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Melanie Gleeson’s foray into business was born out of the desire to be in charge of her own financial destiny, like many small business owners. But, more so, it developed out of a drive for a higher purpose and to build a network that supported women.
Her business – endota spa – has been on a 16 year trajectory to success. Since 2000, it has grown to 100 franchises nationwide, with half a million customers passing through their doors, making it a household name.
On Tuesday morning, speaking to a room of about 30 odd women from business, beauty and media, Gleeson talked about growing the business and making a meaningful lifestyle not only for herself but for other women.
“The inspiration was really to care for every single person that walked into our spa. One of the most rewarding things then and still is that when people have a treatment, they walk out feeling better than they did when they walked in. I think that with men, but women especially, we are so busy trying to be and do everything that there aren’t many places we can go and be silent. For me, having the haven of the spa is one of the only times that you turn off your phone and reconnect with who we are,” said Gleeson.
The primary purpose of endota spa rests on helping women be their best, so they can lead their best lives. Women in their many roles today, give so much to others and fail to invest in themselves. So endota spa is a place where women can take time out for themselves – it’s not just physical rejuvenation but also a spiritual and emotional replenishment.
They believe in making a spa experience accessible rather than a luxury, saying it’s about “investing time in yourself and making it part of a wellness routine”. Not only are they a haven for women, but they have helped 100 people join the endota spa family and form trusted local businesses through franchising.
“Sally and Chris have joined us here today and they are part of our family. They own 10 spas in total and have helped us grow this brand.”
“So our future is exciting, endota spa has grown so much and it’s not just about the spa locations, we’ve launched a beautiful certified organic and natural skincare brand and a cosmetics brand.”
Endota is an indigenous word meaning beautiful and that beauty is realised the moment a client steps through the door, surrounded by serenity and rooted by their signature scent.
Their symbol – the malachite – is the stone of healing, transformation and growth which represents the journey they take their customers on and is a significant part of their brand identity.
Gleeson never dreamt that the business would get so big but she did hope that it would reach great heights.
“I had a thought that I knew what I was doing was right but I remember sitting with some girlfriends before we even had a spa, just talking about how amazing it would be if we could have ten spa. And my mum popped her head around the kitchen door and said, ‘Girls, just get one open. Just start.'”
“Part of me wanted this but I didn’t fully understand what it would mean when I got here and the responsibility that comes with it but also the joy and change that you can bring to people.”
She is truly proud of the business she has built and the small business owners that run the franchises. A highlight is seeing people that have only an hour earlier entered the spa stressed with their shoulders glued to their ears leave looking relaxed and ready to tackle their busy lives.
“You can just see the change so being able to give people that time is one thing I’m really proud of. The other is that we’ve got such an amazing network of people, but predominantly women. At our head office we’ve got 40 team members, two are guys and the rest are girls. But the fact that we can create and work together and still have fun, and manage to pick the kids up at 3pm and fit it all in – I’m really proud of that and we work really hard to make sure that we can do that.”
Sharing her secret to success, Gleeson said that persistence is the most important as is making sure that you are truly pursuing your passion and ambition.
“I’ve learnt that when it gets too much and you get to that giving up point that you’ve just got to keep going. That’s important when building a business and just dealing with the day to day. Also, when you believe that you’re doing something that changes or helps, people rise up then. When you feel like you’re part of a higher purpose or a bigger order that gives you motivation and the energy to keep doing it. Hard work doesn’t feel so hard when you’re working towards such a fantastic result.”
Image (sourced): Ruth Cooper, Professional Beauty