Gretchen and Megan are making spa life accessible in the South Bay
We see major couple goals.
For Sand Spa owners Gretchen Tiernan and Megan Richardson, the decision to open the doors of their first Manhattan Beach location stemmed from a desire to increase the accessibility of spa treatments from the once-a-year indulgence to regular self-care appointments. It helped that the two have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and were in the right place at the right time.
Driving down the street in El Porto, Gretchen saw a “For Lease” sign in the window on Highland Avenue. After an impromptu viewing of the space and realizing that the landlord was willing to take a chance on the then 23- and 24-year-old duo, the gals were given until 10 p.m. that evening to take the space.
“A lot of people ask us where we see ourselves five years from now. There’s a lot more we want to do, but we don’t want to limit ourselves.”
“We thought, ‘Let’s just go for it,’” Gretchen notes. “There’s never going to be a perfect time,” Megan adds. “And we both love the North Manhattan Beach crowd. It was just such a good spot for us to be.”
Sand Spa was born, and immediately the women started working hard to solidify the brand’s reputation in the South Bay. “We worked the front desk every day from 10 in the morning till 10 at night,” Gretchen shares. With no budget for a front-desk staff, the girls became the face of the spa—developing relationships with their clientele and learning the ins and outs of their business from the front to the back of the house.
Not even a year later, the pair was planning to introduce a new location in Hermosa Beach. “We thought, ‘There are two of us; let’s divide and conquer and build them both from the ground up at the same time,’” explains Gretchen. “It was probably one of the best things we could have done.”
Originally from the South Bay, Megan left home for college, but she always knew where she wanted her business to originate. “It’s hard to leave; growing up in Manhattan Beach spoils you. We knew we wanted to start something of our own, and what better place than right here in South Bay?”
For Gretchen, who was raised in Northern California just outside Sacramento, life in the Beach Cities seemed almost too good to be true. “When I first got here, it just felt like the clouds opened. I thought, ‘This is where you’re supposed to be.’ It was one of those, ‘aha’ moments,” she explains. “Manhattan Beach changed my life. Being around this many people that had a smile on their face—it really made me feel like I could be somebody.”
With the strength of a relationship that began nearly a decade ago (Gretchen and Megan met through mutual friends while playing college basketball against each other), as well as a shared admiration for the South Bay community and the continued success of both their Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach locations, it only makes sense that the partners would want to add another store. With a scheduled grand opening set to happen prior to the 2017 holiday season, Megan and Gretchen are preparing to introduce Polish—a third Sand Spa located in Manhattan Beach that will solely offer nail services.
As for next steps, the two are keeping their options open. “A lot of people ask us where we see ourselves five years from now,” Gretchen says. “There’s a lot more we want to do, but we don’t want to limit ourselves.”
With more than 60 Sand Spa team members, the duo has projects on the horizon like a new app and a partnership with multiple Los Angeles-based hotels offering in-room services. They certainly haven’t limited themselves so far … and they’ve done it all while giving back to the community they love—donating to a number of local schools and businesses.
“Our end goal is to keep evolving,” Megan says. “We’ve learned that you have to be able to adjust and change.” With open minds, a tenacious work ethic and a go-big-or-go-home mentality that has served them well, there’s no telling how far Gretchen and Megan—and their growing brand—will go.
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