My Blog (ramblings, musings etc.)  

An ongoing series of informational entries

Welcome to my blog

24 April 2017

Hello and welcome to my very first blog. I have been thinking about starting a blog for quite a long time but wasn’t really sure what I would say or if anybody would really be interested but hey, let’s give it a go and see what happens.


I have lots of ideas about things I can write about but I thought that my first blog should really be an introduction to me. I have had it pointed out to me on more than one occasion that I give nothing away about myself either on this website or in any other of my promotional literature and so no one really knows anything about me, including my name. There is a very good reason for that – I am quite a private person and can be rather shy, despite what some people may think and so like to keep myself out of the limelight etc. However, owning my own business kind of makes that a little bit tricky. So, here goes.


Starting at the beginning, my name is Beth. I set up my business And breathe in January 2017 and for me this is a complete career change. For 20+ years I have worked in further and higher education in Administration. Following a complete breakdown in 2015, suffering from severe depression and anxiety, I realised that I was desperately unhappy in the job that I was doing and was feeling unfulfilled and soulless.


In talking to my doctor and my counsellor I remembered how much I used to enjoy having regular massage therapy, how lovely my therapist was and how it used to help calm me down. It made such a difference in helping me to feel pretty much anything. I therefore decided to look into studying massage. At the time I wasn’t thinking of it as a career change but rather something for me to do, that maybe I would enjoy and that would help me on my road to recovery. In September 2015, I enrolled onto a one year part time evening course studying a City & Guilds whole body massage course. It was a very big deal for me as I had to overcome severe anxiety in order to do it but I managed it, and most of all, I loved it. Learning Anatomy and Physiology was a challenge but I got there and in June 2016 I graduated with Distinction. I was so proud of what I had achieved but also, I felt like maybe finally I had found my calling as it were. As the course was coming to an end I was starting to think more and more about setting up my own business and I knew straight away what I wanted to call it.


And breathe was the perfect name for me as it was something I was continually reminding myself that I needed to do, whenever I started to feel panicky or anxious. It was also something my friends and family reminded me to do quite regularly and so it just seemed to fit. We all need to learn to take some time out to stop and just breathe.


I went on to study Indian Head massage and Thai Foot massage and decided that maybe it would be a good idea to learn how to do professional manicures and pedicures as well. Everything I did I passed and what’s more, I really started to get the bug for learning more and more. I came to the decision that if I was going to be serious about setting up on my own, I needed to be able to offer a good range of treatments and so looked into some further training to build on my existing skills and develop new ones. I went on to train to do Facials and specialist massage courses in Pregnancy Massage and Detox and Cellulite Reduction and most recently Hot Stones Massage. At the beginning of May 2017 I am doing two final courses, Warm Bamboo and Deep Tissue & Advanced Massage. All being well, I will pass these two as well and then my portfolio of treatments will be complete, at least for now. The wonderful thing about massage is that there is just so much to continue to learn and develop. You will never know everything, there are always nee skills and techniques to discover.

Massage made such a difference to me and my own health and wellbeing and so now my aim is to offer a service that can do the same for other people whether they are looking for a treatment to help them relax, something specific to help with a particular condition such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, or maybe it is to help someone through their pregnancy. Massage is a wonderful treatment that can help so many people. I love it and have developed a real passion for it. My aim is by offering a mobile service, I am making it accessible to everyone.


I hope that this introduction has given you a bit more of an insight into me and that you have enjoyed reading about how all of this came about.


My aim is to write at least monthly and will try to cover a whole range of topics to do with massage and the other treatments I offer as well as thinking about self-care, relaxation, the range of products I use and what is available and many other things as time goes on.


Best wishes


Beth

Confession - I think I have a foot fettish

6 May 2017

Okay, just to clarify, I am not talking about the potentially kinky fetish that may initially come to mind when making a statement like that, I just mean that it appears that I like feet, at least working on them.


Before I made my change in career I can honestly say I never really gave my, or anyone else’s feet a second thought. I always painted my toenails but that was as far as it ever went. I had never had a pedicure and it was not something that I was interested in. Shoes, now that was a very different matter as I did have a habit of falling in love with all sorts of shoes and boots and buying footwear that I really didn’t need for no other reason than I thought they were beautiful.


However, since studying massage and pedicures I have discovered two things about myself, firstly, I much prefer being barefoot these days and as any of my clients will tell you, I always work barefoot. I can’t wait to take my shoes off. At home I am pretty much always barefoot unless my feet get so cold that I have to put slippers on. Secondly, I love working on feet and legs.

People can be very funny about their feet and at times can be very ashamed and embarrassed. I must admit that there are times when I am in my yoga class and I catch sight of my feet and think that considering I work on people’s feet for a living, mine certainly do not always look their best. However, when I am working on a client’s feet, it really doesn’t worry me what they look like. All I want to do is make my client feel good.


So many of us just take our feet for granted, expect them to perform on demand and grumble when they feel tired and achy. For me there is something so satisfying in helping a client to release stress and tension by giving them a foot and lower leg massage. I don’t think it is so much the appearance of feet as it is about seeing and feeling my clients just ‘melt’ when I start working on them. I have one client who almost purrs when I begin their foot and leg massage. Another client has always refused to let me massage their feet as part of a whole-body massage treatment but in their last treatment they finally conceded. I think it is fair to say that they were pleasantly surprised at just how lovely a foot massage can feel. It is not done with a light touch as our feet can be extremely sensitive and in many cases ticklish. Not just that but on the whole our feet are pretty tough and so need a reasonable amount of pressure applied to give them a sense of relief.


I will also confess that I am so girly at times, especially when it comes to nail polish. I love nail polish and nail varnish and really have to control myself when new colours come out as I can be like a kid in a sweet shop. I also love sparkle and glitter to top any colour varnish.


This time of the year many people, men as well as women, start thinking a little bit more about their feet as we (hopefully) begin to get ready for summer and so prepare to bare our feet. So, what do we need to do to take care of our feet and get them ready.

