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Soothe-ing influence

Alicia Bogard wants her massage therapy business to provide relief

SOLON– These are stressful times, and Alicia Bogard hopes people make the time to take care of themselves.
It’s hard for people to realize how deeply the events of this year have impacted them, and like never before, time to heal is needed, she said.
Bogard is hoping to provide calm in the storm with Soothe, the massage therapy studio she opened in February.
“Massage isn’t just for your muscles, it’s so therapeutic for your mind and your emotions, too,” she said. “In that space of time, you’re receiving nurturing and kindness, things that are so important for our well-being.”
Soothe also offers reflexology, reiki and empowerment coaching with morning, afternoon and evening appointments available seven days a week. Bogard recently became certified as a yoga instructor, as well.
Soothe was born from her longtime interest in natural healing.
Bogard, 36, a native of Cedar Rapids, took her first massage classes in 2006 when she was a caregiver for a woman with multiple sclerosis in California.
At the time, she was considering becoming a holistic health practitioner and was also investigating ways to improve her client’s quality of life.
One of the prerequisites for pursuing the career at the time was massage therapy classes.
“I thought that it would be a great place to start, and it was,” she recalled. “I made so many awesome friends, because when I moved out there I didn’t know anybody.”
Bogard was in her early 20s and California was a wellspring for the natural health movement.
“It really did a lot for bringing into my life a lot of great, quality people and opportunities,” she said. “It was a wonderful experience, especially with being so young.”
She returned to Iowa 11 years ago with her son Lucian to be closer to family, and re-certified as a massage therapist through Capri College. For the last three years, she’s operated her business out of Flip Salon in North Liberty, but resided in Solon.
When her business outgrew the rented space in North Liberty, the idea for Soothe took shape.
“I’m always learning, always tackling new ideas and trying to challenge myself,” she explained.
Bogard wanted to offer more than just massage, but that required a bigger space.
Maybe not as big as the location she occupies at 127 S. Dubuque Street.
“But when I came into view this building, I just fell in love with it,” she said. “I love the character, the layout was perfect.”
She decided to take the leap.
“It was definitely scary,” she admitted. “You can think you’ve educated yourself and think you know your market and have as much confidence as you want, and it doesn’t always equate to success.”
Yet she felt she had to try.
“I also know that I’m resourceful, and if things don’t turn out exactly as I want them to, I’ll still figure something out to make it successful because I believe hard work will get you far,” she noted.
With plenty of help from family and friends, Bogard worked day and night to get everything together so she could hit the ground running the first Friday in February.
“So many people around me did so much to help me be where I’m at,” she observed. “I would not be here if I had to rely solely on myself. I didn’t do any of this alone.”
Friends assisted with demolition, her mother helped with painting and decorating. Even her son even helped out with the remodeling of the former Solon Vet Clinic location.
New flooring and paint were installed, new outlets were added, but Bogard kept the original doorknobs and as many serviceable original features as possible.
After Soothe opened its doors, Bogard was stunned to find she was booked out for the month.
“We have been so lucky and so blessed by this community,” she said. “Especially when you see so many businesses struggling right now, and with all this uncertainty and fear, it just makes me extra grateful that everything has been going so much better than what I even allowed myself to expect.”
But when Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a series of measures to stem the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Iowa, Soothe shut down for two months.
To Bogard’s relief, business picked right back up where it left off, and she’s recently added another massage therapist, Tonya Alvarado, to provide more weekend and evening availability.
The staff also includes certified reflexologist Adam Jaouadi, who also provides chair massage.
In addition, Soothe shares its space with chiropractor Richard Rupp, who operates independently.
Soothe offers individual treatment rooms for each of its services.
The massage room is dimly lit, with a table warmer, weighted blanket and neutral scents for people with allergies. Aromatherapy can be added.
Each massage is tailored to the client, Bogard explained. If someone wants deep tissue, they get deep tissue. If someone wants relaxation, she uses more Swedish technique.
“If somebody comes in and they just want me to spend the entire hour on their neck and back, I will do that,” she said. “It’s whatever is going to benefit each client the most.”
Soothe offers 60- and 90-minute massage appointments, along with a two-hour session including 30 minutes of reiki, a Japanese alternative medicine based on the concept of energy as a life force within the body.
A master for the last three years, Bogard conducted more reiki appointments in the last six months than in the last three years combined
People are seeing benefits, she said, with first-time clients finding it deeply relaxing.
She also encourages her customers to try empowerment coaching, something she’s been certified in since 2012.
“It can be a great way to focus on what you can do and what you can control for yourself and maybe feel inspired get a hit of some positive energy,” she said.
She helps clients come up with plans of action, but sometimes it can be beneficial just to have someone listen to you and if you want, provide fresh perspective.
“It’s so hard these days to find a safe environment where it’s completely OK to be vulnerable. And that’s that I’m trying to provide,” she explained. “When you are acknowledged and validated in your moment of vulnerability, it’s deeply healing.”
We need connections with other humans, she said. We’re living with fear and uncertainty and are emotionally exhausted.
“That’s why it makes me so happy that we’re busy, because then I feel like I can maybe kind of make a difference,” she said.
Bogard tries to keep things in Soothe as normal, as pre-COVID as possible while still maintaining safety measures.
“I want people to come in here and just feel like they can totally relax,” she said. “Don’t worry about anything. I’ve got to you right now. Your only job is to relax. I’ve got everything else.”

127 S. Dubuque Street
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319-535-3137 call or text