Over lunch one day, Suzyjo Moore and Bobbie Vurro, both emergency room nurses, started talking about joining forces to open a new health and wellness small business. As they envisioned it, the IV therapy company would offer IV hydration, hangover relief, energizing vitamins, minerals, athletic performance and immune boosting infusions.
It was just before the Covid pandemic, and at first their new business, IV Hydration Station, was going to be an events-driven business; The women would set up their stations at various athletic events and wellness festivals. “We started to write up a business plan and ordered our supplies and ended up having to put everything into storage because the whole world shut down,” says Moore. “We regrouped and came up with the idea of making it into a spa.”
Today, IV Hydration Station – now two locations in Key West – are infused with a calming mermaid theme. “There were two other businesses in town doing IV so it was important to us to really focus on the health and wellness side of it and to push more toward athletes and health enthusiasts. We’re very geared toward pampering and comfort offering a very relaxing atmosphere,” Moore says.
Moore and Vurro opened their doors on their first location in December of 2020, in the middle of COVID. They are part of a tidal wave of new businesses starting up during the pandemic. In 2021 alone, new business creation in the US rose 53% over pre-pandemic levels in 2019 and the pace has continued in 2022.
Business started slow IV Hydration Station, but Moore and Vurro used that time to get the word out in the community through their contacts. Each of them worked three 12-hour shirts as nurses so they worked on the business on their off days, and eventually went all-in on the business.
Yet the women, so passionate about health and wellness, had little experience with marketing. That’s why they reached out to the Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within the university’s College of Business that provides no-cost business consulting to small businesses in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. They were connected with Julie Brown, an SBDC at FIU business consultant who specializes in disaster assistance, business strategy, and social media marketing.
“Julie has been incredible in helping us with our marketing and ideas of how to get the word out. She’s been instrumental in our growth by teaching us about social media and she looks at our website and gives us recommendations on anything that we might need to change or update. She recommended we join the Chamber of Commerce in the Business Guild and helped us get connected with our community,” says Moore. “Bobbie and I are nurses and so we didn’t really know anything about marketing.”
Yet they were fast learners.
“These ladies have this mermaid theme, and they created this beautiful space. It’s low lights and blues and waves and it’s super calming and relaxing, with lavender in the air,” says Brown. “I worked with them over the years to get their Google listing and to boost online marketing and their digital presence, including their website. We’ve also worked on some local face to face marketing ideas. I’ve taught them how to look to see what their competitors are doing and improve on their own marketing.”
Word spread and soon “the community embraced us and we started hiring people,” says Moore. “We have regulars that come once a week or twice a month and that was amazing. And all of our other marketing really helped with the tourists.”
Within the first six months, they were approached by a chiropractor who had space in his building and there they opened their second location during the pandemic. So now IV Hydration Station offers locations both in Key West’s downtown and midtown with the same spa vibe. The small business has also started providing their service at events, such as a recent paddleboard race around the island, and will do house parties. “Business has grown by leaps and bounds,” Moore says.
Moore and Vurro now employ five nurses. IV Hydration Station provides more than a dozen treatments, which are physician-prescribed and offer IV hydration with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. “Our treatments will help you recover faster from hangovers, enhance athletic performance, and help you prevent or recover from jet lag or illness, as well as boost your immune system for pre and post travel,” the company says on its website.
The team is constantly researching the latest treatments in this fast-growing health and wellness space, and they work with pharmacists and doctors to add them to their offerings.
The most popular treatments are the King Neptune, good for athletic performance and recovery, and the Myers Cocktail, a master detoxifier and antioxidant. “It gives you great energy and makes you feel amazing,” says Moore.
ADVICE TO ENTREPRENEURS
Florida SBDC at FIU consultant Julie Brown offered some advice to small businesses about using social media:
- Create a marketing plan, and it doesn’t have to be extensive. Many small businesses get started with social media and do things bit by bit and there’s no consistency in the way they present their businesses across social media platforms. Obviously, there’s tweaks necessary based on the platform but in general, you want the same message and that’s really important, says Brown. “Many of these small businesses are just doing little things here and there and they don’t have one consistent message out there.”
- Claim your business across all social platforms, whether you’re using them or not at the moment. “It’s a simple thing that every business can do.”
- When it comes to social media, engage. Use social media as a tool for finding your potential customers online and engage them. Don’t just put up a post and you are done; engage with the commenters. Engage on your customers’ posts too. Think creatively. For instance, the maker of dog treats can engage with a pet store that could sell their products. Remember, the customers of that pet store that follow their posts may see your comment and want to learn more about your product, Brown says.
Photo at top of post: Suzyjo Moore and Bobbie Vurro, both RNs, are co-owners of IV Hydration Station in Key West. All photos provided by IV Hydration Station.