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Sage + Sound: A NYC Wellness Oasis

Published February 22, 2024
Published February 22, 2024
Sage + Sound

Lauren Zucker and Lacey Tisch, founders of NYC-based wellness space Sage + Sound, are passionate about spreading the transformative capabilities of a regular wellness routine because they have seen its effects firsthand. Tisch dealt with a rare congenital syndrome and, as a result of it, medical PTSD, followed by a battle with alcoholism. After getting sober, her wellness journey began. Zucker, a dancer and fitness enthusiast, knew the benefits of movement, but going through a painful divorce and witnessing those in her life suffering from addiction started a new desire to engage with a different path of healing.

“Four or five years ago, we were both going through our own personal journeys. I was trying to heal myself, involved in Al-Anon and the Kabbalah. I couldn't understand why there wasn’t a place in New York City that centered around self-care, so you were able to have that same kind of community feeling, but that was tied into wellness and bringing people together to feel connected,” Tisch recounts to BeautyMatter.

Both founders brought an eye for brand building and visual marketing to the table: Tisch was the former Director of Brand Marketing for Loews Hotels and Zucker a previous VP of Brand Partnerships at EMI Music and stand-alone brand strategist. Opening in 2022, Sage + Sound spoke to an eager audience that desired reconnecting in person to combat our current loneliness epidemic (24% of surveyed participants worldwide admit to feeling lonely) and also act as a counterbalance to our increasingly online states of living. "People are sick of being online,” Zucker explains. “There's a real space for content and support online, but this ability to come together and connect in person is something that we see a lot of energy and excitement towards.”

Confronted with our own minds and bodies in a way like never before through the pandemic, wellness boomed into a global $5.6 trillion industry. But for those too busy or cash-strapped to book pricey retreats, wellness remained an “I would if I could” aspiration. Here is where Sage + Sound offers the convenience of multiple treatments under one roof, as well as a manageable price tag, with classes beginning at $29, with no membership requirements.

From healing mental health wounds to those of the physical variety, the founders wanted to offer a space that allows for the imperfect moments of the self-nurturing and self-healing journey. “What’s beautiful is that we're very real on who we are as a brand. Sometimes when you look at social media and what's out there in this industry, it's a lot of fluff,” Zucker says. “We’re about making people feel comfortable with letting all that shit go—whether you’re in a good place, bad place, whatever it may be—recognizing that they have a trusted place, a comfortable brand, a community.”

Wellness for the People, By the People

The growth of the wellness market shows no signs of slowing down, but accessibility has always been a talking point. Currently we find ourselves at an interesting moment of contrasts: on one hand, tech-heavy innovation enabling biohacking, and on the other, ancient practices like plant medicine and cacao ceremony gaining traction. Zucker notes that Sage + Sound is integrating both of those worlds. “We always balance—it’s being able to offer a variety so people can explore what works for them. We believe that it's important to be forward thinking but also staying true to where it started,” she adds.

Individualizing and personalizing the wellness approach to each body is another strong selling point of Sage + Sound. Program Director George MacPherson helps determine the curriculum in the study space: its 40 classes on offer range from meditation to sound healing and coaching. “We really embrace the self-discovery, that's why we love this curated approach,” Tisch notes. “We like to meet people where they are on their wellness journey. We truly believe that everyone should be able to access wellness,” Zucker adds.

Aside from their own experience, customer feedback has been a huge point in shaping and adjusting Sage + Sound’s curriculum. Wellness guides greet visitors at the door, while the founders are also onhand to get input from visitors. Acupuncture remains one of the most well-loved practices, as is manifestation and breathwork classes, as well as cacao ceremonies. The space is open seven days a week, offering four to five classes a day.

Inviting the ideal practitioners into that space was an important step in that journey. The current Sage + Sound lineup includes individuals like energy healing expert Valerie Oula, sound therapist Basia Blonska, and BSR (Breathe, Stretch, Release) practitioner Rich Mancuso. “What we realized on this journey is you want to go somewhere and trust that a brand has real experts in this space. We’ve done a ton of research on the teachers that we hire, the practitioners that we bring in for services, having focus groups of people coming in and gathering feedback and perfecting it. It's something that we continue to do,” Zucker states.

“We believe in revenue, but we also believe in giving people a healing experience. How does that look and how can we optimize that and revenue at the same time?”
By Lauren Zucker, co-founder, Sage + Sound

Building a One-Stop Destination

When it came to the location of Sage + Sound, access remained a key point, with the duo selecting a ground floor, 5,000-square-foot on the Upper East Side (1481 Third Avenue to be exact), in close proximity to the subway. Design firm Ronen Lev took a muted approach to designing the interior space: nude tones, light wooden panels, soft shapes. Yin and yang theory was applied to the reception and retail space, which is separated into a welcome zone and self-reflection area through a central curved wall. The space won Retail Design Institute Best of the Best, Class of 2022 at Retail Design Institute's 52nd International Design Competition.

“It was really important to feel like a peaceful oasis where you could leave your baggage outside, but in an approachable way. We wanted to design the meditation room to feel like your living room and I think we did a really good job achieving that,” Zucker notes. The duo self-funded the enterprise. As Tisch notes: “We had a vision, and when VCs get involved in that vision, it shifts towards revenue, revenue, revenue. We believe in revenue, but we also believe in giving people a healing experience. How does that look and how can we optimize that and revenue at the same time?”

Sage + Sound has seen visitors from all boroughs, a testament to the desire for what the space has to offer: classes, professional treatments, a retail space (stocking brands including Roz, Homecourt, and Crown Affair), and a café space (led by Isle of Us), all under one roof. Treatments include facials with Augustinus Bader, Osmosis, and Biologique Recherche; manicures by nontoxic brand Sundays Nail Studio; and IMD Beauty Spa lymphatic drainage.

When it comes to its online presence, The Tea section on the Sage + Sound website includes interviews with figures such as Oui the People founder Karen Young, the morning and evening routines of Oura Ring entrepreneur Tom Hale, and a practical guide to dealing with Daylight Savings Time, continuing the education and conversation for those unable to visit in person.

The Community Continues to Come Together

The premise started by Zucker and Tisch is gaining an audience. In the short time their venue has been open, they have seen 40% repeat service customers and hosted over 100 events, with the founders hoping to invest further into more locations and designing multi-use spaces for a variety of services. Part of their expansion is also opening up wellness services to younger generations. For Mental Health Day, the space hosted a movement class for young children.

With the connection between elevated stress levels and physical illness, wellness has become more important than ever. “It took me until I was much later in life to understand this mind-body connection. Lacey and I both have kids and realize how important it is to start at a young age, so we are thinking about what that looks like: a coaching and community class geared towards teens. We also did this class on digital wellness, we had fifteen 11- and 12-year-old kids in the study and they loved it,” Zucker recounts. The duo has also received requests from corporations like Nike and Instagram to incorporate their wellness teachings into business structures.

As a young enterprise, the fast growth trajectory of Sage + Sound shows that authenticity and vision pay off. Its founders remain humbled by the warm and glowing reception their wellness space has received. “We truly believe that there is no one way, one practice, one brand that embodies what wellness is. We all have a different vision and different needs. We just want to be a resource,” Tisch says. “It’s been an honor to offer people a little bit of what has healed me.”


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