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Husband and Wife Overcome COVID-19 Challenges, Open First Business Together as Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa Franchisees

A Pittsburgh couple finally opens their dream spa, Hand & Stone after 10 weeks of delays due to COVID-19.

In a high touch industry, husband and wife duo Joe and Nina Pewdo are overcoming COVID-19 challenges with the opening of their first business together, a Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa in Pittsburgh. As spas and salons in Pennsylvania slowly begin to reopen with some restrictions, the Pewdos have finally been able to open their store in the Cultural District after facing over 10 weeks of delays.

Before pursuing business ownership, Nina worked in medical spas as an esthetician since 2007. Joe, who received his degree in finance from LaSalle University, has worked as an advisor consultant for 12 years. With Nina’s experience and Joe’s financial background, they determined their combined expertise was perfect for Hand & Stone. Living in the state where Hand & Stone is headquartered, the couple believed the fit was destined. 

After Nina and Joe open their first Hand & Stone in the Cultural District, the couple plans to open an additional location on the Northside of Pittsburgh.

1851 Franchise: Tell us your story – what did you do before franchising?

Nina Pewdo: Joe and I are both from Philadelphia, and moved out to Pittsburgh for Joe’s job. Joe went to LaSalle University and majored in finance. I studied at the American Beauty Academy in Philadelphia. After school, I have been working as an esthetician since 2007, working in different medical spas. Joe has been working as an advisor consultant at Hartford Funds for 12 years. We met through Joe’s sister’s after college and have now been married for 14 years.

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising?

Pewdo: We have a friend in Philadelphia who owns a Hand & Stone and has had a great experience. He told us they were looking to expand in Pittsburgh so Joe and I decided to open one of our own.

1851: Why did you pick franchising over starting your own business?

Pewdo: I have been in the skincare field for a long time. From this, I have seen how difficult it is to grow a client base for spas just starting out. With Hand & Stone, I loved the support we received as we started our own business. They’ve provided us with direction, guidance and a name that is already recognized by many.

1851: Why’d you choose Hand & Stone? What excited you most about the potential?

Pewdo: I believe where we’re opening is an underserved area. I am super passionate about self-care and skincare. Being able to supply that at an affordable price is incredible. One thing that really drew me to Hand & Stone was the membership aspect. This supplies clients with the ability to make self-care affordable and convenient, tailored to any lifestyle.

In the future, we would love to open a location on the Northside of Pittsburgh, where we live.

1851: What value do you see your business providing to Pittsburgh?

Pewdo: Pittsburgh is an incredible city! We’re so happy to have made it our home. Our goal is to provide an inclusive environment and job opportunities for people in our community.

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?

Pewdo: You have to trust the process and trust the people who are there to help you. They have your best interest at heart. Everything will work itself out.

1851: How has your business pivoted due to COVID-19?

Pewdo: We experienced a delay in construction that pushed us back seven weeks. Another major obstacle has been that the state of Pennsylvania isn’t allowing facial services at the moment. With the majority of our services being facials, we had to delay our opening for another three weeks. Currently, we are offering all massage treatments and taking serious precautions. Everyone is required to wear a mask or face shield, and we are doing temperature checks. Appointment times are more spread out, and we’re requiring employees to perform a deep room cleaning in between appointments. There will also be air purifiers in each of the rooms to help with circulation and purification.