Millburn business expands despite storm damage

Gabrielle Saulsbery//September 17, 2021

Millburn business expands despite storm damage

Gabrielle Saulsbery//September 17, 2021

Despite nearby storm damage, a business in Short Hills plans to expand into a new studio in Millburn Sept. 17.

Kika Stretch Studios Short Hills, owned by Kamari and Michael DeBarbieri, who opened a Kika Stretch franchise in 2018, will open their studio at 313c Millburn Ave. in Millburn and have a ribbon-cutting and special offers for guests planned from 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

The business had a soft opening about a month ago. The timing of the grand opening has worked out well, Kamari DeBarbieri said, because “a lot of the other businesses who have suffered damages are starting to reopen. We also just got past the summer season, folks are back in town.”

Kika Stretch, opened by Kika DuBose Wise in 2011 and franchised from 2018 onward, has expanded from its original Montclair location with corporate and franchise locations in several states.

Kika Stretch Studios Short Hills is expanding to Millburn Sept.17, 2021.
Kika Stretch Studios Short Hills is expanding to Millburn Sept.17, 2021. – KIKA STRETCH STUDIOS

Kika Stretch coaches stretch out clients’ bodies for them – think of it as assisted yoga – to release tension trapped in their bodies.

“During the pandemic, we’ve noticed that people have been booking our assisted stretching appointments more than ever,” says DuBose Wise. “People now know how important it is to take care of your body and to put yourself first.”

DeBarbieri met DuBose Wise in middle school, and years later started going to her as a stretch client at her Montclair studio.

“I took it as a place to relax and it was helping my body in a way that was different than the regular massages I was getting,” DeBarbieri said. “About a year and a half after that, she announced she was going to start looking into franchising. At the time, for a few years, I had been investigating different franchising opportunities for myself. This was something that looked like it would be a really good fit, because I believed in the service and knew the benefits it could bring to other people in the community from a therapeutic perspective, from a mental health perspective.”

DeBarbieri’s previous location in Short Hills was successful enough that it called for the transition from a single-room studio to a three-room studio, where she is now. She said that Paul Baytan, her studio manager, is the go-to contact for clients and new clients of the studio.

Because the community in Short Hills had been so supportive, she said she didn’t want to move the expansion too far away. The Millburn location is close to the Millburn train station, on the local bus line, and right across the street from Taylor Park, a popular community event space in Essex County.

“I’m looking forward to just continuing to nurture the relationships that we’ve built so far. Especially during quarantine, the communities had an influx of new residents moving in from NYC and new states, and some of them have come to us because they were familiar with the NYC Kika Stretch locations.” DeBarbieri said. “And we’re continuing to support the community with the Hurricane Ida relief efforts, encouraging customers to shop hyper-local and really encourage them to support the community during this time.”