Working for a Living for Jan. 24, 2013

For Weekly SurgeJanuary 22, 2013 

Alba Henao: Breathe, Relax, Enjoy

Alba Henao arrived on the Grand Strand more than three years ago. Originally from Bogota, Colombia, she moved to Surfside Beach from Connecticut because her fiancé had a job offer in the area.

Henao, 49, has been a cosmetologist since she was 18, and had her own beauty salon in Bogota after graduating from beauty college there. When she moved to the United States, it was back to the drawing board, almost starting from square one. “When I came to the U.S., I started from the bottom – cleaning stores and houses, and eventually I knew I had to go back to college,” she says. She secured her cosmetology license in Connecticut and then decided to study massage at the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy. She later pursued a discipline called Auriculotherapy [Ear Reflexology] from Quantum University of Natural Medicine.

In Connecticut, she worked as a massage therapist at the Elemis Spa at the Mohegan Sun Casino and later at Parisian Spa in Cromwell. “This was a wonderful experience,” she says. “I worked for myself, too – a small business on the side. I had a room at a gym and did that part-time.”

In addition to being a licensed massage therapist and cosmetologist, by the time Henao arrived here, she was also a certified medical esthetician and auriculotherapist. She first went to work for Carmen! Carmen! Prestige Salon E’Spa inside Belk at Coastal Grand Mall and taught Esthetics – essentially the finer points of skin care – at Miller-Motte Technical College. She still teaches continuing education classes there.

But the entrepreneurial spark, lit when she owned her own business, would not abate. “It was always in my mind to have my own business. I prefer to be an independent person, so when I found a place in the Market Common area, I thought, God – this is the moment.”

That place is now Alba’s Holistic Esthetics and Massage Therapy [ www.albasholisticspa.abmp.com] at the corner of Hackler and Deville Streets in Myrtle Beach. Henao opened her doors on Sept. 9, and says her fiancé, Michael Lynch, has been very supportive along the way, bringing to the table a healthy dose of business experience. “He helps me to promote and is always looking for new ideas – and with my knowledge and experience, this is very good.”

So far, business is looking good. “A lot of my clients from Carmen! Carmen! followed me, and many locals have been coming to me already. I take pride in my work, give it my best, and have excellent customer service,” she says. Relationship building is a high priority. “I try to be one-on-one – and my clients are No. 1.”

So – what exactly is auriculotherapy or ear reflexology?

“The ear is the inverted fetus. The lobe of your ear is the head and the crest is the spine. And inside, close to the ear canal are all of your internal organs. Because your ear is very close to the brain, any acupressure you do on the ear is very [effective]. This can help with pain management, hot flashes - gastrointestinal disturbances. You can impact many organs through auriculotherapy.”

Alba’s Holistic Esthetics and Massage Therapy is a full service spa, offering massage, facials, waxing, body treatments and more.

Decompression time involves trips to the beach or kayaking on the Intracoastal Waterway. Henao and Lynch might be spotted enjoying a hamburger at King Street Grille or a relaxed Italian dinner at Maggi-D’s or Villa Romana. “My fiancé has a Harley-Davidson, and we love the rallies,” she says. “It’s wonderful to see the people with all of the attire and having fun.”

And Henao says the Grand Strand is home. “We love it here. I tell my son that he needs to find a way to move down here from Connecticut, because one day if he has children, I’m not moving back. The children have to be close to their grandma. I don’t have grandchildren yet, but hopefully one day…’

Know of a local with an interesting job or career that should be given the Working 4 A Living treatment? Contact Roger Yale at rgyale@gmail.com.

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