Our Thirteen Year – Reflection; Past, Present, Tomorrow

A rich milestone for myself and Sheldon Spa

They say the number 13 is unlucky for some but for Sheldon Spa, I feel very lucky indeed, to have reached such a rich milestone. Not just simply surviving this long in business, but to have woven such a rich tapestry full of achievement (both personally and professionally) friendship and kinship, as well as reward, recognition and accolades along the way. Reaching our thirteenth birthday has inspired me to reflect, reminisce and remind myself of how far I’ve come but to also ascertain what I desire for the next five years. It might just cement my goals, and bring my aspirations into sharp focus.

A thankful change of track

Following my time at University studying Law my interests broadened to Beauty and Holistic Health. Keen to get started, I opened my first salon in Faversham, Temple Treatments, offering the basics but I soon developed a passion for my work and a vision for growth. As a consequence, I established a healthy and loyal customer base of which a large percentage are still with me now. I believe my academic beginnings along with my practical and creative application, put me in good stead for attaining the right credentials for running a successful business in these modern times.

The pandemic presented me with an opportunity

The global pandemic saw me react and adapt within the aforementioned role. Whilst the industry came to a halt I did the opposite, taking the opportunity to make my business better than ever before. I embarked on a full renovation, refurbishment and reconfiguration of the spa, its practices and facilities. As daunting as this sounded to me I knew this was going to keep me and the team motivated, connected and ultimately excited about re-opening when the time permitted. Overnight I became an interior designer, engineer and project manager. Insane, courageous or a bit of both? Nevertheless, the challenge were accepted – it were happening, it still is happening!

My role now is certainly more three-dimensional than ever before

Spa Manager, Executive Therapist, and Restaurateur. Primarily I, along with the management of my team, deliver a 360° luxury wellness experience for both body and mind. I ensure a wholesome, nutritional and sustainable menu (much of the ingredients are home-grown on the premises), inclusive of an à la carte three-course lunch, exclusive outside hospitality, alfresco dining and bespoke events.

Aside from all the obvious and necessary qualifications/skills that have enabled me to run a successful team of therapists and, therefore, operate and equip a popular spa, I feel only the experience itself has enabled me to learn, and fully find my way.

For me, the fundamentals are:-

Authenticity, Discernment and Intuition; on a level, NOT selling a product to a client that simply will not benefit from its properties and more insightfully, REFUSING treatment when what is really required is medical intervention. This is a skill I teach my staff as it upholds integrity as well as builds trust.

Alignment; Head and Heart; Learning to coordinate intelligence with emotion and overwhelm has also become an invaluable skill. This is referred to as ‘heart-brain’ by Neurocardiologists. Being able to align emotion and logic accounts for better judgement and decision-making day-to-day, as well as the bigger decisions that impact the long-term direction of the business. This only works with daily practice.

Delegation; Asking for Help; The epiphany that micro-management is not the key to success and that learning to delegate is by far the greater skill. Asking for help or assistance is not a weakness but more a strength, self-awareness and the acknowledgement and acceptance that other people add value, bringing with them qualities that can/will dramatically improve the shape of the business.

Our Vision is your Escape

Sheldon Spa provides an ‘escape’. All our staff are trained to fully identify with the needs of each individual. These could be emotional, physical, spiritual or a combination of each. Time and space is made for people to communicate, breathe and relax, allowing them to express how they feel and, therefore, comforted in the knowledge that they have been seen, heard and understood. Once this relationship takes place we can prescribe the appropriate treatment or course of treatments to best alleviate the physical and/or mental burdens they may be carrying.

Far more than just treatments

Aside from the usual treatments you would expect to find we also have facilities (returning soon) that fully support a chosen treatment pathway. For example, the indoor heated hydrotherapy pool assists in rehabilitating post-accident / post-surgery. The sauna improves cardiovascular health, treats mild anxiety, depression and reduces the transmission of viruses. The hot tub relaxes muscles, reduces pain and improves sleep.

