Inside The Chillhouse Expansion: A New Soho Flagship And How Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton Is Redefining Self-Care

Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, in Chillhouse's Soho flagship, Photo Credit: Alec Kugler

Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, founder of Chillhouse, in the new Soho flagship, Photo Credit: Alec Kugler

Photo Credit: Alec Kugler

Entrepreneur and brand builder Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton might specialize in the concept of “chill,” but the Queens, NY native has always been about the hustle. As the cofounder of Chillhouse, which started as a Lower East Side destination and first-of-its-kind nail salon and massage boutique with a full service café, Ramirez-Fulton’s “always on” workflow style is a key part of what has helped the Chillhouse brand grow from a single brick and mortar location to a national lifestyle brand.

The Lower East Side Chillhouse location – a.k.a Chillhouse version 1.0 – first opened its doors in 2017 and quickly became the go-to spot for New Yorkers to get their chill on amid the rapid-fire pace of their day and enjoy a manicure, a massage, and even an adaptogenic latte and bites in the café. It also became a venue for wellness panel discussions and a frequently Instagrammed location, thanks to its cool-factor design and branding.

Amazingly, the OG Chillhouse only marked the beginning of what has now become known as the Chillhouse empire, with a new Soho flagship location that officially opens its doors for business today. (The Lower East Side location is currently undergoing an uplift and will reopen as a “Face & Body Studio.”)

“The Soho flagship was not anything we intended on. When we opened up the first location it was like wildfire, it continued to grow — as far as our online presence, our customers, our membership — business was good,” Ramirez-Fulton shares.

“Good” is putting it mildly: in an era where many of New York City’s iconic spots in hospitality and the food and beverage industry are shuttering their doors, Chillhouse’s new flagship location on Varick Street in Hudson Square features loft ceilings and large windows, helping the sprawling 3,200 square foot space get flooded with sunlight.

For Ramirez-Fulton, this new flagship location is a full-circle moment, as her first job in an office environment was in a WeWork, down the block. While the Lower East Side Chillhouse tended to attract a more weekend crowd, this location is in a prime professional area, with lifestyle-centric HQs like Glossier and Moda Operandi in the neighborhood.

While Ramirez-Fulton is the public face of Chillhouse, her partner in business and life, Adam Fulton, is the other instrumental half of Chillhouse. Together they bring their hospitality background as partners in bars like The Garret to the table.

The new Soho flagship’s space features manicure and (newly launched) pedicure services, massages, a full menu of spa facials, an infrared sauna studio, as well as a “Chill At Night” menu with a variety of grilled cheese, wine and beers, perfect for guests who want to linger or for post-work gatherings.

So how does a national brand’s growth stem from the success of one brick and mortar location? Ramirez-Fulton shares some of the ways that Chillhouse is successfully expanding, and doing anything but standing still.

For starters, Chillhouse’s launch occurred when Ramirez-Fulton clearly identified a void in the wellness market: there was a gap between the low, below-market value manicures and spas, and the ultra high-end spas. As a result, Chillhouse became known as the self-care sweetspot right in between, which is accessible yet aspirational, while cultivating a cool factor.

“The cool factor has to do with brand and brand voice. For us to really be able to hit the market strong, and be like ‘this is who we are and this is our voice and point of view’, we had to do that from the get-go. So we started working with our branding team, right after we had the Lower East Side space finalized. Our brand story is that I wanted to find a massage that was affordable but wasn’t at some seedy establishment, and I wasn't able to find one. So, of course the price points have to align with that indefinitely and remain fairly accessible, contingent on the state of the market,” Ramirez-Fulton explains.

The brand voice is defined as: “The cool big sister talking to you. She’s giving it to you straight. These are the tried-and-true services that you need, because there's a lot of fluff out there with wellness.” This voice can be felt on all branding and communications, in addition to Chillhouse’s editorial platform, The Chill Times – further proof that content is indeed queen.

“The Chill Times allows us to have dialogue and contribute content that's not just saying, “hey come get our services.” It’s about getting that trust, that level of loyalty, that little added layer that makes people trust us as a destination that they should go visit and enjoy.”

