Customer Spotlight


Customer Spotlight: Haji Healing Salon
Haji Healing Salon


A vibrant social wellness center and herbal apothecary


QUICK COMPANY STATS (as of 2023, Q3)

CORE PRODUCT/SERVICE | yoga, acupuncture, reiki, herbal tonics
INDUSTRY SECTOR | Holistic health
LOCATION | Chicago in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood

Haji Healing Salon products


We caught up with Aya, the owner/founder/practitioner of Haji Healing Salon while taking a planned month-long sabbatical from her business—a true demonstration of living as she teaches. Aya shares her business journey with us—how an illness led her to healing practices and an opportunity with a small business incubator program gave her the confidence to bring those healing practices to her community in Chicago.

Origin Story

Haji Healing Salon Origin

How did Haji Healing Salon get its start?

I’ve been a yoga teacher for almost 16 years now, and what brought me to yoga, actually, was a diagnosis of an illness. I had fibroid tumors, which are benign tumors that appear in the uterus, and they cause a lot of pain and suffering. There are some really challenging symptoms related to fibroids, and they affect black women disproportionately. I lived with them for several years, and when I was 33, I just decided to take up a course of a study of yoga so that I could learn more about myself and try to figure out the root cause of the illness—thinking if I knew the root cause, I could heal it. So, Haji came through me on this journey of trying to heal this condition. I came to know acupuncture, started receiving Reiki healing as a result the fibroids, and also learned about restorative yoga practices to take better care of myself.

It was during this time that I was invited to participate in an incubator program for small creative businesses, and I proposed running a wellness center. The residency was four months long and it was hugely successful. I ran it more like a community project where classes and service were free, allowing me to get to know people’s interests, learn to manage practitioners, set up schedules—all of the business stuff.

After my residency was over, the organizers of the program kept getting calls from people asking them to bring back the wellness program. That’s when I started looking for space to run and build Haji Healing Salon.

First sale?

I had $0, no investors, no capital. I did have a business plan, but I didn’t know the first thing about business really, my degree is in fashion design. So I just started offering the yoga classes and the acupuncture out of my home. That’s how we started, unofficially, for about a year.


Haji Healing Salon Now

How has your business evolved?

After about a year of running the business out of my home, I got a call from a property owner who had a commercial space for rent. It was a typical Chicago storefront in a really challenging neighborhood, but it was a neighborhood I was familiar with and was a perfect space. It was 1700 square feet for $500 a month, and I was like, well, this is a no brainer. The community came out and supported us and were really happy that something like this existed in their neighborhood.

Once Covid hit, we had to shut down and I shifted to an online model, offering classes over Zoom.

During the last year of online classes, I was building out a new space, which is where we exist now. I had the opportunity to build it to my specifications. So, no more $500 a month rent, but I definitely have my dream space. It’s a central location, a little more stable neighborhood, and we still offer high quality services that people had come to know and love in our previous location.

Who is on the Haji Healing Salon team?

I have an amazing group of independent contractors who are dedicated practitioners offering quality services. But, I just hired my first employee. She has been my apprentice for about a year and will be helping with the day to day, supporting the administrative side of the business.

“We exist to teach, inspire and support the creation of a healing lifestyle. That means different things for different people, but the herbs are certainly a gateway for a lot of folks to step into a healthier way of life. ”
― Aya, Haji Healing Salon


Rose Buds


Haji Healing Salon sells over 200 different herbs in their apothecary and they always have a special tea blend brewed for patrons. Rose petals are popular in the apothecary and a favorite herb included in many of Aya’s weekly tea blends.

Buy Rose »
Nettle Leaf


Aya loves nettle tea and often combines it with oatstraw because they are synergistic, safe to take every day, helps nourish a depleted body and relieves the feelings of being overextended.

Buy Nettle »


Oat straw is another favorite of Aya’s because it is wonderful for hair, skin, and nails. She drinks oatstraw daily and includes it as a staple in the apothecary, often combined with nettle and rose petals.

Buy Oatstraw »


A lot of folks in the Haji Healing Salon’s community have been dealing with cancer, sadly. So people who are challenged by the side effects related to chemotherapy and radiation have been finding solace in the nourishment that astragalus can bring to their healing journey.

Buy Astragalus »


Ashwagandha is a best seller in the Haji Healing Salon’s apothecary—known for its ability to help your body’s response to stress.

