Holiday Party? It’s Not Too Late!

I’ve made it my goal to host a monthly event at my office. It’s good for the community, it’s a pretty solid marketing effort, and it keeps me out of trouble. 

In November I hosted a holiday shopping themed event. I offered free hand scrub/hand massage treatments…and I made four dozen sugar cookies and over $300 in sales! (This number may sound paltry to those of you operating out of a large, multi-service-provider business, but for this lone wolf it was a big deal.)

Most importantly, I got to spend time with people who mean a lot to me and it was fun

I managed to fit a treatment area, retail display and cookie station in my little hobbit hole of an office. Yay!

I managed to fit a treatment area, retail display and cookie station into my little hobbit hole of an office. Yay!

Here are some tips I’ve collected regarding successful office events:

  • Spend your event budget wisely. Events can be cookies and laughs. It doesn’t make sense to spend more money on hosting an event each month than what the event brings in.
  • Invest in visually interesting games, food, products for sale, decorations, etc. You can Instagram the hell out of these things!
  • Push yourself to come up with event ideas that match up well with your existing clients’ expectations. Will they respond best to a monthly event that’s pretty much the same each time, or an off-the-wall themed event that’s different each month? Somewhere in my idea queue there’s a Pajama Cereal Party that’s just waiting to become reality!
  • Post the event on your website and in your newsletter, flyer local businesses and bulletin boards, make a Facebook event and invite people to it, etc. Remind people about the event using these tools, too. 
  • Remember that an event isn’t a failure if you don’t sell anything during the actual shindig. People who enjoyed your event will likely purchase things and schedule services at a later date. 
  • If the idea of hosting events sounds like a dreaded chore, find a way to do it on your terms and make it fun. If you can’t do this, don’t host an event. 

I already have my Annual Holiday Brie Feast planned for December 14th! If you’ll be in Vegas then, stop by and let me fill your belly in a manner not unlike that of a Sicilian grandma. 

Popping The Bubble

Cliques. Tribes. The Matrix, even.

If we gaze at the masses long enough we realize it’s a ubiquitous scenario: People doing things, building things and marketing things while being surrounded by their own people. Bubble People. 

Bubble People are a fine people. Most of them are very nice and we have things in common with them. This is exactly why we spend so much time interacting with Bubble People. Bubble People got our backs. 

But what happens when we want to do, build or market something that could benefit from (or depend on) connecting with people from beyond The Bubble? Should we remain safely surrounded by Bubble People in a spherically-shaped fortress that cannot expand without breaking? Or do we deliberately destroy this bubbly barrier, leaving ourselves vulnerable, opening ourselves up to outside influence, ideas and opinions?

We must decide, because we cannot do both. 

Bubble People are typically easy. They don’t care that we haven’t showered or put pants on by 4 PM on a Wednesday. “Go for it!”, they cheer. “Best idea ever! Keep doing what you’re doing! Don’t ever change it! It’s perfect!”

You’re perfect.

But maybe — just maybe — perfect is something we were never meant to be. 

A bubble for your thoughts?

Practice Promoting Parties

The other evening I hosted a Halloween gathering at my office so I could roll out my new product line while having fun with friends (both new and old). I supplied yummy treats from Target and Costco, handed out those ridiculous plastic vampire teeth that glow in the dark, and offered free mini facials using products from the new line. Oh, and I brought my theremin for everyone to play with! Here’s a video…

The Halloween event went so well I’m thinking I’ll host a monthly themed fun thing. Next month’s shindig will probably feature free hand massages using the line’s hand cream. Attendees will be able to choose their scent from a variety of testers, and tubes will be available for purchase. If I’m feeling super adventurous I may even supply warm paraffin wax, plastic gloves, and doughnuts. 

I’ve hosted office events in the past and I’m always amazed by how well they turn out. For the first 30 minutes I worry that I’ve bought way too much food and that nobody will show up to eat it, but 30 minutes after that guests show up in droves and the party is in full swing!

