Joy Hillukka owns Krystal Lotus Massage and Wellness at 117 N. Washington St. in Grand Forks.

Before moving to Grand Forks in July 2017, Hillukka worked as a nurse and owned a similar business in Pembina.

The Herald talked with Hillukka about her business and what it was like to relocate.

Q: For those who may not know, what is Krystal Lotus Massage and Wellness?

A: Krystal Lotus Massage and Wellness is a privately owned and operated wellness and massage therapy service. I combine years of life long learning with massage therapy education from Wellington College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The courses I took included anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, fascia, deep tissue, muscle energy and exercise rehab, based on traditional osteopathic principles. This is combined with divine energy, mindful breath, crystal singing bowl vibration, essential oils, crystals into a unique wellness service customized for that individual's needs that day to promote homeostasis. The services I offer include custom vibrational wellness massage sessions, general group vibrational meditation and corporate mindfulness sessions customized for the business or employee needs.

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Q: How did you become interested in massage, yoga, etc.?

A: I have had a lifelong interest in massage. In the late 90s, I was the nurse and office manager for the Pembina Clinic. The nurse practitioner and I were researching avenues to bring more health-based businesses under one roof with the clinic. This research renewed my interest in massage therapy. At the time, I was working on some microbiology and anatomy credits to further my nursing career. The search went far and I chose Wellington College based on proximity, a distance education option and it had the most science-based curriculum at that time. I have never looked back and continue to learn new things and add to what I offer in wellness. It is my passion. Yoga spun off my exercise rehab training in school. I committed to learning yoga for my own well-being in 2002, which grew into sharing it with others. The same with meditation; I am a certified Reiki Master Teacher as well. Reiki is a form of alternative medicine called energy healing. This also has evolved from my original training and I prefer to describe my work as divine vibrational energy. I teach each person to access energy from their divine source and other natural sources. It is a matter of breathing and awareness.

Q: Are you from Grand Forks? Why did you decide to open a business here? Who makes up your clientele?

A: I was in Pembina for 24 years. I grew up in Brainerd, Minn. Life changes brought me to a place of needing to move myself and my business. The business was originally called Muscle Dynamics Massage. When I moved from Pembina to Grand Forks, I changed the name of my business to Krystal Lotus Massage and Wellness. I looked at several aspects and decided Grand Forks was a good fit. I would retain 75% to 85% of my clients instead of starting over. It was not too far from family and friends. Economic business growth appeared good and Grand Forks has a reasonable cost of living. My clientele is varied, predominantly 25 to 85 years. I do encompass all ages and have training and experience in pre- or post-natal, pregnancy and infant massage, pre- or post-event sports massage and working with athletes. Some of my teenage and adolescent clients have grown up and returned after college.

Q: What is something you offer that Grand Forks residents can't get anywhere else in town?

A: Everything I offer is unique. I customize the session for that person and their needs that day based on years of knowledge and my intuition.

Q: Can you talk about a challenge of owning a business? How have you overcome that challenge or how are you working to overcome that challenge?

A: It must be your passion. As a business owner, you do not get a guaranteed salary, benefit package, paid vacation or sick days. The biggest challenge is planning for sick time, vacations and months of lower gross income. Affordable health insurance is a big factor for any entrepreneur. One big factor that has helped for health care but is being decreased is the North Dakota tax credit for small businesses. The other big challenge is the slow months, which means a lower gross income. I must plan for and set aside money in high flow months to make it through the slow ones. I forecast and stick to a solid budget and put aside money for those times that are needed. The biggest challenge on startup and even with moving is having enough resource money for fluctuations without borrowing money.