Carolyn Calvacca, owner of White Lotus Massage and Yoga, said her flexible approach to life lead her to a new career.
Calvacca opened in Atrium Plaza on Route 111 in Hauppauge offering a range of nine therapeutic massage treatments and daily yoga classes in October. It’s her first time opening a business during an economic recession, a prospect that others might find daunting.
“I wasn’t afraid. Life experience tells you when it’s the right time to do something like this,” she said.
Calvacca said she was first introduced to massage as a therapeutic healing treatment in the 1980s, after a serious car accident during college left her with severe back pain.
“I tried all the treatments out there to get relief, and the one that benefited me the most was massage,” she said.
Massage therapty helped her to resume an active lifestyle that was heavily involved in martial arts. Calvacca studied Tai Chi, Aikido along with Hatha yoga and strength training for years on a regular basis.
When it came time for both of her children to head off to college, Calvacca said she was inspired to pursue her interest in massage therapy.
“When my kids went back to college, mom went back to college. We were paying three tuitions for a while,” she said.
Calvacca became a non-traditional student, returning to college to earn licensed certification as a massage therapist. While there, she learned a range of different techniques including pregnancy, deep tissue, Thai and even Ashiatsu massage.
“Many people avoid diversifying with too many certifications, getting certified is hard enough with the number of hours,” she said.
Knowing the challenge ahead of starting her own business. Calvacca said she pushed herself to learn as many different techniques as possible with a firm belief that having unique specialties would help her carve a niche in the business world.
After college, the massage therapist got her start the same way many college students do by working underneath or in the business of someone they know. Calvacca began offering massage treatments out of her chiropractor’s office, working in a small converted closet.
“It was small,” she said with a laugh, “but I enjoyed the experience of working with medical clients.”
After a year, Calvacca said she began thinking about opening her own business to combine massage therapy with yoga classes. She started eyeing a vacant storefront on Maple Avenue in Smithtown, before finding out space was available on Route 111 in Hauppauge.
With help of her husband, who has 17 years experience owning a Dunkin Donuts franchise, Calvacca figured out the finances to open White Lotus Massage in Hauppauge.
“I guess everyone has an American Dream of opening up a business. It was probably more [my husband’s] dream that mine,” she admitted. “I have just always enjoyed making people feel healthier. It feels like an accumulation of my life lead me here.”