German-born and -bred Johannes Fisslinger knew that if he wanted to start his own unconventional "lifestyle" business in the world of New Age and alternative therapies, he would have to move to Los Angeles.
"To me, things are created in Los Angeles and then they go all over the world," said Fisslinger, 36, a former banker in Munich.
Today, Fisslinger runs what people from the East Coast might think of as a typical small business in La La Land: He makes machines for mall kiosks that read human auras.
Far out? Sure. But also lucrative. From $200,000 in sales in 1997, Fisslinger's Marina del Rey-based Aura Shop generated $1 million in sales last year, and is projecting $1.5 million this year.
Even Fisslinger admits his so-called "Aura Video Stations" would never fly in Europe, but says they're perfect for cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. "This convergence of technology and healing is so L.A.," Fisslinger says.
Bored with his conservative job, Fisslinger took a trip to Los Angeles for a vacation and decided to move here 13 years ago to study alternative therapies. He wrote several "New Age-type" books and started giving lectures.
In 1997, he invested $5,000 into the creation of his aura-reading machine, hiring a computer expert to develop the software and sensory box that, coupled with a computer system, became the Aura Video Station.
The system consists of a biofeedback glove attached to a computer that Fisslinger says translates electrical energy from a person's hand into on-screen colors. These colors change with a person's mood or thoughts, sort of an ultra-high-tech mood ring.
The concept might raise a few eyebrows among medical technicians, but it's popular among New Age therapists, paranormal researchers, chiropractors and other alternative therapy enthusiasts, who are willing to plunk down the $7,500 to $12,000 cost of the system. Sales to these therapists currently make up the bulk of Aura Shop's revenues, though Fisslinger has recently started selling aura-reading franchises to mall operators and store owners.
Sheila Moore, a hypno-therapist in San Diego, says the machine "has really taken over my practice. I have many people who come for aura interpretation."
The machines are also catching on among retailers and even major manufacturers.
DKNY's eyewear brand Marchon displayed Aura Shop machines at three of its fall fashion shows. The idea was for guests to match the colors of their auras to the colors of their sunglasses.
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