Aside from the obvious fun to be had, here are some other things I like about hosting a party at the office that’s open to the public. Many of my fabulous guests have:

  • met other guests (laughter and networking ensue)
  • asked questions about services and products
  • purchased retail items and gift certificates
  • booked appointments
  • tried new things without feeling obligated (mini facials!)
  • given valuable feedback on products, services and party ideas
  • checked in and posted about the party on social media
  • explored the office and building, sometimes for the first time
  • signed up to receive a monthly email newsletter
  • told their friends how much fun they had at the silly little spa in that silly old building

Have you ever hosted an office party? What was the occasion? What worked best? What would you change the next time (if there is a next time)?

10 Things Your Mother Never Told You About Entrepreneurship

Since posting about my resort spa-leaving in October, a handful of lovely people have approached me to express their own desires to go out on their own and become entirely self-employed. Some have asked questions like “what’s the first step?” or “how do I find clients?”. I hope to share my insight on these matters briefly yet somewhat competently in this post.

Let me start by mentioning that no two paths to entrepreneurship will be the same. Each of us are born into individual circumstances, raised in different environments, given unique opportunities, and influenced by factors specific to our own lives. I share some of my experiences here, modestly hoping that at least one small, useful part resonates with someone out there in our virtual living room. If you have an entrepreneurial story of your own – good, bad, even completely unrelated to massage therapy – I encourage you to share it in the comments section. Entrepreneurship is one of those blog topics that can only benefit from group participation, and I thank you in advance. Now let the listing commence!

 

