Their fields of expertise couldn’t be more different, and running two successful businesses, along with raising two young children, a dog and a cat in a sometimes frenetic household, certainly takes a toll. But Frank Prescott and Jennifer Carey-Prescott, after 11 years of marriage, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We’re both very independently functioning folks,” says Jennifer, a licensed acupuncture physician and the owner/operator of Thank You Mama, a family wellness center that employs traditional Chinese medicine. “But as service producers and small business owners, our businesses function very similarly in a lot of ways.”
Frank is a licensed stylist and the owner/operator of Number 9 Salon, which is less than a half mile from his wife’s office. Their home is close, too.
“The biggest thing that we do is a lot of emotional support, and a lot of think-tank problem solving,” Frank explains. “Whenever we have problems, we’re both really good at being able to not be in each other’s business, but be able to give guidance from a similar business frame. Because we’re both service industry, so when we do come up with issues we’re able to balance and problem-solve for each other. Which is nice.”
At the end of each work day, Jennifer adds, “We don’t sit down cracking open QuickBooks and talking numbers, but we do talk about the stuff that matters because we have a mutual goal set and a mutual mindset. And the way we run our businesses is the way we run the rest of our lives.”
It seemed that destiny drew Jennifer Carey and Frank Prescott together; they met in 2006 at the Emerald Bar, on Central, and both remember it as love at first sight.
In an extraordinary coincidence (or was it?), it transpired that they both hailed from New Hampshire, and although their hometowns weren’t far apart, they’d never met before that night in at the Emerald. “We smelled New Hampshire from across the room,” Jennifer likes to say.
She had settled in northern Pinellas County in the late 1990s, and attended St. Pete College in Tarpon Springs, with no fixed idea on what she was going to do with her life.
She was, however, in a good deal of pain. In New England, she’d been injured in an auto accident, and was advised to look into traditional Chinese medicine; “I was just going to figure it out when I got here.” At school, another friend, who’d just become a chiropractor, suggested the same thing.
Jennifer agreed to accompany her friend to St. Petersburg to investigate the Florida Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine. “I wasn’t going to the school to check it out for myself,” she remembers. “I was driving her down because she was considering advancing her degree, to get her acupuncture degree.”
But Jennifer Carey was a big believer in instinct, and in listening to what her senses told her. “I’m really good at moving on the feeling,” she says. “I don’t let it pass.”
She was fascinated and intrigued by the school, by the sight and smell of hundreds of jarred herbs, and by the fact that Chinese medicine, when she started reading about it, was both ancient and natural. And effective – it took away her pain.
“All forms of traditional Chinese medicine are based on Channel Theory – moving energy from one place to another,” Jennifer explains.
“But I think I was just turned on my the mysticism of it all; all though high school, I’d worked in a Chinese food restaurant and I’d spent a lot of time with Asian families. I really liked being consumed by all of that. I walked into the school, and it was all Asian-educated, and they were playing with herbs and poking people. It met the darker sides of my brain for a minute and I went ‘Hmmmm. … What’s this about?’”
Four years after entering the school, she walked out a fully licensed practitioner. She was one of only a few American acupuncturists to attend an advanced clinical internship program at Zhejiang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Hang Zhou, China.
And then, she ran into Frank Prescott at the Emerald Bar.
Frank spent his childhood and teen years shuttling back and forth between New Hampshire and Florida; he was in his mid 20s when he settled in Tampa Bay.
He’d been a sales rep for technology firms, and had simplified his life considerably by 2006, the year he fell for Jennifer Carey. By then, he’d been a massage therapist, a bartender and a hairstylist in Tampa and St. Pete.
She was working at Acupuncture and Herbal Therapies, one of the area’s first outposts of Chinese medicine, when he cut the ribbon on Number 9 Salon. Thank You Mama opened in 2011.
Jennifer’s acupuncture clinic gained a more pronounced focus on women’s health – fertility, pregnancy, coaching, birthing and nurturing – following the birth of their first daughter. “It seemed to me that we had this big missing gap, of this enormously important experience of raising humans without a lot of support,” she explains. “Everybody was finding information on the internet and not really from their peer groups.
“So while we do take care of full families – it’s just natural that when you take care of Mommy, you end up taking care of everybody – we really do specialize in the whole feminine care line.”
Thus, Thank You Mama.
Number 9 Salon was so named for several reasons; John Lennon, who considered it his lucky number, name-dropped it in two famous songs. “So it’s a Beatles reference, plus it’s our favorite number,” Frank explains. “We got married in September, Jennifer’s birth was in September, and our daughter’s birth was in September.
“And in a lot of cultures, especially mystic-type cultures – think about John Lennon – it’s considered a complete, perfect, divine number. When we look at hair, you want to feel complete, divine and perfect when you’re done.”