35 years ago, it was something new to further education and it was this or nursing!! Beauty Therapy won!!
What route did you take in?
I did a three year full time course with CGLI and IHBC, in a higher education college. I really appreciated my place on the training course, as there were only 12 places per year when I trained, there had been over 400 applicants the year I was accepted.
Do you find there are any prejudices (good or bad) about choosing this industry as a career?
I have seen huge changes in the industry, at the beginning it was considered glamorous and the job of an ‘airhead’, anyone doing massage therapy would have a few smutty jokes thrown at them! As an industry we have worked so hard to raise the bar and now deliver a very different image, that of caring, well informed, and comprehensively trained individuals, supporting the health and wellbeing of the nation. It makes me hugely proud to see what we together, have already and continue to achieve.
How hard/easy was your journey - give some examples of some highs and some lows...
Like all career pathways, there are ups and downs. I was very fortunate to have started with my own small beauty salon, which paved the way to learning lots quickly! I have loved every day of my ‘journey’, and will always say it’s a way of life for me far more than a mere job.
The highs must be the continued growth, and evidently the career opportunities that this has afforded me. As a creative and very focused individual I can’t think of a way of life that could possibly present more openings and worthwhile avenues, all of which I and others like me continue to explore, culminating in the size of industry today, where we are seeing exponential growth, and recent figures showing Global Wellness Tourism stands at 17% of complete global travel. That’s a big number.
I guess the lows have been long physically hard hours working to achieve outcomes that others thought were perhaps an unnecessary ‘waste of time’, decision makers in hospitality who took some serious convincing that the Spa world would be lucrative at all. For many years I feel I was always wanting to prove a point, and that Spa should be recognised as a serious profession. Thanks to many of my peers, together we now see this, and have paved a great way forward for those new to the industry.
What’s been your biggest three challenges - and what did you do/are doing to overcome them?
- On initially qualifying, setting up a salon, there were exceptionally few job opportunities then, and making a salon work with services that were relatively newly available to the public was a big test of my staying power. There was very little profitability, but I loved it, and worked long hours to build a good clientele. My enthusiasm won the day, and I soon found that I had a very busy business on my hands.
- Demonstrating to decision makers and holders of the purse strings in large organisations that they needed to invest. Many times I have felt that I needed to personally demonstrate that Spa is worthwhile and can be a good revenue stream, it’s only in recent years that this has been truly recognised. I have been in a situation where senior management thought there have been typo errors on revenue lines, and couldn’t actually believe something as ‘minor and incidental’ as Spa could possibly be so worthwhile. Oh how times have changed.
- Biggest challenge ever is launching my own Spa brand into the Spa arena. The old cliché ‘blood, sweat and tears’ are the key words here. Incredible what lengths passion can take you to, I know I have a fantastic if uphill and rugged journey ahead of me, but I absolutely love every single second, and find myself continually inspired by the true story behind my brand. I still have to pinch myself to check it’s real!
What message would you give to anyone considering a career in Spa?
Don’t think it’s easy, and don’t believe it’s glamorous. Do believe it is the most job satisfyingly career move you could ever make. The people are immense, the support from the Spa community is immeasurable, and the opportunities are huge. The “Spa Family’ is a wonderful way to fill your life, and to know you have the wellbeing and happiness of the nation at your fingertips is something astoundingly extraordinary.
What message would you give to people already working in Spa?
Something that I read when I newly qualified and has always stayed with me….. “don’t do the job for the money, do it for the passion and the rewards will follow’. Never a truer word!