  1. Identify your vision. What kind of work are you passionate about doing? What types of products are you passionate about using? I love doing many kinds of massages and spa treatments, but foot massage is right up there at the top of the list. I also like using luxurious creams and oils that are beneficial to the skin (this is especially important here in the Mojave Desert). So I opened a little day spa that specializes in feet. Pinpointing your passion will help you to hone in on your signature offerings, which will set you apart from the chain massage clinics down the street. This is one of the first steps to building your identity as a business.
  2. Get cozy with your branding and stay consistent. Maybe you live in a small town and you’re the only massage therapist within 200 miles. You can probably afford to name your business “AAAAA Massage Therapy” even if everyone hates the name. But in my experience, I’ve found that in a marketplace full of half-baked business ventures and forgettable distractions, having a fun, clever or thoughtful name is a plus. It also helps to keep you on track when you’re considering the overall feeling that your brand conveys. “Feetish Spa Parlor” has always been very Victorian in my mind, so I keep my branding consistent with that vision as much as I can. Victorian influenced furniture, cabinets, ceiling tiles, lighting fixtures, décor…even the typefaces and clip art used on my signs and printed materials are reminiscent of the time. Obviously I use a smartphone, hot towel cabi and factory-produced hand soap too, but you get the idea. You wouldn’t install Ashiatsu bars in a room that isn’t used for Ashiatsu, so don’t clutter up your image with inconsistencies that dilute and confuse.
  3. Remember that you can’t be all things to all people. I can’t do couples treatments because my office is tiny and there’s only one of me. Once in a while I have to explain this to a caller. But I continue to put myself out there, and the right people find me. Again, focus on what you can do, and on what you enjoy doing.
  4. Location is key. I don’t necessarily mean you have to be in the biggest, flashiest building in town, but if you’re running a brick and mortar operation, location is pretty damn important. You’ll want your location to be convenient to the clientele you’re looking to attract. You’ll also want your location to be convenient to yourself, as you’ll be your very own #1 VIP client. Is there parking nearby? Is the area relatively safe? Are there other businesses in the area that mesh well with yours (cafes, boutiques, other places where relaxed or adventurous people with disposable income hang out)? Are there other businesses in the area that compete with yours that might cannibalize your clientele now or in the future? Stake out the locations on your list of possibilities. Become obsessed. Check out the flow of people on different days of the week during different times of the day. Do this for months. Talk to people who are active in the community where you hope to set up shop. Make allies before you sign your lease. Spend your money in this community. Say hello. Smile.
  5. Make your presence known. You will have to market your business. You will have to invest countless hours into this seemingly thankless task. You will be tempted to give up, but you shouldn’t. Cast a wide net. The advertising I pay for right now consists of my website, business cards, and printed spa menus. I will sparingly and selectively donate gift certificates to causes I’m passionate about. I send out a monthly email newsletter using MailChimp. I have a free Yelp listing. But other than that, most of my marketing efforts are concentrated on social media. I use Instagram a lot, and I usually auto post my photos to Facebook and Twitter. Someone may see you on Yelp today, someone else may see you on Google tomorrow. You never know.
  6. Don’t get in over your head. Signing a lease on an 8,000 square foot facility may sound like a dream come true right out of the gate, but I’m having heart palps just thinking about it. It’s perfectly OK to start small.
  7. Consider your schedule. The more hours you make yourself available to take appointments, the more appointments you’ll likely take. Wait! You say you only want to work Tuesday through Thursday from noon ‘til 5? And you wonder why you’re only booking two appointments per week? And you resent the whole damn thing because you just drove 45 minutes one-way to perform a 30 minute service when gas is $3.26/gallon? It sounds like it’s time to rethink your schedule. Two years ago when I first opened my business, I had set hours when I was in the office — appointments or not –five days per week. This was good at the time. But last year I realized it benefitted my clients (and my sanity) more if I switched to working by appointment only, but with greater availability. Now I can schedule my life around the appointments on my book and vice versa.
  8. Make things happen. Create excitement! Start a blog for your biz! Video chat online and upload it to your business’s YouTube page! Visit with your neighbors! Throw a party at your office and invite the neighborhood! Offer them food! Share meals with people…people like to eat! The early days of business ownership are usually the loneliest. Fill that time connecting with people and building relationships with people in your community, because eventually, when you’re super busy with appointments, you’ll wish you had more time for that.
  9. Adapt. Now that I have more appointments on my book I’m no longer able to sit in my office with the door open, waiting for retail customers to stroll by. So I’m running a clearance sale on Dermalogica this month, and it’ll probably be a while before I order more retail-sized items. And y’know what? I’m totally OK with this.
  10. Some pressure is OK. Like a firm handshake or a leather corset. But business is messy, invention is messy, and life is messy. To quote my dad: “We can’t control everything that comes our way; we can only control how we react.” Countless successful entrepreneurs have failed in business multiple times before they eventually made it big, but they learned a lot along the way. Entrepreneurship is hard work, long hours, boatloads of stress and tons of sacrifice. I’m still really happy with my decision to take this path, but if it ever gets to be too much for me – if I feel like I’ve been paying too high a price for too long with too little return on investment – I’ll do my best to adapt. And if that means hanging up my holster for a bit so I can treat myself to some well-deserved kindness and understanding, then that’s what I shall do.

You Are Not My Audience

I finished reading Erika Napoletano’s THE POWER OF UNPOPULAR while sitting alone in an isolated booth at a bar known for its goth night and hipster art fest runoff. I was there to show my face at a fundraising event, and your teetotaling narrator had arrived sans company, because well, that’s her lot in life.

I only mention this detail because it amuses me. All you really have to remember is that I mentioned “Erika Napoletano’s THE POWER OF UNPOPULAR”, because it is a good business-y read, and if you’re a business owner or project leader, it’s likely to give you hope and make you feel less alone in this world. Here’s what I loved about it:

  • It gives you permission to be yourself.
  • It gives you permission to make mistakes, and to be nimble enough to turn mistakes into opportunities.
  • It gives you permission to identify who the right client is for your business, and to adjust this assessment at any time if need be.
  • It gives you permission to stop wasting your time trying to please everybody, which includes many people who are not your audience.

