Everyone knows that first impressions matter. They matter for that job you’re interviewing for, that date you’re excitedly nervous about, that first meeting of the parents, or that new group of friends you’re hoping to make.
It’s no accident that most of the time, first impressions are carefully crafted and curated. So, of course, it’s not surprising that first impressions are important to a place where you are letting strangers work on your body either fully, partially, or not at all clothed.
Enter Kelli Lesnak, whose title, yes, actually includes “Director of First Impressions.” One could argue that her most important responsibility is to create a warm, open, safe environment where no matter how long you’ve been holding your breath (for some of us—the whole day!), you can finally deeply and truly exhale the moment you walk through the doors of Ohana Wellness.
In the fairly affluent neighborhood of Bethesda or really in the entire DMV, keeping up with the Joneses’ can feel very real. That pressure of looking a certain way, to be of a certain socio-economic status, to make a certain income, and to live a life that says certain things about you. Sometimes, it’s hard to make sure you stay authentic, real, and true to yourself and what you and your mind and body need.
When Kelli and I sat down and talked, we began by agreeing and discussing the importance of “first impression,” at Ohana Wellness. She describes it as a sanctuary of acceptance that can often feel difficult to find in life. As I probed to ask her how she got to such an interesting role and title, she continues to tell me she’s always been the person who wants to make sure everyone feels included and comfortable. She cares for the lonely, and knows that everyone deserves to be seen, heard, and understood. It’s exactly what you would want in a Director of First Impressions—suffice it to say, Kelli is damn good at her job.
So yes, Kelli is the woman behind the desk with the brilliant smile and the beautifully expressive eyes that will greet you with the utmost warmth. She wants to make sure your healing, relaxing, and therapeutic experience starts off exactly on the right foot. But as I sat there and got to know Kelli more, I realized she’s so good at this because she is as real as they come.
But, Kelli is also an imperfect, human, woman who doesn’t pretend to have it all together. In, what she describes as an uncharacteristic show of vulnerability, we decided to co-write this blog post. I asked Kelli to crack open her heart and share with us her biggest fears and anxieties. Because she knows that ultimately, she can only stand up and say to anyone who walks through the doors of Ohana Wellness to “come as you are,” if she, herself, shows up in that way.
In closing, we want to remind everyone who has decided to take care of yourself that our first impression of every client is one of bravery. You were brave in acknowledging the need for bodywork of whatever kind you needed. You were brave in letting the practitioners help you heal and just like Kelli, you were brave in facing the truth about your physical, mental, and emotional pain and allowing people to help you take a gentle and important step towards self-care.