Sheldon Spa are full stockists and retailers of the product house, Caudalíe. A French Cosmetics brand blended specifically for face and body. These products dovetail perfectly with my stance and attitude toward delivering ‘clean beauty’ and supplementing health and wellbeing.

Invest in the needs of my staff

I am committed to equal opportunities and equal treatment for all employees, irrespective of gender, race, religion/belief, age, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy/maternity, sexual orientation, gender reassignment or disability.

From inception I have always had an evolving flexible working policy for my team. This is, and will always be essential to running a well-oiled business. It is critical that I’m aware of the ever-changing personal circumstances of my staff. All individuals are encouraged to voice their working needs; this is met with comfort and compassion. I consider all requests from my team to work flexibly, regardless of role and level of responsibility – flexible working is more than just part-time working. Working fewer or greater hours is openly discussed frequently; a happy team = happy clients.

Diversity and Equality are essential for growth

Sheldon Spa actively promotes gender diversity/equality and seeks to breakdown the stereotypes that we know exist. I see it as my responsibility to promote gender diversity/equality within all aspects of my industry. This is reflective of the human composition among my team and I adore the vibrancy this brings. I’m not a business that celebrates PRIDE only in June, but all year round. My website proudly flies the LGBTQ+ flag permanently.

The spa enjoys workers of all ages, race and ethnicity and disability is recognised as something that is not always visible.

I strive for an ever-more inclusive working culture, this requires reviewing all the aforementioned, including recruitment methods, delivering in-house diversity training within all facets of the business.

Personal development, paid forward

I recognise and understand that in order to support effective staff development the work first needs to be done on myself. I do not intend for staff to embark on courses that I have not already completed myself. For instance, a couple of non-exhaustive examples include the prior undertaking of a Gender Awareness course and Dealing with Difficult People. By doing this I can ensure that the right measure of love and warmth is projected unto my team and clients.

By working at Sheldon Spa my team are actively investing in their future. I ensure that career paths are adhered to and enhanced with ongoing educational courses, relevant seminars and practical application. The aim is to broaden skills, strengthen prospects, but ultimately build character, confidence and expertise.

It’s not all work, work, work. I have a keen and insistent social attitude toward a healthy and thriving workplace. Working relationships turn to friendships during trips to the theatre, dining-out, yoga classes and more – all key to forming a happy and positively developing workforce.

Checking in and checking out

It stands to reason that issues usually arise from unresolved trauma. I, therefore, have a successful practice in place that brings colleagues together at the start of the day and where necessary at the end. The aim is to share and confide so that issues are dealt with openly and honestly with the support of your fellow worker. This clears the air and unburdens, leaving the individual feeling lighter and more equipped to deal with the day ahead. I have discovered that this is hugely beneficial in re-aligning emotions and uplifting spirits before moving on to treat clients.

Goals for the foreseeable

To unveil what began as an ambitious vision of a fully refurbished spa, to finally celebrating its completion! The transformation journey has been long, arduous at times, but educational nonetheless. The realisation that stagnation leads to nothing and evolvement to reward and fulfilment. I have had to compartmentalise my progress and take stock of how far I have come in order to remain focused. My ultimate goal now is to witness on a daily basis, the elevated experience that my clients will love even more as a result of my efforts.

Alongside the refurbishment came the desire/need to revamp my brand. This has always been integral to my marketing prowess and means to differentiate my services but now a twist toward first class service and exclusive escapes is called for more than ever. Over the next year I will be implementing, along with my designer, the desired aspirational look/feel for the new era of Sheldon Spa.

I have set a goal to achieve seamless excellence in every facet of the business from driving into my premises, walking through the door to leaving having experienced luxury treatments, serene swims, nourishing foods, exquisite juices/mocktails supported from sustainable produce cultivated in the spas’ garden and purchased from other local growers.

To facilitate the aforementioned goals requires a concerted push to expand my team, allowing me to pave the way for an expansion of services – new and improved. This in itself is another goal!

Additional goals include continuing to improve my organic reach on social media. As well as growing my following on Facebook and Instagram I would also like to invest the time/spend in learning how to embrace new platforms such as TikTok and other growing online trends. This would also have the added benefit of creating a possible opening for a Content Creator to join the team too!