I realize my repeated use of the word “permission” could be a turn off to some (or a turn on to you BDSM devotees out there), but sometimes it’s nice to have a respected marketing guru tell you “It is perfectly OK if you do this! Civilization will not crumble to the ground if you do, and you will be better off for having done it!” Feel free to swap “permission” for “two thumbs up” and it’s the same difference.

As a small business owner with an edgy business name in an up-and-coming neighborhood where certain suburbanites still fear to tread, these are all valuable reminders — with the last two points holding special significance as of late. While at my shop, I welcome friendly visitors and explorers with open arms, and I’ll happily answer questions and discuss the day’s events from bell-to-bell. My (mild and admittedly self-indulgent) irritation arrives with the rare yet reliable strangers who feel it’s their place to impose their multiple, unprovoked sales objections on me when they’ve never spent a dime in my establishment.

You demand that I perform couples massages in my tiny 140 square foot treatment room that quite obviously contains only one treatment table? And you’ve never been in here before, and you’re not buying anything today? And you also demand that I offer services that aren’t currently on my menu, in addition to providing you with a discount? And after alllll this preaching, you still haven’t bought even the least expensive item I sell in my little, local, one-woman-army owned and operated dream business?

Well my dear, you are not my audience.

And that’s a wonderful thing.

 ***

Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at ConfidentMassage.com, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.

Cool/Uncool

I’ve never consumed an alcoholic beverage in my entire life. I’ve never smoked a cigarette, joint, pipe, hookah, or taken a hit off a bong. Second hand smoke? Probably. First hand experimentation of the chemical variety? Nope!

We can get into the whys and what fors if you’d like: I didn’t grow up in much of a drinking, smoking household, and it was pretty strict. I had taken Prozac for a couple of months to try to alleviate my teenage OCD, but quit when I realized I could become dependent on it. Cigarettes smell like death, and lots o’ (drunk) people annoy me.

Maybe I have control issues. Maybe I feel the need to go against the status quo. Maybe I’d rather spend my money on clothes and breakfast. Maybe I’m just the most uncool person you’ll ever meet.

It’s OK, you can tell me I’m uptight — I’ve heard it before. Go ahead, become the millionth person who’d “love to see [me] get drunk for the first time”. Gaze into my eyes with bewilderment when, instead of hitting you with a heavy tale of rehab and broken dreams, I relay the history of a life devoid of cool.

I’ve lost so-called friendships over my choice to live the non-alcoholic life. The time these “friends” wanted to spend in my sober company decreased in proportion to the growing quantities of alcohol they were consuming on a now daily basis. In retrospect, these individuals did me a favor, but at the time it hurt. Alas, the only thing I had to drown my sorrows in after each parting of ways was a carton of unsweetened almond milk.

***

Even more pressing than the question “Why doesn’t Andrea drink?” is the question “Why is Andrea discussing this on The Young Thumbs?”

***

I opened my own little one-person day spa in February, and I am working hard to make it successful. I’m tickled to report that Feetish Spa Parlor is the center of my existence, is truly my happy place, and that cash money is slowly — but steadily — flowing into my bank account.

Obviously, marketing is on my mind every day. Spotting opportunities to meet new people, injecting myself into new social settings, taking advantage of the countless free events that take place in my community; you’ll see me out and about more now than ever before. And I enjoy it! It’s new, unfamiliar, and actually really fun! I have made some interesting new friends, and I don’t give a shit if they fall asleep each night spooning a six pack (of Coors Light).

But there are certain events that revolve around the availability of free alcohol that I just haven’t been able to bring myself to attend. And I feel like maybe I’m missing out on something by ignoring the siren’s promise of free whiskey on the rocks: Not to drink, but to surround myself with normal social behavior, an uncool anchor in a sea of libidinous lubricated linguists.

