Caroline Lilley, Spa Manager at Spa Sirene, Jersey, shares her story and valuable tips for Therapists!
When I was younger I thought the beauty industry was all about make-up, I’d spend hours doing my mum’s make-up and this was why I choose to go to college. I studied for 2 years at Thanet technical college and took qualifications with City and Guilds, IHBC and CIBTAC. During the course I realised there was much more to the industry than make- up and my passion for massage was ignited. I started my career in high street salons but soon moved in to the hotel sector, where it was a lot more massage and facials. I had the opportunity to build my own clientele and got a good following that allowed me then to branch off and open my own business in 1996.
Meet Caroline Lilley, Spa Manager at Spa Sirene, The Royal Yacht Hotel, Jersey.
Do you find there are any prejudices (good or bad) about choosing this industry as a career?
Initially a career in beauty was thought of as an easy option for people that didn’t get good grades. As I went to a grammar school my head mistress thought I had wasted my education but now hopefully people’s perception has changed and they realise our training involves a big amount of sciences both anatomy and physics, as all out actions have a direct effect on skin, muscle and all the systems of the body and when you then add in electrical currents you really have to be switched on and know your stuff.
How hard/easy was your journey - give some examples of some highs and some lows...
I have always been meticulous and prepared in all my ventures, so although I never liked accounts I made myself complete a small business course before I plunged in to the world of business. I also did a solid business plan which set me in very good stead when I had to approach the banks for financial backing. I religiously did my accounts every Sunday, which was a real struggle but this meant I could really keep on top of my cash flow, plan marketing and look to grow my business. This was rewarded by winning the “Best start up Business” in Kent in 1997 and was a fantastic tribute to all my hard work and long days that made me feel extremely proud of my achievement. It is also one of my greatest memories as my Mum was there to see me receive the award.
Whats been your biggest three challenges - and what did you do/are doing to overcome them?
Although my business was very successful and I had clients that followed me for 20 years, I hit a big crossroads in my personal life and decided I needed a new challenge in 2007. So I gave notice on my rental agreement, sold the business and moved to Jersey, where I started at the Royal Yacht Hotel as senior spa therapist. This was a very unsettling and challenging time for me but the friendliness and support of the hotel management team, help me settle quickly and I soon realised this was my home and became part of the management team. So I can now pass on this support and help any looking to relocate, as I can empathise with all the associated stress involved.
One of my challenges now is staff recruitment, we work in a very busy and well respected spa, so I look for therapist with exceptional skills and the personality to match. We have high standards and we will train the right staff however you need to be prepared to work hard, listen to constructive feedback and follow protocols. There is nothing better than nurturing a new staff member, watching them grow and achieve their full potential. I think that we have staff that have worked 8/9 years with us is testimony to us being a good company to work for, we endeavour to look after our staff and make them feel valued.
What message would you give to anyone considering a career in Spa?
Be ready for hard work and give yourself every career opportunity possible. Find your passion and stick to what you are good at.
What message would you give to people already working in Spa?
Look after yourselves, this is a tough industry and we do a very physical job. We advocate you take time during your day to make sure your posture is correct, drink plenty of water, eat well and get fresh air in your lunch break. I give my therapists tips on good stretches and encourage them to use the gym and pool for fitness and relaxation. We give our therapist 15 minute buffer time between treatments for product recommendations, room turn around and taking a cleansing breathe, so that each and every client gets the same level of customer service and standard of treatments. Always communicate with your manager if you are struggling with sore hands/wrists from massage, as I am sure they would prefer to know and help to find a solution if possible.
Spa Sirene are recruiting! Find out more here.