I’m currently working to a three-year plan. The main thrust being expanding my services in light of the completed refurbishment and inevitably growing the team, transitioning to something more exclusive and niche.

I had the privilege of meeting the highly motivational and adrenaline-pumped, Ant Middleton during his Mind Over Muscle Tour; A New Age of Thinking. I’m currently working with, Rebecca Jones of Complement Coaching, an International Leadership Coach, Mentor, Speaker, Creative and Storyteller (watch this space for our joint endeavours, VIP Days). I’m looking forward to attending the Abraham Hicks, Law of Attraction Workshop in Amsterdam, May 2023. These influential humans have imparted gems of knowledge and pearls of wisdom that I have already called upon within my business and personal life.

What is my motivation for this?

The fact that I have retained clients for almost thirteen years, especially when there is so much competition emerging, is a testament to an unrelenting work ethic but also proof of their unwavering loyalty and commitment to the Spa. Therefore, I’m unequivocally motivated to finish the refurbishment for their enjoyment as well as for my own sense of achievement. It is this faithful group that have become my driving force in achieving my goals and the reason I’m so determined to succeed.

The prospect of making my last mortgage payment this year (before I’m thirty-nine) is a gargantuan motivator and something my inner-spirit refuses to fail on. It is my hope that other young humans (certainly my junior members of the team) draw inspiration from this, and that I’m living proof they can achieve their hearts’ desire too. The idea of mentoring in some capacity to assist them on their way excites me also.

The sacrifice has meant that I have had less time with family and friends, rarely taken a holiday, projects at home total non-starters. I feel that I have perhaps even delayed becoming a mum. Therefore, mumpreneurs that have become parents in their late thirties/early forties continue to motivate and inspire me. (Maybe, God-willing my turn will come.)

Leaving a legacy

Leaving or passing on my legacy is another big motivating factor for me. The notion of something that I have envisioned and designed, crafted and created, being enjoyed by another young and enthusiastic individual in years to come is a gratifying one. Let’s face it, buildings tend to out-live people, so the physical structure of my beloved spa existing geographically on the map for decades to come is kind of cool, right?

How can Sheldon Spa continue to do ‘their bit’?

Sheldon Spa by default and virtue of ‘what we do’ have always been (certainly in my mind) heavy consumers of energy; let’s be honest, no one wants a tepid pool to swim in or to receive a massage in a cold treatment room! Nevertheless, myself and the team have been making a conscious effort to significantly shrink our carbon footprint. Some of the ways we have gone/going about this are:

By massively reducing our ‘food miles’. No one has to travel too far to gather some of the ingredients that we have in our kitchen. Runner beans can be seen climbing our garden fences, French beans bustling in our flower borders and cucumbers, beetroot, carrots, spring onions and varieties of lettuces, herbs and more can be found growing in our purpose-built veggie-beds. Our produce literally travels from garden-to-kitchen-to-plate!

We have consciously chosen to use, where possible, disposable consumables (couch covers, towels etc) that instead of being thrown into landfill remain on site and biodegrade naturally, later utilised as compost to fertilise areas of the garden such as soil and plants. Another example of compostable choices are our Teapigs teabags, which are not only a client favourite but also kinder to the environment; they only source 100% natural ingredients from sustainable estates and were the first ever tea company to be certified, plastic-free.

Our newly installed hydration station encourages the use of refillable and reusable items, a conscious shift towards partnering with the un-necessary use of plastics. Allowing our regular clients to attend their treatment appointments with a refillable bottle – it’s the small changes on a daily basis that contribute to global change.