Speaking of loyalty: Chillhouse launched a membership program in 2019, which helps the brand scale up and maintain attainable pricing. “Our goal is to really push forward with membership. Our team is getting trained on how to properly sell membership so that we can establish a really strong community here of repeat clientele, and it's a safety net in a way, not only because it's important for us to always be thriving, but because a recurring revenue model is definitely important to a lot of businesses’ success. And so we notice that the increased consistency offsets the affordable price.” Ramirez-Fulton explains.

Ramirez-Fulton’s grasp on media and content creation, coupled with Chillhouse’s strong brand DNA and highly engaged fanbase, has led to partnerships with global brands like Nike, H&M, NYFW, as well as Uniqlo (when the retailer did a Marimekko collaboration).

“When we partner with brands, our custom nail art is one of the most requested services because we can create custom designs in the Chillhouse aesthetic, but with whatever our brand partner is launching.”

While Chillhouse’s vibe is chill, Ramirez-Fulton makes it clear that she needs to be on top of every issue, matter and notification, as they come. This is something she’s learned from experience:

“You weigh the good with the bad and yes, you'll make a lot of mistakes no matter what. So just think about everything that could go wrong and get ahead of it before it does, and work backwards from that. I think it's something that I've had to learn the hard way.”

While the way she operates throughout the day ensures she’s on top of every matter as they arise, don’t get it twisted: as “The Queen of Chill,” Ramirez-Fulton knows how to self-care at the end of a long day, thanks to her strong team and endless drive.

“It's a combination of things I’d say that have allowed us to continue pushing forward versus standing still. I think mine and my husband's own personal perseverance is critical. We personally realize what the potential of Chillhouse can be in the long run and we keep that target in our minds, no matter what obstacles are thrown our way. So I’d say that's number one.”

And while Chillhouse operates on the large visions of its founding duo, and is expanding with more physical locations in the coming years, Ramirez-Fulton ensures they remain sensible with their budgets.

“We're very price conscious, across the board. We still operate very, very small. We still try to negotiate. No matter how big you get, always maintaining that startup mentality is very important.”

For now, Ramirez-Fulton makes their goals clear:

“We want to be known as the destination where you can get a little bit of everything in the realm of modern self-care, and if you have one thing that you gravitate towards and want to discover us through that, then great. But we don’t want to be creating a silly little thing just for the sake of the press, or for the sake of getting the social media attention.”

The (chill) house the Fultons built is getting all kinds of attention, for all the right reasons.

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Entrepreneur and brand builder Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton might specialize in the concept of “chill,” but the Queens, NY native has always been about the hustle. As the cofounder of Chillhouse, which started as a Lower East Side destination and first-of-its-kind nail salon and massage boutique with a full service café, Ramirez-Fulton’s “always on” workflow style is a key part of what has helped the Chillhouse brand grow from a single brick and mortar location to a national lifestyle brand.

The Lower East Side Chillhouse location – a.k.a Chillhouse version 1.0 – first opened its doors in 2017 and quickly became the go-to spot for New Yorkers to get their chill on amid the rapid-fire pace of their day and enjoy a manicure, a massage, and even an adaptogenic latte and bites in the café. It also became a venue for wellness panel discussions and a frequently Instagrammed location, thanks to its cool-factor design and branding.

Amazingly, the OG Chillhouse only marked the beginning of what has now become known as the Chillhouse empire, with a new Soho flagship location that officially opens its doors for business today. (The Lower East Side location is currently undergoing an uplift and will reopen as a “Face & Body Studio.”)

“The Soho flagship was not anything we intended on. When we opened up the first location it was like wildfire, it continued to grow — as far as our online presence, our customers, our membership — business was good,” Ramirez-Fulton shares.

“Good” is putting it mildly: in an era where many of New York City’s iconic spots in hospitality and the food and beverage industry are shuttering their doors, Chillhouse’s new flagship location on Varick Street in Hudson Square features loft ceilings and large windows, helping the sprawling 3,200 square foot space get flooded with sunlight.

For Ramirez-Fulton, this new flagship location is a full-circle moment, as her first job in an office environment was in a WeWork, down the block. While the Lower East Side Chillhouse tended to attract a more weekend crowd, this location is in a prime professional area, with lifestyle-centric HQs like Glossier and Moda Operandi in the neighborhood.

While Ramirez-Fulton is the public face of Chillhouse, her partner in business and life, Adam Fulton, is the other instrumental half of Chillhouse. Together they bring their hospitality background as partners in bars like The Garret to the table.

