This interview features Dr. Alina Acebo Kulczycki, the founder and owner therapist of Boutique Bodyworks, a Texas-based Health and Wellness business.
Alina has over 19 years of experience in the Health and Wellness industry. Her wealth of experience is backed by years of academic study, accumulating three health-related university degrees. Alina has so much to offer her patients through her personalized one-on-one therapy sessions.
In our discussion detailed below, she shares her experience and the practices that she used to build her health and wellness business from an extension of their family apartment into a profitable business.
You spent a good amount of time in university – what were some of the most impactful and important courses you took?
Throughout my studies and pursuit of three degrees in health sciences, I acquired both the knowledge and skills to perform assessments and treatments for all kinds of conditions. But, there were three courses that were really impactful.
First, my anatomy courses were instrumental to better my understanding of the human body. Especially as a physical therapist, knowing your way around the body is fundamental to success.
Second, my laboratory courses in physical therapy exposed me to tons of practical knowledge and skills that have proven useful over the years. The clinical rotations that we underwent as part of the hands-on skill acquisition process taught me far more than I learned from the classroom.
Finally, during my third degree in Nutrition, I took a course on dissecting research to determine its validity. With so many manipulated reports due to funding and politics, I’m incredibly grateful that I have that skill.
What was the moment when you decided to pull the trigger and open your own health and wellness boutique?
I ran an outpatient clinic for a hospital, and working there came with its challenges. The hospital management began to take away our essential support staff, with nobody available to pre-verify insurance or even answer the phone. I realized that the clinic cared little about its patients that it was comfortably rendering mediocre service.
A few months later, I had a discussion with my husband about starting my own clinic. From my experience at the outpatient clinic, I knew that dealing with insurance would be a big headache, so I was going to operate on cash chiefly and Medicare because it’s easier to charge. To ensure that I gave my patients the high-quality care that they deserved, I resolved to only accept very few patients and offer them top-quality one-on-one therapy sections.
To keep overhead costs down, we built an extension to our home with a private entrance and powder room, and soon enough, I started my practice! It was the best decision I ever made, and I never looked back.
To ensure that I gave my patients the high-quality care that they deserved, I resolved to only accept very few patients and offer them top-quality one-on-one therapy sections.
Adapt & Innovate
What operational changes have you made to your business over the years to increase profits or improve efficiencies?
Before 2020, I didn’t make any major operational changes to increase profit. However, as the pandemic forced most businesses to change their operational tactics, my business had to adapt as well.
In Texas, physical therapy was considered an essential business, yet many patients were being health-cautious and wouldn’t leave their houses. So, I provided services through Zoom, which worked out well in the long run because now I can even see patients while they’re away on vacation.
I’ve also converted to paperless systems. I bill my clients through electronic portals, and I store all of my paperwork and documents online. I also do my own taxes via TurboTax, and that has saved me quite a hassle.
Aside from a global pandemic, what unanticipated challenges have you encountered during your time running and operating your boutique?
Collecting cash has never been a problem and doesn’t seem like it ever will, but I certainly learned some lessons from dealing with insurance companies. There were a few times that a client’s insurance was a blend between Medicare and private, and I needed to fight to get paid.
After those experiences, I learned to clear up any insurance issues before I start servicing someone.
What are some creative strategies that you’ve employed to increase brand awareness?
I would like to consider myself a pretty creative person, and since my husband is an experienced graphic designer, we were able to work together to build my brand. For example, I came up with the idea for the logo, and he designed it. Also, through Squarespace, I was able to design the website and he enhanced the design with more backend work.
I am also active on my business Facebook page and Instagram account, posting daily to get my name out there.
While my business has chiefly grown through word of mouth, I also try to get involved with community and non-profit work. I attend networking events when I have some free time in my schedule and recently, I orchestrated a fundraiser for a cancer research organization.
What responsibilities do you spend most of your time on? Would you like to automate any of those tasks?
My services include teaching pilates, personal training, physical therapy, and occasional nutrition counseling. That work is face-to-face and requires special time dedicated to each individual – can’t automate that!
Nevertheless, there are certain ideas down the pipeline that includes digital courses that could be purchased by patients and others looking to build a healthy lifestyle. I understand that projects like this demanding time and work and, being honest, I’m not sure I’m ready to add that to my plate yet.
As a small business owner, what advice do you have for someone who is interested in starting their own health and wellness business?
Experience trumps intelligence in the wellness and health industry. Before you jump into starting your own business, gain hands-on experience at an already established wellness center or clinic. Learn about what you want to emulate from that business and more importantly, what you don’t.
Experience trumps intelligence in the wellness and health industry.
What is your favorite business/leadership-related book and health/wellness-related book?
During my first year at university, I took one course in business. That course’s textbook gave me a lot of insight into how to effectively run a business, and looking back, I’m really happy it was a required course for a nutrition degree!
What are your hobbies?
Dance and travel in that order.
Do you have a personal motto that you live by?
“Balanced movement heals; balanced living is the key to health and happiness.”