Apologies for not posting a blog entry for so long. I am not sure why, beyond the fact that I have been singularly uninspired; and also have felt a bit blocked in my throat chakra.
But now I am in Mozambique, working at an establishment which I will not name right now, so I feel safe from any potential scathing responses to this, or future blogs.
Being away from the place where I have been running my business for the last 12 years has caused me to realise it doesn’t really matter if no-one reads this, or if I scare away people who might have booked with me, because I am not there to take bookings!
It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to operate in Cape Town, anyway. I had done a lot of inner work which made me want to align what I believe I am worth with my prices. But there are at present so many “massage therapists” in Cape Town. It reminds me of the late 1990’s when every second person had an MCSE certificate – Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. Suddenly everyone wanted to jump on the “I can make money fixing computer problems for the idiots that can’t do it themselves” bandwagon and Cape Town was flooded, saturated with these I.T people. The salaries for that particular sector of the computer industry dropped alarmingly. And there was a large number of them who left for Dubai or Canada or New Zealand. And then the saturation scale tipped the other way and salaries rose again.
It seemed that the same thing happened in the spa & wellness industry. Now there are a gazillion therapists of every description in Cape Town. Spa Therapists. Massage Therapists. Bodyworkers of every description. Cosmetic Therapists. Quasi-medical Therapists (I worked alongside a girl at a massage event who was at the time also doing vaginal enhancements). And let’s not forget the healers, lightworkers, energy practitioners, yoga teachers, dance people (5 rhythms, nia, ecstatic awakening, biodanza, etc) meditation facilitators, doula’s, lactation experts, ayahausca and other plant medicine guides, nutritionists, naturopaths, holistic and integrative doctors, psychics, tarot readers, intuitives, empaths, conscious channellers and mindfulness teachers. (Psychologists and hypnotherapists and NLP people, I have not forgotten you!) It’s a plethora of “Help” where everyone thinks they are the only ones with the “right way” of helping. It can be confusing and downright invasive, especially when they get into the whole thing of facebook groups, webinars, email newsletters and day workshops. I personally hate the American-influenced way of netting your devotees by bombarding them with electronic paraphernalia. And all of it keeping the focus on “consume my product”, rather than the very real and needed work of Going Inside. That is not to denigrate the authentic ones out there who are able to hold space for those willing to dig deep. But they are few and far between. I am not sure if this is because Going Inside is scary for most, or perhaps they are all just misguided, or too junior to know the difference.
But I digress. I was talking about how I had these prices on my website which I felt reflected both my 17 years of comprehensive experience, AND my ability to meet the client where they were and hold space for them while they tried to work through their issue and move on from it. Yet I wasn’t getting bookings. To be fair, I wasn’t bombarding my facebook followers with “book a treatment with me now” messages and I wasn’t offering amazing freebies, and I wasn’t doing global webinars at all hours; but I was offering my best abilities and a safe space. And I like to think I’m quite pleasant in person. I had a nice treatment room in Zeekoevlei which had nature right outside the door (the birds that used to come and flit about in the trees during treatments were a huge part of this), with a custom made massage bed that anyone who had any experience at receiving massages used to swoon over, and various other uncontrived niceties. And I was a specialist in massage and reflexology. I gained enough of a reputation in the early part of my massage career to start offering specialist treatments. I was one of a handful of people in Cape Town that could work with pregnant women helping to relieve the aches and pains that come with pregnancy, as well as doing what I could to assist pregnant women to achieve a natural birth (oh, and that is a whole other blog post in itself!). Then it unfolded organically from there that I got into fertility work (did you know that reflexology can be very effective at helping couples to conceive?), and cancer work. I thought I was tapping into a more receptive audience, that people who couldn’t fall pregnant when they wanted to, or who had been given a cancer diagnosis would be eager and keen to work on their health. And to a degree, a lot of them were. So I had a specialist massage practice. And I was good at it. And I loved it. And I loved that pregnant ladies, ladies wishing to fall pregnant, and cancer sufferers would at least take SOME of my advice. It was better than the masses out there who can’t even take a panado for themselves when they have an ache or a pain but are always looking outward for someone else to alleviate it. I had a lovely client, really lovely, but whenever she hurt herself in a muscular way I would ask: “so have you done anything about it; such as putting ice, or taking an Epsom salt bath or doing some stretches?”, she would look at me as though I was suggesting parting the Dead Sea.