Some basic rules first – toenails should not be shaped. Ideally, they need to be filed, rather than clipped and never cut with scissors. File them straight and in one direction only, not back and forth. Secondly, file or clip the nails before you have a bath/shower or foot soak.


Following a bath/shower or foot soak, you can then use a foot file to remove any hard skin that you may have. Don’t think that you will get rid of it all in one go and don’t even try. All you will do is make your feet sore. Be patient, doing it weekly and always moisturise your feet afterwards to nourish and look after the new skin.


Ideally, get into a habit of applying a moisturiser to your feet every evening before going to bed. This will really help to get your feet soft and beautiful.


Finally, give your feet some love and appreciation, they deserve it.


Bx

6 months already!

13 June, 2017

When I first started to write a blog I was thinking, yeah, this is going to be fine and easy, I usually have plenty to say after all. However, I am very conscious that I have fallen behind on my schedule to write at least once a month and to be honest, I had a bit of writers’ block. But then it came to me, I have been in busy now for 6 months! Surely that is something to write about!


I must admit that when I first the business up, I was incredibly naive as I believed that by having a website and a Facebook page the bookings would come rushing in. Oh, how I wish. It has been a very slow process and at times very scary and overwhelming. However, it is also an amazing experience in which I just keep learning new things every day, about myself as much as anything else.


So, what I have learnt so far? Well, firstly, patience is not one of my virtues but then maybe I knew that already. Expecting to be up and running so soon was maybe just a little, okay very, ambitious. I was definitely very naive at the beginning and maybe I still am a little, or just very optimistic.


Secondly, I am a shocker for nail varnish/gel polish and colours. I knew I had to have a reasonable choice to offer clients but I am like a kid in a sweet shop when it comes to discovering new colours, brands etc. I mean, let’s be honest, 90 gel colours and 86 acrylic colours may seem a little excessive to some. The worst of it is I hate awkward numbers and to me, it would sound so much better if I could just round things up with another 10 gel colours and 14 acrylics to give me 100 of each! In my mind, it just sounds like a better number. You have no idea how hard it is to resist the temptation. Oh, how my brain works sometimes!


Another thing I have learnt is just how difficult it is to get the marketing and promotional side of things sorted. This for me has been the hugest of learning curves and having to make decisions on my own is very scary at times. My Facebook page is coming along quite nicely and I now have 117 followers which is great (@andbreathe2). I really enjoy sourcing images for my posts and thinking up new ideas etc. It is however, very time consuming but also very satisfying, especially when you see that people are starting to respond positively to what you post with likes and shares. How amazing is that?


One of the biggest things I have learnt though is that I am more capable of doing things than I thought I was. I have developed my website pretty much on my own which is something I never imagined I would be capable of doing. I have set up my Facebook page, my Pinterest account etc. again, things I never thought I could do. I have done all my own marketing and promotion. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not about me blowing my own trumpet and saying look at me and how clever I am, but rather this is me, on a journey saying look, I am stronger than I thought and am more able to do things than I realised. My confidence is growing which is a huge achievement for me and whilst I still have a lot of self-doubt and lack a lot of confidence in some areas, it is nonetheless improving.


So, 6 months in and what is my overall thinking? I am thinking that I am so glad that I have done this. I love what I do and have a passion that I haven’t felt in a very long time. I finally feel like I have a purpose which may sound really naff but it is true. I am doing something that I believe in, that fits with my values and that without sounding arrogant, I know I can make it work. I have met some truly lovely and amazing people, have started to develop friendships with some of my clients and feel more balanced and happy than I have done for a very long time. My cat may not be overly impressed by the fact that he is no longer the only focus of my attention these days (but he is still the most precious thing to me) but then he sleeps most of the time anyway.

If I have a message to give anyone thinking about setting up their own business it would be this – if you truly want to do it, if you believe you can and really want to make it work then go for it. It has given me a sense of pride and a feeling of confidence and self-belief that I haven’t had for a very long time. I can finally hold my head up high and say that I am doing something that is good and right and feels right. Best of all, when I see my clients smile, when I feel them just melt and relax during a massage and when I know I am helping them to feel good about themselves, what more can anyone possibly ask for.    

Massage break through

14 June, 2017

So today I had a break through and I think I have finally reached that stage when I can say yes, I am truly a massage therapist. Now, let me explain that one as I am sure you are reading this and thinking what on earth am I talking about.


When you study and train for pretty much anything, it is all a part of a journey and gaining the qualification is just part of that departure/setting out stage.


I passed my whole-body massage course with Distinction and so figured yeah, I am a massage therapist. After all, I have qualified. However, you soon start to realise when you go into professional practice that whilst you may have the qualifications, that doesn’t make you an expert. There are things that you can only learn over time, as you work on different clients, different body types and different conditions. What’s more, you only learn through experience how to adjust techniques, routines etc. to tailor to individual needs.


The initial course that I did was very much about focusing on relaxation. Giving a good, whole body massage but not for treating specific complaints or conditions. Whilst we covered a small amount of trigger points, finding knots and tension and learning how to release them was not really part of the course. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a criticism as I think to be honest, before you start going down that route you have to have a good basic understanding of massage generally. However, you soon get to realise when you set up on your own that most of your clients will come to you, not just because they want some relaxation but also because they want some help or relief from different conditions. To be able to help them with that is an amazing thing.


I knew that my skills were developing and that my confidence was growing as I could really start to feel knots and tension in some of my clients as I started to work on them but today it was like a revelation. I had a wonderful new client, she was just lovely. She had definitely been carrying a lot of tension in her neck and shoulders and I could feel it. Not just that, I was able to help make a difference to her.


During some of the courses I have done I would hear some other therapists say that they could easily spend up to 2 hours working on a client’s back and I used to think how? What could they possibly do for 2 hours? Now, I am not saying that I could or would necessarily want to do that by any stretch of the imagination but what I can say is that today, my half hour treatment could definitely have been extended quite easily and I could have kept working on her for longer.


It is very exciting and rewarding when you can recognise in yourself that your skills and techniques are growing and developing and that your confidence and self-belief in what you are doing is constantly improving. I love the fact that I am helping people and I really love the fact that I am continually learning and developing. What can be better?  

