A Q&A with Endota Spa
A story which began in the beautiful natural surroundings of the Mornington Peninsula in now across 90 locations around Australia.
The Endota Spa journey began 15 years ago when very few people knew what a spa was, and fewer still recognised the importance of devoting their time to enhancing their wellbeing. Driven by her desire to share positive experiences and create more meaningful connections, Melanie Gleeson and a school friend set forth to follow their dreams and establish this flourishing spa network.
Here I talk to Melanie about her passion, her dreams and her holistic business in wellbeing.
How and why did you get into the spa business? How did your journey begin?
My journey began from the desire to make people feel better. I was working in the industry but felt more could be done, and I really loved being able to create spaces for people so they could relax, take time out and reconnect with the silence. We don’t stop and give ourselves time to do this. You could see a physical change in people when they came out of their treatments and giving them the time to feel better is what motivated me in the first place, and still drives the decisions we make today. Yes, making people feel better is my main driver.
What does Endota mean?
Endota is an indigenous word meaning beautiful.
Does your business have indigenous connections?
Yes – we work with a group of ladies – they are artists and they live in Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia. They create the designs for our Endota Spa colour packaging range. We work very closely with them. I was really lucky last year to spend time with them in their communities and to learn how they create their art and related materials that they use for their dyes and colours, and the meaning behind the things they do. We have close connections with Marninwarntikura, the resource centre in Western Australia that encourages belonging and togetherness, especially for women in the community.
What is the Endota Spa experience like? What treatments and experiences does it involve?
At Endota we offer a range of treatments, from relaxing therapies through to therapeutic treatments and results-oriented facials. It really depends on what the customer is looking for and what we can prescribe to meet her needs. Some of our most popular treatments include our deep recovery practices and our New Age results treatments, but every treatment goes back to the motive and gives people time to completely surrender and take a moment for themselves to feel rejuvenated and healed by the experience.
When you mentioned treatments, what particularly are you treating?
When we say treatment, it’s a holistic way of looking at wellbeing. We treat concerns with the skin, but we also have therapeutic treatments such as remedial massage to treat deeper concerns. We believe that a dis-ease in the body can be brought back into harmony through time and healing. One of the biggest things for us, no matter what the treatment, is the time you take for yourself and the silence that brings, which helps on all levels of healing.
How is Endota Spa unique from your competitors?
Apart from Endota Spa being the largest day spa operating in Australia, the intent behind the things that we do – our purpose – makes us different. Our business owners are also very involved in the decisions we make. Our therapists drive a lot of the treatment that comes out of the spa and the products that we formulate are driven by our therapists through their conversations with customers and understanding what the customer wants. We are all very much connected in that intent. Whenever you ask anyone from an Endota Spa why they got into the industry, the answer is pretty much the same across the board – to make people feel better. From our therapists through to our spa owners and business managers, there’s a deep desire to care for others and give them that time.
You have also ventured into skincare products. Can you tell me a bit about them?
Yes, the motivation for the products springs from our service, so our people really wanted to work with the products that they had helped create. The first range that we produced was our organic line with 33 retail items, and they are certified either organic or natural. We then developed the colour range, which is a complexion range of 12 colour cosmetics that have hydrating ingredients in them. So even though it’s a cosmetic, it acts like skincare when it is applied. A majority of the products are formulated and manufactured in Australia, while a couple of the colour range products are from international suppliers. We’ve gone to the best in the business – it’s taken years of research to get these products. The next range we are working on is our New Age range. It has four capsule products and we are launching it in September. There are another 33 products in that line which will see us move into the New Age category, which is really the anti-ageing category. For us it’s about providing products which have a clinical trials backing, so we can show the client things like reduction in wrinkles and moisture level increase. This offers immediate results.
The three ranges combined cater for different markets. Some clients will use body products from our organic range, but then might use the collagen products from our New Age range so people can mix and match depending on what their needs are. These skincare products are available at all spa outlets and also online.
You must have visited quite a few spas around the world. Have you taken any aspects from them to incorporate in your spas? Has there been anything in particular that has stood out?
Not from actual spas, but more from treatments. The most amazing treatments I’ve had have not been in the most glamorous spas, but with the most amazing healers. I’ve had a lot of energy work done and energy healing from amazing healers, and those treatments have stood out for me rather than a beautiful building. It’s the touch and the feeling that you’re left with after the treatment which is important.
You say you built this business on certain values. Can you explain them briefly and what have been your personal experiences with them?
The values that we hold are internal as well as external. We don’t separate the two because they’re very much blended together in how we live and work. Our values are Intent, Connect, Truth and Balance and they stem from everything that we do.
We believe the heart of every decision has to come from the right intent, and the connection for us is with all the people in our business as well as our clients. Connection goes to a deeper level because we believe that when you are having a treatment, it’s a transfer of energy and a connection when healing takes place. Truth relates to speaking our truth truly and calmly and allowing other people to do the same, and giving them the confidence to do so. Balance is about balancing all areas of your life to help you live better and feel better.
You’ve managed to grow your business to be the largest spa network in Australia, with more than 90 locations around the country. What are your strategies for success?
Strategies for success include surrounding myself with amazing people. We’ve got so much talent and knowledge in our organisation across all levels. It’s also about listening to the customer and getting to know her, understanding her and what she really wants, and then being able to deliver that.
As a mum, how do you balance your time between running a business and family time?
I have an amazing work crew within the Endota network and also at Home. My husband and I are in a very good partnership and we share our parenting responsibilities. But I also think that for our family it’s about working out what’s important for us, what we love and doing more of it.
A big breakthrough for me was when I started saying “no” to certain things that I just didn’t want to do or felt obliged to do. Once I had the confidence to say no, it freed me up to do so much more of what I love and that’s created a lot of space and time. Even though I work most of the time, I feel balanced because I get to fit in my yoga, my meditation and time with my boys and Pete. I feel connected because I’m happy in all of my things. So balance for me is more about how we can make ourselves happy in all areas and do more of what makes us happy, rather than just doing things because we are obliged to do so. That was the shift for me.
What’s your favourite spa experience?
At the moment I’ve got two favourites and I can’t pick between them. One is the deep recovery treatment, which uses our recovery range. It starts with an exfoliation followed by a beautiful healing stone massage, then a gorgeous recovery balm is applied and it relaxes and eases tension like no other treatment I’ve had. The other one that I’m super in love with is our new light therapy facial with an LED mask. We use our New Age collagen product and then we use a cloth mask on which a light is applied. Our light is a light fusion which has got clinical trials results behind it. When we chose to go with that one, it was really important for me that we had the science behind it. These treatments are my two favourites.
What are the challenges you face running a franchise business?
As we grow, there are two challenges for me: one is communication and making sure the intent of our business still flows through the network as we grow with more people, ensuring they get to know our values and embrace them. The next challenge is consistency of the treatments and the services that are provided. Because therapy is such a personal experience, we could have the same therapy and still have a different experience from it. It’s hard to keep that consistency, but we have to try to manage that all the time.
What’s next for you and Endota Spa?
We are opening a few more spas, which is really exciting, and we have evolved our retail spaces. They are going to be a lot more interactive, with exciting activations. We are also expanding the New Age range, which we will be launching in September. We are also testing out some new machinery which we haven’t yet put into the spas. Yes, lots of things happening at Endota.