1. Tell us a bit more about you and your practice as it is today? i.e. are you a solo practitioner or a business owner? If solo, what kind of an establishment do you work for, how large is it, what is the clientele like, what is the specialty offered? If it is a business that you own, kindly include the same time of relevant information that will give the reader a good idea about your establishment/practice. Please also include where you live and work?
I own my own massage establishment working as the head LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist). In any given week I see 20 to 25 clients. After 10 years of client building in one area I have quite a pool of people to pull from.
This keeps me very busy. Clients coming to Oasis are seeking pain relief specifically. Not much “spa” type regular clients. Although we do enjoy getting to throw this into the mix. Our specialty is deep tissue massage.
2. Tell us why you chose to go into massage and at what point in your life did you decide to do so? What were you doing at the time? Where did you first hear about the massage career? What factors influenced your decision? What were you looking to get out of this decision?
I was 21 when I made the decision to enroll in massage school. Although I had looked into other massage schools in a different state, at the time I couldn’t afford to enroll. I was working at a bowling ally making barely more than minimum wage at the time. I went and talked to a local LMT who had just finished school and set up practice about a year earlier.
She talked with me about where she went, all the in’s and out’s, and offered me a job (if I went to massage school) on the spot! How could I say no?! I had been thinking about a career in massage for 3 years at that point.
When I went to enroll all the pieces came together like a perfect puzzle. I knew that I was in the right place at the right time, and this was the door I was supposed to walk through. I knew upon getting my license that no matter where I worked, I would have financial stability.
3. What were some of your questions and concerns before further pursuing your massage therapy goals? Talk about concerns with school and the profession itself.
Being able to work as much as possible, make it to class on time, and study, where my biggest concerns. But like my mom said to me “honey you can do anything for 3 months, especially if its going to change your life” I worked 2 jobs and went to massage school full time. I also passed the state exam on the first try.
4. What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?
I specialize in deep tissue therapy. I have cultivated a session of intuition, knowledge, and client feedback, to bring a balanced healing massage. This took years and lots of clients with lots of different issues.
But I believe a therapist who has no intuition, or doesn’t use it in a massage will not be successful long term in a massage therapy career. This is one of the biggest contributors to my success. Commitment to a schedule and being dependable are vital aspects as well.
5. What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?
I do not like “fluff” massage. I have good strength in my arms as a general rule, so having to concentrate on being light (in the aspect that “normal” pressure is too much) is actually harder and more taxing on me than just doing what I’m good at.
For this reason specifically I love deep tissue work. I don’t have “try” to be good at it I just am. When your talent can flow like this in your work life it is much more rewarding. I love the flexibility of massage. Being able to work for myself is a must for me.
6. What do you not like about what you do? Why?
Being in a dark room too many hours of the day is hard. So is the need for evening appointments. I don’t enjoy working all day and into the evening, as it takes away from having a home life, at least when you work for yourself. The biggest draw back to self employment is the feast or famine you “feel” even if its not a reality.
7. If there were three things you could change about your work or the industry as a whole what would they be? Why would you change them? What would you change them to?
Public thinking about what is necessity and what is not. Why non pharmaceutical pain management / relief is not a common way of thinking versus liver damage (eventual) through various prescriptions drugs is not something I understand. But I don’t think that way anyway.
Removing even the possibility of sexual innuendo would be leaps and bounds forward. Nothing makes me angrier than sexual harassment from the public. Although it is not something you would face on a daily basis (at least not for me) when you do have to deal with what ever form it comes in it is upsetting. I have a zero tolerance policy. And I enforce it.
More respect for the fact that (most) therapist are a licensed professional. I think we have to work to hard with doctors (mainstream) or other such influential people to be given respect to our education and skills.
8. How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?
I think I will retire as a therapist, although who knows what the future holds? I hope to still be running a massage establishment in retirement.
9. Do you currently have another job or business whether full time or part time? Tell us a bit more about it and how you are able to juggle that with your massage career?
My husband is self employed as well, so I am his office manager as well as my own. Some months I’m on top of everything sometimes I’m not. We are learning how to delegate that is helping.
10. What are some mistakes you made in your career pursuit that you’d like to warn other students about so they can learn from your experience and avoid it?
I’ve over worked myself, thinking if I didn’t say yes to every appointment request I wouldn’t have business. This is not true and it took me years to figure out. You have a right to a schedule and to say no even when someone is in dire pain when that schedule is full and at a days end. A lack of planning on someone else’s part does not constitute and emergency on yours.
11. What would you advice someone who is looking at massage therapy schools? What do you recommend they look for and how? How do you recommend they determine whether the school is the right one for them?
What does the school you’re looking at focus on? What modalities are the teachers passionate about? How well do students pass the state exam? Does this school indicate it can fill in all your unknown questions about the world of massage? Is it founded by massage passionate people or someone after a quick buck? Follow your intuition.
12. What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?
Spend a year saving money so you can. Work at a massage establishment or spa so you get front desk, client booking, client interaction experience. You will gain allot of experience about what goes on in the “background” running of a massage business. This will be invaluable information whether you work for someone or yourself. Have your school picked out so you know what the cost will be. Be sure you’ve checked all your options out.
13. What are your three biggest points of advice for an aspiring massage therapist today? What should they do/not do? What should they think about and consider?
Learn. Be flexible. You have a lot of experience to gain before you can speak with conviction. Don’t work for bad employers. Find your specialty, you will be so excited to go to work every day!
14. Any open thoughts / comments – anything else that you’d like to share about yourself, the massage industry, profession, future, etc? If nothing, make one prediction for the future of massage?
Alternative health care I believe is the ultimate path to true healing. We live in a disease riddle world, getting back to balanced living is so important to reversing this. People are in pain not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically every day. Massage can be a tool, a very good tool to helping people live better lives.
“When balance is restored to the body, mind, and soul you gain quality of life at any age” that is my personal quote about what I believe massage can do for your life!
15. What is your passion outside of massage? What are your hobbies and interests which you pursue when you are not working? Tell us why you enjoy what you enjoy.
I love creativity. I love spending time with my husband, daughter and our dogs! Love spending time with my family. I love to read. I love to be inspired, whether by God, people, the outdoors, or reading. These things feed my soul, without soul food the body is an empty shell. I want to grow always.
Jessica Sutton, owner of Oasis Massage, attended Hands on Therapy School of Massage and became licensed in October of 2004. Jessica has found that being able to identify the source of someone’s pain and help them release that is truly rewarding in her career. Knowing that she has helped bring balance back to the body and having someone leave not only feeling better, but maybe in some small way thriving, is why she continues to be a Massage Therapist. Outside of work, Jessica enjoys the sunshine and being outside, connecting with friends and family, and spending time with her best friend, her husband. She loves being creative, and the wonderful world of reading. Jessica can be reached at 972-875-8881 or on her website here.