I was 25 years old living in Los Angeles, CA and my boyfriend and I had just bought a successful wellness practice. We were bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, optimistic, and ambitious. We broke up within a few months, but managed to remain friendly business partners. Things went well for the first year or so.
I hired a few therapists and we ran a marketing promotion similar to groupon which brought in hundreds of new clients. Over half of those new clients were Armenians. We had a difficult time retaining any of them. Some of them didn't speak english. The 5% of Armenians that we retained were the most wonderful people and we'll always remember them and love them! But generally speaking they prefer to support each other's businesses. Same with the Korean population. They were about 15% of the new clients coming in from the promo and I don't think we retained any of them at all. Mostly because we did not speak Korean. Los Angeles is strangely segregated even though it's very diverse. The clients we did retain were an open minded group that embraced us and our work. They were loyal to our business and we were very appreciative.
The next year was the 2008 recession. My business partner started getting stressed out. We were not on the same page about how to run the business. Then, I became stressed out. I felt like I was swimming upstream between the arguments with my business partner, the recession, and the fact that our ideal clientele were a small part of the surrounding population. I burned out hard and decided I couldn't stay in it any longer. I'm still sad thinking about walking away from that business, but I had to leave. My partner hired his new girlfriend to replace me and they only stayed open for six months longer before they closed. I was really sad about that too.
Soon after I left, I started seeing a guy who wasn't working much and we were both feeling like it was time to move out of Los Angeles. So we packed up our cars with everything we owned inside of them. I strapped my massage table to the roof of my old nissan sentra and we started driving towards New York!
We ended up in Utica, NY where his family lived. This was 2009. It was a very depressed area in a depressed time. There was one lonely little yoga/wellness studio that looked like it had just opened. It was empty. Like painfully empty. The community was not supporting it. At least not at that time. The culture was mostly into drinking, eating, and gambling. A stark contrast to the wellness world I just came out of.
When I was offered a chair massage gig at a local poker night, I reluctantly accepted because I really needed to make some money. When I showed up the air was thick with cigar smoke and the men were binging on beer and pizza. I got through it, made my $150, and left at 10:00pm. I felt so low that night. I know that might some snobby because there are plenty of therapists who would be happy with that gig, but it just was so far from the vision I had of my life as a wellness practitioner.
I set some strong intentions that week. I want to move to a place where I can thrive! Where I'm respected and appreciated for my work. Where people can easily afford regular massage and bodywork. Where health and wellness is embraced as part of the culture. I was so ready to be back in my glory and just do what I do. I wanted things to feel easier.
I knew in one month Utica was not the place for me to thrive. Well wouldn't you know it, later that week my boyfriend was offered a job in Stamford, CT. I looked him dead in the eye and said, "We're going." I had no clue if Stamford was any better than where we were, but I was beyond ready to leave. So we packed up and moved to Stamford.
When I got to Connecticut, I was so pumped to realize we were in one of the wealthiest areas in the country. And the health and wellness culture was growing like crazy. I wanted to get my massage license right away and start manifesting my vision!
Painfully, I learned that none of my California hours were accredited and Connecticut wouldn't accept them towards my massage license.
I got a job at a wellness center teaching yoga and we figured out a loophole where I could practice "bodywork" under the owner's massage license. After a few months of working for someone else, I realized if I didn't go back to school I would always be in this awkward situation. So I went to massage school again!! This was a very painful decision to make.
I signed up for the 1000 hour program which would take two years to complete. It was a long two years to get my license, but I got through it and graduated in the top of my class. That's not impressive though, since I had already been a massage therapist for 7 years prior!! I learned in the process that I wanted to teach someday because I felt there was a lot of valuable information that wasn't being taught. But now that I had my license it was finally time for me to thrive! To bring my vision to fruition!
Connecticut was the exact place I had set my intentions about. Isn't that funny how that works? I started building my clientele quickly. It felt easy! When I got to $4000/month I felt like I was getting back on my feet again as a private practitioner.
Fast forward, I hired a mentor/coach to help me build my private practice to over $100k+/year at lightning speed. Which we did (and I've maintained those numbers for six years now). We built CE classes for me to teach and follow through on my desire to give back to LMT's. Which we did. Then, we built out my 6-month one on one Mentoring program for LMT's and I've been offering this program for the last two years.
Today, right now, I can access all of the pain and pleasure of my career. The highs. The lows. The wins. The losses. I faced so many challenges and overcame so many obstacles.
Did I have to go through all of that to deserve the success I have now? Perhaps. I'm grateful for the humility, wisdom, and personal growth these experiences provided me.
Do you have to go through all of that to deserve success in your career? Geez I hope not! In fact, I hope you just said out loud, "Hell no!"
You do not have to go through all of that drama to be successful. In fact, one of the many reasons I mentor LMT's now, is to help them avoid the unnecessary mistakes they might make.
I have learned from working with LMT's that no one's life is "easy." That everyone is dealing with their unique struggles and challenges. I have a lot of compassion because I understand the feeling of trying to be successful while life keeps throwing you curveballs. And yet success is certainly at hand.
I know the power of intentions. And the power of teaming up with mentors. And the power of a person with a strong spirit. And the power of a heart that wants to serve others.
This is what fuels me now. Why I wake up and do what I do. What fuels you?
Would you like to start your private practice? Would you like to uplevel your private practice? LMT's thriving in their private practice are my people!!
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Life can be great. It really can. I truly hope you are right now overcoming all of your current life challenges and feel inspired to go for your dreams. If you'd like to team up with me to speed things up, I'm here to help.
Let's be extraordinary,
Melinda Loo, LMT, Mentor, Educator