October is National Women’s Small Business Month. To celebrate, the CenturyLink Small Business team sat down with Teisha Jones to talk about her experience owning Stevie’s Healing Arts and Spa. As a small business owner, Teisha has overcome a lot of challenges in order to serve her clients, the massage therapists she works with, and the community in her area.
Since she was a child, Teisha had an interest in massage. She was inspired by her father, who worked as a massage therapist. From her early years, Teisha remembers helping as her father worked on patients. “My drive for massage started out just trying to keep what my dad did relevant in my life. I grew up on the end of his massage table,” Teisha said. “He’s a big part of what I do.”
After her father passed away in 2009, Teisha decided to go to massage school. She wanted to get the license that her father never had. She wanted to keep working with massage and helping people’s bodies react to their environments. In particular, she wanted to work with law enforcement, first responders, and the military to treat their specific needs.
In order to do the work she wanted to do, Teisha needed her own massage studio. She was working long hours as a massage therapist while facing her own health issues. “I could no longer punch somebody else’s time clock,” Teisha said.
Starting her own small business.
It was time for her to start her own small business. She had a name picked out and was prepared to begin the redesign of her business space. But Teisha experienced many setbacks, including the passing of her sister. She had to put her small business on the back burner—for now. Teisha decided to rent a room within another massage studio so she could pay her bills.
However, it was a stroke of fate that the owner of the massage studio happened to be selling the business, and the buyer had just dropped out of the sale. It was available, and Teisha leaped at the opportunity to finally own her own business. Just over a month later, Teish took over possession of the building and Stevie’s Healing Arts and Spa began in 2019.
The impact of COVID-19.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Teisha experienced a setback like many small business owners. “For women in small business, it’s hard enough as it is,” Teisha said, “But I got up and I said, you know what? This isn’t going to stop me.” She decided to turn the pandemic into an opportunity. While her business was shut down for two months, Teisha spruced up the place and completed a full paint job.
“As a woman in business, a lot of times I think we find ourselves doing well because we’ve had to,” Teisha said. “We had to make something out of nothing. A lot of women have to do that and I always had to make whatever I had at the time work.”
But getting her business back up and running wasn’t just about Teisha—it was also about the women who rented from her and used her space. Teisha also credits her success to her clients. During the pandemic, her clients waited three months just to come in, even though they could have gone anywhere.
Connecting the local small business community
Luckily, something else good came from the pandemic. The small business community in Stevie’s Healing Arts and Spa’s area started to come together and help each other out. “That’s the thing I noticed,” Teisha said, “that people were a little more open to find out what the guy next door is doing and how can we help each other survive.”
The community stepped up to help each other through the pandemic. Even across town, Teisha was able to leverage other business owners. If she couldn’t work on a client or a large group, she could refer them to other small businesses in her area and vice versa. She’s also able to barter with other small businesses in the area, allowing the businesses to exchange work instead of having to shell out.
Focusing on her clients
As a small business owner, Teisha wears a lot of hats. In addition to her work with massage, she works to keep a place for her independent contractors that is safe, clean, and up-to-code. She also takes on a lot of tasks that aren’t in her massage wheelhouse. For example, Teisha put together her own website and manage her own finances. She does her own advertising.
But it’s the experience of her clients that Teisha really cares about. “My biggest thing, I think, is making sure that anybody who comes through that is safe and everything that they’re paying for it is met with the highest standard. And ultimately, that’s my number one.”
Teisha doesn’t want her clients to feel like they’re just another name on the schedule. “We have to make sure that our clients feel like they’re the only person that has ever walked through that door. They’re not just a number in the crowd, and I think that that’s a big part of it, especially in this industry.”
Tools and technology for small businesses
For a business based on hands-on care, Teisha says that technology is actually a saving grace. From automatic bill pay to security cameras to payment processing, technology plays a big role at Stevie’s Healing Arts and Spa. Her independent contractors can create and manage their own schedules completely online. Perhaps the biggest impact technology has on Teisha’s business is that she’s able to do so much remotely. She can confirm appointments right from her smartphone while she visits her grandchildren in another state.
It’s also opening the possibilities for massage. Recently, Teisha started thinking about how perform massage remotely. Since her mother is currently in a nursing home after suffering a stroke, Teisha wondered how she could help her recover through massage. Her brother also lives in the area, and Teisha came up with an idea. She could hop on a video call with him and show him the movements he could use to help their mother. Virtual massage would open up the possibilities for her business and could move the whole practice forward. Doing more virtual work is definitely something Teisha wants to do more of in the future.
“I want massage seen as a requirement and a necessity in people’s life because the human touch is important.” Teisha sees the internet and even social media as part of that shift in the future.
Value those that value your business
Teisha is careful to emphasize the importance of the independent contractors she works with. “The key is not only your technology, but also you have to have the right people with you. Value those who value your business.”
She doesn’t treat the independent contractors she works with as if they are employees. Instead, she practices gratitude. That’s because Teisha knows, if you don’t work with the right people, you don’t have a business. She draws from her own experience working for places that never gave her a raise and paid her the same amount of money as new massage therapists.
“Make sure that people know their worth,” Teisha says. “And if you’re an employer or a business owner or an independent contractor, whatever it is—you have to let people know you value their presence and what they’ve done for you.”
Teisha’s advice for women in small business
When it comes to business, Teisha is a big believer in passion. Passion helps people be brave enough to start a small business and carry on when things get tough. Beyond passion, Teisha thinks that acting with intention is important, especially if small business owners want to make a real impact on someone’s life.
For women in business, Teisha emphasizes the value of empathy. That quality is key to show appreciation and make people feel valued. She also recommends that women be real and honest with people and being willing to apologize when they make a mistake.
Celebrating two years of business
Despite all she had to overcome, Teisha is celebrating two years of owning her business. And it continues to grow. She now has 100% occupancy of other massage therapists renting the space in her building. And she’s adding new aspects to her business all the time. For Teisha, her focus is on more people and bettering them. “Whether it be their stress level, whatever, we’re just about making the whole-body work. Emotionally, physically, mentally,” Teisha said.
Teisha customizes every massage for her clients. “I like to believe that we are putting a place together where people can come and just literally get well in whatever way their body needs to get well.” While Teisha knows that massage can’t cure chronic diseases, she’s a big believer that, at the very least, it can make someone’s day better.
We’d like to thank Teisha Jones for sitting down with CenturyLink Small Business and congratulate her on two years a business! For more on small business, check out the Small Business section of the CenturyLink Discover blog.