MINT HILL – Ashley Dwyer has a lot going on – being a mother, student, teacher and small business owner into one harmonious mixture.
“It’s stress if you don’t enjoy it, but it’s passion if you really love it,” she said. “You have to figure out what in your life do you love enough that is not going to be stressful.”
Dwyer, the owner of Fire & Ice Therapeutic Massage, didn’t get into business ownership out of a lifelong dream. It just happened.
While working as a pharmacy technician, she was robbed at gunpoint twice within a span of a week. Her newfound PTSD also let Dwyer know it was time for a career change.
She worked at both an independent and nationally recognized franchise massage business, before the opportunity to open Fire & Ice arose in 2015.
“I never really thought of opening my own place, it just sort of landed in my lap and grew,” she said. “A lady I barely knew called me out of the blue and offered me a small space a yoga studio, and it continued to grow. Now here we are.”
Dwyer, her six massage therapists and two front desk staff moved into their current location at 4732 Lebanon Road almost two years ago, but have been thriving since she opened as a solopreneur with repeat customers and walk-ins alike.
While Fire & Ice leans more toward the medical side of the industry, there is something there for everyone, including six tranquil massage rooms. There’s also a dedicated couples massage room with two tables.
Dwyer and her staff specialize in Swedish, deep tissue, neuromuscular, orthopedic, hot stone, prenatal, reflexology, Thai massage and more.
She sells her hand-made soaps at the front counter, while Dwyer’s mother sells her own hand-made scented candles.
Fire & Ice is also one of two massage practices in the city that has a prenatal table.
And it’s never cookie-cutter. There are massage therapists at other places – Dwyer has seen some of it first hand – who give the same, standard massage to every client, but that’s not how Fire & Ice operates.
“I understand the effect that massage has on the body, so that I can properly explain that to my clients,” she said. “I’m able to tell the client, ‘OK, this is working because of this.’ rather than just saying, ‘OK, that was your massage, now come back in a month’ No one gets the same massage here. Each client receives their own personalized treatment plan.”
That’s part of the reason why Dwyer and Fire & Ice have grown such a loyal fan base. Another may be Dwyer’s willingness to grow herself and others.
In addition to being a life and business coach who is working on finishing her business consulting certification, she’s also the director of continuing education for the Massage Innovation Network for Therapists.
“There are a lot of people in the massage industry who don’t stay in the industry because it’s a very hard field to be in,” she said. “The average range of job span for a massage therapist averages on two to four years. It has it ebbs and flows with the economy, and we’re still considered a luxury, even though here we’re more on the medical end of things. We can be the first thing people cut out.
“I give them the knowledge and information instead of just getting a certificate to renew their massage license. I teach them how to take the skills that they’ve learned a step further by integrating them into their business through coaching not just so they can meet the legal requirements- but how to operate a business, how to do marketing and how to prolong their career.”
Dwyer has made a name for herself in her career by a pretty simple mantra.
“If you do good work and do good things, your clients will help you out,” she said. “You have to go out and meet people, build a good rapport with your clients and reach back out to people when you haven’t seen them in a while. A lot of people don’t like to do that, but that’s part of what we do.
“Massage isn’t just about relaxation. It’s not like getting your hair cut or your nails done.