Buy Ashwagandha »
Core Values

Haji Healing Salon Core Values

Haji Healing Salon Mission/Vision

To inspire and support the creation of a healing lifestyle with the understanding that people need different ways to enter a healing path.

Core Values

Invest in community—we heal together.
Part of that is being very intentional about the way that I set the space and the way that the services are offered within the space so that more people are willing to experience them. We are also lowering the barriers that have historically existed for black and brown people to access alternative healing services—both cost barriers and trust around practices like acupuncture, yoga and herbalism.

Speak and teach from a place of authenticity.
The people who work at Haji are all very much living a healing lifestyle. We’re not playing, we’re not pretending. We’re not riding on a trend wave. I’ve been 30 years invested in this lifestyle, and so has everyone else at Haji. This is really what we live, what we do every day.

Love is very, very important. I feel it is the primary healer. You can heal so much with love. Haji is a space where you walk in and can feel the love—I hear that all the time. As a practitioner, as a yoga teacher, as a Reiki practitioner and an herbalist, the space that I hold is for people to fall in love with themselves through these practices. I want them to fall in love with the practices themselves, and I do my best to demonstrate that in the way that I live and teach.

What makes your company special?

Attention to detail and that we are invested in helping people feel welcome. Unfortunately I’ve entered several spaces recently where I was not acknowledged. I wasn’t welcomed, I didn’t meet anyone.

I’m interested in healing something that’s come up since Covid, the spotlight’s been shown on this sense of isolation that people feel. I just know for a fact, no one ever feels that at Haji. No one ever goes unseen, unacknowledged. In class, before we begin, we go around the room and everybody shares their name and how they’re feeling that day. We operate on a different theme every month. Often, I have a little prompt that I’ll ask people to consider some kind of contemplation around whatever our theme is. It gives people a chance to dive a little bit deeper in their self-study, being guided by this theme. It ends up that we have these really great discussions before we start a yoga class. By the end, it feels like you just did yoga with your friends. By sharing, you are able to see yourself in the others, building an even stronger sense of community.


Haji Healing Salon and the Industry

What have you learned along the way?

The number one thing is always, end well. Relationships begin and end. That’s life, whether you’re talking about intimate relationships or in business relationships, but it’s so important to end well because I’ve realized everybody and everything comes back around again.

Another thing is you have to prioritize your own care. I’d say that’s for any industry, but especially in the healing industry, because what good is a sick and broken down healer?

Pay yourself from the beginning, even if it’s just a gesture that you’re making, even if it’s not as much as you would like. It’s important that you factor yourself in and pay yourself first.

Industry trends you see

Well, every couple weeks there’s a new herb that’s trending, because some TikTok herbalists said, “go try this recipe.” And the sad thing is not everyone on TikTok working with herbs is actually an herbalist or has had any training at all. So people come into Haji with a lot of misinformation that they got from TikTok, and I guess it’s good because it brought them in, but I have to do a lot of teaching and correcting.

Right now people are really excited about Butterly Pea Flower. Sometimes there are obscure herbs that will start trending. I try to focus on the herbs that are more local to us or long-lasting value, not just a fad.

In Wellness, the trend has been rest. It’s a healthy trend because we’re tired as a nation. We’re overworked, and I just see a lot of people doing what I’m doing—taking sabbaticals and setting healthy boundaries.

Unique challenges

I think my biggest challenge with a heart-based business like mine, is staffing and growth. I felt like I’ve been given a charge to create a sacred space for healing and transformation on the south side of Chicago that centers around the needs of black and brown people. And I’ve been doing that for about eight years. But to grow, it requires that other people be as invested as I am.

Helpful resources in starting your own company

  • The Creative Small Business Incubator program that I was a part of, through an organization called, Arts and Public Life
  • My family. I knew there could be success from watching my uncle and my dad who are entrepreneurs. My grandma owned a gift shop and she ran a haircare company when I was little girl. So I had those examples historically.
  • I think there are a lot of resources right around us—other people in your community who are doing it. When you go shopping and you see that you’re in a place that’s run by an independent owner, develop a relationship, chat with them. That person could become a mentor, or even just someone who’s willing to answer some questions for you.

What are some next steps for Haji Healing?

What I would love is the opportunity to train other people who want to do, what I call wellness curation. I would love for there to be multiple Haji Healing Salons in different locations that are run by different wellness curators, but all with the same kind of branding, core values and consistent quality that people have come to know Haji Healing Salon for. This is an unconventional model, but I would love to figure out how to move into this direction.