Daniel Zhao

Women of the Elm City can now enjoy their own wellness sanctuary that offers massage therapy, wellness classes and a sense of community.

The Well for Women celebrated its official ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon at the Blake Street Center. Owner Julie Robbins and her staff were joined by Mayor Toni Harp and other city officials to celebrate the sanctuary’s grand opening.

“The Well’s welcoming, accepting approach fits hand in glove with what New Haven stands for,” Harp said during her opening remarks. “I want to thank [The Well] for enhancing New Haven’s reputation for inclusion.”

Harp said that New Haven is proud to have a space that is dedicated to “help women return to their awesome responsibilities refreshed and revitalized.” Harp noted that the Well has massage therapists specializing in prenatal and postpartum massage, who will “care safely and comfortably for mothers-to-be and new mothers.”

Robbins, who owns Westville Massage on West Elm Street, opened The Well because she could not keep up with demand at her massage center without hiring more massage therapists — and the space would not have been able to accommodate additional employees.

Her desire to be find room for just one more customer at a time led her to the space at Blake Street — which has room for 10 employees; a meditation area; and a room for yoga, Pilates and dance.

While the center offers care to women of all ages, it particularly focuses on supporting pregnant women. In addition to offering these classes, The Well will also host workshops and community groups to discuss topics like breastfeeding and prenatal and postpartum health. The Well uses an “inclusive definition of women” — it welcomes anyone who identifies as female or gender-fluid, according to its website.

Some of the work done ahead of the grand opening was funded through the city’s Main Street leasehold program, a community-focused renewal effort that the city is using to improve life in neighborhoods outside of downtown. Robbins was able to complete renovations of the space in two months with the help of a $9,500 matching grant from the program.

“This is a sanctuary and a safe space for women to come and know that nothing is going to happen,” Robbins told the New Haven Independent. “That they’re safe here and that we can build each other up in a positive community in that way and support each other in our self-care journeys together. I think it’s time for that.”

The Well is located at 495 Blake St.

Caroline Moore | caroline.moore@yale.edu