“Clients pay what they can and are encouraged to stay as long as they need.”
– Erika Ewer
After six years of providing acupuncture as a private practice, Erika Ewer, owner of Life in Balance Community Acupuncture, decided she wanted to create greater access to the healing powers of acupuncture to her community, regardless of income levels. Based on the successful community acupuncture model started in Portland, Oregon, Erika saw the opportunity to help her community with alternative solutions to ailments ranging from chronic pain to seasonal allergies.
The community acupuncture model provides a sliding scale of price options. Patients decide what they are able to pay based on their own budget. Whereas most private practices in Chicago charge roughly $70.00 per session, patients of Life in Balance Community Acupuncture pay as low as $15.00. The business is located in the neighborhood of Uptown/Buena Park, a very diverse neighborhood that has suffered from gang activity and violence. Community-minded businesses like Erika’s are an asset to the neighborhood and bring together neighbors in a relaxing and healing space.
Life in Balance Community Acupuncture is set up similar to acupuncture clinics in Asia, as you walk in the space you immediately notice the relaxed and casual atmosphere. The open floorplan, with several chairs throughout, provides a sense of welcoming that is key to the businesses mission to serve patients from all walks of life. The clientele is as diverse as the neighborhood itself, ranging from various socio-economic strata, ages, and ailments.
Erika came to Accion in February 2015 looking to convert her private practice into the community practice of Life in Balance. In conjunction with a crowdfunding campaign, Erika was able to utilize a loan from Accion Chicago in order to avoid taking on
too much credit card debt. This loan allowed her to secure startup costs and help grow a new client base.
Currently, Erika is the only staff member, but with the steady week by week growth she has seen since starting the business she looks forward to eventually hiring an administrative assistant to help with scheduling and reception as well as bringing on another acupuncturist as her business continues to grow.
Life in Balance Community Acupuncture truly embraces the strong sense of community found throughout Chicago neighborhoods and is striving to bring an alternative to western medicine and healing practices to a wider range of people than was previously possible. The community acupuncture model is one that has created a huge change in the industry and can be seen as a source of inspiration for other businesses offering services that could benefit their larger community.