In this big world of ours, it seems there is a lot of confusion wrapped around what to do for a living. While some people are actively chasing their dreams, others don’t even know what their dreams are. And then there are those few lucky ones that had an epiphany one day (the proverbial “aha” moment) where they knew exactly what they wanted to do – without hesitation or question. This was April Sea. Right from birth, life was literally pulling her in the direction of becoming a massage therapist.
April went straight into college from high school to study English at the University of Louisville. Despite the fact that her parents had instilled in her the value of a college education, after 3 years of study, she needed a break. Sea wanted to reevaluate her goals and define her path for herself. This decision to quit school didn’t come lightly to April. She had aspired to follow in her sister’s footsteps of becoming a teacher.
Sea admits, “I absolutely hated college. I was working 2 jobs, going to school part-time, and wasted all that money. So I told my parents that I was going to take a year off. I needed to figure out what I wanted to do for myself.” April says she looked into the medical field for nursing school. “I care about people,” she says, “but nursing school…I care TOO MUCH! I will let my emotions overtake me. People dying – I will take that home with me.”
It was only when Sea came across massage therapy that she had her “aha” moment. She knew she was in the right place when she met Kenny Lyons, the program director at the Louisville School of Massage. All students were required to get a massage prior to enrolling in the program, but April says, “I was really scared because I had stuff happen to me as a child. I absolutely stepped out of my element and just went for it. I absolutely fell in love with massage.”
After April enthusiastically enrolled in the massage therapy program at the Louisville School of Massage, she recalled her mom telling her the story of when she was born. Whether we realize it or not, life has a way of coming full circle.
When April’s mom went into labor, the original doctor that was supposed to deliver April was out on vacation. They had to pull somebody else for the delivery. April says, “And that somebody else had to be a doctor who was brand-spanking new! So what did he do? When he pulled me out, he pulled my right arm out of the socket. For the first 3 months, my mom said I had no mobility in my right arm.” Her mom would massage April’s arm every night before she laid her down to bed, doing range of motion exercises to build her muscles back up. April is so proud of her mom for knowing that touch therapy was beneficial – even in a newborn! April needed no further confirmation. She set her sights on massage therapy, and never looked back!
Chasing Her Dreams
After working for other massage companies for the past 10 years, April finally dug her feet into starting her own business, saying “My ultimate goal was to always be on my own.” Admitting that it took her 10 years to start chasing her dream of being self-employed, she also claims that she learned a lot by working for others. “The greatest satisfaction of my career is finally having the nerve to step out on my own,” she says. Any small business owner will agree that going solo is simultaneously the most satisfying, yet terrifying decision.
But Sea says, “Working for corporate massage chains before starting my own business gave me a lot of experience as far as what to do and what not to do. It actually helped me know how I didn’t want to be treated as an employee, and that helps me today running my own business.”
Sea of Tranquility
I asked April how she came up with her business name “Sea of Tranquility”. She said, “Sea is my last name, and I wanted something personal that sounded relaxing. My husband actually came up with it.” When asked what the biggest perk of owning her own business is, she says “It’s wonderful. I choose everything. I don’t have to go to somebody and ask for a day off, or come in later, or put in a request for 2 weeks in advance. I have absolute freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want. And it’s just the greatest feeling in the world – to be my own boss! I don’t have to answer to anybody.”
Compared to the perks of owning your own business, there are few drawbacks. “The main one,” she says, “is that I may physically work 25 hours, but I am REALLY working 24/7 – whether I am here or not. It is non-stop and can be very exhausting.” But she credits her husband, Jason Sea, as her biggest supporter. Jason has helped her every step of the way. And being he is quite the computer genius, he even created her website at www.sotmassage.com.
In addition to her husband, April says her “dad is a Godsend. He would work all day long and then come here and help me paint every night. He would come here by himself. He put as much money into this as I did. He’s proud of me!”
April creates a social media presence by publishing daily. To make this task a bit easier, she says “I usually try to take one day, a couple hours, to just schedule posts. I may have 12 posts to go out (like hashtag “Wisdom Wednesday”) that I schedule all the way up until October.” This discipline has certainly helped Sea maintain a consistent online presence on Facebook. This time is well-invested, as she sees Facebook as her best marketing tool. But don’t worry! You can also find her on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter also.
