Maggie Smith and Nicole Washington of Nimas Float & Spa

On holistic wellness, target customers, and having a partner that's there for you


Maggie Smith and Nicole Washington, founders of Nimas Float & Spa, had a specific goal in mind when starting their business: to provide services that could heal the mind, body, and spirit in a more holistic way.

Maggie, a doctoral prepared advanced practice nurse with a specialization in oncology, and Nicole, who works in pharmaceutical sales and sells oncology products, both wanted to use their backgrounds in health to create a space that was a different kind wellness center for people — for those who are suffering from pain and illness and for those who just want a healthier lifestyle and the benefits of treatment.

“In dealing with oncology patients, a lot of them suffer from pain,” Maggie says. “So I usually suggest (holistic options) to some of the patients, in regards to just relaxation. So it’s not meant to replace traditional medicine, but it’s definitely meant to be a complement to it.”

One way the spa offers a different kind of wellness experience is with its float therapy. In the float room, guests float on 10 inches of water filled with about 1,100 pounds of dissolved pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salt that’s pumped out after each session and filtered through a three-part filtration and sterilization system. The experience is highly recommended for people experiencing a number of ailments like chronic back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, and insomnia.

Courtesy of Nimas Float & Spa

And located in Mokena, Illinois, the founders say, Nimas is also only one of two spas in Chicago’s south suburbs to offer Hydraworks Facial System, which removes dead skin cells with a water micro-dermabrasion treatment that’s less abrasive than the common diamond treatment.

A benefit, Nicole and Maggie say, is that their spa provides an upscale, luxury environment, but at an affordable cost. But one lesson they’ve learned: All money isn’t good money and not all customers are right for them.

“If we can’t offer or have customers see the value in our services, then we need to actually get a better understanding of how it is that we can meet their needs, and that kind of goes both ways,” Maggie says. “So the services that we offer here are (for) a very targeted population.”

The business just hit its one-year anniversary, and the founders are now focused on growing the spa’s membership program.

“A lot of people are coming in, and getting to know what float therapy is, and how float therapy can benefit them — clinically or not,” Nicole says. “It’s great for relaxation and is great for meditation, but there are a lot of therapeutic benefits to floating as well.”

And as the business continues to grow, there’s been a benefit to having each other to lean on.

“We both work outside of Nimas and we were working at the time that we started putting the business plan together and trying to find a location,” Nicole says. “I would say the biggest challenge (that we’ve faced has been) just keeping focused and keeping the vision alive because it’s so easy to just stop moving forward. So just encouraging each other, just doing what needs to be done, and getting the door open.”

This interview is part of a Black History Month series highlighting black business owners. You can find more here.

Top image: Courtesy of Nimas Float & Spa