Within an earshot of the elevated 6 train, Middletown Road isn’t considered by many to be a peaceful, relaxing location. But that’s precisely why businesswoman Cathy Branch decided to open a spa there.
Branch opened her first Tones Day Spa on Castle Hill Avenue six years ago because she felt the people of the Bronx were undeserved when it came to opportunities to relax and take care of their own bodies. The first location went over so well, Branch has decided to open her second location on Middletown Road.
“I wanted to give back and do something very different,” said Branch, who holds an MBA from Columbia. “There are so many places like that offered to women in Manhattan or Westchester. I felt that men and women of the Bronx should have a place to could go for massages and facials, and have someone to touch with and look after them. So I decided to look into a spa.”
Branch’s background is in marketing. She worked for Clairol for several years before going into business on her own. Despite her expert knowledge of how to send a message to consumers, Branch still felt getting the word out has been the hardest part about owning a young business.
“When I first opened up I sat for a long time, maybe a year or two spending a lot of money trying to market to people,” said the Bronx native. “I had to go after people, bring people in. People weren’t accustomed to having a spa in the Bronx. It was new to them.”
The key, according to Branch, is that the Bronx is an untapped market.
“I tried to do things that people want,” she said. “There isn’t anyone who is doing facial rejuvenation in the Bronx like we do.”
Acupuncture is one technique that Tones uses to do facial rejuvenation.Tones Day Spa has a Mesotherapy Ultrasonic machine that is used to get rid of cellulite and excess fat.
Branch also uses plaster therapy, which may be foreign to most in the United States but has been used for generations in South America. It involves putting a plaster cast around the body to naturally induce weight loss.
“It’s used mainly in Brazil,” Branch said. “Women there learn to be beautiful at the age of a week. American women are learning this, but Latin women really know this, and they practice it. Its unbelievable how they practice it. Now we’re doing something in the Bronx, something that people might not expect.”