Meet Gina Michelle
Owner of Malama Massage & Bodywork
How have you been able to pivot/adapt your business model?
I’ve been able to adapt my business and thankfully have not had too much of a loss. Being in the health and wellness industry, it’s very important to be clear about safety practices so clients feel safe coming into a small space for sessions. I made a YouTube video doing a COVID-safe tour showing what changes we had made prior to opening. I also have new COVID-safe policies on my website for clients to read before their visit. Our in-person workshops are put on hold for now. There are requests to do online classes, so we will be looking into that as well.
Have you done any community/employee giving?
As a small business owner, I have been cognizant of supporting other businesses for various reasons. Supporting Black-owned businesses and supporting local instead of large-chain businesses. Talking with the owners or employees and asking how they are doing, spending a little time to listen to what they have to say. Communication means so much more during these times of social distancing.
What do you/your business need the most to succeed right now?
We need to find our next facility that suits us better. We have immune sensitive clients who count on us and for many, we are the only contact clients have outside the home. Finding a smaller space where we don’t share entrances and bathrooms with businesses will ensure that our chances of exposure-risk will be lowered, and we would feel less vulnerable to other people’s actions. This is a unique experience that we would not be facing if there wasn’t COVID-19 to worry about.
What else would you like to share with the community?
I would like to share that Malama Massage & Bodywork will soon be under an umbrella wellness center called Aquis Wellness Center. This will be a wellness center that houses career practitioners in the mastery of their massage and bodywork practices. These times of isolation and shutdown have created an opportunity for people to find new ways to achieve health and wellness. Being part of a collective of master therapists in one location will be a strong attraction for the community to look for ways to manage stress and assurance that they will be taken care of at the center.
What is your favorite business in Fort Collins?
I like Om Ananda Yoga Studio for their school and classes. The owners are friendly and mindful of the essence of the practice of yoga disciplines. They price their classes based on a sliding scale with the intention of making yoga classes available for anyone. Eight and a half years ago, they were gracious in allowing me to use their smaller studio on the weekends for massage appointments when I was re-starting my practice in Fort Collins. They have always remained supportive of me through the years.
What’s your favorite thing about living/working/being in Fort Collins?
Moving to Fort Collins nine years ago was a choice I made for my family. So much is available here for families at a low cost or for free, and I appreciate the focus on building/supporting art and culture. We’ve never missed a season of attending music festivals! We love that we have access to bike trails, camping and the lake and trails without investing so much time driving. I was raised in Colorado. In all the towns I’ve lived in Colorado, Fort Collins is the most inclusive in my experience. Working in Fort Collins means that I get to meet people from many walks of life, and yet the common thread is that there is a desire to be happy, safe and healthy.
What are you most excited about being an ambassador?
I’m excited that my business caught the attention of the City of Fort Collins! As a business owner I have always envisioned feeling a part of my community in a grassroots sort of way. As an ambassador, I will bring with me the intention of appreciating that my work and support of the community has in turn, created a community that supports me, and I look forward to reaching more people with that philosophy. If we hold this knowledge – that supporting our community, and all who live in it, and the economy is intricately intertwined, this will lead our town to greater success and well-being.