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Supporting Our Spas

by Rona Berg

The new SOS Spa Project, with industry veterans at the helm, simply aims to help

Like most great ideas, The SOS Spa Project came about unexpectedly. Spa leader Maggy Dunphy was hiking in the woods with Lisa Jacobs, a spa consultant and founder of The Collective Well. A bit glum, the friends found themselves sharing thoughts on the future of spas. 

When COVID broke out, the spa industry was hit especially hard, and spas were shutting down. Dunphy was furloughed from her position as director of spa and wellness, Hyatt Americas, along with many friends and colleagues in spas around the country who also found themselves out of work. “I had time to think, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how spas were going to reopen,” Dunphy said. “And when they do, will they have what they need? I wanted to create a grassroots resource for spas, to help them open safely—from a small independent to a grand corporate spa.”

Dunphy shared her thoughts with another spa veteran, Diane Trieste. Trieste wanted to help. The last piece fell into place when Liz Verbruggen, another top industry professional, signed on, too. In two days, they had decided on a name, The SOS Spa Project (Supporting Our Spas), and created a website, sos-spaproject.com. Their first email came from far away: A woman who owned a small mobile massage company in Nigeria was looking for guidance. 

With Verbruggen’s expertise in retail and training, Trieste’s background in education and operations, and Dunphy’s operational, organizational and financial skills, The SOS Spa Project is well-poised to offer whatever is needed. The website features guidelines and resources from ISPA, the Day Spa Association, Global Wellness Institute, CDC, the American Massage Therapy Association and more. And, of course, the collective wisdom and experience of the SOS team, offered on a one-on-one basis, is priceless, though it is offered at no charge. “We’ll look at your restart plan, to make sure you didn’t miss anything,” Dunphy says. “We’ll look at your spa menu and help you pare it down. We’ll help you resource PPE.” There are resource partners listed, with some affiliate links, on the site. But the SOS team has no business plan. “Right now, it’s about how can we help you, how can we be a phone call or a text away?” Dunphy says. “We want to be resources of caring, connection and support.” 

“At a time when the nation is upside down and the world is upside down, we ultimately want to create a community of support for one another,” she continues. “We’re coming from the opposite of an ego space—and we’re good with that. This really came from wanting to give back to an industry that’s given the world to us.”


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