I watched “Blood Into Wine” on Netflix with an appreciation for Maynard James Keenan’s drive to get grapes to grow on the side of a mountain in Arizona, however I have no interest whatsoever in going on a Napa Valley wine tour. But what if I knew the tour bus would be full of wealthy wine snobs looking for a new spa experience in Downtown Las Vegas? Would I stuff my pockets with business cards and board the drunk bus to Napa?

You’re über cool, but let’s pretend you’re me.

What would you do?

***

Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at ConfidentMassage.com, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.

Putting the FUN in Crowdfunding!

Crowdfunding: The use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to fund a project or business. 

Have you ever heard of Indiegogo? How about Kickstarter? These are two popular examples of crowdfunding websites, and if you haven’t checked them out, you should. You’ll find all kinds of creative projects, posted by dream-pursuing individuals looking to employ an emerging form of fundraising that’s accessible to supporters at almost any level of net worth. Even if you go just for the entertainment value, or for inspiration, you’ll walk away with a little something you didn’t have when you first typed the URL into your toolbar.

My first experience with crowdfunding took place about two years ago. My friend Jøsh publishes a zine (a “perzine” for those up on their ‘90’s indie culture lingo, and an “independently published magazine of a personal nature” for those who aren’t) called Negative Capability (link probably not safe for work…but also extremely funny). He had taken a break from his late-‘90s, early-‘00s writing frenzy, had a few kids, and was looking to get a new issue out to the masses. The material was there, but production funds were required.

Enter Kickstarter.

Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites allow a project to be posted for a specified amount of time, with a specific monetary goal, and a list of perks that are given to funders depending on the amounts of their contributions. At the end of the campaign period – if the project’s monetary goal is reached or surpassed (with Kickstarter, but not necessarily Indiegogo, more on that later) — the perks are sent to the funders, and the creator goes ahead and uses the funds to make his dream a reality. In Jøsh’s case, I contributed $100; because the campaign’s goal was met and then ultimately surpassed, I was given a bunch of Negative Capability’s back issues, the brand new issue, some original films used to make the offset printing plates, and I got a shout out on negcap.com! (again, probably NSFW) — but the best feeling came from being part of a cool project that I believed in.

What does this have to do with rubbing oil on strangers?

I’m currently running a campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for my new skin care studio-meets-Victorian parlor-meets-curiosity shop business in Downtown Las Vegas. As of today, my campaign is 16% funded, with 27 days left to go. I won’t bore you with the rest of the deets that you can easily access by clicking here, but I will tell you that my heart has melted several times over with the outpouring of support I’ve received from friends (both online and in real life), family, clients, and even a few strangers and anonymous folks! It’s interesting how a $5 contribution can make me feel like $5,000,000. I appreciate every morsel of support, including all of the sharing on social media sites, and the opportunities for media exposure that have come my way over the past few weeks. But that’s enough about me and the risk I’m running of sounding like a self-promoting narcissist.

Are you thinking about starting a new business? Indiegogo allows you to seek small business funding on their site (Kickstarter is more for creative projects. Read the terms and conditions on any crowdfunding site you’re researching…there are legal considerations to be aware of). Indiegogo also allows you to set up your campaign so that you’ll receive funds raised even if you don’t make it to your goal amount. Maybe your business is already up and running. Do you need some new equipment? Or do you want to travel to Thailand to learn Thai massage? These dreams can also be realized through a crowdfunding campaign.

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Crowdfunding can also serve as a useful marketing tool. If you promote your campaign, people will notice. They’ll ask questions. If they like what you’re doing, they’ll want to be a part of it, will want to help you, and will spread the word. It’s exciting, and thanks to your campaign’s mandatory deadline – whatever it is – there’s a sense of urgency about it. A rush. It’s like a game, and when you know in your heart you’re going to come out a winner, games can be a lot of fun.

(I’m planning on writing Part II next month, right after my campaign ends. What will I have to say? I have no idea!) 😉

 

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Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at ConfidentMassage.com, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.