Oops I did it again!

11 July, 2017

No, I am not a Britney Spears fan although now I can’t seem to get the song out of my head. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Aghh. Anyway, I digress. I am referring to my ongoing addiction to nail polishes and varnishes and the fact that I have just purchased some new ones.


So, what have you done now I hear you ask? Well, I gave in and have bought some more gels. My original plan was to buy enough to get me to the 100 mark but unfortunately I couldn’t stop there so have now gone over that. This is a real problem for me as it means I don’t have the even, rounded number that I like. I think I have mentioned before how I like numbers of things to be rounded. It’s a thing, I can’t quite explain it. I just like things neat and orderly.


Anyway, my excuse for these new purchases was that I realised that I did not have a white, I did not have some silvers and then I discovered some beautiful glitters and a couple of other colours that just seduced me! What can I say?


Anyway, I am now going to try and justify these purchases by telling you all that I am pleased to report that my manicures, pedicures and gel polish treatments are now starting to take off a bit which is great news. I love doing these treatments and really want them to go well.


I think part of the reason I enjoy doing them is watching my clients when it comes to choosing what colour varnishes they will go for, it is fascinating. For example, I have 2 lovely clients, one in her 70’s and one who is 80 and both have chosen to have the most beautiful green on their toes – how cool is that?!

When I first started buying colours for my business I initially thought that I had to really just go for the more classic, traditional colours with maybe one or two more unusual. Anyway, my love of blues, greens and purples soon got in the way of that idea and I am so glad that they did as I have such a beautiful collection and it is wonderful to see some of the quirkier and funky colours being chosen.


Pinks and reds have also been quite popular which I did expect. I always think when I have finished painting the reds, especially on toes, just how classy it looks and yet I would never dream of painting my nails red. I guess that says quite a lot about me really as I don’t think anyone would describe me as classy! I love blues and greens and at the moment on my toes I have alternate turquoise and a silvery white colour, all of which have a glitter on top. It looks quite good I think and definitely summery. Fingers currently are the silvery white on all fingers except the ring fingers which are a pretty green, again all topped with a silver glitter.

So, how many colours do I now have? Well, I currently have 88 standard acrylic nail varnishes and 107 gel polish colours. Well, at least I can’t be accused of not having a good selection! Choice is so important.


I really hope that my clients, current and new, will enjoy the choice that I have as much as I do and that my gel polish treatments and manicure & pedicure treatments continue to pick up. After all, we all need some colour in our lives, even if it is just on our nails!  

A ramble

11 August, 2017

So, for the last few weeks I have been trying to think about what to focus this latest blog on and in the end I have decided to just kind of go with it and ramble. That being the case I will apologise now if it turns out a little random and all over the place. It’s not that I don’t have much to say, in fact quite the opposite. There is so much to say that I don’t really know where to start.


This past few weeks and been rather confusing I think in terms of the business. Things were really starting to pick up and my diary was starting to look quite healthy and positive but then, all of a sudden, it went so quiet. I am being told that it is mainly due to the summer holidays. This is where my naivety of a relatively new business starts to show as I had imagined the summer being a busy time with people wanting pedicures, gels, maybe facials for the summer. Maybe it is because I am still trying to establish myself and get a positive reputation that I am not as busy as I would like. Word of mouth and recommendation counts for so much when offering the kind of treatments that I do and I know loyalty is incredibly important too. My regular clients keep singing my praises and rebooking which is wonderful and tell me that they are recommending me to friends, family etc. I appreciate that so much.


Having said all of that, I do also believe that the Universe or maybe my Nan who I was very close to is looking out for me. (She may be gone but I still ask my Nan for help, especially if I can’t find something and she always seems to be able to help in some way or another.) Every time things get so quiet that I really start to worry, I get a phone call or an e-mail or message through Facebook for an appointment. I can’t tell you the relief that it brings.


A couple of weeks ago I was asked to put together a pamper package as a birthday present for someone who was pretty stressed out and needed some down time. She ended up having a luxury pedicure, an Indian head massage and an express facial. It was a lovely package which she seemed to enjoy very much. In fact, only this morning I picked up a thank you message from her saying she enjoyed the treatments so that is a positive.

Last weekend I was asked to give a 12 year old girl a manicure for her birthday. It was a present/reward for her stopping biting her nails. She was just lovely and so interested in what I was doing. It was a real pleasure. The best thing for me though was that she really challenged me in what I could and could not do as she had a very fixed idea of how she wanted her nails painted. Bless her, she wanted Ombre nail art. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a blend of two colours on the nail which can look very beautiful and effective.


Now, luckily for me, I have lately been researching all sorts of nail arts and styles on YouTube (don’t you just love YouTube?!) so at least I knew what she wanted. Creating though was going to be a different challenge. However, we got there and they did look lovely. It wasn’t the cleanest of jobs in that using a sponge to create the look does create a fair bit of mess on the fingers but we got her cleaned up and overall she seemed so pleased which was great. I have to admit it did my confidence a bit of good too.

Then, on Tuesday afternoon I was asked if I could do a pamper party for a dad and his grown up daughters as a treat. They were just fabulous and so much fun. I ended up staying there for 3 hours and in that time I did two gel polish applications on fingers, two gel polish applications on toes, two mini back, neck and shoulder massages and one mini facial. It was great evening, plenty of laughter and chat and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.


I do feel so lucky in that I get to meet some wonderful people.

The final thrill was being asked to do a gel polish treatment for a bride to be for her wedding. This is such an honour and it feels like a huge responsibility but I am so thrilled to be asked. It shows a lot of confidence in me which is very reassuring, especially as every now and then my paranoia and self-doubt creeps in and I question whether or not I am good enough to do all of this. But then I have to remind myself that I have returning clients so can’t be too bad!


When you have suffered a complete breakdown and lose all your self-confidence, it can be very hard to start believing in yourself again and I think for me, the hardest thing about setting up my own business and being self-employed is having that self-belief and trusting the feedback that you get. That and wondering if you are going to be successful enough to make it work. I really hope so as I love what I do so much. Five years ago I would never have imagined that I would be doing something like this.


