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Meet Lara Ingraham of Massage by Lara in Hancock Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lara Ingraham.

Lara, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Like many Angelenos, I’m a multi-hyphenate. I’m an actress/massage therapist/Beautycounter consultant. I discovered acting while studying International Relations at Claremont McKenna College. It was a discovery perhaps prodded by divine intervention. I remember thinking one day, “I want to learn more about acting.” While I kept my major, I moonlit at the Pomona Theater Department (at sister school Pomona College) for the rest of my tenure at CMC. Naturally, I took off to NYC after graduation and pounded the pavement with all the other young performers. I did almost every side-gig available to support my theater habit. But then I felt the strong pull of Los Angeles as I’d spent many years in So Cal.

Once again, I feel I was guided here by a force bigger than myself. When I got to our fair city, I knew I’d made the right decision. I also knew that I didn’t want to be a barista, temp, waiter, cater-waiter or real estate agent–all jobs I’d held in NYC. You know what comes next, don’t you? Yet again, the Divine intervened. I’d begun receiving a lot of massage in my final year in NY and I now thought “Why don’t I go to massage school?” Another, rather abrupt, course correction! Seemingly out of ‘nowhere.’ I knew I’d apply the same test as I had to my acting pursuits: did I enjoy it? was I good at it? did I get positive feedback? The answer? Yes x 3! It has been the BEST day (but usually night) job I’ve had to supplement and complement my acting career. I’ve built a lovely business and clientele that has led me to my next-favorite gig, that of Beautycounter Consultant. Partnering with this B (Benefits) Corp. has taught me how to make safer choices in my products and help others do the same. It really aligns with my values. All three jobs dovetail so nicely together. I feel my mantra is health, humor, happiness! and that these three businesses help me to achieve this in my own life and, hopefully, model it for others.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Haha! In a word, no. Anyone who’s pursued a career in the creative arts can attest to the peaks and valleys of this path. I think people thought I was a bit mad to move to NYC by myself after college. And then, to LA a few years later! I think my parents were definitely disappointed that I wasn’t ‘using my degree’ per se. I’m lucky to say they’ve become very supportive of all three of my vocations at this point. Yes, I have given them many massages!

There’s that old saying “If you can do anything else besides acting and be happy, DO it!” I really don’t think I can, at least exclusively. I still love acting work and enjoy the pursuit of said work. That said, it is very empowering to have two other successful small businesses that help support and inform this passion. I’ve definitely had my fair share of obstacles in building the massage practice. When I began, we all had to have our fingerprints taken and take STD tests as we were lumped in with adult performers. What a joke! I worked hard to get a massage degree, pass the city exam, get licensed and insured and maintain all of that over the years. I’ve never advertised and I’ve certainly never advertised in the back of the LA Weekly!

I’ve also faced challenges in building my Beautycounter business. The company is a multi-channel, direct retail, e-commerce company. It has elements of network marketing/direct sales and I’ve found there’s a big stigma about this industry. People throw around the descriptor ‘pyramid scheme.’ For the (hopefully) last time, pyramid schemes are illegal and direct sales is a distribution model that’s been around for more than a century! Geez Louise. Carry on.

Massage by Lara – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m an independent, mobile massage therapist. I make house-calls and some of my long-term clients call me Dr. Lara.* I’d say, I specialize in a combination of Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage. I’m also trained in Lymphatic Drainage and Pre-Natal Massage. I’m known for my technical skills and my intuitive touch. I’m also known as the Cat Lady who carries the chicken purse, Gladys. I have 2 cats (don’t worry, they don’t travel with me to clients) and I love animals. I’m never quite sure if I’m more happy to see my clients or their pets! I think my empathy and my sense of humor set me apart from the rest.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
My mantra encapsulates my definition of success “Health, Humor, Happiness.” The great thing about moving from NYC to LA and finding my massage practice is that it introduced mine to a more holistic way of life. I’d already begun traditional talk therapy with a psychologist in NY, but I started focusing on the mind/body/spirit connection more in this town. When I say health, I don’t necessarily mean low body fat and six-pack abs. I mean physical, spiritual, emotional and financial well-being. Without our health, we don’t have much. If we’re struggling in the health arena, a great sense of humor can help bridge the gap to happiness — or contentment. I just really love alliteration so I had to have three H’s in my mantra.

I believe laughter is truly the best medicine, and massage is a close second. I feel I heal myself and help others to feel/heal/examine the gamut of emotions through my acting work. I help others’ bodies heal themselves through massage and I help people protect their health through the use of safer, high-performing products via my Beautycounter biz. What can I say? I’m a helper. I help. I don’t take myself too seriously and that’s why I carry Gladys, my rubber chicken purse. She keeps it real.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jacquie Navratil, DTLA Film Festival, Studio City Film Festival

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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