The Tickle Bar

Photography by Jessica Turner.

When a guest walks into The Tickle Bar, they get a glass of champagne or bourbon, and a pink iced cookie. After being led to a millennial pink, gauze tent with twinkle lights, guests are tickled.

It’s a strange concept, especially since Kimberly Haley-Coleman launched The Tickle Bar amid a pandemic where distancing is encouraged. She  wanted to provide jobs for employees of her volunteer vacation nonprofit Globe Aware, which came to a standstill March 2020.  

“I was trying to find a way to provide jobs and joy in a very quick way,” she says.

The gamble worked. The appointment-only bar is fully booked. The five tickle technicians, who have backgrounds in massage therapy and hair, handle about five to 10 appointments daily each week. Technicians are dispatched to bachelorette parties and other private events at homes.

“There’s kind of a hunger for human touch,” she says.

No, there’s not anything illegal happening. 

“It kind of makes us giggle,”Haley-Coleman says. “We leaned into that a bit, because it’s helped us in terms of press. But we don’t.”

Hair play or back tickle sessions are either 25 or 50 minutes. Different types of techniques – like scratching, tracing , feathers and other objects – are used.

“Even if you’re not manipulating ligaments and muscles and bones, in my mind, it is enough that if you’re enjoying it and you’re relaxed,” she says. “That alone will have some impact because of the endorphins that are being created.”

6500 E. Mockingbird Lane, 214.452.4671

Misaotra Beauty Sanctuary 

Story by Renee Umsted.
Story by Renee Umsted.

Wendi Hardage was the lead spa educator at the Aveda Institute at The Shops at Park Lane when she came across a word: misaotra. It means “thank you” in the Malagasy language, spoken by the people of Madagascar. 

She had already been thinking about leaving the company to start her own venture, and heard a voice that told her to open a spa and call it “Misaotra.” 

“When I saw the word, and the voice said ‘That’s it,’ that was it,” she says.

Even though the name is hard to pronounce and spell, she went with it. Misaotra Beauty Sanctuary opened in Hillside Village in 2016. 

Hardage, who lives within walking distance of Winfrey Point at White Rock Lake, is a licensed aesthetician and cosmetologist. She specializes in gua sha, a traditional Chinese medicine technique that’s used for face lifts, as well as folk plant medicine and holistic nutrition. And she crafts four health-based teas.  

Her clients, most of them women, frequently request facial massages incorporating Dien Chan, a kind of facial reflexology, and gua sha sessions from Hardage, whom they call “mystical.” 

A couple of Hardage’s primary goals are to show clients that aging is a privilege and to debunk mainstream beauty ideals. 

“It’s filtered,” Hardage says of the image of beauty women are shown in the media. “It’s edited heavily. It’s not real, and so we’re constantly battling something that doesn’t even exist, and that creates a not-so-happy person.” 

Hardage, now in her 40s, says she feels better in her life than ever and wants to help clients feel the same way. She says she has a natural talent for hearing what the skin has to say and what it needs to heal.

Aside from her business, Hardage is organizing a women’s gathering circle group called Wild Light. She plans to begin the group, which will facilitate connections and support among women in our community, later this year.

“It’s not really how we look,” she says. “It’s how we feel.”

6465 E. Mockingbird Lane, 214.505.7127

Vivian’s Boutique spa

KKristin Barton, 39, is a small-town girl from Ennis, Texas. She played varsity tennis and graduated high school valedictorian before majoring in finance at Texas A&M. Barton headed to New York City to work at Goldman Sachs, but her heart was somewhere else.

“I realized long-term, I had different professional goals,” Barton says.

She had quietly been dreaming of opening her own day spa and left Wall Street to work at a Manhattan spa.

 On a trip back home to Texas, she hosted her sister’s baby shower at a local spa. Barton felt the spa experience needed more than just services.

 “I wanted to open a spa that created more of an experience for guests and gave people a place to relax and enjoy special moments with loved ones,” she says.

After relocating to Texas, Barton and her husband lived on Knox-Henderson before moving to Forest Hills. She noticed there weren’t many spas in the neighborhood. So she opened Vivian’s Boutique Spa, named after her niece, in June 2017.

“It’s been a wonderful experience to open my dream business in my own community,” she says.

The décor is custom down to the craftsman-made foot-ritual chairs. The products are toxin-free, natural and organic from McKinney-based FarmHouse Fresh and Australia-based Jurlique. Many of the ingredients are food — think real cocoa, raspberries and honey — which influences the rotating, seasonal services menu. Summer means a watermelon sugar scrub and fall is cinnamon sugar funnel cake, just in time for the State Fair.

“We begin with an inspirational starting point, then build the treatments from there,” Barton says. “Creating new services is a lot of fun, and it’s something we look forward to each season.”

The spa discontinued its nail services because of increased demand for facials and massages. Space was reutilized to expand the lounge area and add more treatment rooms.

“I’m a strong believer that incorporating moments of rest and self-care into your lifestyle are extremely important and beneficial to your overall health,” she says.

5420 Ross Ave., 214.484.4714


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