At the Float Conference every year we hear inspirational stories from float center owners who have carved a piece of the industry out in their salty image. Everyone defines “success” in their own way, and we thought it would be cool to share what that meant to some of the amazing people we know in the industry. Personally, I can’t think of anyone better to kick off this series than Carlos Casias, founder of Float Los Alamos. Many of you may even remember him from his talk during the Conference last year, “Tales from a Two Tank Float Center”.
We first met Carlos when he joined us in Portland for our Apprenticeship in January of 2015. His doors opened later that year in November.
As you can imagine, that year for him was, as he puts it, “ kind of a blur.”
A two tank center in a little town, Float Los Alamos’ path is a little non-traditional. However, that didn’t stop him from creating a delightful place that feels like a living room as soon as you step into it (with giant cozy massage chairs, no less!).
Carlos first found floating through, of course, Joe Rogan’s podcast. He recalled the particular episode that stuck with him, “I guess he hurt his back or his knee or something. He had just come off an injury. He just went to the tank and he felt a lot better. At that time I actually had like a lower back pain and a knee. So because he’d mentioned it so many times I figured, ‘well, what is this magic box, he’s referencing?’ I just did a Google search and found a couple of tanks in Albuquerque and figured, you know, maybe it could help me out.”
And it did.
Even after his first float, he noticed a serious improvement in his chronic pain, “I came out of the float and, yeah, there was a clear reduction and tightness and pain in my lower back and similarly with my knee. It felt like it was definitely less inflamed. That was my first float where I felt much better.”
Despite the numerous warnings he received during his Apprenticeship, Carlos found that running a two tank center in a small town was a bit more challenging than he had prepared for, “Graham said that two tank centers are going to struggle in being profitable.” He wished he had listened.
Instead, he thought, that since he was opening in his hometown that he might know the market enough to beat the odds. That ended up being mostly true, but not without learning some hard lessons.
At first, he had no idea exactly how demanding his float center was going to be, “you’re the owner, you’re the employee. You’re working all these hours…if you’re a smaller center in a smaller town, you’re going to be working quite a bit.”
He says, if he were to start a float tank center today, he’d probably do things a bit differently, “if I had to do it again, and I knew what I know right now, I don’t think I would open two tank center. Certainly not in my hometown like this. I would probably lean towards a four tank center in a neighboring town like Santa Fe or Albuquerque where I can just draw from simply a bigger population.”
And while he’s still working most nights while in Los Alamos, he has found his saving grace in complementary retail products to help supplement his float center’s revenue. Specifically cannabidiol (CBD) oil. As Carlos states, “[I have] the lion share in our town. Nobody else sells it, so people come to us to get CBD.” To Carlos, it’s been a really sensible pairing with floating. “We market it as ‘float-to-go’”
That’s not just catchy marketing, either, he sees it as an almost perfect comparison, “it does provide a calming and relaxing, anxiety-reducing effect. With some pain relief, some insomnia relief, stuff like that that really nears what the float actually gives a lot of people.” With that product tie-in, he’s found a lot of crossover between the two.
When his customers come in to buy his oil, he’s then “able to pitch floating to them or remind them to float if they have one on their account. We found that symbiotic relationship has been really, really helpful for us.”
Carlos isn’t the only float center owner that we’ve seen make this pairing, but seeing the impact it has had on his business has been enlightening, and he even speaks about it with a sort of reverence. “Quite honestly, it’s been a savior to us.”
Seeing someone we know and respect, like Carlos, find a way to overcome a major obstacle is genuinely inspiring. Especially in a time when success in the industry seems harder to come by than it used to be.
We really wanted to hear about what floating in Los Alamos is like first hand, so we interviewed one of Carlos’s regulars, Preston Botter.
Preston is a long time and avid floater that lives out in New Mexico. His job is very technically demanding, and he loves that in the tank he can “kinda just get lost and think more in a creative way.”
A very down to earth guy, when he speaks, he does so carefully and thoughtfully. He enjoys staying physically active, but as he puts it, “I’m just kind of nerdy I guess…I like being outdoors. I love basketball/racquetball. Also, I’m a statistician. I really like numbers.”
He’s been going to Float Los Alamos for a while now, but that’s not where he had his first float. He’s been a long time practitioner of mindfulness and meditation, so back in Nashville when he first heard that there was a float center out there (Float Nashville, run by the lovely Mark Chesshir and Amy Grimes) he had to try it. “Once I tried the first time, I was hooked,” Preston shared with us.
He was thoroughly surprised by how he felt in the tank, “I’d think meditation would be the only thing that can kind of give you, like, a decompressed feeling cognitively.” Hearing him talk about floating causes him to brighten up, “I just love that feeling and, you know, I could kind of be in the moment and just not really think of anything else.”
Once he moved out to New Mexico, it was six months before he found Carlos Casias, but as soon as he did, he became a regular, “I would say I go sometimes weekly, to monthly to bi-monthly… I’ve probably floated at least a hundred times.”
What keeps him coming back is, at least partly, just how unique the experience is, “we’re so used to living in gravity… it’s just such a different environment.” It helps that Carlos is such an interesting guy to talk to. The two have developed a strong bond after all this time.
For Preston, getting in the tank is so much more about how it affects his day to day life, rather than just the experiences during the float. “It’s more just the feeling afterward… Your brain is like a decompressed feel and lets you live in the moment more.”
He strongly recommends floating for “people who like to try new things and new experiences… There are lots of people who’d like it. People who want to challenge themselves and know they’ll get positive experiences from it.”
Thank you for checking out this first installment of our Float Success Stories. We’d love to hear from you, especially if your center has had to carve its own path and you’d like to share that with us. Feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.