Zebulun Browne and Samantha Mackenzie, owners of the recently opened Arbor Vitae Wellness on 146 Ocean St. in South Portland, are excited to fulfill a need for massage therapy, they said. Their business celebrated its grand opening in the beginning of November. Catherine Bart photo

SOUTH PORTLAND — Celebrating its grand opening this month, Arbor Vitae Wellness is the creation of two passionate massage therapists who are looking forward to working with clients through stress, trauma and other maladies.

Arbor Vitae Wellness, now open on the plaza at 146 Ocean St., within the same space as Oceanpoint Acupuncture, is looking to serve the community through massage, meditation and somatic healing, the website said.

Owners Zebulun Browne and Samantha Mackenzie are licensed massage therapists, they said. Browne is also a nature connection mentor and NIASZIIH healer, and Mackenzie is a certified yoga instructor, health educator and NIASZIIH student.

Applicable with non-communicable diseases like cancer, auto-immune and heart diseases, NIASZIIH healing is an integrative hands-on approach, working with the entire body, the physical, energetic and spiritual, said Arbor Vitae Wellness’s website.

Mackenzie’s interest in massage therapy and healing came from an apprenticeship she had in her late teens, she said.

“My dad’s from Maine and my mom’s from California, so I’ve been on both coasts, and that’s how I ended up back here,” she said. “I apprenticed for a Native American healer when I was 19, and she was the one who really encouraged me to go to massage school. I never thought I’d be a massage therapist. But ever since then I’ve been in the health and wellness field, and I worked at health retreat centers in California, in Norway and in Germany, and now we’re finally opening our own business.”

Browne said that he has a background in outdoor education, which naturally mixes with healing work. He’s been practicing massage therapy since 2014, and he and Mackenzie, recently engaged, have known each other for five years.

“As our lives have come together we’ve really been able to bring our passion for health and wellness together, and that’s why we decided to open up Arbor Vitae Wellness,” he said.

The two said that they feel confident in giving clients great services while adhering to strict COVID-19 guidelines on top of the hygiene regulations already in place in the massage industry.

“We were working closer to Kittery at a resort for the last couple of years,” Mackenzie said. “It just didn’t feel good to go back to the spa world with COVID-19. In a way it’s really created a unique opportunity. A lot of wellness and message practices have gone out of business, and we’re just seeing this huge demand from people who are wanting body work, who are wanting healing work, stress relief, you know? Trying to navigate through all of the unknown. It does seem crazy to try to open a business right now and we’ve had a huge demand from people who want the services we can provide.”

The spot on Ocean Street that the new business owners have found suits their needs well, Browne said. With the neighboring South Portland Bus Transit Hub, accessibility is easy.

Mackenzie added that they’re happy about sharing a plaza with other wellness and healing businesses.

“There’s a yoga studio next door as well, the Breathing Room, and we’re starting meditation classes for him after the first of the year, and I’ll be doing movement classes next door as well,” Mackenzie said. “It’s a nice crossover. This little plaza here is really kind of turned into a wellness plaza. It’s kind of cool to have everybody here, and then the park as well. We’re looking forward to using that space.”

The community along Ocean Street has been friendly and welcoming, she said.

“This is a sweet little area,” Mackenzie said. “We’re working just across the street with the paint store, getting lunch at the Italian bakery, got some paintings from the consignment shop. It seems like it’s a really great little community on this part of the peninsula. It’s really wonderful to have the park across the street to be able to walk and use that space.”

When the weather gets nicer, Arbor Vitae Wellness will offer meditation classes outside, Browne said.

“We’ve felt confident in going forward,” he said. “The feedback’s been positive. I think people have found that just because of how COVID-19 has been affecting their lives, the added stress everyone’s experiencing because of that, they’re really finding the benefit in something like massage therapy.”

Arbor Vitae Wellness is offering a special promotion for new clients, the owners said. New clients can receive $10 off of their first session. The two therapists offer a variety of packages to serve different wellness needs.

More information can be found at arborvitaewellnessme.com. People can also visit the business’s Facebook, @arborvitaeme, and Instagram pages, @arborvitaewellnessme.

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