Culver City’s Lifehood spa builds on putting kindness into the world
By Bridgette M. Redman
In a year of widespread division, Amy Krofchick opened a business based on the science of kindness. When a person performs an act of kindness, they get a dopamine hit that releases endorphins that make them feel better. At Lifehood, Krofchick’s spa and wellness space in Culver City, the treatments go from self-care to caring for others with a unique new program called Loving It Forward.
“It’s a holistic experience with the kindness you put back into the world,” Krofchick says.
Lifehood opened at the beginning of 2020 and was open for six weeks before the pandemic forced it to close. They reopened on November 11 only to have to shut down again less than a month later because of new restrictions. However, Krofchick remains positive and knows that she has struck upon a business model that makes sense in today’s world.
“Kindness is really important, that’s the way I want to live my life,” Krofchick says. “When I started to really dig deeper into the healing and physical attributes of kindness, I had an epiphany. Kindness is really soul in action. It is what you put back into the world. What I created with Lifehood’s model is truly mind, body and soul. You are putting good into the world and being recognized for the good you put into the world, and the vehicle is massage.”
The Loving It Forward concept gives each spa goer an opportunity to buy a massage at a discounted price for someone anonymously. That person is contacted and told that they have received a massage as a gift. Once they come in, it is revealed to them who the massage was from and they have an opportunity to pay it forward—they are not allowed to pay it back. Each person can track on Lifehood’s website how far their gift goes.
“We started to spark what we call our cycle of kindness,” Krofchick says.
When a person receives a massage, they get an email saying, “Someone thinks you’re amazing.” They don’t know who it is from until after they arrive at Lifehood.
“The reactions we’ve seen are incredible,” Krofchick points out. “You’re overwhelmed with this sense of gratitude. You have this fantastic treatment and when you check out, you have the option to pay it forward.”
It is not, she stressed, a gift certificate program. It is instead about coming into the spa, redemption, anonymous gifting and paying it forward.
“Seeing the smiles, the reactions and the glow that comes from the reveal—people are super excited to find out,” Krofchick says. “It makes it easy to be good and to give good.”
Krofchick says that during the weeks that Lifehood was open, 70% of
customers opted into the Love It Forward program with one person even buying six massages for others. Guests also have the option of purchasing a massage for an unsung hero that they don’t know and letting the spa decide who to give it to. In these cases, they have a committee of “kindness heroes” who choose someone in the community to receive a massage.
“We have a karma committee of our kindness heroes who in turn nominate their kindness heroes, spreading kindness and encouraging people to put good into the world,” Krofchick explains. “Our kindness heroes are our team, and we’re all about giving back and making people feel good.”
She has other programs to spread the kindness to her staff that have been on hold because of the pandemic. However, Krofchick makes it a point to feed them, train them and treat them with the kindness she wants them to show others.
Rebuilding her life
Krofchick is no stranger to hardships. In fact, it is what brought her to the world of spas and wellness in the first place. When she was pregnant with her son, her husband was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. Massage therapists were sent to their house to treat both of them and that was when Krofchick realized the importance of massage and its healing properties.
After her husband died and she was struggling to make it as a single mom, Krofchick would go to inexpensive massage shops because that was all she could afford. They didn’t have the ambiance she wanted and were often unkempt, but she was able to get the treatments she needed to move forward with her life.
“The cost made a lot of sense for my lifestyle as a widowed mom in financial straits because of his illness,” Krofchick shares.
While looking through her husband’s journal, she came across the phrase: “The next time is now.” It inspired her in the journey she took to opening up Lifehood earlier this year. She purposely chose to have pricing that matched those she found at lower-end spas.
Creating a 1970s vibe
Before opening a spa, Krofchick worked in fashion as a designer and stylist, so she brought that professional eye to creating the space, one that had a 1970s California vibe with washed-out colors. She wanted to contrast the beach bum nostalgia feel with much of the wellness industry that is super slick and crisp. She partnered with Brigette Romanek to do the interior design.
“It’s very symbolic to the nature we surround ourselves with: sunsets, ocean, foliage and all that good stuff,” Krofchick shares. “It’s my approach to something that is very authentic. I wanted to bring back an almost childlike nostalgia of feeling good and easy times, and this was before COVID-19. I was on to something.”
Lifehood is all about partnerships, creating a “hood” based not on neighborhoods, womanhood or manhood but on life, which is how they got their name. The massages have many add-ons that go beyond the typical aromatherapy and hot rocks to CBD gum drops and virtual reality. All are contributed by business partners.
Krofchick partnered with Justin Bishop, who curated the custom California Virtual Reality experience. While getting a chair massage, guests can escape to the beach, take a walk in the forest or go climbing in the mountains through these VR programs.
“It’s a celebration of everything California,” Krofchick says. “We worked with a virtual reality artist who created California-based escapes. Nature itself is so healing and so good for the soul.”
Another option is an audio meditation by spiritual teacher Kevin Courtney about kindness. Krofchick describes his voice as being incredibly soothing, something that can help a guest melt away as the therapist treats them.
Krofchick says she is a big fan of CBD, particularly the gum drops and lotions made by Lord Jones, which guests can add to their massages.
“I’ve seen the effects of it,” Krofchick says. “I really believe in it and what they’ve done. They are very close friends and I’ve watched their journey. I’m a user of their products and I think it is wonderful.”
All of these things are combined to create experiences based on science that contribute to the well-being of their customers.
“We want to offer our customers a really elevated massage at a really democratic price,” Krofchick says. “It’s a very holistic, different approach to healing from the inside out, which is really what we’re trying to do at Lifehood.”
Safety during COVID-19
Like most small businesses, Lifehood has had a challenging time during the pandemic, making changes and going through the shutdowns.
“It’s been really challenging as a business owner to manage the team and make necessary changes to ensure the business survives this moment of pause,” Krofchick says. “We’re very confident we will. We’re a community-based business and we have wonderful California-based businesses that have partnered with our space.”
They’ve also been working closely with the city health department to make sure they adopt its protocols and go above and beyond what is required. They’ve created their own hand sanitizer, changed the air filtration system, and when they were open set up distancing and operated at only 25% capacity.
Krofchick continues to look for new partners so that they can have a more inclusive wellness experience when guests return to their spa.
“We’re in a high-touch business,” Krofchick says. “It’s hard for us to put our best foot forward. But it is safety first, just making sure our staff is safe, our clients are safe and people feel safe.”
The staff has undergone training led by her lead practitioner, teaching staff how to manage themselves and their clients. Guests must wear masks on the table and in the chairs, and staff members do so as well. She says that so far they have not experienced any difficulties, that people coming into their space feel good and are happy, and many of them have rebooked appointments for when they think the spa will be able to reopen.
Krofchick recognizes that people are needing what she has to offer and that these tough times make people realize the importance of self-care.
“I think people are really going to start coming,” Krofchick says. “Health is your true wealth. People are going to start investing in their health in a much greater way. People are craving touch and craving self-care and it is something that massage especially fulfills. It’s a really nice way to feel connected to themselves and others, which is an incredibly important sensation.”