By Emily J. Weitz
It may be situated on the chaotic corner of Division Street and Bay Street, but when you open the door of Happy Feet and step inside, it’s as if you were transported. Wei Wei Roger, dressed in silk, meets you at the door to take your coat. She leads you through the dimly lighted room to a chair that unfolds into a veritable bed, and that’s where the real transformation begins.
Happy Feet is a healing space devoted primarily to reflexology. There are also private rooms for full body massage treatments. But an hour of reflexology has an impact on the whole body, notes Roger.
“The feet are a reflection of the body,” says Chris Roger, Wei Wei’s husband, partner, and spokesperson for the business. “If you can take care of your feet, you can take care of a lot of problems in the body.”
Wei Wei interviewed all the practitioners and hand-picked the staff of the newly opened Sag Harbor business, which only hired licensed practitioners. Tony, who massaged my feet for a solid hour, was attentive to the point of loving. I felt blockages years in the making release.
It’s not just the feet that are getting pampered at Happy Feet, though. The attention to detail in the space is evident, and as you tilt back your head, you’ll see cherry blossoms climbing the walls and paper umbrellas hanging from the ceiling. The music is quieting, and Wei Wei brings each client a pot of warm orange blossom tea with fresh fruit and little candies. When the foot bath is filled with piping hot water, Wei Wei then sprinkles rose petals in it.
“It’s very important to her to provide tea and treats,” says Chris. “She loves to give comfort. You don’t just walk in here, get a treatment, and be gone. You walk in and relax. You get away from Sag Harbor for a little while.”
Reflexology spaces like this one are very common in Kunming, China, where Wei Wei is from. After a long day on their feet, Chinese professionals kick up their heels and get pampered. When Wei Wei moved to Flushing, Queens, she found there were many other immigrants skilled in this kind of work. It was always her dream to start her own business.
“When she lived in China, Wei Wei ran two businesses of this kind,” says Chris. “She’s done nails, facials, massage… Always everything for other people. So finally she took all her experience and turned it into our business.”
Chris and Wei Wei met online, and decided to meet in person right away. Chris went in to Flushing, and they stumbled through their first meeting, she barely speaking English and he without a word of Mandarin. But their relationship quickly grew, and after a few months they decided Chris would travel with her to China to meet her family.
“We drove all over China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand,” says Chris. “Her family was very kind, and we had a great time.”
They also spent a lot of time in places like Happy Feet, experiencing a tradition of Chinese culture. So when they came back to the United States with a wedding to plan, they had a feeling the business would quickly follow.
“It’s always been her desire to start a business,” says Chris. Wei Wei wanted to bring her mother and son over to the United States, which she has now done. Her mother lives with Chris and Wei Wei here in Sag Harbor, and her 22-year-old son is in school in the city.
Wei Wei and Chris worked fast, beginning the business project last June. They didn’t tell anyone about their plans. Chris felt it was important to just do it, without worrying about anyone else’s opinions. It was Wei Wei’s opinion that mattered to him most, he said.
“We started with a little white room,” says Chris. “Wei Wei arranged everything. She chose the colors, she went to Chinatown and got the cherry blossoms and umbrellas. But we worked on it together.”
That aspect of working together is paramount.
“My goal is to provide a nice service for the community,” says Chris, “but also to do something that my wife and I can enjoy together.”
For an hour of reflexology and pampering, the cost is $35. A plantogen balancing skin facial is $55. There is also a selection of full body treatments to take you on a mini retreat.
“We take our customers out of New York,” says Chris. “This is not just another salon in Sag Harbor. This is a little trip to Asia.”
Happy Feet is located at 2 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 808-3009.