So, what else have I been doing? I have been experimenting making some salt scrubs. I have three types of salts, soothing Dead Sea salts, detoxing Himalayan salts and Epsom reviving salts. My sister requested a detoxing scrub which I made using apricot kernel oil, Himalayan salts and lemongrass and sweet orange essential oils. My mum had a scrub with the Epsom salts, again apricot kernel oil and some bergamot essential oil. I made myself a scrub with the Dead Sea salts, the apricot kernel oil and some ylang ylang essential oil. I can honestly say my skin feels so much softer and the rosacea I suffer with on my foot is much calmer. I am waiting to hear the verdict from my mum and my sister but I can honestly say I will only be making and using my own scrubs from now on and will feel much more confident about making some to use with my clients. Success! I have bought some small kilner jars and little wooden spoons so that I can start offering some mini scrubs. If they prove to be successful then who knows what will be next.


I have also decided to branch out a bit and offer a few more services with regards to the gel nails. Nope, I am not offering acrylics or extensions etc. that is just not me and not what I want to do. However, I have invested in some chrome pigments, some glitters and also some stamp plates so that I can offer nail art. I do not have the skill or creative talent to be able to do freehand nail art so when I discovered stamping plates, it felt as though I could offer something that could look really effective and consistent. I have bought a selection of beautiful designs, some inspired by henna and mandalas, some are animal based, some flowers and some just very pretty patterns. I have been doing my own fingers and toes and am really pleased with how they have turned out and even my mum now has stamp art on her ring fingers which looks very pretty.

Sparkles all the way

16 August, 2017

Well, what can I say, so far this week has been a good week. Monday I did a manicure and pedicure treatment for one of my regular clients which went really well. She chose the prettiest pink shimmer for her fingers and then a lovely purple/mauve on her toes. Looked fabulous. Then over the last couple of days I have done two very sparkly gel applications. I can honestly say I am really loving doing the nails, so much more than I ever imaged I would. Getting to work with some lovely people and watching them make the decision about what colour to choose is such fun. You never know just what they will decide on, or how long it will take them to make a final decision. Not that I can talk, I am a shocker for making decisions at the best of times, let alone deciding what colour/s to go for. For some reason I find toes easier than fingers – work that one out if you can!


Tuesday I did a lovely combination of black with a silver glitter – both Harmony Gelish colours, Black Shadow and Water Field. On the ring finger we did some nail art with a gorgeous image of a stag. Just lovely and so effective. I then did a quick paint for another client just on her toes – a very pretty baby pink which I had only just bought from SpaRitual. It showed off her tanned feet just wonderfully.


Yesterday I had a lovely lady who opted for a very pretty and subtle pink glitter called June Bride, also from Harmony Gelish. It is a beautiful colour, very delicate but so sparkly in the light. I was so thrilled as the last treatment I did for this client was the end of June and she still had her previous choice of colour on her nails. You have no idea how much it boosts your confidence and self-belief when you see how well a treatment has lasted.


I have also taken two bookings for gels for Christmas which is great in terms of business – not to mention excellent forward planning from my clients! I would also say it is a bit horrifying the fact that I am talking about Christmas yet we are still in August.

I also did a lovely Facial treatment yesterday which I really enjoy doing and a Thai Foot massage. It has been a long time since I have done one of those and it was fabulous. It reminded me just how much I love the treatments I offer. Thai Foot is such a fabulous treatment. It is one of my more unusual massages I guess as it involves some stretching, deep breathing, and mobility exercises. Now I know that some Thai massage can be rather vigorous and maybe uncomfortable, possibly even painful but that is not something that I am interested in. The massage I offer is not painful but is great for loosening up joints, helping with circulation and will leave the client feeling relaxed.


I will write more in-depth about the Thai Foot massage in September to launch my new ‘treatment of the month’ feature. I have decided to start doing a monthly feature which will include a treatment to talk about plus also a colour or colours of the month in both gels and normal varnishes and also a nail stamp. Am hoping that this will help with promoting the business and will also be a good way to introduce potential clients to new treatments. We will see how it goes.


I was also asked today to make up one of my salt scrubs too which was good. Have made a soothing scrub with 100% pure Dead Sea salt, 100% pure Apricot Kernel oil and some organic bergamot essential oil. The Dead Sea salt is fantastic for providing relief to dry and itchy skin and has made such a positive impact on my rosacea and so the idea is we will see how it will work for someone with psoriasis. I am hoping it will help a little at least. I can’t tell you how lovely my skin feels when I use it and the apricot kernel oil is lovely and perfect for sensitive skin.


Today I have more nail treatments booked in – gels on fingers, standard manicure, standard pedicure and a shape & paint for fingers. Can’t wait to meet my new clients and see what colours they choose.


Am rounding the week off tomorrow with a whole body Swedish massage for a lovely client who I treat regularly. I know how much she benefits from her treatments and it is great to know that I am able to help her.


All in all, a good week.  

The money spider and the gel polish

20 August, 2017

So, this is only a quick post as I just had to share what happened today. Random, bizarre, coincidence or maybe something else? At this point I have that funny music in my head from a 1960’s or 1970’s show about weird things happening. No idea what the show was called as it is a little before my time but it is now annoying me.


Sorry, I digress. So, I think I mentioned before that things had gone a little quiet re the business. Anyway, I decided today to get all the gel polish stuff out and play with some more stamp art. Practice is always good and it is a great way to lose a few hours on a Sunday as I get so in to it all.


I am happily minding my own business and then I notice there is a money spider working its way towards me. Now, as a general rule, I don’t do spiders. They terrify me. I have a small one that lives in my bedroom in a small hole in the ceiling where a cable of some description used to be. We have a mutual understanding that as long as he comes nowhere near me, he can remain unharmed.