Sea also participates in on-site marketing events, such as health fairs and bridal shows. She was most recently in the Churchill Downs bridal show “Meet Me at the Altar” produced by Carrie Guzman. April offers chair massage at certain promotional events to allow people to get a feel of what massage can do for them – in just minutes! Yes, you can benefit from even a few minutes of massage, but it leaves you wanting more.
What Sets You Apart From Competition
Sea claims, “I usually try to think outside of the box. It’s not all about making money to me.” SOT is currently offering ½ off first massage deal for new clients, an extended Grand Opening Special.
“I don’t mind doing this at all. It helps the clients to see if they like my services. During a session, I might add on something that might normally be an upcharge – like cupping. I would ask them if they have ever tried cupping. If they agreed to try, I offer this as a complimentary service for that session. If they like it, the next time they can pay for it. I at least want them to experience it.”
April’s offers 30/60/90 minutes on service menu. Modalities include Swedish, deep tissue, sports, lymphatic, pre-natal, hot stone, Himalayan salt stones, warm bamboo, aromatherapy, cupping, and infant massage. Those under 12 years of age are ½ off full price.
SOT – a Notch Above Larger Chains
When asked how SOT is different from massage chains, she says, “I definitely don’t do memberships! I don’t lock people in. If you want to come back, you’re always welcome. And if you don’t, I’m not going to force your credit card to be charged every month. That’s just not who I am.”
April also allows time for the client because she believes the client is most important. You are not herded in and herded out like cattle with only 5 minutes in between sessions. This seems to be the norm for larger massage chains like Massage Envy and Elements. April allows at least 30 minutes in between each client so that they don’t feel rushed and are encouraged to ask questions or peruse her inventory of products on the way out.
At SOT Massage, it is all about “you”!
A lot of people mistakenly define success “outwardly” – often to impress others. You might hear someone say that they make six figures a year or they just got back from a vacation abroad. But is that the true meaning of success? Success is subjective – unique to each person. Go inside and define it “within”. What does it really look like to you? What do you REALLY NEED to be happy? Each of us holds the key to our own happiness.
April now has the key to her happiness and is unlocking all the doors to her future. She manifested her own business the way that she envisioned all of these years. I asked April to define success for her. She says, “At this point in my life, as long as I can pay my bills, have a little vacation, a little getaway, I’m happy. If I can do that and my fridge is full – I am good!”
Business Experience From the Start
“I worked as a manager at Arby’s for about 6 years. But to be quite honest, I was a business girl from the start with my own little cash register. I would take things from my parents into my room and set it up like a business stand – putting little price tags everywhere. I made them buy their stuff back (laughing). That was always my goal as a kid even – to do my own thing and be my own person.”
But as an adult, it takes a bit more than this. Sea admits her newfound success is due to her undying “determination”. “You can’t give up. Absolutely cannot give up. There will be times when you feel like it. And you will want to, but you cannot! Even if you know you might fail, you still cannot give up. At any moment, at any time, it can completely turn around and just skyrocket.”
If you have a passion that is heading you in a certain direction, pay attention! April listened to that small voice within to be her guiding force in taking charge of her future. She is truly blessed and now can be an inspiration to all “entrpreneurs to be”!
If you don’t have a support system as you envision and design your life, use her as your inspiration. You can read any of the interviews I’ve written to see how much passion and determination it takes to go it alone in the business world. But you are not alone my friend. You got this!
Sea of Tranquility Massage – 1679 Old Preston Hwy N
Louisville, KY 40229. For appointment: 502-966-7211
About Today’s Author
I am happily married with one daughter and two step-sons. I have owned and operated a small wedding cake business for over 25 years (Stir Crazy Cakes, LLC) and most recently started a new company handcrafting carved egg shells (Christi Murphy, LLC). A truly unique talent.
In owning and operating small businesses, I have personally experienced many successes and failures along the way that have made me a seasoned DIY entrepreneur. I don’t claim to be a professional marketer or consultant. Just consider me your new best friend that is sharing my personal knowledge and experience.
I welcome your comments and input, so please feel free to share. Each week, I post a new topic or interview with a successful small business owner.
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Believe in yourself and your dreams!