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Meet Alexander Sá Ponte of Cloud-9 in Jamaica Plain

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexander Sá Ponte.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My parents are immigrants who came to America as teenagers. My mother is from Serres, Greece and my father was from Azores, Portugal. I am the oldest out of 7 kids so I come from a large family. My mother is a single mom since my father past away in 2005. She’s been working hard putting in long hours with Uber for the last 3 years.

I’ve always been an aspiring entrepreneur so after me and my mother Angie tried floating for the first time a few years ago we felt inspired to get more involved and open our own float center. We came across some other therapies that we decided to add and the Cloud-9 concept took its own form. My goal with this is to help support my single mom and siblings while making a positive impact on the community through the therapies we provide.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We’ve been trying to open since 2015. We looked at other locations for about a year but most didn’t work out for various reasons. For some they didn’t want to provide a long term lease and others didn’t want the extensive renovations needed (showers for each float pod room and extensive sound proofing throughout the space). Most of the delays were basically months in between city hall and community meetings for both JP and the city of Boston. It took 9 months to get permits for a 3 months construction job which is quite ridiculous. Paying rent for year before opening hurt to say the least.

We rented the space on South St. October 1st 2016. The landlord gave us three months of free rent however when we presented the plans to the city of Boston for permits they did not accept them because we had to change the zoning of the space from a convenience store to a Spa/Wellness Center. And that’s when the long journey began.

First, we had to have a meeting with the community which took over 2 months to schedule. At the meeting everyone there was very kind and happy to learn that we were not just another apartment building being built in the area.

After that we had to present our business to the zoning committee in Jamaica Plain which they passed. Then we had to have another zoning meeting 2 months later for the city of Boston. By that time it was already summer.

Then we waited another month for the permit to arrive after which they asked for fire alarm plans and that took another month.

By then we were already a year into renting the space and still have not started construction. We’ve been paying rent for a year before we were finally able to open February first. Paying rent for a year for a business that couldn’t open yet was a challenge financially to say the least.

Please tell us about Cloud-9.
Cloud-9 is a family owned business and we are passionate about the benefits that are provided through Float, PEMF (Pulse Electric Magnetic Field), and Infrared Sauna Therapy. Unlike modern medicine, rather than rely on dangerous surgery or an assortment of drugs, we use our non-invasive and harmless therapies. So not only do we alleviate symptoms such as pain, anxiety, and depression-but we target the source by removing stress and toxins from the body. Think of a visit to Cloud-9 as a tune up for your body and mind. These therapies simply ensure that your cells are working at optimal levels so that the body can heal on its own naturally.

We are committed to providing you relief that matches your needs-all while providing you the best possible experience. Our goal is for you to feel great and to stay healthy, because we believe when your health is in good standing that you can better focus on what’s important in your life. Most of you have people that depend on you and this makes your health a priority. With the therapies we provide we not only help you to be at your best for the ones you love, but to be at your best for a world in need.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have something signed by the landowner so that rent won’t be paid until all permits for construction are given. This would have saved us a ton of money that we could of used for operations and marketing.

I would also make sure our neighbors are quiet as well. We have a barbershop next door that likes to play loud music and this was a bit of a problem at first but we worked it out.

Other than those things we’ve prepared very well. As with most start-up businesses “prepare for the worst and hope for the best”. The more prep you can do the better but ultimately expect delays.

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