When it comes to alternative medicine, Angela Harding, who, with her husband, William, and daughters Geal, 18, and Raye, 6, is co-owner of the Electric Strawberry Wellness Bar and Soul Repair Shop in Hot Springs, said she wants people to know this: It’s not the alternative.

 

“It was always the original,” she said. “Most of the alternative therapies that we look at were the original things that helped people heal.”

 

Also known as the 25th Infantry Division, the Electric Strawberry is the name of the Army platoon Angela’s father, Raymond Wade, served with during the Vietnam War. However, it is the “Soul Repair” part of the name that might give people pause.

 

“Soul repair is not quick,” Angela said. “It’s about learning who the self is and who you want to be, not who others tell you you have to be or what you think you should be because of the experiences you’ve had or the people you’ve aligned with. It’s about your relationship with yourself.”

 

angela-william-harding-electric-strawberry

 

Angela is a registered nurse who developed an interest in holistic wellness, which she practiced in Fort Worth before opening the Electric Strawberry in Hot Springs a little more than a year ago. 

 

“My grandmother was Cherokee Indian,” she said, “and when I became a nurse, I really was a little led astray, I suppose, as far as the line of healing I would be doing because I was actually taught to use the earth first and to know your own body, to know your own system and how to boost its immune system and how to prevent illness versus react to illness.”

 

At the shop, which also sells herbs and tinctures, she provides halotherapy, or salt therapy, as well as red light therapy, hypnotherapy, acupressure and Reiki, a form of energy work. In addition, she counsels people who are hoping to wean off some medications and incorporate more homeopathic treatments into their wellness routines.

 

angela-william-harding-electric-strawberry

 

The shop also offers special blends of coffee roasted in Palmer Lake, Colorado, as well as lotus teas, juices, gluten-free baked goods and vegan fare–ingredients for which are often sourced from the Hardings’ garden. There are also books available to read or buy.

 

“I think for me personally, it definitely superseded the growth of my business that I started in Fort Worth,” she said. “It has been a definite joy compared to that, lots of unexpected, wonderful community moments, and we just keep adding to and expanding out and that kind of thing and trying to give the community what it’s looking for.”

 

A frequent visitor to Hot Springs, the city was a meeting spot for her father and four brothers, who were all members of the military and who are all deceased. Before that, she said, the Native American side of her family came to the city for its famed water, and her grandfather on the other side of the family was a professional baseball player who came to Hot Springs for spring training.

 

angela-william-harding-electric-strawberry

 

She continued the tradition with her daughters by taking the family to Hot Springs once a quarter, she said. Finally, they decided to move there.

 

“We wanted to have a different lifestyle and live where we want to be and bring things to that versus working so much,” she said. “As far as the journey of opening, we found an older home, and we renovated it and brought some love and light into it.”

 

William, who has a background in engineering and now works in computer programming, said he enjoys making coffee, completing maintenance work and picking up other odd jobs at the shop. 

 

“When I’m an engineer, I have zeros and ones,” he said. “That’s it. It is on or off. It is black or white, but when I’m here, I get to have feelings and share those with people and have fun.”

 

Angela said her husband is a valued part of the soul repair shop. The two met at age 12 while attending junior high in Grand Prairie, Texas, and have been married for nearly 30 years.

 

angela-william-harding-electric-strawberry

 

“He’s a very active participant in other souls that come in that need an ear to talk to or an unjudging heart to just listen or have a cup of coffee with,” she said. “He’s very good at that.”

 

William is a big proponent of the food and beverages available in the shop, and he recommended the strawberry habanero jam–all proceeds from which benefit the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

 

“Just before Memorial Day, we were able to give a check to the local VFW, and they were able to purchase flags for some of the service men and women’s graves that weren’t able to have it,” he said. 

 

Regarding the shop’s acclaimed coffee, the couple has been working with their coffee roaster in Colorado for about a decade, William said, adding that the elevation allows the beans to open up more and have a smoother, more robust flavor with less acidity. 

 

angela-william-harding-electric-strawberry

 

“With lower acid comes lower gluten reaction, which was really important to me because I love coffee, but I was also trying to give it a healthy kick,” Angela added. 

