The NOW Massage
Executive Q&A: Gara Post, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of The NOW Massage
1851 Franchise: What inspired you to start The NOW Massage, and what void does it fill?
Gara Post: My husband Jason and I co-founded The NOW with our company, Post Investment Group, which focuses on three sectors: health and wellness, real estate and consumer products. We saw there was a void in the marketplace for high-quality massage in an inspired setting without the time commitment and cost of a traditional spa.
Prior to The NOW, I had launched a successful jewelry line, Gara Danielle, that was sold internationally at 500-plus locations and worn by celebrities and influencers. As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly looking for new opportunities to explore, and I was inspired to use my background in design and marketing on a new creative venture in the wellness space. Being passionate about self-care and striving to manage work/life stress in the city, I knew there was a need for an accessible, design-driven massage concept.
When we opened the first NOW boutique in 2015, I didn’t anticipate how quickly the brand would evolve. Going from one to four boutiques in 18 months was a huge learning experience and really prepared me for the next stage of expansion, which was franchising.
1851: What are your brand’s differentiators? What makes it a strong investment right now?
Post: When we set out to disrupt the massage space in 2015, we knew we could revolutionize the industry with our highly curated design and customizable massage menu at accessible prices.
Each NOW boutique uses canvas draping to separate therapy spaces, creating an airy feeling that adds to the soothing atmosphere. The sound of ocean waves on loop makes you feel as if you are on vacation at an exotic destination. Natural wood surfaces and exposed beams are coupled with sheepskins, high-quality plants and crystal grids. All the elements are aligned to form the ultimate zen environment for optimum relaxation. Massage therapists at The NOW receive advanced training on the custom menu that goes far beyond the traditional modalities and is designed specifically for stress relief, relaxation and muscle recovery.
The NOW has reimagined the accessibility of a walk-in neighborhood massage spot with the premium menu of services and beautiful design typically associated with upscale day spas.
1851: What were some learning opportunities that the brand leveraged to get where it is now?
Post: Developing a connection to the local community has been critical to The NOW Massage’s success since day one. Guests love to photograph themselves in our highly Instagrammable boutiques. Our popularity in the press and on social media created the blueprint for how we connect with millennials and Gen Z in each market and was a groundbreaking development in the massage space.
Similarly, franchising with entrepreneurs in each territory has enabled us to scale organically and provide grassroots marketing and connections to each city. We didn't launch our membership for two years, but our clientele kept requesting a monthly program, so we designed the Ritual Membership with savings on massages, rollover credits, perks and more. In order for our franchise owners to be successful, we knew a strong membership program would be a great foundation for their business.
1851: What are three or more of the brand’s most important milestones over the past five years?
Post: Soon after opening the first location in Los Angeles, success followed and The NOW Massage scaled from one to four boutiques in 18 months. The NOW began franchising in 2019, and in less than two years rapidly reached the milestone of signing its 100th franchise location. We opened our first franchise boutique in November 2020, mid-pandemic, and opened an additional 15 locations in 2021, which shows how strong the market is for wellness and how much passion there is for our brand. Even during a difficult time, we continued to grow our franchise family and open massage boutiques in new territories.
1851: What does an ideal Franchise Owner for The NOW Massage look like?
Post: The NOW Massage’s ideal franchise owner is a multi-unit operator and entrepreneurial self-starter with a passion for wellness. A few of our franchise owners have been previous small business owners with experience running their own operations. The majority come from the corporate world, spanning different industries, including sales, marketing, finance, banking, tech, HR and more.
1851: How does The NOW Massage recruit and support Franchise Owners?
Post: The NOW offers reduced franchise fees for multi-unit commitments upon initial signing. We are looking for franchise owners who are passionate about people and wellness, see the value in massage and self-care, and have a desire to make a positive impact in their community. Our greatest lead source is our community of passionate guests and members who frequent The NOW Massage here in L.A. and around the country and want to open a boutique in their neighborhood. Our social media footprint has a large following, and we have been featured extensively by the press and influencers, which also has increased interest and visibility for the brand.
The NOW’s onsite Discovery Day at our offices in Beverly Hills invites prospective franchise owners to our headquarters and includes an immersive half-day tour of our corporate boutiques around Los Angeles. This includes a complimentary massage for prospective owners to experience all touchpoints of the guest experience at The NOW.
The NOW then supports its Franchise Owners with site selection and construction management, sales and operations strategies, marketing and public relations, pre-opening and on-site training, HR support and more. We want to give our Franchise Owners everything they need to succeed in their business because their success is our success.
1851: What are The NOW Massage’s growth goals?
Post: In 2021, The NOW awarded 43 new licenses and opened 15 new franchise boutiques from coast to coast, and we plan to open over 30 NOW Massage boutiques in 2022 for a total of 50-plus boutiques in operation by the end of the year. Targeting major markets such as Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Boston, Detroit, Indianapolis, the Tri-State area and more, our goal is to have 175 NOW Massage boutiques in operation by the end of 2025.
1851: Why is now the time to buy a NOW Massage franchise?
Post: The NOW Massage’s elevated aesthetic and affordable model has remained attractive to business-savvy entrepreneurs since we began our franchise journey in 2019. Scaling through a global pandemic, we did not see interest wane. This proves there is still huge growth and opportunity in the $16-billion-a-year massage industry. We are very collaborative with our franchise owners who are currently helping shape the future of the brand. Getting in early allows franchise owners to be part of our growth strategy and development.