But then, the era of “a therapist every 100m” came into being. When I say this, I mean the saturation of the market. Like in the MCSE example. There are now literally therapists and practitioners everywhere. A lot of them are below the age of 35, and they are all trying to charge just a little bit less than the 20 other therapists around them. It’s now not uncommon to find a 60min massage in Cape Town for R300 from someone who has at least 3years of experience, usually more. And where do you think that left me? Me who was trying to charge what I thought I was worth and bring some authenticity and integrity to the industry. I know I am generalising, but really. I had a swap with one such under-35year old massage therapist. I received a massage from her, and gave a Reiki treatment in return. Next thing, I see she’s offering Reiki on her menu. But I know for a fact that she did not attend a Reiki 1 class anywhere. Not even online. Learning Reiki online – another good topic for a blog post!
Around the time that I started to think “Eish, this scene is full of charlatans”, the amount of disposable income in South Africa dropped drastically. Wealthy families that I had been massaging in Llandudno, Clifton, Bishopscourt and Constantia stopped ordering massages for their children. The parents had massage less regularly. The pregnant women pretended to themselves that they would still have a natural birth if they only had two massages before the birth, and the cancer sufferers went back to chemo and radiation because it was medical-aid assisted. I felt as if I was being edged further and further into a smaller and smaller pool.
I took some courses to pad out my skills (though in actuality there was nothing wrong with my skills), and tried to be in line with modern trends, and offered more specials, and got a social media expert to help with my online presence, and even freelanced in a natural cancer centre, but my income dropped steadily. It was a bit scary. I also started to get demoralised.
And let’s face it. The milieu, the psychological climate in Cape Town and in South Africa is not that great at the moment. People are stressed. And becoming blinkered. I would go to a mall, or even my favourite health shop where in the past the faces could be relied to have smiles on them, and there would be this pall, this atmosphere of seriousness, a lack of humour and patience and a very real sense of “get out of my way and don’t cause kak with me”. And everywhere, the therapists charging R300 for a 60min massage.
So I decided to give it all a break. See something else. Try something new (again). Wait until the saturation levels drop and the smiles return.
So here I am in Mozambique. On the face of it, I’m supposed to be the manager of the spa at a so-called Eco-lodge and Spa. I’m also supposed to be helping the GM to achieve certain things they don’t seem to have time for; like organising more entries on the list of guest activities, and improving the social media presence, and helping the lodge to become more eco-friendly (another blog post there!). I must give it time, I have only been here 9 days. But I can’t help noticing a certain sinking feeling. The eco-friendly practices mentioned on the lodge website are questionable. The resources for creating more guest activities (I only had simple things in mind like board game evenings and star gazing through a telescope) don’t seem to be available, and as to improving the spa… well, we shall just have to see what unfolds, I guess. So much for a Great New Role.
But now you know why I am in Mozambique and not at my usual position as specialist massage therapist in Cape Town.
And as I said in the second paragraph, I am safe from anyone deciding to not book a treatment with me based on the content of my blogs, so I’m just going for it. Because I want to keep my website domain. And I want to keep my online presence current. In case Cape Town becomes conducive to my way of working again. So I’ll hopefully be posting blog entries much more regularly now. And I don’t really care what you think, though if you want to say: “I hear you”, or “thanks for your honesty”, I will of course be receptive!
If you have read this far, then thank you. And please feel free to leave a comment. I might or might not respond to it, but I hold you in high esteem nonetheless.
Love always and in all ways,