Meet Jessica McGrory: An LMT nurturing the connection between body and brain
Just off the highway, where OR 217 intersects US 26 in Beaverton, Oregon, sits Jessica McGrory’s wellness oasis. Up the stairs and through the halls of the pavilion, ambient music, essential oils and a dim lit space meet the senses as you approach the recently opened Portland Massage Center, LLC. The minimal furniture in the entryway sets the stage before one of Jessica’s soothing sessions, aimed at providing people with alternative ways to heal the mind and body.
Massage therapy first attracted Jessica more than a decade ago when she lived in Washington, D.C. At the time, she was enrolled in a couples’ massage course taught by two women who Jessica described as “very grounded and present people.” Jessica generally encountered type-A personalities in the nation’s capital, and the centeredness of the instructors inspired her enough to leave a career in publishing and register for a massage therapy program at the local community college the following week.
After finishing a year of hands-on massage coursework, and with past energy-forward training in reiki and kundalini yoga, Jessica continued her studies and earned graduate degrees in health and psychology, diving even deeper into the human body and now mind. Armed with knowledge from head to toe, Jessica craved a change of place, a new pace of life and fresh opportunities, leading to her cross-country move from Northern Virginia to the Pacific Northwest.
Jessica took on various jobs once in Portland, but the one remaining constant was her passion for massage therapy. This led her to self-practice as a massage therapist in 2015, beginning with renting a room within a chiropractic office and forming connections with fellow bodyworkers in town through channels like focused Facebook groups.
“Portland is a great place to be a massage therapist and start a business–we love small businesses here,” Jessica said. “There are a lot of high-quality and highly skilled massage therapists, because of the great schools in the area and because Oregon is one of few states that recognizes us as actual healthcare providers… I’m grateful for the tight-knit community.”
Jessica mostly gave medical-related massages through which she has built a steady client base before she was forced to close due to the COVID‑19 pandemic in March of 2020. The stay-at-home orders gave Jessica time to think, bounce ideas off therapist-friendlies and gain the confidence to fast-forward and open her own clinic sooner than she planned.
Support from Mercy Corps Northwest
“The last four years I really felt more like I was working my own business as a gig – that’s to say, working in it rather than working on it,” Jessica said. “I wanted to have more of a meta, bird’s eye view of ‘what am I doing here, what’s the goal and what’s the best way to get there?’ Jumping in and starting my own business establishment was the only way to do it.”
In search of answers for her career, Jessica took advantage of the time isolating at home, registered as an LLC and enrolled in, virtual learning with Mercy Corps Northwest and Portland Community College. Through Mercy Corps, Jessica participated in the Women’s Business Center’s six-week Business Foundations I course and writing class. Her takeaways have since helped her with business planning and consolidating, as well as gaining a newfound community during a difficult time. It was during these classes when Jessica met acupuncturist Emery Olsen who now practices out of Portland Massage Center as well.
“I liked the opportunity to take classes online. It opened up doors that I wouldn’t have been able to walk through before,” Jessica said. “I had taken business classes before and I already had the LLC at this point, so I went in wanting more support and confidence to expand and grow beyond what I was doing. And it was a great way to be able to network and meet people… We’ve done a couple socially distant meetups in the park since.”
Providing relief to an anxious community
Jessica was part of a small group of personal care businesses that reopened during the summer when Portland began to lift restrictions. In addition to continuing care with her past clients, Jessica has garnered many new referrals from working out of her own practice.
With stress and anxiety ravaging people’s health during this COVID‑19 era, Jessica was eager to provide a sense of relief to clients in a safe way. However, adjustments to Jessica’s business practices were in order due to the pandemic, including longer time frames between people, air purifiers throughout the rooms, permanent face mask policies and frequent sanitizing.
“Despite everything we’ve had to change, it’s so cool to be able to do this job. Of all the jobs that people have to do in the world, it’s humbling that people let you touch them, especially in the middle of a pandemic,” Jessica said. “There’s a lot of trust involved that you don’t necessarily get an opportunity to experience outside of a massage room.”
Aside from Portland Massage Center, Jessica also volunteers with the local nonprofit, Returning Veterans Project. She supports the veterans by marrying her two specialties – physical care and psychology – to help them stay on top of their treatment programs. Jessica’s work with Returning Veterans allows her to further explore her preferred form of therapy, craniosacral.
“I have two goals for the near future: to market my business as a wellness center and market myself as a craniosacral specialist, which is more of a process-oriented bodywork,” Jessica said. “It approaches the idea of trauma and emotions, and how they’re trapped in the body. I try to access, process and integrate those so that people can feel more psychologically grounded.”
Jessica is currently applying for a three-year program centered around the mind-body trauma approach. In addition to working on her personal skill set, Jessica intends to raise awareness around Portland Massage Center as a co-working space for practitioners, contemplating the transition into private practice for themselves.
“I really like the idea of helping the newer therapists and practitioners have the confidence to go into private practice because I just think that’s the better way to go rather than trying to work for somebody else,” Jessica said. “I want to be independent, together.”
To book an appointment at Portland Massage Center, call and/or text Jessica at (503) 314-0491 or visit jessicamcgrory.com. Medical referrals are also always welcome. In addition to Jessica’s massage therapy, other services offered at Portland Massage Center include acupuncture, hot stone massage, aromatherapy and prenatal massage by fellow bodyworkers Melissa Dawn Ballew, Brooke Gibbs and Emery Olsen.