 

Get This Crap Off Your Website

I like simple websites. That’s why I hired a minimalist designer for my Blue Streak site. That’s why Kelli Wise made my massage practice site so clean and crisp.

If you’ve got decent content, your website is clear and easy to navigate, you don’t need bullshit music or animation. And if you’ve got it? You may well be driving traffic away. I go apeshit when I hear chimes start up. I can’t close the window fast enough. I can’t stand fancy animations or PDFs of your menu of services. They’re hard to navigate through. If I have to squint to look for a litte magnifying glass icon to zoom in, you’ve lost me.

Please, take just one moment to think about this: what is the main reason people visit your website?

Does your website look like this?

It’s not “To listen to my choice of music.” Don’t include music or video that starts automatically. If you want people to know about the kind of music you use during your massage, write a blog post about it, and include an audio sample. But I don’t wish to hear the chime-y version of Pachelbel’s Cannon blare out when I’m browsing online in Panera. Hush up.

It’s not “To see ads.” Don’t include pop-ups or other intrusive advertisements, and especially not for products and services that you don’t personally offer. When you have Google ads on your site, it makes me think you’re a crappy therapist who can’t make a living doing massage so you sell space on your site for advertising. Ick.

It’s not “To read a paper brochure.” There’s no reason to include a PDF or fancy animation of your print materials. Not only does it make the information included in it more difficult to access, it also makes it useless from an SEO perspective.

It’s not “To look at all kinds of fancy fonts.” Don’t use such an elaborate font that I can’t read the words easily. And don’t use more than two fonts. It’s too distracting.

It’s not “To read flowery and totally subjective descriptions of how great your services are without learning anything about what you actually do.” Be clear. Use words non-therapists can understand.

So why do people come to your website?

  • To learn about your services.
  • To learn about you.
  • To find your location.
  • To schedule a massage.

Make this information the focus of your website, not the afterthought. Of course, you can show these things through words, images, forms, video, or even the colors you choose.

If you’ve got great content, you don’t need bells and whistles. Most aren’t impressed, and some will be actively turned off. Give the people what they want in a way that is clear and free of bullshit. Show them from the very beginning that you understand their needs.

Bonus tidbit:

I sure as fudge will never call a place to ask about pricing. I’ve got stuff to do, and there are 3 other massage places in town that DO have prices listed on their sites. I’m not looking for mystery, I want information from your site, that’s why I’m there. It’s not exclusive or intriguing. It’s annoying. Stop it.

Allissa Haines is a massage therapist with a full private practice in Massachusetts. She creates marketing and business resources for massage therapists at Writing A Blue Streak. She is also a marketing consultant, professional speaker, and a frequent snacker. 

Kat Mayerovitch also helped write this post. Give her high fives if you run into her, because she loves that shit.

photo credit: McBeth via photopin cc

Ginger Nubs and Marketing Hang-ups

This is my ginger plant.

I have not historically been very good at growing plants. My mama has a green thumb known throughout her town (or at least among friends and neighbors, who turn the corner at the end of the block and see her garden exploding from the row of grassy lawns that surrounds it). Like me, my brother lives in a city apartment. Unlike me, his windowsills and fire escape burst with lovely green life. Many plants have graced my city sills – bright amaryllises lovingly potted by my mother every Christmas, fresh herbs to brighten my home cooking, flowers brought as hostess gifts – and many have withered in my care. When the topic of gardening comes up, I’ve been known to go a little wistful. My identity, when it comes to gardening, has long been that I greatly admire those who grow plants, but I’m no good at it myself.

