By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jun 04, 2008 at 5:12 AM

Some people get massages to relieve stress; others, like Milwaukee's Melissa Mitchell, give them. Working for years as an underwriter for an insurance company, Mitchell was well-versed in strain, but it wasn't until she enrolled at Aveda Institute of Beauty and Wellness that she recognized its reach.

"I think every massage therapist has a story like that," she says. "Something happens in their life and they make the switch to doing something very relaxing. I thought I'd go to school and see if I liked massage."

Now, after a few years working at a spa, she's opened her own BODY Massage Studio at 207 E. Buffalo St. Mitchell occupies a small and intimate space on the fifth floor of the Third Ward's Marshall Building and specializes in various massage techniques, including deep tissue ($75 per hour), aromatherapy ($75 an hour), hot stone ($90 an hour) and reflexology ($45 per hour).

She cites reflexology as a good place to start for first-time clients. Essentially a foot massage, reflexology can feel like a full-body massage without having to put in the time for one.

"It's based on the principles that there are different meridians on the body and that everything is connected to the hands and soles of the feet," she says. "So, by massaging the feet and getting rid of the toxins or trouble spots in the foot you can relax the whole body."

Mitchell says most of her clients come to her with stress-related issues -- headaches and shoulder and back problems -- and she applies therapeutic practice to specific areas of chronic discomfort.

But there are different kinds of massages for different people, and, for the most part, Mitchell says she has a service for just about anyone.

"Not everyone has a sports injury. There's the woman with six kids who just wants to lie on the table and get a relaxation massage."

Her aromatherapy massage uses blended oils to relax, stimulate or detoxify while dissolving tension and stress throughout the body. There's also her BODY glow massage ($70 per hour), which exfoliates the body, then heats it with warm towels, then hydrates it with body butter.

"It feels good to be able to help people like that. There are so many stressed out people and so many horrific jobs, I don't think I'll ever run out of clients," she says.

Mitchell specifically sought out a Third Ward location for her studio, which she describes as boutique-y rather than big and flashy. She's open by appointment only, Tuesday through Saturday.

"People down here don't want to put on a robe and sit in a waiting room until someone calls their name. I provide one-on-one service and I think it's more peaceful for them, they don't feel overwhelmed, or feel like a number being pushed in or pushed out."

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”