Kelli Chapin’s goal at Bohemia Healing Spa is to provide healing in an indulgent environment. She admits the business has provided plenty of the former for her, too.
Not long before she bought the spa, Chapin was laid off from her long-time job and went through a difficult divorce.
“It kind of got me through that time of hardship and challenge in my life, and let me focus on healing others instead of what was happening in my own life,” she said. “It was healing.”
Today, Chapin has doubled the size of the spa in the historic Delano neighborhood. She employs 11 full- and part-time workers.
Chapin, a Wichita native, first picked up massage skills while working as an office manager for a chiropractor. “I kind of realized it was a natural thing for me to find areas of problem and help work those areas out.”
Chapin decided to go to a massage school “just to have something to fall back on.” It turned out to be a good move when the chiropractor laid her off.
About a year later, Chapin’s best friend, Kelsey Metzinger, owner of Bungalow 26 in Delano, told Chapin that Bohemia’s then owner, Cassie Hardenbrooke, was interested in selling.
“I said that would be the stupidest thing I would ever do in my life,” Chapin said of offering to buy Bohemia. “I went ahead and did it, even though I had nothing. At this point in my life, I didn’t have anything to lose.”
Chapin added that the purchase was completely out of character for her.
“I never had any intention of owning my own business,” she said. “I’m not a risk taker at all. The only reason I did any of this was I was in a position where I did not have anything to lose in my life.”
She got the encouragement she needed — and a loan — from her mother, Paula Chapin, who’d worked for her at the chiropractor’s office.
“She didn’t even question it. She said how much do you need?”
Chapin said she took over Bohemia “not knowing anything about facials and waxes” and other non-massage services typically offered by a spa. Hardenbrooke helped her, as did her old friend and new neighbor on Douglas Avenue, Metzinger.
“There were a lot of challenges when we started out,” Chapin said. “We just kept trucking along, learning what we could.”
Massages and facials comprise the biggest part of Bohemia’s business. “We also do treatments that are not as well known,” including Thai yoga massage, neuromuscular therapy, cupping and mineral whirlpool sessions, Chapin said.
“We really focus more on healing. Our goal is to provide that balance between healing and indulgence.”
With Metzinger’s help, Chapin uses natural ingredients to make many of the body scrubs, facial masks and other products used by the spa. Bohemia recently doubled in size by expanding into 1,200 square feet next door. Chapin plans a sauna as well. She hired additional employees and is looking for more.
Chapin is glad she took the risk. “It’s made such a difference in my life.”
And she’s happy to be still learning on the job.
“I feel like I’m just now starting to figure it out, after five years in business. Finding the right team is imperative, the right kind of people on your side working hard every day. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but every mistake I made, I made sure it never happened again.”
Now you know
BOHEMIA HEALING SPA
Address: 611 W. Douglas
Owner: Kelli Chapin