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Tammy Lynn Wilkinson

Owner of Aqua Spa Float Center & Wellness Boutique in Oswego started the business after she and her fiancé used a float center. ‘We were simply in awe,” she says, adding that the business is about to announce a major expansion and the introduction of IV infusion

By Stefan Yablonski

Tammy Lynn Wilkinson

Q: How did you come to be interested in this type of business?

A: Our interest blossomed from a Christmas present. I gifted my fiancé, Terry, a certificate for a couple’s float experience at a local float center in 2017. Twenty minutes into our first float — we were simply in awe!

Q: So, it was a great experience?

A: I had struggled with lupus for years and the relief I experienced from floating was nothing short of a miracle. Post float, I felt less pain, had less inflammation and also noticed a dramatic decrease in stress and anxiety. Terry’s experience was very similar. An athlete since high school and committed fitness aficionado, he noticed immediate relief from chronic back muscle soreness and tightness. He was also astonished at the long-lasting calming effects that the magnesium Epsom salts provided for days after the float.

Q: How large of an investment did you make?

A: Terry and I opened this business together; we are equal partners. We’re not comfortable talking about our investment in specific dollar amounts. We’re happy to reiterate our $2 million investment.

Q: How long have you been in the spa business?

A: Aqua Spa Float Center & Wellness Boutique opened in 2020. Our team was hired right before the pandemic shut down and we used that time to research licenses and industry trade groups. Terry and I endeavored to travel to other wellness centers around the country for some R&D.

Q: What else did you do?

A: Terry and I also attended our first float conference in 2019 in Denver, Colorado. There, we were able to meet with various industry experts and leaders. Fun fact: We aspire to host the 2024 Float Conference right here in Oswego. In addition, we are members of the Float Research Collective, Float Tank Association and Salt Therapy Association.

Q: Did you need any special training … special licenses?

A: All of our team members have completed the Float Tank Solutions training course and are certified cryotherapy technicians. We also continue to research and stay current on all industry standards.

Q: Did you have a profession prior to this?

A: A few! (laughs) In my former life, I enjoyed working in the TV and radio industries [sales and marketing coordinator at WXXA-TV 23 and WRGB- TV 6, both in Albany] arts and entertainment industry [director: “Life on Campus” SUNY Oswego – owner, producer, actor of Theatre Du Jour] and dabbled in the fine jewelry industry [lost wax casting artisan at LeRoi Inc. in Oswego]. But this is by far the most fulfilling work I have ever enjoyed!

Q: How hard was it to get started?

A: It was one of the easiest decisions to make, once we experienced the profound benefits of floating for ourselves. There were so many resources to help us become educated. Our float industry is a very kind and generous community of like-minded humans and we were beyond determined to bring floating and more all-natural modalities to the Oswego community.

Q: What services do you offer?

A: Aqua Spa Float Center and Wellness Boutique offers float therapy via our four Deluxe Quest float suites and Revolution Float Orb; three Sunlighten Infrared Saunas, whole-body cryotherapy via Impact CryoSauna; halotherapy (salt therapy) via FX Pro Salt Chamber Halogenerator, massage therapy via our OHCO M8 massage chairs, four oxygen bars, NovoTHOR PBM – Red Light Therapy and an all-natural holistic aesthetics suite offering CryoSkin, localized cryotherapy and microneedling.

Q: Do you plan on doing more improvements etc?

A: Wonderful things are in store as we endeavor to grow the Aqua Spa brand. IV infusion therapy is coming. We now have a medical director. Aqua Spa will launch IV drip therapy this summer. We have recently secured a piece of property to evolve the AQS experience.

Q: Who helped you get going?

A: Terry and I approached everything as equal partners and we curated a dedicated, professional and knowledgeable team to help support our vision. Before our soft open in November 2020, we enlisted the help of our community — offering complimentary services to help streamline our processes. This was sincerely beneficial to both sides.

Q: What is your business philosophy?

A: Every decision is always made with the customer experience in mind. We take a hands-on approach when it comes to training our wellness ambassadors. Everyone is cross-trained in order to be the best possible resource for each and every guest. We’ve created a collaborative team and a learning environment where everyone is encouraged to bring new ideas and innovative solutions to the table. We share ideas, research and solutions daily. This encouraging environment allows each ambassador to continually learn and grow in a health-centric capacity.

Q: What’s the best advice you received?

A: Be authentic in everything you do. Be generous — you will never regret that.

Q: What advice would you give someone looking to start a business?

A: Give your whole self to your passion. Expect to work hard. Bask in your victories. Learn from your mistakes. Be open. Be kind. Listen to your clients. Empower your team. Appreciate the journey. Be a good steward of capital and resources.

Q: Who are your customers?

A: Anyone and everyone can benefit from our healing modalities. All are welcome at the Aqua Spa. It is a sanctuary for all.

Q: What is your favorite service?

A: Hands down — for me — float is king! I personally attribute this magical experience to transforming my own mental, emotional and physical health over these last five years. I always tell customers, I keep waiting for the “magic to fade” — and it just never does. Floating has changed my life. Don’t get me wrong; all of our modalities enhance my life more than I can express, but floating will always have my whole heart!

Q: How has business been this year?  Is summer your biggest season?

A: Our community continues to embrace and support us as we navigate this new business model. This year, we have seen our clientele expand. We see new faces every day and our monthly memberships have become a staple for many of our guests.

While summer tends to be a slower time for the float industry in general, we are blessed to have a steady stream of loyal patrons who make their wellness a priority. We are excited for a robust fall and winter season as that tends to be our sweet spot.