Kelly Grimes describes the first massage she received as "terrible," visibly shuddering at the thought. She wasn't sure what to expect and felt tense and uncomfortable throughout the hour she laid on the table.
She strives to make sure her customers don't feel that way, she said.
Grimes, 51, has owned Kelly's Day Spa for the better part of four years. Since she started, she's moved from her first storefront across the street from Cochran Furniture in Ringgold, to a small rental room, to her new storefront at 100 Riddle Street in Fort Oglethorpe.
The moves haven't always been her choice. She moved out of her first store during a divorce, she said, and is finally getting back on her feet with her Fort Oglethorpe space, which opened on the first of the year.
Grimes is a triple threat with three licenses that make up the breadth of her offerings. And every license has a story that's close to her heart.
In 2000, while she was pregnant with her son, Grimes met a woman with perfectly shaped bright pink gel nails. She'd never seen them before and was looking for a new job where she'd have the flexibility to spend more time at home. So, she became a licensed nail tech.
In 2011, Grimes faced a bout of psoriasis. Waking up each day discouraged by the state of her skin, she went to school for her esthetician license the next year. Now, when customers with acne, eczema or psoriasis walk in, she knows what they're going through, she said.
"It's hard when you live with a disorder you can't control," said Grimes.
Then, in 2016, she thought to herself, "I can already do nails and now I can do skin. If I can learn how to massage, I can open a full spa." So she did.
And she's not stopping there. In February, she'll obtain her personal trainer license.
Since her divorce, Grimes has lost over 130 pounds. She said she's motivated to encourage others to feel good about their bodies, and hopes in the future to convert one of her two massage rooms into a mini gym.
Grimes said she sets all her rates about $15 less than market rates to allow others to treat themselves. She cites her own hardships — including homelessness at one point and not being able to pay the bills at others — as why she keeps her prices low.
She also host specials throughout the week, including "Mani Monday" with $15 gel manicures, "Tootsie Tuesday" with $30 pedicures, and "Thankful Thursday" for active and retired service members.
"My journey, my hardships have made me," she said. "Everybody deserves to feel good."
Email Sabrina Bodon at email@example.com.