, where she and her staff offer a variety of massage and skincare services.

Before becoming a massage therapist, Hughes worked in medical administration, carrying out tasks like scheduling patients and accounting. With no desire to move up into management and the need to provide for her daughters weighing on her, she started talking with a nurse she worked with about a career change.

Hughes, whose mother is a registered nurse, always found the medical field interesting, but not so much the invasive aspects of it. That led her to briefly consider a career in physical therapy before ultimately passing.

Then came the phrase she said changed her life: “What about massage therapy?”

She had only had a handful of massages in her life, but she started looking into the profession and learned how much therapists make, how fast the industry is growing and how demand exceeds supply.

Hughes learned her new trade at Harrison College.

“When I started school, it was just absolutely fascinating to me how the mind and the body and the spirit are all kind of connected,” she said. “You can’t really work on one without affecting the other two, no matter which one you focus on. And so I just really dove into it.”

She found herself drawn to subjects like psychology of the body, prenatal and postnatal massage, and the mental effects of massage. Her professors encouraged her, telling her she was a natural.

Hughes graduated in 2017 before going on to work for spa franchises in the area, including The Woodhouse Day Spa and Massage Heights.

“I got a lot of encouragement from people,” she said. “When I started at The Woodhouse in Carmel, I was lucky enough to get under the wing of a couple of really good massage mentors that have been in the business for a while, and so they really helped me develop my technique, especially with things like hot stones and body scrubs.”

She went on to work as a massage therapist at a salon in Greenfield, where her workload eventually grew to about 100 clients a month.

In 2021, she was talking with her mother, Paula, about how all of the area day spas are mostly on Indianapolis’ north side.

“I was like, what if we opened a day spa in Greenfield?” Hughes said, somewhere offering massages without blow dryers, commotion and music in the background.

She knew the quiet, calming aspects of the franchise day spas she loved.

“It would be nice to just have a place where people can come and just breathe,” she said.

Hughes talked about it more with her mom for a couple weeks and then started looking for a location.

“Which was a really hard time to look for properties,” she said with a laugh. “All of the three bedroom, two bath we wanted got snatched up.”

But she eventually landed on the house at 330 W. Osage St., which was zoned commercial and had plenty of room in its backyard to turn into a parking lot.

She started having the interior renovated and determining which rooms would be used for which services, as well as other details.

“I knew I wanted a quiet room where people could relax, and when they have back-to-back sessions, I knew I wanted to be able to provide robes and slippers,” Hughes said. “… I didn’t want to do room rent, because you can really only have one thing going on in that room, so I figured if I had W-2 staff and we did shifts, that would maximize the occupancy.”

A Focused Touch Day Spa’s massage therapists provide massages for various durations and with different add-ons available, like hot stones, cupping and scrubs. Estheticians offer a variety of facials as well as face and body waxing.

“You only get one face,” Hughes said. “And the skin on your face gets the most exposure and the most abuse, and it’s just really important for people to take care of that and have a professional coach them along the way, set them up with the right products and the right routine.”

Other spa services include total body exfoliation and Dead Sea mud wraps.

While Hughes has become well versed in the techniques of massage therapy, the business aspects of her endeavor were a new experience.

“I’ve never been anybody’s boss,” she said, adding that she thinks she was more nervous than the applicant while conducting her first job interview.

She wasn’t a complete novice, however, having rented space at the salon, where she was in charge of her pricing, scheduling, keeping client files, marketing and buying supplies.

“So it gives you a little bit of practice as far as the business side goes,” Hughes said. “But this was a whole new animal, because it’s W-2 employees, and workman’s comp., and making sure you’re going to meet payroll so people get paid, and then not just marketing me, but marketing everybody and providing supplies for everybody. … It was a lot of fun and it’s kind of that mix of excitement and terror, but terror in a good way. I always say let your fear push you and not hold you back.”

Having 11 staff members is beyond where she thought she’d be starting out at.

“I was thinking more like five years,” she said. “I feel that same buzz that I did right before I went full time when I was doing room rent. We are seeing like 30 to 40% new clients every month, so it’s really starting to build momentum and I just feel like we’re right at the edge where it’s just going to go ‘shoosh!’ and it’s just going to explode, so that’s exciting.”

Customers can learn more about services and schedule appointments online at the spa’s website, afocusedtouch.biz, as well as its Facebook page and on Google. They can also call the spa at 317-318-9351.

“That’s what we’re here for,” Hughes said. “We want people to get into the habit of taking care of themselves, especially people that pour their life into other people – stay-at-home moms, caregivers, teachers. We see a lot of teachers and nurses, a lot of people that are constantly pouring into others. We want to be that place where we can pour into them.”