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Study In Pink - Grace and Ayla

**A Study in Pink is a series of posts introducing the professions of various women in California’s Central Valley. It is being written to showcase the possibilities for the up and coming young women in our small towns.

It was during Christmas time when I first walked through the door. I remember because it was my first time meeting Grace, and she was playing Christmas music. The station was not just normal carols either, as I can distinctly remember listening to Frank Sinatra belting out a tune.

Blue Door Massage and Spa is the brainchild of Grace Parreira and Ayla Tidwell. These two friends and certified massage therapists had a dream, but interestingly enough, it did not start with massage. Their stories are somewhat similar, as they both were using massage as a way to pay for college. At this point I was a little surprised, but I then started to appreciate their thinking. The thought was to be trained at a technical school, so then they would be able to work and earn degrees without going into debt.

After graduating in 2009 from the Milan Institute in Visalia, they both worked on their own, but found that building a clientele was hard when you didn’t work in the right setting. They would rent out a room in a salon or a chiropractor’s office, but found that people trusted spa’s more than a single massage therapist. That is when they knew a shop of their own would be the way to go.

In 2014, they took the plunge and opened their own shop, Blue Door Massage and Spa. As co-owners, they share the responsibilities of running the business together. Their goal of education was fulfilled, with Grace attending COS, and Ayla going to Fresno State. With their respective degrees in marketing and accounting, they not only had the skills for a great massage, but also an education that they use in running their business. While they both had ulterior motives for beginning their careers in massage therapy, they come to love it, and how it is an avenue to show care for others. As we talked, their passion for their work was evident.

So I asked them why they chose massage therapy? “It started when I graduated from high school,” Grace told me. She had been gifted with a certificate for a massage, and she loved the experience! So when it came time to find a way to pay for school, she knew that she would enjoy the opportunity “to make someone feel so good.” For Ayla, it was bit different. She started out wanting to be a nurse, but a fear of needles made that a problem. Knowing that nursing would not be her path, she saw massage therapy as a different “way to care for someone.” And that was a recurring theme when I spoke with them.

Grace sees massage therapy as a means for “making people feel better”. They both love the holistic effect of massage on a person. A client leaves feeling better physically, emotionally and their mood is lifted. And with that, they believe that their service contributes to a better community. When someone leaves their shop pain free and feeling happy, their mood will be reflected by how they treat other people. Grace believes that “when they leave, they will smile at someone and that creates a ripple effect.” They see what they do as “part of a lifestyle” says Ayla. They want to make a difference in the lives of their clients. According to Ayla, “We pour our hearts into what we do.”

Since I typically see Grace, I asked Ayla if she had any children. Along with Grace, she has one daughter. It is exciting to know that these little girls will have amazing role models, right in their own homes. As if they didn’t wear enough hats, these two ladies have now opened a second location in Hanford, which offers both massage and esthetician services. You can find Blue Door Massage and Spa (Both Hanford and Lemoore locations) on FaceBook and the internet.

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