After opening six massage locations in Tucson, businesswoman Shelene Taylor said it was time to branch out.

She’s staying close to what she knows and using her 28 years of experience in the massage industry to launch Spa Solai in two locations on North Campbell Avenue, formerly occupied by Spa One and then Spa Niva.

“There’s a place in Tucson for a spa like this,” the 60-year-old Taylor said. “With the resort spas costing almost twice the price, we’re an everyday spa that everyone can use.”

Six weeks after she got her first job as a masseuse, Taylor learned the business where she worked was closing. She bought it, opened another location and 10 years ago started building the Rubs Massage brand.

With Rubs locations scattered across town and Taylor still looking to expand, she decided to enter the spa business as “another way to help people achieve a state of internal joy.”

Offering massages, facials, nail services and waxing at both locations and with extended hours seven days a week, customers can stop in before or after work or come in for a full spa day.

The location near East Skyline Drive functions as a medical spa, with technicians trained in injectables and peels. Taylor said she expects to add those services to the second location.

Spa Solai also offers memberships in a contract-free loyalty program that saves customers $10 on massages and facials and discounts on other products and services. Taylor said that this loyalty program is the same one offered at Rubs and that current members are welcome to use their memberships at both businesses.

In order to launch Spa Solai, Taylor moved Rubs managers over to the spas to assist her in the hiring process, bringing on 30 new employees and still looking for more.

With therapists who specialize in relaxation, deep tissue, pain, stress relief and other techniques, Taylor said that Rubs and Spa Solai allow customers to customize their treatments.

“We try to get as many details as possible on the phone about what the customer wants to match people with the right technician,” she said. “We don’t want to leave any unfulfilled expectations and the therapist won’t feel like it’s a job well-accomplished.”

Both locations are over 3,500 square feet with large spaces to accommodate events, such as bridal showers and man-cave parties, Taylor said.

Now that school’s started, she’s hoping to start hosting sorority parties at the location near East Sixth Street that’s within walking distance of the University of Arizona.

“When someone gets a massage, facial — any of these things — they feel relaxed and confident,” she said, adding that the mission of her brand is to bring well-being to as many people as possible.

“I want every visit to be extraordinary. If it’s just nice, we didn’t do our jobs.”

Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at or 573-4191. On Twitter: @caitlincschmidt

I'm a watchdog reporter covering local government, the University of Arizona and sports investigations.