Cristina Wilson knows the need for self-care well. The Mood House founder is the former partner and president of Charlotte Agenda. She knows as well as anyone that living a fast-paced lifestyle can convince you there’s no time to relax.
She created a concept that combines physical, mental, and emotional wellness in an elevated, upscale, and totally personalized setting. It’s a place for community and connection, too, which is also an essential aspect of being well.
Mood House is located in Dilworth and was designed by Perry Poole Architects, who intentionally created a beautiful, peaceful space.
The initial spark of the whole concept started a while back, with the massage portion taking center stage in Cristina’s imagination. Instead of putting massages in the “special occasion” category, Cristina, still at Agenda at the time, found herself wanting a way to get them regularly as part of a self-care routine.
“I started dreaming about a beautiful space that would make massages more convenient but still offer a very elevated experience. The idea just didn’t let go,” she says. “Mood House was simply the result of me solving a problem for myself.”
Cristina left her role with Charlotte Agenda in July of 2019 to work on her dream full time; she executed a lease in January 2020, navigated COVID, and officially opened the doors last winter.
There are many different facets of “wellness.” Tell us about the space in wellness that massage and meditation occupy for you personally. What do you hope Mood House will bring to others?
My personal meditation practice ebbs and flows. I’ll go through a few weeks or months with a brief daily session. Then I’ll go through a hiatus, and that’s okay. Because everything we create is for high-performers, I know there’s a good chance that our clients are dealing with perfectionism too. There is no perfect wellness here. It’s about doing what you can, when you can, and always getting up and trying again.
What are the massages at Mood House like?
Each massage comes with a “mood”: Your choice impacts the music, the aromatherapy, the massage techniques and the affirmations integrated into the service. Our massage therapists are able to tailor every massage to be exactly what you need that day, and it’s deeply relaxing to feel so cared for. The four moods are Calm (therapeutic stress-relief), Clear (fostering creativity & focus), Abundant (grounded in joy & gratitude) and Awake (energizing & empowering).
And why should we get massages regularly, versus once a year for a birthday or sore neck?
It’s with regular visits that you get the most physical benefit – like pain relief (hello, iPhone neck and work-from-home shoulders), reducing muscle tension, increasing range of motion and circulation, and even boosting the immune system. But the way that the physical techniques literally decrease the stress response in your muscles so that your mind can relax – that’s what excites me most about a regular massage ritual. Studies have shown heightened mental alertness and performance after sessions as short as 15 minutes.
Who is Mood House right for?
The membership is designed for the person who has had “schedule a massage” on their to-do list but lets it sink to the bottom month after month. It is designed for the person who has a lot they want to achieve in this world but needs an external nudge and accountability to set time aside to recharge. We have several options – like the 30-minute seated massage and 30-minute infrared sauna – that are also intentionally brief for those days when you need a quick escape from the chaos.
Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all approach to massage and meditation, Mood House offers three meditation classes and a unique structure. What inspired this?
I really thought about, what would I want in a meditation program? I am a goal-oriented person and I feel like my time is precious – I wanted to be sure that when you sign up for a class, you have a good sense of what you’re going to take away from it and that you’re going to learn the tools to help you on your specific journey.
There are so many types of meditation out there that it can be overwhelming. I wanted to separate it a different way so that you can focus on your unique goals and so that it would feel more approachable. I was also excited to see what the instructors would create within these parameters – they’re not limited to a specific type of meditation or mindfulness, but instead get to draw on their own experiences and research to create classes you won’t find anywhere else.
For newbies to meditation (or even people nervous or skeptical!), tell us about why meditation became an essential part of this business. What should newbies/skeptics know?
The meditation piece came in when I realized that even the benefits of monthly massage weren’t enough to help you in those day-to-day moments when sh*t hits the fan. I felt like we had to provide our clients with the tools to manage the stress on their own, on a moment’s notice, in order to truly be a part of their overall well being. Meditation is such a powerful tool on those hard days. Newbies should know that there is no “doing it right.” Clearing your mind of thoughts is not the goal. If you are too antsy to sit still in silence or even with music, try a class – our instructors guide you through the entire practice and break each class into two sections. It is totally do-able.
So far, what have been some of the major rewards of business ownership? What have been a few of the top challenges?
The biggest rewards and challenges are two sides of the same coin in my experience: The absolute roller coaster ride. [We can have] a major setback in construction one day and an incredible pre-sale success the next, for example. I use “rollercoaster” specifically not just because it’s up and down, but because you are locked in.
I’ve had a lot of people applaud my choice to move forward with the business despite the pandemic. While I appreciate it, in real time it never really felt like a choice to me. The “choice” was to light every dollar I’d ever earned on fire or bet on myself and try to create something great even in a time of chaos. In every scenario, I knew I’d rather give it my all and push through than give up. Specifically, the most rewarding element so far has been job creation. We already have a team of 12 and I’m insanely proud of that.