Similarly, I have never thought of myself as someone who is good at marketing. I have long admired those who excel at it, especially in my own field, but it hasn’t been something I have historically enjoyed. I have, in fact, uttered the phrase “I hate marketing,” on more than one occasion. (I’m sorry, awesome marketing people with whom I share this internet space. I haven’t said it in a long time, but I have said it, and I’m sorry.) The thought of promoting myself, at least in the abstract, still fills me with mild dread. I am not sure of the exact origin of the belief that I’m bad at marketing, but I suspect it has much to do with working for a long time in a field that I didn’t love. In my early twenties, networking felt awkward and forced, and I explained my desk job with rote descriptions devoid of passion. I am a heart-on-my-sleeve kind of girl, and my heart was very rarely in my work, so trying to promote myself (or my organization for that matter) was uncomfortable, and I chalked it up to hating self-promotion or promotion of my business, to not being a “marketing person.”

But here’s the thing: the notion that one can simply not be a “marketing person” is a myth. I remember very clearly the first time I realized this. I was at a friend’s birthday party, fresh out of massage school and newly licensed, wary of launching my private practice (if I built it, would they come?), baby stepping into my new career by working for a chiropractor and at a spa. Someone I had never met asked me what I did for a living, and I told her. She told me about a pain in her neck, and the conversation flowed from there. We talked muscle attachments and trigger points, posture and exercise, different ways to approach bodywork and self-care, and, somewhere in there, I realized that I was being downright effusive, bordering on bubbly. For years, talking about my work with strangers was my absolute least favorite thing to do at a party, a formality to get out of the way before really getting to know someone. Yet here I was, talking about my work, connecting with this new person, and it was the best part of my night. As the conversation drew to a close and she headed out the door, I gave her my card. Wait a minute. Had I just promoted myself and thoroughly enjoyed myself at the same time? My mind, as well as my identity as a hater of self-promotion, was blown.

Alas, a remarkable overnight transformation did not ensue. I did not realize one night that promoting my work could be fun and wake up in a swirl of enthusiastic private practice marketing the next day. A couple of years later, I still have to push myself fairly hard sometimes to generate blog posts and emails and the like. Talking to people about my work is a blast, but making the initial connections that lead to these conversations and ultimately to client relationships is still a bit of a slog for me. But it’s worth it. Working in the treatment room of the yoga studio I love, keeping my own files, bringing people in and having the opportunity to listen and connect all on my own merit is the most gratifying work that I have ever done. When I get an email from someone who has read my blog and thinks I might be just what they’re looking for, it goes straight to my heart.  Really.

What does this have to do with my ginger plant? The internet, with its infinite knowledge, informed me a few months back that it was possible to grow a ginger plant from the very ginger you find at the supermarket (it being a rhizome and all). Brooklyn is not necessarily the ideal climate for ginger, but I had some on hand, and I thought it might be fun to grow a little something. What did I have to lose other than this little ginger nub that was already past its culinary prime, sporting the beginnings of baby green shoots?  I threw it in a pot of dirt and gave it lots of water. For a few days, I covered it with a glass bowl to keep it cozy hot and humid. And it grew! Weeks passed, then months, and my plant is still alive. It is getting tall and lanky now, still sprouting new stalks. It looks like bamboo, a little slice of tropical Zen in my front window. I see it first thing when I come home, and it serves as a reminder of the growth that can happen when you toss out negative old ideas of yourself and try something new.

I’m not saying that my thumbs are now glowing green. I will continue to bring home potted herbs because I like plants, and it’s more economical than buying them cut anyway, and I will try my darnedest to keep them alive, but some of them might not make it. I’m sorry, guys. I’m really, really trying, but sometimes there are aphids and weird molds and not quite enough light and probably other stuff that hasn’t come up for me yet. And I am far from a master of marketing. I might spend a whole afternoon thinking up and writing out a really great promotion or ad that doesn’t actually bring anybody through my door. That’s a thing that can happen, but it’s OK by me. I may not be a master of gardening or marketing just yet, but there’s evidence on both fronts that my efforts are worthwhile. After all, neither plants nor my practice will ever thrive if I don’t give it a whirl.

 

Megan Spence is a Licensed Massage Therapist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She is continually astonished by just how much she loves her work. You can read more about Megan’s adventures in massage and various other things body-related at Bodywork Brooklyn.