We were early adopters of the brand, Caudalíe, our extensive product range for skin and body care used throughout the spa and available for our clients to buy, in house and online. This was an obvious choice for us, following two years of research and testing. But ultimately I needed their company ethics to align with my own without compromising on effectiveness. The selling points are:-

• Effective ingredients of natural origin whilst retaining glamour and luxury
• Skin care products that support hormone health, free of parabens and phenoxyethanol ensuring no disruption to the endocrine system
• Skin care free of animal origin, no lanolin, keratin, cochineal and animal squalene
• A global company, but family-run and primarily focused on acting for reforestation, off-setting their carbon footprint, having planted and protected over four million trees in all four corners of the world, replenishing an otherwise damaged and diminishing eco-system. ‘1% For The Planet’ are the movement responsible for supporting such environmental solutions, of which Caudalíe are members, meeting the criteria by pledging 1% of their annual turnover. Sheldon Spa, as an advocate and ambassador enjoy being an integral component.

My local community

In November 2021 I decided to actively raise money for ‘CALM’, The Campaign Against Living Miserably. My challenge was to walk 20 miles through the night in London. I chose this charity for very personal reasons. I was deeply shaken by the stat, ‘125 people die by suicide every week in the UK’. The majority are men with an increasing number of women under the age of 25. The sad fact is I regularly have to manage my clients’ mental health issues as well as their physical being. Therefore, the aforementioned along with the tribulations resulting from the pandemic is what inspired me to seek sponsorship and take action – and maybe save a life or two! During this time I was able to open up dialogue, talking about the subject with clients and allowing Mental Health to be a welcomed and unfearful topic of discussion in the workplace. More widely, I was able to influence and reach out to other local businesses who gave me encouragement and donations to show their support.
And, on Wednesday 17th May 2023 I will be fundraising for CALM once more with our Caudalíe open day! Please search our socials for more information. And, of course to donate through our Just Giving Page.

I relish every opportunity I get to integrate, refer/recommend and purchase from other local businesses. I have recently forged a working relationship with The White Horse at Boughton-Under-Blean whereby we cross-refer business in the form of leads and personal recommendations. We have future-plans for business initiatives such as potentially a mini Sheldon Spa popping up at The White Horse – exciting!!

I perform a similar arrangement (cross-referrals) with Reads Restaurant with Rooms in Faversham. I try to interlink my Spa activities with other creative thinkers in the local community. For example my frequent window displays are always briefed by myself, but County Lane Flowers of Faversham always add the magic with their seasonal and sustainable flowers. Working with surrounding small businesses is not only good for my business, but I enthusiastically recognise that this plays a key part in keeping funds circulating within the local community. We all benefit from this type of united front.

As I reflect, I realise that the impact of ‘COVID-times’ has had, and still is having a meandering effect on my business. I have revealed to myself that I am resilient and compassionate during a prolonged crisis. Yes, I had to obey with government guidelines but I was hell-bent on returning to work as soon as possible to take care of my dementia, post-operative, isolated and reliant clients, not to mention my unrelenting ambition to keep everyone of my team in a job. Yes, I took the government grants that I was eligible for alongside a hefty bounce-back loan but I also injected my personal savings to guarantee that I could financially facilitate.

The aftermath of the pandemic is still palpable and I feel sickened to see familiar businesses struggling or worse, ceasing to trade. Comparatively I know it is a small drop in the ocean but I try to #bekind; offering discounted treatments to NHS staff (‘First You Fridays’) and to anyone that I know has been adversely affected. I make regular drop-off’s to food banks and any fresh items (perishables) I personally hit the streets and give these otherwise wasted spa-made delights to the homeless. They have now gotten to know my name, Jo (not my business name) and it feels great!

Huge affirmation and a reassuring green light to keep on trucking!

I’d like to sign-off by sharing with you how overjoyed I was this year to win: The Inspired Achievement Award, it’s the Judge’s Choice Award and concludes the ceremony, a category that cannot be knowingly entered at the KWIBA – Kent Women In Business Awards. I really didn’t expect to win nor to have made such an encouraging and inspiring impression on all the judges in the way that I did. This has left me feeling so humble, renewed and super-charged to bring Sheldon Spa hurtling into summer 2023 with more passion and inner-drive than ever before. My supporters are my biggest source of fuel, they know who they are and frankly, I’d be lost without them. We only triumph when we are a team!

Joanna Jones – Owner of Sheldon Spa.