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Relaxing on the ground

April 28, 2004

Ryan Carter

Traci Lewis' business is taking off again after being grounded for a

while.

Lewis recently opened her Relax Spa & Beauty Lounge salon at 1022

N. Hollywood Way.

For Lewis, the new business is a culmination of a childhood dream,

months of frustration in failed business plans and some timely and

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creative small business loans. Now, Lewis and her small staff offer

facials, massages, and Lewis's own line of beauty products.

She smiled wide as she reflected on how she wound up in Burbank.

"As a teenager, I thought one day I'd be the black version of

Estee Lauder," she said of the cosmetics magnate who died Saturday at

the age of 97. "I wanted to do it the way she did."

Lewis has definitely found a niche, one she is resurrecting in

Burbank after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, put her out of

business. It has been a bumpy ride back, she said. After years of

honing her cosmetic skills and marketing acumen, Lewis found success

in catering beauty services such as makeovers, facials and massages

to employees of airline companies, such as flight attendants and

pilots.

Catering to airline employees at terminals became such a success

for Lewis that she closed her Van Nuys salon and ultimately opened

two beauty spas, one in a terminal at Los Angeles International

Airport and another at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

But then came Sept. 11. Lewis knew her business would have to be

put on hold for a while. But she received a letter from airline

companies informing her that because of new security restrictions she

could no longer have access to secured terminal areas where she

provided services.

The road back started with a $1,500 Small Business Administration

loan. Other such loans would require a business plan, she learned,

but each one she wrote was rejected. Finally, after the fifth

proposed plan, Lewis got another loan, but a plan to start a salon in

Redondo Beach fell though. Lewis was determined to be near an airport

on the off chance that she could restart her niche of catering to

airline employees.

In the end, with some of her own money and various small-business

loans, she was able to cobble together $95,000. And then, she and her

husband, Andreas Treutler, a makeup artist, found the Burbank space,

in which they opened for business Friday.

Lewis said she has already received some business from Southwest

Airlines employees at the airport, which is not far north of her spot

on Hollywood Way.

Lewis said she continues to court airlines in Burbank, such as

Southwest, to offer her services.

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