Anyway, there I was up at the table, working away when this spider decides to investigate. I stay calm and figure he is small enough (I always think of spiders as male – why would that be?) and so leave him be to wander as he wants to. Next thing, my phone rings and it is a potential client – now booked in for a manicure and pedicure next week. A couple of hours later, the spider is still exploring and then blow me, my phone pings and I have two e-mails, both from perspective clients wanting treatments next week. Another manicure but with gels and a pedicure with gels plus possibly a bit of nail art. Now, how spooky is that? Maybe we should switch to the X-Files theme tune? To be honest, I am thinking of adopting this spider and keeping him as a pet if he can bring me in 3 clients on a regular basis. What’s more, I have also got two new followers on Facebook today.


I have also done some further research into stamping and have discovered that gels don’t work quite as well as I thought they would for stamp art and that it is better to use proper stamping varnish. I tell you, you continue to learn so much in this business. You think that maybe you have got something sorted and then discover that no, you still have much more to learn. That could well explain why I wasn’t getting the results I was hoping for and why some images were looking rather disappointing shall we say. That doesn’t necessarily mean that having proper stamping polish will improve anything but one can hope. As frustrating as it can be I also love the fact that you do continually learn and develop skills etc. I know, for example, that every time I do a massage I am honing and developing my skills and techniques and continually improving.


Yesterday it was my Birthday and today would have been mine Nan’s. Maybe she is looking out for me or maybe the Universe is giving me a helping hand with my business as a birthday present. Whatever the reason, I am one happy bunny!


Bx 

Slow down and breathe

27 August, 2017

Well, this week has been one of highs and one low. So, treatment wise, it has been a good week. I have done one standard back, neck and shoulder massage, one deep tissue back, neck and shoulder massage, one Indian Head massage, one legs and feet massage. 3 standard pedicures, one of which had gels and stamp nail art and 5 standard manicures, two of which had gels, one of which chose to have stamp nail art on the ring fingers which looked great and the other was for a bride to be getting married on 27 August. Everyone seemed very pleased with their treatments so that is all good. Along the way I also met 8 cats (I love cats and have a very beautiful but extremely grumpy black cat of my own that I adore) and 1 fabulous and very friendly dog.


Being mobile is so such a great way to work. You are constantly out and about, you get to meet some really lovely people and their fabulous pets. It is such a lovely way to meet people and working on a 1:1 basis suits me so much. Now, whether I will feel quite so upbeat about it when the weather turns I don’t know but I hope so.


One of my clients chose my new orange grove spa oil for her Indian Head massage. I always get such a thrill when someone chooses to try a new product. This one smelt absolutely divine and she said it had a lovely warming sensation which is fantastic for helping to alleviate muscle tension. I am sure that as more of my clients get introduced to this oil it will become a huge hit.


I also got to meet a rep from one of the companies that I buy my gel polish from. That was good and interesting. You can imagine how much my eyes lit up when she brought out all the colours available. Oh boy, did I have to restrain myself from getting caught up in the moment. However, I have to admit that the colours coming out for the Autumn collection are to me, very dull and boring. I know I should not be buying to suit my own personal taste and I try not to but I am not convinced that the new colours will appeal to many, if any of my clients either. To me, Autumn is about warm, rich colours, deep pinks, oranges, purples, reds etc. It can be such a beautiful season, surely new colours coming out should reflect this in some way.


Facebook likes and follows have now increased to 140 likes, 142 followers which is amazing. I also now have 51 followers on Pinterest and have just created an Instagram account for the business. Have no idea about this one at all but we will see I guess. I am not very good with technology and apps etc. It has never really interested me that much although I am very proud of my website and my Facebook page.


The low part of the week was that I decided to take a fall at one of my client’s. It was totally my own fault. I was doing my usual rush to pack up and leave and just slipped and crashed down onto a tile floor. Oh boy, did it hurt! I felt so awful for my client as I know it shook her up. At the time I thought I had hurt a couple of toes and also a knee but had to keep going as I had clients booked for the afternoon. By the evening I could barely walk. I had to miss my yoga class and ending up having to postpone two massage treatments booked for the Wednesday as I just couldn’t walk. I felt awful having to do that. This is the first time I have had to postpone treatments booked and I hope it is not something I have to do again anytime soon. A sprained and bruised foot, bruised knee, bruised thigh, bruised arm and finally a bruised ego! So stupid but it taught me one very valuable lesson – slow down!

My business is all about taking time out to breathe, slow down and relax. Even one of my clients on Saturday reminded me of this fact when I asked her if I was taking too long, working on her feet. She quickly reminded me of what I say on my website – that I don’t rush my treatments but like to take time to ensure that my clients are happy and have a relaxing and enjoyable experience.


So, here endeth my lesson for this week – slow down and breathe!  

er, no idea

2 September 2017

As you will have probably noticed, each blog I write has a title. For this one, I just couldn’t think of anything at all. That in itself may say a lot!


So, let me tell you what sort of week I have had in terms of treatments first and then we can move on to other things. So, overall it has been a pretty quiet week which is a shame but am learning to just go with it a bit. I have done 1 manicure in which the client chose a stunning turquoise colour from my SpaRitual collection - just beautiful. I also did a luxury pedicure with gels but forgot to ask if I could take a photograph of the end result. (I must try and remember to do this as standard) The colour chosen was one of my absolute favourites – a beautiful rich purple colour with a holographic shimmer on top. So pretty. I have also done a warm bamboo legs and feet massage and two general legs and feet massage treatments.


I was booked in to do an Indian Head massage too but when I arrived I found out that my client wasn’t there, she had meant to cancel me. This is only the second time that this has happened to me so far, with two different clients. It is frustrating but I know it was not deliberate. It raises the dilemma as to what to do when this happens. In theory I could have taken a booking from someone else but I know that at the moment that is unlikely. I have put on my website that last minute cancellations and no shows may result in being charged but saying it and doing it are two different things. I keep being told by my sister that I am running a business, not doing a hobby but this is where I struggle as I am not very good at doing the ‘tough’ stuff. It just isn’t me. Oh well. Hopefully it won’t be something I will have to deal with too much. I am not putting my head in the sand, I am just telling myself that I will deal with it if and when it happens.


