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Acupuncture, the ancient Chinese healing method that involves sticking pin-like needles in various points in one’s body, is quickly becoming a chic commercial wellness trend.
The latest entry to New York’s growing list of boutique chain acupuncture clinics — at least three have opened since late 2018 — is Ora, a NoHo-space founded by Kimberly Ross, a Harvard Business School grad and the daughter of real estate developer Stephen M. Ross.
Ora officially opens to the public today. For $50 to $120, customers can receive a 30- or 50-minute express acupuncture treatment from Ora’s staff of five acupuncturists trained in traditional Chinese medicine, led by Ross’ personal acupuncturist, director Gabriel A. Sher. Memberships will also be available.
The space, designed by the Rockwell Group in calming blue and white tones and chic modern finishes, is meant to feel like a far cry from a dingy doctor’s office discovered through Yelp.
Ross, who is type 1 diabetic, discovered acupuncture and Sher when seeking alternative treatment for her symptoms. When she moved to Boston to attend business school, she stopped going to acupuncture and her symptoms came back. She had trouble locating a suitable acupuncturist in Boston, and out of that struggle came the idea for Ora.
“I ultimately found someone, but it got me thinking that so many people could benefit from acupuncture if they knew where to go and who to trust,” Ross said.
Enter Ora. Ross’ vision for the business was to create an easily accessible place where consumers could discover acupuncture, without having to scour the Internet to find the right practitioner. While Ross is hoping to attract a broader range of customers than just the young ones, wellness-minded Millennials, by now accustomed to all the upscale trappings of Equinox and boutique fitness studios, are sure to find the space comfortable.
“The big thing around the space was focusing on acupuncture as an experience,” Ross said. “You can come in and have a tea or tonic post treatment, or if you want to just experience Ora.”
Ora has a digital booking system, so need for Millennial customers to pick up the phone. "The is definitely the customer," Ross said.
Acupuncture treatments at Ora focus on one to six key areas — pain, sexual health, digestion, immunity, mental and emotional health and “optimize,” for overall wellness (and hangovers). Cupping and gua sha services can be added on, and there is also a tea and tonic bar, and retail space. Ross carries around seven brands at Ora, including herbal products by Dr. Janine Mahon, a New Mexico-based acupuncturist who makes women’s health products such as Rejuvenating Breast Oil.
Ross plans to open a second Ora location in the fall, on the Upper East Side.
But Ora is just the latest chic, commercialized acupuncture clinic to open in New York. WTHN, which bowed in 2018, operates a storefront in the Flatiron. Modern Acupuncture, a franchise chain, opened a spot last year on West Houston Street. Cameron Diaz is an investor.
Ora is self-funded, said Ross, who did not specify the level to which the elder Ross is or is not involved in the project.  "I definitely learned from his entrepreneurial spirit," she said.
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