Lori Ellis of Land O' Lakes is all smiles as she settles into a chair in her wellness center's "detox room" -- not drug or alcohol detox, Ellis is quick to point out.
She says she is 51, but it's hard to believe. She obviously has a secret.
A single mother of two grown boys, Ellis has worked hard to get where she is today, but it's the people she's met along the way who have made it possible, she says.
"It's been an amazing journey so far," Ellis says.
Ellis opened Healing Touch Skin Care and Wellness Center, 3016 Land O' Lakes Blvd., in 1999 on "a wing and a prayer," she says.
The right people have come along just when she needed them to help her grow her business and offer more services to clients, some of whom have been with her for 12 years, Ellis says.
Ellis became a registered nurse thirty years ago. Before opening the center, she managed a surgery center in New Port Richey for about six years. When a friend came to her and mentioned new advances in skin care that other RNs were beginning to explore to help patients recover from a variety of conditions, Ellis says she was clueless, but intrigued.
"I was a sun worshipper, I knew nothing about it."
But if they were helping people, she wanted to know more. She kept her full-time job and began attending classes to become a medical aesthetician.
And then she took the plunge, leaving her job at the surgery center to open Healing Touch Skin Care and Wellness Center.
"I didn't really know what I was doing, I just knew I was doing something new," Ellis says.
She says one of the greatest compliments she received early on was when a surgeon she had worked with at the surgery center brought his son to her for help with his acne.
Ellis has lived in the Lutz/ Land O' Lakes area since 1985, and it was important to her to open her business here, and do it right, she says.
"I wanted to bring professionalism to Pasco County," Ellis says. She joined the chamber of commerce, and served on the board for four years.
"I came out of my shell" during those first few years, Ellis says, "and really got involved in the community."
Ellis moved the center to its current location in 2002, and as the business has grown, new associates have come on board, many of whom she met through her involvement in the community, she says.
"We're not the fanciest place, but we're down to earth and real," Ellis says.
The independent practitioners she works with offer a variety of services at the wellness center, including acupuncture, massage therapy, waxing, body wraps -- essentially, anything you can think of, except hair and nails, Ellis says.
They also do not offer artificial fillers such as Juvederm, nor do they offer Botox injections. We have gotten great results using more natural methods, so I don't feel it's necessary, Ellis says.
But the center did recently add another alternative to its long menu of services: laser skin therapy.
"I'm stepping out of the box with this, because we're more alternative and more natural in a lot of ways," Ellis says. "But my goal is to continually find ways to help people."
Dr. Erin Chamberlin, an anesthesiologist, will perform laser therapy at the center to treat a variety of conditions, from wrinkles to acne scarring, varicose veins and Rosacea. The lasers also are used to tighten skin and reduce cellulite, Ellis says.
Among a variety of other services Ellis offers her clients, she performs lymphatic drainage to remove toxins from the body, a process that is beneficial to people with sinus problems, headaches and anyone who is having or has recently had surgery -- the treatment accelerates the healing process, Ellis says.
Sometimes people ask Ellis if she misses being a nurse. But she doesn't feel she has left it behind.
"I don't miss nursing, this is my nursing now. I can see people getting better and I can help them in a nice way," Ellis says with a smile.
And as for her secret for looking and feeling great, beyond what the wellness center offers, it's quite simple: "Drink lots of water, it helps with everything."