After 20 years, Lei Jin has returned to Forest Park, opening a new massage studio, Soleful Massage, 7616 Madison St., on April 10.
“It’s an immigrant dream come true,” said Jenny Jin, sister of the owner, Lei Jin.
Because Lei Jin does not feel comfortable speaking English, Jenny Jin told the Forest Park Review a little more about Soleful Massage.
Jenny said Lei arrived in the U.S. in 1998, trading his hometown of Qingdao, China, for Oak Park because his then-wife was pregnant with a baby girl.
The two already had a son and, because China had a policy at the time that limited households to one child per couple, the two would have had to abort the baby.
Lei was an electrical engineer, who owned a business producing microchips in northern China. The two sold the business, fled China and sought refuge in Jenny’s house in Oak Park, with just three suitcases holding everything they owned.
Jenny moved to the U.S. in 1993 for school and moved to the Chicagoland area after graduating, attracted by the diverse, big city life. She is a realtor and certified public accountant.
Lei and then-wife, Xiaoling Zhang, had daughter that year, born a U.S. citizen. They named her Alice.
When Lei arrived to America he delivered food and attended a Chinese church service in Oak Park. One day, the church roof started leaking, and the pastor complained about how expensive American contractors were.
Lei offered to repair the roof. The pastor gave him the job, the roof never leaked again and Lei started doing small construction jobs around town.
At that time, Jenny said Forest Park was doing a major renovation of its downtown area.
“When we came the street was being torn upside down, but we saw the opportunity,” Jenny said.
Lei bought the mixed-use residential building at 7616 Madison St. in 2000, renovated it and raised his family upstairs.
As the young couple established themselves in America, Lei worked to get his electrician license – eventually becoming a specialized electrician with the city of Chicago and starting his own construction firm, Jin’s Electric Company.
The two became acquainted with their new home, and Lei marveled at how different the healthcare systems were between the U.S. and China. Lei’s mother was a doctor, and his former wife was a radiologist.
“If you combined all the nations, the whole universe, you would not spend as much on healthcare as we spend in America,” Jenny said.
Lei believed that Americans would be healthier if they focused on preventing diseases, and that massages were one way to do that.
He became a certified masseuse and, along with his construction business, opened a massage business in Buffalo Grove. The new massage studio in Forest Park represents his second venture.
“His goal is to put a doctor out of business,” Jenny joked. “He wants to make a difference one person at a time. We have a saying in Chinese, ‘Food is medicine.’ Eat right and take care of yourself, it’s all about prevention.”
Soleful Massage is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and offers foot massages, traditional Chinese massages and more. Massages run from $30 to $120, depending on the service.