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Meet D Boyle of Dcompress Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to D Boyle.

D, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
After graduating from U.C. Berkeley, not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life, I moved with my boyfriend, now husband to Berlin, Germany to teach English.  We lived abroad for over a year, spent the summer (and all of our money) backpacking around Europe, and then moved to San Diego because we had a free place to stay and it was warm (Berlin winters are brutal).

I was working in retail and restaurants, still not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, when I had an injury and my doctor recommended that I get a massage. It was after talking with the massage therapist about why she loved what she did, that I realized this career had everything I was looking for. I would get to work for myself, work one on one with people, I wouldn’t be sitting at a desk all day and most importantly, I’d get to help the people I saw. Three days later I enrolled in massage therapy school and began studying at San Diego’s Mueller College of Holistic Studies.

I graduated from Mueller in 2006, and spent the next few years working for some of the high end spas downtown. It was during this time that I realized my passion lied in the therapeutic aspects of massage and the results that can be achieved with regular body work. Spas typically see tourists on holidays or guests celebrating special occasions, so there wasn’t really an opportunity to provide therapeutic work on an ongoing basis. Beyond that, I saw so many clients each day, without a real break in between, that I was exhausted, the clients felt rushed, and they were paying an overwhelming amount of money for what I considered to be a very mediocre experience.

I wanted to create a business that gave me the space and time to really talk to the people that were coming to see me. To provide an experience that was completely customizable based on the client’s needs, everything from the type of massage they received down to the music they listened to (let’s be honest, not everyone wants to listen to birds chirping and whale sounds while they’re trying to relax). My goal was to develop lasting relationships with the members of my community, while improving their quality of life in the process. I started Dcompress in 2009, out of the spare bedroom in my condo, and after a year of seeing clients in their homes and my own, it became clear that if I really wanted to grow this business, I’d have to have my own space.

I found a room for rent in downtown’s Industry Showroom, a unique work space created with the intention of nurturing a small business community. Around this time, daily deals were just becoming popular, so I ran one with The San Diego Reader, sold over 300 in one day, and now with more work than I knew what to do with, moved into a larger room within Industry Showroom and hired my first therapist.

Things started to move pretty quickly after this point. I hired two more therapists over the next year and decided to partner with Susana Wolds, founder of Urban Yogi, on our next location. We moved into a larger space on 3rd Avenue, where we operated a massage and yoga studio for the next three years. During this time, I was able to bring on skin care and hair removal services, as well as hire a massage therapist who was also an acupuncturist looking to grow her business. I loved the idea of adding acupuncture to our list of offerings because it was such a natural fit with the therapeutic work we were already doing.

As our team continued to grow, we moved into our current location, which presented a unique opportunity to design the space from the ground up. We added more treatment rooms, as well as a large multipurpose room that we use for private and small group yoga, seminars and wellness events.

When I started Dcompress, the downtown was oversaturated with high end spas, and at a time when the economy was hurting, massage was considered a luxury that most people couldn’t afford or shouldn’t spend money on. But the fact that massage was one of the most popular items sold through the daily deal platforms, spoke to the idea that people needed the stress and pain reducing benefits now more than ever. My goal became figuring out a way to make massage affordable enough so that members of my community could receive it regularly, while making it a sustainable business for myself and anyone I hired.

I began a membership program during my second year of business and believe it’s one of the main reasons we’ve been able to grow consistently over the years. It seemed to be the best way to encourage loyalty and regular bodywork among our clients, while being able to keep our services affordable. Now, with over 200 members, we’ve built quite a family within our downtown community.

Over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with thousands of people. We’ve been able to help so many women through the aches, pains and anxiety of pregnancy (myself included). We’ve been trusted to work on clients crippled with pain, who are now pain free, and to help oncology patients find relief during one of the most difficult times in their lives. We’ve gotten to know couples that don’t live in San Diego, but come here year after year for their anniversaries, just to see us. We’ve been invited on vacations and to weddings, to baby showers and birthday parties. Our clients become more than just clients, they become friends and family.

Lastly, I’d like to give credit to the amazing staff at Dcompress. These women are the reason for our success. For all of their talent, they are incredibly humble, generous with their knowledge, and always striving to provide the best possible experience for our guests. They challenge themselves to keep learning and growing as practitioners and work tirelessly to improve the quality of life for each person that walks through our door. Beyond that, they are simply wonderful people and Dcompress wouldn’t be what it is today without them.

