Meet Tulip Tree Healing Arts Collective, operating at the intersection of creativity and wellness

​​When Julia Hyndman woke up on her 26th birthday in Charleston, SC, she knew it was time to make a change and move home to Fort Wayne.
“It felt like this calling, and as it unraveled itself, I realized it was also this need for the emotional support of my family,” Hyndman says.
She originally moved to Charleston for art school and had been working there throughout her early 20s, accruing “a scary amount of debt” and using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. She knew she needed to move home to take care of her mental health and save money. She wanted to reset her life and refocus on a goal she’d had since she was a kid: Starting her own business.
Julia Hyndman, owner of Tulip Tree Healing, hula hoops.From the time Hyndman was in fourth grade, she remembers her father being an entrepreneur. He owned a factory called Hyndman Industrial Products, which makes coils and heating elements for tools, like kilns, e-cigarettes, hair dryers and refrigerators.
But while Hyndman shared her father’s entrepreneurial spirit and desire to work with her hands, her interests were different. Shortly after college, on a brief return to Fort Wayne, she began studying Thai massage with a renowned somatic Thai bodyworker, Jill Harman, owner of Yin Thai studio at the corner of Forest Hill and Fernwood avenues.
“I stayed in touch with Jill when things were really tough in Charleston, and she was a great mentor to me,” Hyndman says. “Honestly, I started studying Thai massage because I thought it was cool, and everyone I met in the massage or yoga community seemed so confident and sure of themselves. I wanted to be like that, too.” 
Julia Hyndman, Owner of Tulip Tree Healing, practices Thai massage with a client.
So when Hyndman moved home to Fort Wayne in 2019, she enrolled in Harman’s Joy of Embodiment program, which focused on mentorship. After completing it, she kept studying with Harman as her mentor, learning more about the fundamentals and transformative nature of Thai massage.
“It brings greater awareness to the felt senses of the body,” Hyndman says. “All too often in the Western world, we’re focused solely on our thoughts and minds, and we tend to put our bodies to the side. But adopting a more Eastern view in a practice like Thai massage allows us to support that awareness of coming into our body and the felt senses of the body.”
Thai massage is an ancient modality that originated in India. Unlike other massage techniques, where a client lies passively on a bed, it involves the client lying on the floor and actively participating in the massage, using gentle pressure and stretching techniques to relax the whole body. It is believed to lower stress, boost energy, and improve athletic performance, among other benefits.

While Thai massage is frequently Westernized by practitioners in the U.S., Harman and Hyndman have worked diligently to study from indigenous practitioners based in Thailand and Malaysia, so they are part of the authentic lineage of the modality, down to studying languages, like Poly and Sanskrit.

“We study these languages so we can read and practice,” Harman says. “Otherwise, many things are lost in translation.”
As Hyndman kept studying Thai massage with Harman, the experience changed her life. She stopped using harmful substances, got her finances in order, and even purchased a home in Fort Wayne’s Bloomingdale neighborhood in 2020.
Julia Hyndman practices Thai massage with a client.This “180-degree transformation” is what inspired Hyndman to share the power of Thai massage and bodywork with others by launching her own small business called Tulip Tree Healing Arts Collective in 2022. Hyndman says she operates at the intersection of creativity and wellness, using bodywork, somatics, and coaching to help her clients, much in the same way she was helped by her practice and Harman’s instruction.
“What I offer is kind of like massage, meditation and guidance combined,” Hyndman says. “Sometimes, there’s a discussion or coaching element to it, there’s breathwork; some people even consider it physical therapy-esq. because I send them home with exercises.”
In addition to her somatic Thai bodywork, stress release coaching and prenatal massages, she also hosts ecstatic (or freeform) dances in various locations across Fort Wayne, as well as art workshops and hula hoop classes. She also sells her artwork at markets, along with Culture Cross jewelry, an affordable line of bohemian jewelry that benefits a performing arts school for children in Cambodia.
Julia Hyndman talks with vistors at her booth at Garden Night Market.
She still trades services with her mentor, Harman, too, and teaches somatics classes at Yin Thai.