Exciting stuff – I had 5 new gels arrive this week. Now I know, did I really need them? Probably not, but, they are lovely colours, were on special offer and well, what could I do? I have got two more on the way which will hopefully arrive soon and then I will only have two gaps left in my trolley thing that I have. Having two gaps may end up annoying me to the point that they will have to be filled but we will see. The two colours on the way are orange – I am hoping. It is difficult to tell just from the pictures but now I do a google search for images of nails painted in the colours I am looking at to try and get an idea. Now, orange isn’t really a colour I would choose for me but I realise that I am not just buying for me! It is a colour that my collection is missing so hopefully this will now be addressed.


I have also been told by a client that I am missing oranges/corals from my standard nail varnish collection so I guess I need to buy some for that too – what a hardship that will be!


I also had three new stamping plates arrive plus 5 more colours for stamping. This is me done now for this part of the business. The colours are just lovely and I am really enjoying playing. I just hope that more and more clients choose to have this done. It can look so effective and really unique. I can’t imagine not doing it on my own nails now, but that is just me.


I have done some more work on the website and have introduced a new page. I would have liked to have called it ‘treatment of the month’ but that is just too long a title and so have decided to call it ‘September’ – a little obvious maybe in some ways but. Anyway, the idea of this page is that I will talk in depth about a particular treatment, I will pick out some colours in both gels and nail varnish that I think would work well for this time of year, and I will also talk about a specific product that I use.


This month is all about ‘Indian summer’. I have really enjoyed researching images and ideas, I think it takes me back to the days when I studied Textiles and Fashion. I have even painted my own nails the colours that I have chosen which says something, especially as one of the colours is a very bright pink and I don’t do pink! The overall effect looks good though I think and has definitely got noticed.


Finally, I ended the week on a bit of a difficult note in that I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It wasn’t really a shock and in some ways it was a bit of a relief as at least now I know I am not going mad and there is a real reason for the way I have been feeling. However, it is not going to beat me but what it has done is reinforce for me just what a good decision I have made in setting up the business on my own. It means that I can manage how I am feeling, how many hours I work, how many treatments I do etc. I love the fact that I have my own business and while it is taking a while to get established, certainly a lot longer than what I had imagined, I still believe that I can make it work. I love what I do so much and get such a buzz when I see my clients happy with what I have done for them. What more could I possibly ask for?  

to wax or not to wax, that is the question!

10 September 2017

So, I know I haven’t written for a couple of weeks. There has been quite a bit going on lately, mostly good but one thing not so good.


Let’s go with the good first. Over the last couple of weeks’ I have done 2 standard manicures, 3 standard pedicures, 1 luxury pedicure, 1 luxury pedicure with gels, 3 sets of gels on fingers, 2 of which included stamping, 1 manicure and 1 pedicure with gels, 1 warm bamboo legs and feet massage, 1 Indian Head massage, 2 back, neck & shoulders massages and 4 legs and feet massages. Not bad going really. All of them have gone really well and my clients seem very pleased. Some of the clients have been new and just lovely. At least one of them will now be a regular and has arranged for her daughter to have some treatments with me too which is wonderful. I can’t tell you just how much it means when a client decides to rebook. It gives me such a boost to my confidence and self-belief.


I also had another boost of confidence when one of my clients who has had gels with me, booked me to remove her current gels that I had done over 4 weeks ago and replace them. I was so pleased to see that the existing gels were still perfectly intact, no chipping or lifting, just plenty of regrowth. I have never had a problem reported with my gels but I always worry about them so to know that they are lasting as well as they did is so reassuring.

This coming week I have, amongst other things, 3 Indian Head massages booked in. This is my absolute favourite massage treatment and I am so pleased that it is becoming popular. Two of them are for regular clients but one is for a new client which I am really looking forward to.


I want so much for the business to grow and develop. I now have 144 likes and 146 followers on Facebook which is fantastic and my following on Pinterest is really growing too with 59 followers now.


Regarding the business, I have made a decision which I am not sure I am 100% comfortable with but will go with it and see what happens. Just lately I have had a few queries about waxing which is something that I do not currently offer. I have been asked why I don’t offer it and initially my answer was because it was not something I was interested in.


For me, And breathe has never been about ‘beauty’ treatments but rather about taking time out to look after yourself and receive treatments that offer health benefits. The term ‘beauty’ has never sat comfortably with me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that beauty therapists are amazing. They work incredibly hard, are extremely caring and can make you look and feel amazing. I just never felt that I belonged in that industry. I think pretty much all my life I have rebelled against anything that could be termed as ‘beauty’. I always hated wearing make-up, looking immaculate and pretty etc.


To be honest, although I used to receive massage treatments I never had any real beauty treatments as I just didn’t think it was for me. I initially felt extremely self-conscious and apologised to my massage therapist for my size and shape as I felt like a beached whale but she always made me feel so good about myself and never judged me.


All of the treatments that I offer, with perhaps the exception of the gel polish, have health benefits which means that by enjoying one of the treatments, you are taking time out to look after yourself and care for yourself. However, whilst the gels may not have a specific health benefit as such, they can certainly provide a ‘feel good’ factor and so lift spirits and make clients feel happy which is always a good thing. Anyway, following this ramble you have probably guessed that I have made the decision to train to be able to offer wax treatments. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, I have been asked at least 4 times just lately if I do waxing which would suggest that there is a potential market out there. Secondly, I think that being able to offer an additional service may be a good thing. Thirdly, I have come to the conclusion that I need to stop being such a snob about all of this. After all, I love what I do, all my treatments have benefits and this will be exactly the same for the waxing. I need to get off my high horse and go with the flow.


Finally, onto the not so good. Just over a week ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. This was in some ways a bit of a blow but in other ways it was quite reassuming as at least now I know I am not going crazy, or no more than usual anyway! However, what this means is that I am more determined than ever to make a success out of the business. I know I can make it work and manage my condition alongside it. I have come too far to give in and give up. I have never felt so passionate about my previous jobs in the way that I feel about the business and my clients. I love this so much and get so excited when I get a new booking, meet new people and see them happy with what they have received. I am so lucky and so there is no way I am going to stop now. It is all about pacing myself but then that is what the business has always been about for me. Learning to create a balance for myself.

where have I been ???????

