‘Professional cuddler’ has people queuing up to sample hugs at £75 a pop07/12/2022
A "professional cuddler" has clients queueing up to pay £75 for an hour-long hug.
Trevor Hooton, 30, AKA "Treasure", set up the business several months back which focuses on "cuddle therapy".
The cuddlier, who is based in Bristol, charges up to £75 for an hour-long cuddle session and business appears to be booming.
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Dubbed Embrace Connections the business also offers other services including "connections coaching" to give a help in hand to those struggling to connect with others.
Treasure, who is non-binary, says the business offers more than just a hug, as their work is also about "pouring care, affection and goodwill into someone through touch."
It's said that people can misunderstand what they actually do, with some people thinking it falls into the category of sex work.
Treasure, who is originally from Montreal, Canada, said: "I built a business based on my passions for building human connections.
"Many people struggle to make those and that's where I step in – it's more than just cuddling, it's giving people the things they need, whatever that might be.
"With cuddle therapists, you're hiring their time, attention and care. It's more than just hugging a stranger.
"Some people do find it a little awkward at first, but that's totally normal, and they quickly feel comfortable.
"People should ask themselves 'if you could have an hour to do nothing but feel cared for, supported and loved, how would it make you feel?'"
It was a decade ago that Treasure first began looking into the science behind human connection, and they found it fascinating.
It took until last year for them to turn the infatuation into a business, which they launched in May 2022.
Embrace Connections offers a range of different services including its most popular "connections coaching" – a session which aids your ability to build relationships with others.
People are also said to be hugely fascinated by "cuddle therapy" that can cost up to £75 for an hour's cuddle session.
Describing the service, Treasure said: "It's always a non-sexual, platonic intimacy, based on whatever the person wants.
"We meet, go over guidelines to ensure we're on the same page, and then structure the session based on what they want and their boundaries.
"There is a lot of checking in to see how they feel and what they want – whatever helps them to feel safe and calm."
Treasure also explained how the unusual service is different for everyone, and it can take some work to find the most effective approach.
They also admitted it can be a little uncomfortable at first, but it's worth sticking with the process to achieve results.
Treasure explained: "It can be awkward, it's a weird thing and not typical for most people to step into being intimate with a stranger.
"People come with their own insecurities or preconceptions but I do my best to help find a place where they are comfortable.
"And if the person starts to feel the start of something sexual, we communicate about that and back off, because it needs to be non-sexual intimacy."
Even though £75 a pop may seem a lot to some, Treasure explained it's not simply about hugging a stranger.
They have studied the theory behind it, and covered both the psychological and medical background.
Treasure said: "It's about communication and building trust – when you hire a cuddle therapist, you are hiring their time, attention and care.
"When I am giving a hug to someone, I'm pouring in care, affection and goodwill through that touch.
"Hugging a stranger doesn't do much, it has to be someone who cares about you."
Treasure even thinks people are missing out if they don't realise the service exists – they claimed professional cuddling is "not a novel service".
But hugging isn't the only service up for grabs as they also offer connections coaching sessions that come in at £90 for 90 minutes.
There are also pair massage classes, which are priced at £120 for 90 minutes and individual or couples' AcroYoga priced at £60 for one hour.
Treasure said if more people were aware of the service then a lot more people would use it.
They said: "People have mistaken what I do for being an escort service, or prostitution.
"I can understand people might think it, but that's not what I do.
"It's just about helping people to feel good, safe and calm through human touch.
"If someone is on the fence about whether to give it a go, I'd tell them to ask themselves this:
"'If you could have an hour to do nothing but feel cared for, supported and loved, how would it make you feel?'"
Treasure has only been working on Embrace Connections full time for a few months, but they said they are "confident" it will become a success as they work to develop the business.
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