The new Soho flagship’s space features manicure and (newly launched) pedicure services, massages, a full menu of spa facials, an infrared sauna studio, as well as a “Chill At Night” menu with a variety of grilled cheese, wine and beers, perfect for guests who want to linger or for post-work gatherings.

So how does a national brand’s growth stem from the success of one brick and mortar location? Ramirez-Fulton shares some of the ways that Chillhouse is successfully expanding, and doing anything but standing still.

For starters, Chillhouse’s launch occurred when Ramirez-Fulton clearly identified a void in the wellness market: there was a gap between the low, below-market value manicures and spas, and the ultra high-end spas. As a result, Chillhouse became known as the self-care sweetspot right in between, which is accessible yet aspirational, while cultivating a cool factor.

“The cool factor has to do with brand and brand voice. For us to really be able to hit the market strong, and be like ‘this is who we are and this is our voice and point of view’, we had to do that from the get-go. So we started working with our branding team, right after we had the Lower East Side space finalized. Our brand story is that I wanted to find a massage that was affordable but wasn’t at some seedy establishment, and I wasn't able to find one. So, of course the price points have to align with that indefinitely and remain fairly accessible, contingent on the state of the market,” Ramirez-Fulton explains.

The brand voice is defined as: “The cool big sister talking to you. She’s giving it to you straight. These are the tried-and-true services that you need, because there's a lot of fluff out there with wellness.” This voice can be felt on all branding and communications, in addition to Chillhouse’s editorial platform, The Chill Times – further proof that content is indeed queen.

“The Chill Times allows us to have dialogue and contribute content that's not just saying, “hey come get our services.” It’s about getting that trust, that level of loyalty, that little added layer that makes people trust us as a destination that they should go visit and enjoy.”

Speaking of loyalty: Chillhouse launched a membership program in 2019, which helps the brand scale up and maintain attainable pricing. “Our goal is to really push forward with membership. Our team is getting trained on how to properly sell membership so that we can establish a really strong community here of repeat clientele, and it's a safety net in a way, not only because it's important for us to always be thriving, but because a recurring revenue model is definitely important to a lot of businesses’ success. And so we notice that the increased consistency offsets the affordable price.” Ramirez-Fulton explains.

Ramirez-Fulton’s grasp on media and content creation, coupled with Chillhouse’s strong brand DNA and highly engaged fanbase, has led to partnerships with global brands like Nike, H&M, NYFW, as well as Uniqlo (when the retailer did a Marimekko collaboration).

“When we partner with brands, our custom nail art is one of the most requested services because we can create custom designs in the Chillhouse aesthetic, but with whatever our brand partner is launching.”

While Chillhouse’s vibe is chill, Ramirez-Fulton makes it clear that she needs to be on top of every issue, matter and notification, as they come. This is something she’s learned from experience:

“You weigh the good with the bad and yes, you'll make a lot of mistakes no matter what. So just think about everything that could go wrong and get ahead of it before it does, and work backwards from that. I think it's something that I've had to learn the hard way.”

While the way she operates throughout the day ensures she’s on top of every matter as they arise, don’t get it twisted: as “The Queen of Chill,” Ramirez-Fulton knows how to self-care at the end of a long day, thanks to her strong team and endless drive.

“It's a combination of things I’d say that have allowed us to continue pushing forward versus standing still. I think mine and my husband's own personal perseverance is critical. We personally realize what the potential of Chillhouse can be in the long run and we keep that target in our minds, no matter what obstacles are thrown our way. So I’d say that's number one.”

And while Chillhouse operates on the large visions of its founding duo, and is expanding with more physical locations in the coming years, Ramirez-Fulton ensures they remain sensible with their budgets.

“We're very price conscious, across the board. We still operate very, very small. We still try to negotiate. No matter how big you get, always maintaining that startup mentality is very important.”

For now, Ramirez-Fulton makes their goals clear:

“We want to be known as the destination where you can get a little bit of everything in the realm of modern self-care, and if you have one thing that you gravitate towards and want to discover us through that, then great. But we don’t want to be creating a silly little thing just for the sake of the press, or for the sake of getting the social media attention.”

The (chill) house the Fultons built is getting all kinds of attention, for all the right reasons.

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I am a freelance journalist specializing in career, fashion, retail, social media, and wellness; contributor for COVETEUR, Create & Cultivate, Teen Vogue, Monster,

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