7 December 2017

Well, it has been sometime since my last entry. So much for the plan of one a month minimum! In my defence there has been quite a lot going on but definitely a New Years resolution for 2018 is to keep up with the blogs!


Okay, so, what’s been going on? Well, for those of you who have been following me for a while, you will have noticed that I have a brand new website. Unfortunately, my previous one completely crashed and so I had no choice but to start all over again and create something new. Needless to say it was an extremely stressful time but working for almost 4 days straight on it with very little sleep meant that I was up and running pretty fast and I have to say I am really pleased and proud with the end result.


I have also done some more training. I did 3 courses, all of which I passed. First was a course on eye treatments – threading, waxing and plucking the eyebrow along with eyebrow and eyelash tinting. I was so nervous but it went really well and was surprisingly enjoyable. I say that because I was so nervous about the threading and the shaping but it was great. The threading was so different to what I had experienced previously and less painful too. The second course was for ArtPro Express Gel Extensions. This course too went well and it is great to be able to offer these now. I didn’t want to go down the road of acrylics or hard gels so these were a good alternative. Finally, I did a waxing course. The course was really good but . . . . . I had never had a waxing treatment myself so this was an experience and if I am honest, it was not a pleasant or enjoyable one. However, I do now appreciate the benefits/results of waxing and have decided to be brave and have a go at doing my own legs and underarms at home.


What I was determined about, with all of these courses, was that the products I was going to use would have to be suitable for vegans and cruelty free. I was so chuffed when I found a vegan wax especially as none of my regular suppliers seemed able to offer me anything.


I have to be honest and say that these courses were not in my original thinking/business plan but I had received some enquiries about all of these treatments so it seemed a sensible thing to do. As my sister was quick to remind me, ‘you are running a business, not doing a hobby and so you have to meet market demands’.

I also went through a difficult time a few weeks ago when I had to say goodbye to my cat. He was my baby boy and was 18 ½ which was a good age but it was still so devastating. I miss him dreadfully and it will take some time to get used to not having him around.


Workwise things have been okay. I have done a fair amount of back, neck and shoulder massage treatments just lately along with pedicures, manicures, gels and one facial plus a pamper afternoon for a 50th birthday celebration which was good fun and went so well. I was so pleased, and relieved.


I seem to be broadening my reach a little too which is great with clients recently booking me in Weston. My Facebook page now has 197 likes and 200 followers. I would love to get 200 likes by the end of the year. I also now have 10 five star ratings which is amazing, I am so thrilled.


I must admit though that this week has been and next week is looking a little quieter than I had hoped/imagined it would be at this time of year. The week building up to Christmas is looking okay but I still have some capacity left. Next week I decided that I would have a works Christmas outing. I know, as I am self employed that may sound a little odd or crazy but it is okay, am dragging my sister and my parents along too. A trip on the train to Bristol for lunch followed by cocktails at Harvey Nicks, it just has to be done! It should be fun.


So, on that jolly note, I will say goodbye for now and I promise, I will do much better in keeping up with the writing. Bx

Happy New Year 

2 January 2018

Happy New Year! Already it is 2 January – how did that happen?


I can’t believe I have now been in business for a year, well, almost. Officially it will be a year on 9 January. What a journey it has been so far. It has definitely been challenging in many ways but it has also been amazing and I have met some incredible people and made some wonderful friends. I can honestly say I love it. I am getting out and about and really enjoying it.


I can recognise just how much I have developed over the last year in terms of skills and confidence although I do still suffer with anxiety over whether or not I am good enough. I am trying to learn to just go with it. If people rebook for example then they must be happy and if they don’t, there could be a number of reasons behind it, not just potentially negative ones.


I also recognise that I am a complete addict when it comes to nail varnishes and gel polishes. I just love colour and seeing the look on my clients faces when I give them the choices that are available for them is just great. I also know that some of my clients stay with me because of the choice of colours that I offer them.


Another marker for me was the fact that I had to change in my car for something bigger and more practical as I started to get busier. That was a big deal for me for two reasons. The daft one is because I loved the car I had and was really sorry to say goodbye to her but the other reason was because it felt like I was marking the moment that proved that the business was growing and that I could make it work. There was another reason for changing my car which was to make it easier for me due to the fibromyalgia. I needed a car with a flat boot that I could load and unload without breaking my back quite so much. So, I said goodbye to Lilly and hello to Pip. (Yes, I name all my cars)


I think I have learnt a massive amount about marketing in terms of what does and doesn’t work for a business like mine and so am trying to be more focused on what I am doing. Facebook seems to be the most successful for me which is great and I now have 210 like and 214 followers.


So, what about 2018? Well, first and foremost I want to grow the business and get more repeating clients. This is the most important thing whilst not compromising on my own beliefs and standards. I will never allow myself to get to a stage whereby I have to rush myself or my clients. I really want to make the business work so that I have a regular amount of work coming in. I will never be rich and that is fine, I just want to earn enough to be able to live.


Secondly, I need to start looking after myself more. After all, that was one of the main reasons why I wanted to work for myself, so that I could put my own health first. Having suffered two complete breakdowns I don’t want to go back down that route again if I can possibly avoid it plus I also now have to think more about my health and fitness in terms of my fibromyalgia. So for me it is back to basics. Re-join slimming world, go back to my regular yoga classes and start my own yoga practice at home, get back into the habit of doing regular meditations and this year I am also going to join a local gym, mainly for the swimming which I used to love and I know it will really help with my fibro. I also think it is important to look healthy for my clients. I don’t mean that I need to be a skinny chick (which will never happen), but I do need to look well.


I am going to make a concerted effort to keep in touch more with my blogs. Some of which will be totally business focused, some of which will be about benefits of treatments etc. and some of which will not doubt just be me doing my usual ramblings.