I became pregnant in 2016 and was one of the unlucky few who are so sick they can’t get out of bed… for 4 months! Forget about running a business, my main goal each day was to eat a handful of crackers and to try not to puke them back up. In my absence, these women treated Dcompress as their own, taking on more responsibility than they ever should have had to. They not only took care of me, they took care of my first baby, making sure that it would thrive while I was gone. And it did. We had the best year to date and are on track for an even better 2017!

Other things that make us cool:

All female staff!

Totally customizable music: everything from traditional spa music to electronic and classic rock. We’ll also play any music on your phone. Yes, we’ve had clients play death metal.

The 2 hour Pink Floyd Experience: It’s a two hour massage, set entirely to Pink Floyd, with aromatherapy and light projections.

We do a ton of couples’s massages and love doing them! Couples are always so fun 🙂

We offer sugaring as an all-natural form of hair removal, which is waaaaaaaaay better than waxing.

We use an all-natural, medical grade skin care line called Osmosis that is safe for pregnant women and oncology patients.

We work hard, but have fun doing it. We laugh a lot!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There have definitely been challenges along the way.

A crazy landlord who pushed us to our limits, because she wanted to watch us break. She took advantage of the fact my business partner and I were young and inexperienced and our sanity paid the price for the next three years.

Yelp refused to transfer 5 years of reviews when we moved into our current location, resulting in a substantial loss of revenue. We went from being on the first page of Yelp to being non-existent, meaning all the new business we were used to getting, suddenly stopped.

Fortunately, these experiences, as traumatic and tear filled as they were, only made me stronger and wiser. No longer will I sign a lease until everything that was said is in writing. This is business – handshakes and “you can trust me” don’t go very far. And I’ll never again rely on only one source for all of our new business. Yelp is great, but so is Google and Facebook and most importantly, word of mouth from our existing clients.

And finally, as I mentioned previously, being bedridden for 4 months during my pregnancy. This was maybe the hardest one because I felt like I had totally abandoned my staff.

Through it all, my staff and our clients have been unbelievable. Always positive, always offering to help in any way they could. The hard times made me realize how special what we’ve created really is.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Dcompress Downtown – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I like to call us a wellness studio. We started out with only massage and have added skin care, acupuncture, reiki energy healing, and hair removal (not necessarily wellness, but it is bikini season 90% of the year in San Diego and we don’t want to leave anyone out).

We definitely specialize in massage therapy and because of our membership, we’re able to see people on a regular basis, helping with injuries and chronic pain issues. We also work with a ton of pregnant women, providing prenatal massage, which is a favorite among the staff. It’s amazing to be part of what is often an incredibly overwhelming, but wonderful journey.

We were voted “Best Massage” in San Diego by the readers of The Union Tribune in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015 and “Best Massage” in 2016 by the readers of The Downtown News.

People seek us out for The 2 hour Pink Floyd Experience. It’s trippy, it’s fun and it’s totally unique.

I’m proudest of the relationships we’ve built over the years, not just with our clients but with other businesses within our community. Chiropractors trust sending their patients to us, gyms trust sending their members to us, clients trust sending their family and friends to us, all because they know we will take the time to do the best job we can for each person sent our way.

Above all else, I think it’s the caliber of the entire staff, their skill and compassion that sets us apart. As a business, our turnover is very low. Our newest therapist has been with us for over 2 years and our oldest over 7. When you find a therapist you like, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll still be here when you’re ready to come back.

I also think our membership program and our unique offerings, like customizable music and The Pink Floyd Experience, make us stand out among the competition.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I’d like to open another location in San Diego in the next few years. Having a baby sort of put those plans on hold for a little while (sleep deprivation seems to make it totally impossible to remember what I did a few hours ago, let alone find the energy to build my empire).

Pricing:

  • If you live locally (The City of San Diego), you’ll receive $20 off your first massage, facial or reiki session (excluding acupuncture & The Pink Floyd Experience).
  • We offer a military discount on all of our services – $20 off every massage, facial or reiki session, 20% off follow-up acupuncture sessions, and 10% off all hair removal sessions.
  • Every Tuesday we offer “20 off Tuesdays”. It’s $20 off any massage session (excluding The Pink Floyd Experience).
  • The 2 hour Pink Floyd Experience is only $150 (a regular 2 hour massage with aromatherapy is $185), or $300 for a Pink Floyd couples massage.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Jon and D. Boyle

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