Client Story - AHMA LLC
Client Name: Alison Chivvis
Business Name: AHMA LLC
Business Website: https://ahmawellbeingspa.com/
Industry: Health Wellness Spa
Location: West Lebanon, NH
SBDC Advisor's Name: Casey Trio
It all started with the influence of a mother. Alison Chivvis, owner of Ahma Wellbeing Spa, credits her mother for instilling in her a passion for wellness and simply helping others to rest, relax and feel good.
Her mother was an operating room nurse for over 20 years and decided to make a change to focus instead on overall wellness. She became an alternative practitioner and acupuncturist and together with Alison (a massage therapist), opened a wellness center in New York. Wellness practices such as these seem so commonplace now, but back then, it was still so new, the business was not sustainable.
Still, Alison persisted. A young mother at the time with two small children, she continued in her massage therapy work, working at spas and freelancing in the city and in the Hamptons for some high-end clientele.
Then, the accident happened that would change everything and set her on a path toward what is today, her own Ahma Wellbeing Spa.
Alison was in a terrible car accident four years ago where she suffered a head injury and continues today to suffer from chronic pain. She shares, “it changed everything. I had to kind of reinvent myself in a sense of how I move, my pace, and how much energy I have.” Before the accident, Alison was full of energy, often working two jobs and very athletic. She is in love with cycling, mountain biking, and extreme sports. “The car accident took that away from me and I had to learn how to do everything; really even how to walk correctly,” says Alison.
What the accident didn’t take away though is Alison’s passion for making others feel good. “It feels natural to me. I'm a nurturer,” says Alison. “I'm the big mama bear. You know, I love to take care of everybody. But this accident has taught me to learn how to take care of myself.” She was told she couldn’t work anymore, but she still wanted to be of service.
Alison is no longer able to do physical massage. Instead, she opened Ahma where she has put together a series of all her experiences to create a relaxation experience where she makes her own wellness products such as body creams and moisturizers and provides her clients some rest and reprieve that includes spa favorite such as Reiki, Chakra balance, Massage and Zero gravity chairs, foots soaks, and more. “Ahma” means to nurture oneself first and that’s the experience Alison brings to her Ahma clients, helping them to calm, restore, and reset their mind, body, and spirit connection.
Alison says, “I love to see people come in, and they're amped up, or they're rushing around, and then as soon as they walk in the door, they've already started to lower the shoulders and calm down.”
What else provided Alison some calm was working with the NH SBDC. Alison is a part of the Upper Valley Business Alliance and expressed to them her need for business advice. She was focused on investor funds at the time and due to COVID, investor funds weren’t available. But trying to make Ahma happen on a low budget was a challenge, and Alison needed advice to help her build her business model and find grant assistance.
That led her to working with NH SBDC Business Advisor Casey Trio “who is a delight,” as Alison describes him. She introduced him to her spa experience where he commented, “we need more of this in the world.”
Alison notes, “he’s like my cheer squad! He’s like ‘don’t give up. This is a great idea and a great business.’ More than that though, he helped Alison get organized and bring in other practitioners. “Without Casey, I don’t know what I would do,” reflects Alison. Casey also helped her get more equipment, such as an iPad to help keep her organized and run the business more efficiently. Prior to that, she was using her phone to run Square, play music, and even used it for her website.
Alison credits Casey with being a connector of resources, a great business advisor, and on top of all that, just being supportive. He helped her figure out things she would often get stuck on. When she’s throwing her hands up saying, “I don’t know. I just want to make a difference,” Casey was there to help her find clarity.
“Casey’s wonderful. And this whole organization, the support from New Hampshire is incredible. When you need a professional opinion, get a business advisor that wants to help your business survive and thrive.”