On that note, thank you for reading. Here is to a wonderful 2018, full of health and happiness too everyone. Bx

A reality check 

17 January 2018

For some reason I have been putting off writing this months blog and I don’t really know why. I have had plenty of ideas of things to say. After all, I am celebrating my first year anniversary this month! Even had to do my first self-assessment tax return (very scary and very grown up!). If that isn’t enough to ramble on about I was going to talk about a number of big plans I have about looking after me and my health and well being, which I plan to filter through into the business. The whole ethos regarding And breathe is about taking time out to look after yourself and making yourself a priority and I have decided that I need to start doing that myself.


So, as I said, I had these ideas but then today, I received a text from a lovely lady who had originally booked me late October/early November to give her mother in law a deluxe manicure and pedicure treatment. She advised me that her mother in law was suffering from terminal cancer and thought it would be a good treat for her. I spent around 4 hours with her mother in law and she was just wonderful, a real joy to be with. We had a lovely afternoon chatting away while I gave her the treatments. At the end of it she was so pleased that she booked me again for a Facial and to give her husband a massage treatment. I went back and did the treatments and it was lovely. She wanted to pay me £50 for the facial as she felt it was worth so much more than I was charging but I refused. She was so lovely. Anyway, the text this morning from the daughter in law advised me that her mother in law had passed away earlier this morning. It was such sad news but I was so grateful to have been informed. It always seems so cruel that people are taken away from their loved ones too early. She had a very loving and supportive family and I can only imagine how devastated they must be feeling right now.


Hearing this news really made me sit up and think about everything. I feel so lucky and so privileged to meet some truly amazing and incredibly brave people. I know that in the short time I got to know this lady, I had been able to make her feel a little better about herself. I don’t mean that in a boasting or arrogant way, I just meant that she was able to smile when she looked at her hands and feet and told me she loved the look and feel of her skin following the facial and that up until that point, she hadn’t wanted to look in the mirror for a long time because of how she was feeling about herself because of the illness. It made me realise just how special my job is and how important it is to spend time with my clients, to make them feel comfortable and relaxed and to help them to take care of themselves and feel better about themselves. All the treatments I offer are about taking time out to look after yourself, mind, body and spirit.

I feel so lucky. I work with a variety of clients. Some of whom are fit and well, some have or are suffering with depression and anxiety and some have suffered strokes and heart attacks. I get asked sometimes if I wouldn’t prefer working in a salon, or from my own home, especially when they see just how much ‘stuff’ I have to bring with me for some appointments. There are times when I feel like I need to reassure my clients that I am not moving in but will be leaving them at the end of the session, especially when I am doing Facials, manicures and pedicures. It is all good fun and although it can be a struggle sometimes, I wouldn’t have it any other way.


By being mobile, I get to meet people that wouldn’t or couldn’t access the treatments that I offer via a salon. For some people, they just wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a salon or spa, but for others, they are not fit or well enough to do so. Some just enjoy the relaxing feeling of having a treatment at home knowing that they don’t have to worry about car parking or the journey home. Whatever the reason for employing a mobile therapist, I feel so lucky that they have chosen me. I have made some wonderful friends and it is so satisfying in knowing that I am bringing some sense of happiness to my clients, whether that be via a relaxing Indian Head massage, a manicure treatment with freshly painted nails or a lovely facial treatment.  

Feet, feet and more feet 

19 June 2018

It has been such a long time since I last wrote that I don’t really know where to start. I guess with a general update re the business. Well, the good news is that I am getting busy! Although I never really doubted the fact that I could make the business work, it is a relief to see that it is finally taking off okay.


I have been running monthly promotions and it is so interesting to see which ones have worked and which ones haven’t. The Facials special wasn’t particularly well taken up which was a real shame as it is such a beautiful treatment. The manicure specials don’t seem to work either. However, feet, oh yes, they are a winner. Now, I love working on feet so this is great for me.


I now offer 6 different pedicure treatments, all of which are amazing in their own way. Yes, I know, 6 pedicure treatments may seem a little excessive but I think choice is good and they are all amazing in their own way. The ‘classic’ Kaeso pedicure treatments are just lovely and I have no doubt will remain the staple treatments. The new additions, Vegan Spa and the Sole-ful are just beautiful and so aromatic. They feel lovely on the skin and will leave your feet looking and feeling wonderful. The foot soak is lovely, the exfoliation scrub is really effective and then the mask is fabulous. Feet literally soak in the mask leaving them looking and feeling amazing and then they get treated to a rich massage butter to just ensure that they are fully moisturised. The added bonus is that whichever room the pedicure is done in, will be left smelling divine. I am so pleased I decided to invest into these products. They have been extremely successful and I hope they will continue to be that way.


Then we have the Footlogix pedicure treatment. Oh my goodness. Now, I was really nervous about this one. It is quite different in that it is a medical grade pedicure and has a whole range of products that you can use to tailor a treatment to the individual needs of a client. For example it has products specifically designed for anyone with sweaty feet, or cold feet, poor circulation or just extremely dry skin. What’s more, it is also totally safe for diabetics which is great as it opens up the opportunity for more people to enjoy a pedicure. The treatment involves a metal file which looks a bit like a cheese grater and feels to the touch a bit like a cat’s tongue in that it almost feels a little sticky.


Now, please don’t let my description put you off. If you have a build up of hard skin, calluses etc. then this is the most amazing and effective treatment there is. The combination of the callus spray and the foot file means the hard skin just comes away so easily, leaving beautifully soft skin. Now I was so worried about using this file because it does look a little ‘vicious’. However, I was very lucky to meet a Footlogix trainer at the Beauty Show in May who spent around 40 minutes with me talking to me about it and then demonstrating the products and the file on my ‘manky’ foot. Yes, I do have a pretty grim looking foot thanks to a combination of rosacea, hard skin and quite frankly neglect. Yes, I know, I need a pedicure treatment! I am just so pleased that I finally plucked up the courage to try this pedicure range along with the others.


All the products used in each of the pedicure treatments contain natural ingredients, are suitable for vegans and are cruelty free. This is so important to me so it is wonderful to be able to offer such a good range that fit so perfectly with the ethos of my business.