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Wellness Center Owner Capitalizes on Sleep

By: Abby Penning
Posted: January 30, 2009, from the February 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Quality sleep is essential to healthy living, something Nicolas Ronco, the founder and CEO of Yelo, a wellness center in New York based on the rejuvenating effects of rest, knows well.

Growing up in Tunisia and France, going to school in Paris, then moving to New York to get his master’s degree in business from the City University of New York, Ronco always had an interest in health and wellness. It wasn’t until he was in the midst of a career in marketing, however, that he realized how rest could be brought into people’s lives as a treatment.

“I started from a completely outside view—I’m not from the spa industry,” says Ronco, who worked in marketing, sales and business development for the music and publishing industries before opening Yelo. “My first job after getting my MBA was working for Time Warner, and I travelled to industry business units in Asia and Australia and would get crazy jet lag.”

During a business trip to Japan, he discovered that workers there were able—and even encouraged—to take short naps during the day. In this, Ronco saw the opportunity for sleep’s relief to help American workers, too. “I know I’ve been in a budget meeting at 3 pm and everyone’s eyes are rolling because they are so tired, and I thought, ‘It would be so great to just go to sleep for 15 minutes, then be able to come back and be productive immediately,’ ” he says.

Ronco had also been to spas throughout the world and realized the treatments he’d received, such as reflexology, weren’t just luxuries—they were important to achieving and maintaining proper health. “In order to cope, people are going into what I call the chemical cycle,” Ronco explains. “To be alert and awake, people feel like they need to stuff themselves with caffeine and coffee, then drinks at happy hours, and then sleeping pills to get rest at night. It’s just not healthy.”