Harman, who has been studying and practicing Thai massage with mentors around the world for decades now, believes the breadth of Hyndman’s work is one element that makes her practice unique.

“What stands out to me about Julia is that she is very collaborative,” Harman says. “She builds connections and collaborates with a lot of different people through her ecstatic dances and other offerings, like hooping classes. She is always thinking about: How can we do this together?”
This desire to collaborate and build more community around the healing arts in Fort Wayne is part of Hyndman’s plans for the future of Tulip Tree. So far, she has been offering massages out of a treatment room at her home, and setting up shop for her art at local markets, like the monthly Night Markets at The Garden. But she hopes to find a permanent, brick-and-mortar for her business soon.
“My goal is to have a space with multiple treatment rooms and multiple massage therapists or practitioners of some sort and also provide space for artists in the community to sell their work,” Hyndman says. “At the very least, I’d like to have more artists’ work available for sale at my booth at markets.”
Julia Hyndman, Owner of Tulip Tree Healing.Even so, she knows building a sustainable business in the arts and massage therapy is no easy task. While living in Charleston, she tried starting a previous creative business on her own without any direction.
“The reality was: I racked up $10,000 in debt, trying to start my business,” Hyndman says.

So this time around, she’s taking advantage of every resource available to her. Before launching Tulip Tree, she enrolled in SEED Fort Wayne’s Build Institute program in the summer of 2021, which prepared her to take a more calculated risk on her concept.
Julia Hyndman practices Thai massage with a client.“It was very useful for me because I was ready to make a business plan and have assistance and direction,” Hyndman says. “Every week of the Build program, we focused on a different aspect of creating a business, and it helped me break down all the different steps involved and feel confident enough to take action, like getting an LLC, finding an accountant, and setting my price point.”
She also attended a training class for creative-minded business owners at Wunderkammer Company, which helped her connect with more peers in the local arts community.
“Some of the people in that class I’m still friends with to this day,” Hyndman says.
Throughout the process of building and growing her business, community support has been another crucial component. While she runs the massage and bodywork portion of Tulip Tree herself, she’s hired a production team of two assistants, Alejandro Soto and Ursula Erin, for her monthly ecstatic dances, which she compares to large, freeform and sober dance parties. 
Julia Hyndman, owner of Tulip Tree Healing, hula hoops.
“There’s live music or a DJ, and nobody is guiding you on the dance floor,” Hyndman says. “Everyone is on their own journey, dancing like nobody is watching, so the feedback you get from people is they end up reaching states that they didn’t know they could reach without substances---states of euphoria, clarity, insights or realizations about themselves. You find that people feel this deep connection with others without using any verbal communication, just using their bodies.”
While her work might sound nontraditional in Fort Wayne, Hyndman believes that’s part of Tulip Tree’s appeal and value proposition.
“From what I see, there is not another business like this in Fort Wayne,” she says. “If you go to Chicago, LA, Denver, or Portland, they have businesses similar to mine. I believe Fort Wayne is on the rise, and the city deserves and needs a space like this for kids who are growing up here; I feel like I needed this space as a teenager growing up in Fort Wayne.”
Learn more

Julia Hyndman of Tulip Tree Healing can be reached at [email protected]. If anyone is interested, she encourages them to reach out about a partnership, attend an ecstatic dance, or book a free 15-minute consultation with her.

Her next ecstatic dance is scheduled for June 16 at 6 p.m. at Silverbirch Studios. It will be a Solstice Dance, featuring Ben Caron, a traveling musician from LA. Tickets are available for a sliding scale fee from $5-20. Additional ecstatic dances are scheduled for July 30 and Sept. 3, as well as a special art and dance experience with The Garden on Sept. 9 called Easy Steppin’.

Hyndman is also teaching a somatics class on June 14 at 6:30 p.m. and a hula hoop class on June 27 at 6:30 p.m. Learn more on her website.
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Read more articles by Kara Hackett.

Kara Hackett is a Fort Wayne native fascinated by what's next for northeast Indiana how it relates to other up-and-coming places around the world. After working briefly in New York City and Indianapolis, she moved back to her hometown where she has discovered interesting people, projects, and innovations shaping the future of this place—and has been writing about them ever since. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @karahackett.