 

The house blend is named 11W27, and the espresso blend is 15W33—a reference to engine oil grades and another homage to Angela’s father.

 

“When he came back from Vietnam, the three things that he’d really like to do were drink a good cup of coffee, read a book and work on cars, so we kind of put an oil can flair on our coffee blend,” William said. 

 

That influence can be found throughout the shop, from service package names such as the tuneup or body shop repair to the check engine light in the healing room.

 

angela-william-harding-electric-strawberry

 

“He’d always say, ‘Make sure your engine’s running right, including your body,’” Angela said. “He would always use the car to kind of relate it back to his physical body.”

 

There is no shortage of services at the Electric Strawberry to help nurture the body, and one of the most prominent is halotherapy, in which clients sit in a room saturated with Himalayan salt. 

 

The salt can neutralize toxins in the body, improve breathing and help the body achieve a neutral pH balance, Angela said, adding that the practice can help with autoimmune disorders, respiratory conditions, skin conditions, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, and even help jockeys and horses prepare and recover from races. 

 

She said she used a portable salt machine to provide halotherapy to the horses at Lone Star Park in Texas and hopes to do the same for the horses at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs. She added that the shop has several loyal customers who are jockeys and horse trainers.

 

angela-william-harding-electric-strawberry

 

“The jockeys, a lot of them are not from America,” she said. “They’re from different places all over the world, and they already are kind of on that salt bandwagon, so they use cryotherapy and salt therapy to really help their physical bodies.”

 

In addition to being a registered nurse, certified hypnotherapist, certified halotherapist and Reiki master teacher, Angela is a certified life coach and an ordained minister. Her degrees in applied science and religion speak to her dual interests, which she joined for her wellness career.

 

She also said she is a natural-born medium who first discovered her gift at age 3 and now provides tarot readings and classes on psychic development to those who seek to deepen their intuitive abilities or gain insight into a problem.

 

“We try to have conversations that, I guess, touch on other subjects they may not know they can talk about in public,” she said. “I want everyone to feel like they can ask questions. Even if we don’t know the answers, we’ll direct them in a direction where they can find their happiness and their peace.”

 

angela-william-harding-electric-strawberry

 

In its short time open, the shop has become an active part of the Hot Springs community. The family allows local artists to display and sell their work there, and the shop hosts a wide variety of events, as well. The Electric Strawberry hosts movie nights, book clubs, yoga events and more, and it participates in World Wellness Weekend in September. For its one-year anniversary in March, it hosted the Salty Awards, honoring community members who show strength and perseverance. 

 

“Everybody needs something different to help their soul repair,” Angela said. “Some people need the halotherapy. Some people need the cup of coffee. Some people just need a room and 10 minutes they can be alone, and other people just need to display and do their art.”

 

The family is working on a soul revival suite that will provide an overnight experience with access to the salt room and a morning cup of joe.

 

“You can read, and you can listen to music, and you can do your art, and you can dance and be who you need to be and repair a little bit, almost like a little respite area, whether you’re a caregiver or whether you’re caring for yourself,” Angela said. “It will be a place where people can lay their head and know they’re safe and happy and cared for.”

 

 

angela-william-harding-electric-strawberry

 

William said that, at the end of the day, he hopes that people who visit the shop find a place where they belong. That is a big part of being in the soul repair business.

 

“You’re with us, and that helps repair our souls, and as we’re repairing our souls, we’re repairing the souls of everybody that comes in — mind, body and soul,” he said. “It is holistic, and we want to be there for and also with everybody that comes in, and leave somebody with a bit of a smile that they may not have had or a bigger smile than they already came in with.”

 

To Angela, one of the sweetest parts of owning the Electric Strawberry is knowing that she is honoring her father and others who served or serve in the military.

 

“We do have a lot of veterans that are retired and still, both, in active duty that recognize what that name means, and to my dad, that meant that you never stop, and you took care of your own and taught them how they could be the best that they could be,” she said. “Being an Electric Strawberry or having that name above our building, it makes us want to be better, and it makes us want to show our fellow people in the community that they can be better, no matter what they’re going through.”

 

READ ALSO: Local Luminary: Kelly Wassell, Chocolatier