Tina Kirch and Karen Gargiulo strive to help people overcome stress every day at Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa. (PHOTO CREDIT: HAND AND STONE MASSAGE AND FACIAL SPA)
Tina Kirch and Karen Gargiulo strive to help people overcome stress every day at Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa. (PHOTO CREDIT: HAND AND STONE MASSAGE AND FACIAL SPA)

Moving to college is a big step for students and their families. Students uproot their entire lives, leaving the comfort of their parents’ home to squeeze into a basic college dorm room. While parting from familiar surroundings and preparing for college are exciting changes for some, with changes comes stress.

The American Psychological Association claims that meditating, socializing, laughing and exercising are four out of five techniques which help to reduce stress. But for those who do not have the patience to lie down or sit cross legged and focus on their breathing or the desire to talk to a friend or to get up and sweat their stress away, taking a break and treating oneself is another method to combat a difficult situation.

For Tina Kirch and her sister-in-law Karin Gargiulo, helping people overcome their stress is part of their daily routine at the Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa in Stony Brook.

The spa is located about six minutes away from Stony Brook campus via car.
The Stony Brook branch of the Hand & Stone franchise, co-owned by Kirch, her husband and brother, opened toward the end of December 2013.

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However, according to Gargiulo, the manager of the spa, they scheduled their grand opening on June 21 of this year due to the weather conditions last winter.
During the grand opening, potential clients received mini spa services, which were a mere sample of the options that Kirch and Gargiulo provide at Hand & Stone.

Clients can choose from more than five types of massages including deep tissue, trigger point, sports, pre-natal and hot stone massages to name a few, as well as various facial services.

But the duo do not simply think clients should treat themselves with a massage or facial once in a blue moon, but rather on a regular basis.

Gargiulo recommends that her clients receive a massage every two to four weeks to help reduce their stress.

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“With society and the way things are, people are really stressed out and they are turning to all sorts of conventional methods, and it’s really not working,” Gargiulo said regarding prescription medications.

“When you make massage a regular part of your routine, you find that you are less stressed and you’re making better decisions for yourself and you feel good.”

Gargiulo, who practices massage therapy, believes that incorporating massage into one’s routine will not only make them happier but also help them lead a healthier lifestyle, since they have something positive to look forward to.
As former college students Kirch and Gargiulo know how stressful college can be and they think that student and not only those in the workforce, should make the time to treat themselves.

“Stony Brook is a pretty intense university and for $59.95 a month, they could get a massage or a facial,” Gargiulo said about Stony Brook students. “This way they are taking care of themselves while they are going through quite a program.”

First-time Hand & Stone clients who get their first massage or facial at Hand & Stone can receive an introductory pricing offer of $59.95. Those receiving their first hot-stone massage can receive an introductory pricing offer of $79.95. These offers are not included in follow-up appointments. Those who want to get massages or facials on a more regular basis can join the spa’s Lifestyle Program and receive either massages or facials for $59.95 each month.

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Unlike massages, according to Kirch, a client’s frequency to the spa for facial treatments varies.

“When I’m dealing with scarring from acne, it’s nothing you can deal with every month,” Kirch said. “You really have to be in here more consistently. For me, I have clients in here every three weeks.”

As an acne sufferer herself, Kirch “threw herself” into educating herself about acne and natural ways of treating it after stepping into the industry and doing basic spa facials several years ago. Her passion for the industry sparked when she was in high school. After acquiring her cosmetology license at the age of 18, Kirch owned her own business while attending college.

In addition to the business she owned when she was 18-years-old, Kirch has owned a couple businesses before becoming the owner of Hand & Stone in Stony Brook. Now as the owner of Hand & Stone, she has the opportunity to continue helping people.

“I love it. I love making people look good and feel good about themselves,” Kirch said.

It took Gargiulo three years to get her license. She began practicing massage therapy and started working for Kirch 14 years ago. Gargiulo recently left her corporate job to become the full-time manager of Hand & Stone in Stony Brook.

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“I look back and think ‘these are the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she said.

For Kirch and Gargiulo alike, the spa is not simply a business but a means to help people by providing anyone with massage and facial services, which according to Gargiulo were once thought of as an expensive luxury.

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