Ayesha Patel may be one of Huntsville’s youngest new business owners but, at 26, she comes from a long line of successful Huntsville franchise owners who have built multiple restaurant concepts that were new to Huntsville when they opened.
Now the owner of Alabama’s first Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa is introducing Huntsville to a new pampering and relaxation concept.
Just opened in the Shops at Merchant Square next door to Chuy’s Tex-Mex, Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa offers a membership-based massage and facial experience that is affordable and convenient.
“For $60 a month, Ayesha and her Stone & Massage staff are going to pay a lot of attention to you for the hour you are there, for not a lot of money,” said Bob McQuillan, vice president of franchise development for the chain. “A massage and facial are luxury items but, with us, not expensive ones. When you think about it, you can’t get a plumber to come to your home for less than $90 an hour, so this is really a great value.”
“We were thinking about getting involved in a health and wellness concept and, when I saw this, I thought, everybody loves massages and facials and the two seem to really complement each other,” said Ayesha Patel. “I think Huntsville is ready for an experience like this. We have our membership, which is unique and a great value, but we’ve also had so many calls already looking to book last minute appointments.
“When you’re looking around the area for a massage, you typically have to book a week in advance. At Hand & Stone, you know you can call same-day and we can try to get you in right away.”
Ayesha’s father, Kumar Patel, started out with Huntsville’s first Subway shops but sold them several years ago to pursue other restaurant brands in Huntsville: Five Guys, Nothing But Noodles, and Schlotzsky’s Deli, all of which are among Huntsville favorites.
Ayesha’s uncle, Dr. Rajesh Patel, is in partnership with Kumar at the Nothing Bundt Cakes in Jones Valley where Ayesha has worked herself up to operating partner, overseeing a staff of 18 employees.
“I’ve grown up in business, working throughout both middle school and high school in our family businesses,” said Patel. “When I graduated from Birmingham Southern, I told myself I wasn’t going to pursue the family business, but then I came home and found myself working in the bakery. As an adult, I was allowed a more hands-on experience, and really enjoyed it.
“I did some research and found that Hand & Stone was growing like crazy with over 400 spas across the nation, but none in Alabama. I put in my information and waited to see how it would go.”
“Let’s put it this way,” said McQuillan. “If our company was looking for a football team, Ayesha and the team surrounding her including her father, aunt and uncle who have owned multiple businesses in the franchise world for years, made Ayesha a 5-star prospect for what we want to accomplish with our stores in Alabama.”
McQuillan said Hand & Stone has tried to set itself apart in the marketplace and in the industry by offering complementary services across the board.
“Many of the concepts in our industry offer just massages, but we offer facials, hair removal, and two full skin care lines,” he said. “It isn’t just about the body, it’s about skin care, it’s about a regimen – a routine – to protect yourself from the sun and honestly, I think we have knocked the cover off the ball when it comes to the aesthetic side of the business.
“That new store in Huntsville is a rocket ship about to really take off!”
“We have a very spa-like atmosphere with 10-rooms, seven masseuses and we’re about to hire two more; and four estheticians for facials,” said Patel.
“We carry two brands of skin care and anti-aging products. One of them is Dermalogica and the other is Clarity Skin. Dermalogica is more widely known but Clarity is an all-natural brand out of California. It is a little more expensive, but both are excellent choices.
“Furthermore, those are the only products we use in-house, so if you have a facial, you can follow up by purchasing the same products we used on you.”