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Fast Start: Estonian native lends touch of chocolate

Ingrid Echter admits she decided to call her massage therapy practice Chocolat Sensations Co. partly because she knew the name would be an attention-grabber.
A licensed massage therapist, Echter, 28, does prominently feature chocolate massages-treatments which involve having warm melted chocolate mixed with almond oil rubbed into one’s skin and being swathed in a wrap.
But she also offers a full menu of more familiar fare, including Swedish, chair and deep-tissue massages. And, Echter gives sports massages, designed to soothe athletes’ aching muscles after exertion or to condition muscles before starting a run, game or workout.
The owner of Chocolat Sensations describes her centerpiece chocolate-massage offering as “leaving your skin feeling soft, silky, wonderful and smooth.”
But it is not just a sensual experience, she adds. Chocolate massages also have “tons of (health) benefits.”
The Italian chocolate she uses is a special massage-grade variety, Echter says, which has excellent antioxidant benefits and is a good moisturizer. When dribbled on bare skin, “It’s not sticky; it’s silky,” she says. But after being mixed with oil, it is not edible. Sessions end with a shower.
Virtually unknown in Rochester, chocolate massages have been fairly widely offered in Europe for several years, Echter says.
“I thought I would introduce the chocolate massage to Rochester,” she says. “I decided to call my business by the French name- chocolat-to give it a European flavor.”
Echter was born and raised in Estonia, a Baltic country just south of Finland. She has lived in the United States since she was 18 and has been a practicing massage therapist since graduating from a two-year course at the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences in Manhattan in 2004.
Initially, Echter practiced in New York City, where she worked with a chiropractor and saw clients privately. After getting married, she and her new husband took off for a year-long around-the-world backpacking honeymoon. They settled in Rochester because Echter’s husband, a Rochester native, is currently enrolled in the University of Rochester’s Simon Graduate School of Business.
Since starting Chocolat Sensations in December, Echter says, she has built a small clientele, which she is hoping to grow.
Chocolate massages-at $110 for a full 70-minute massage or $130 for a house call-are the most expensive treatments. A scaled-down 30-minute Chocolat Experience Appetizer costs $45 at Echter’s residence and $55 for a house call.
A 60-minute Swedish massage costs $70 or $80 if Echter comes to you. Prices for other massage services, which include a design-your-own massage option, range between $40 and $110 depending on the length of treatment and type of massage.
In addition to starting Chocolat Sensations, Echter also is currently taking courses at Monroe Community College in a program she refers to as “my entrepreneurial studies.”
“This is my first real attempt at starting a business,” Echter says. “I am trying to learn ideas of how to market and how to target clients.”
[email protected] / 585-546-8303

04/11/08 (C) Rochester Business Journal

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