It’s been twenty years since she first set foot inside the Carolina School of Massage in Carrboro, NC. As someone who once thought massage was "just a hobby” people pursued around the hours and demands of a real job, Felicia Brown found that the massage profession was one that would lead her to great levels of business success while growing personally, professionally, and spiritually during her two decade-long journey.
And what a journey it has been. Since graduating in 1994, Felicia has become a well-known, respected and award winning massage therapist, business owner, writer, author, speaker and educator. Through plenty of hard work, dedication and marketing herself, Felicia became known to many as “THE massage therapist” in Greensboro, NC within a few years of becoming a massage therapist. She started her solo practice in 1994, growing it into a full service day spa with about fifty staff members and sales of over $1.6 million a year before selling the business in 2005. During her time as the spa’s owner, and beyond, she won countless awards including 2005 Small Business Person of the Year from the Greensboro, NC Chamber of Commerce, 2009 Spa Person of the Year from the Day Spa Association and 2011 Volunteer of the Year Award from the American Massage Conference.
Since 2006, Felicia has also been certified as a Guerrilla Marketing Coach and provides marketing classes, coaching and products for massage, spa and wellness professionals. Clearly, marketing has always been one of her biggest passions in business and has paved the way for all of her business endeavors. With past positions in teaching, retail, sales and restaurants - and a strong desire to succeed in her own business, she also has a natural instinct about how to connect with people and get them to do business with her. Similarly, Felicia has a knack for getting her name in the media, including numerous features in local newspapers, magazines, radio and television.
Once she became a massage therapy educator, her spot-on business advice was included in numerous professional publications in the massage, salon and spa industries. Over the years she’s also collaborated with other professionals and conferences such as The Massage Nerd, the World Massage Conference and the American Massage Conference to interview and highlight various experts in the massage, spa and wellness industries. These days she can be seen around the US and Canada teaching her upbeat, inspirational business, marketing, ethics and spa classes to massage, spa and wellness professionals.
When you first meet Felicia, whether in the classroom or out and about, you notice how she radiantly exudes friendliness and a sense of amusement about herself and life. Though she is incredibly down to earth, you’ll also immediately become aware of her passionate commitment to helping others succeed and her obvious love for teaching. Consequently, Felicia has been described as energetic, focused, inspiring, charismatic, hilarious, compassionate and brilliant by countless students and coaching clients. She tells me with a smile that she also recently earned the nickname “the Vanna White of the massage industry,” perhaps due to her self-assured stage presence and striking blonde hair.
But Felicia is not content just to turn letters for other people. She’s recently published some of her business wisdom and marketing techniques in her new book, Every Touch Marketing: Free & Easy Ways to Promote Your Massage, Spa & Wellness Business (Volume 1). Felicia says, “This book has been on my “to-do” list for the last 15 years. In the beginning, my heart was set on writing a marketing text book that showcased promotions I’ve used successfully. Later, I planned to write a guide for spa owners on the realities of owning and operating a spa business. I also considered creating a start-up guide for prospective spas as well as a memoir and a compilation of all my past articles. But for whatever reason, none of them ever gelled. This book - and the rest of the planned series - is derived from my coaching programs and contains what I consider the most essential advice for massage, spa and wellness professionals and businesses who are serious about getting new clients, keeping them and making more money along the way.”
Despite all of her accomplishments and awards, Felicia has gone through her own struggles both personally and professionally. As a child she lost both parents - and the grandparents who raised her -between the ages of ten and twenty years old, supporting herself and living on her own at age seventeen. In business, Felicia has faced many challenges in the past including dealing with employee embezzlement, a flooded location and even bankruptcy. But challenges and setbacks like these are definitely not something she dwells on. Rather Felicia uses obstacles and problems as opportunities to learn as well as inspiration to succeed.
Working as a massage therapist and educator continues to keep Felicia’s perspective in good times in bad centered and clear. “No matter what kind of chaos is going on, both teaching and massage continue to be a grounding force in my life,” says Felicia. “Even on the worst of days – and there have been a few here and there – once I step into the treatment room or classroom I start to feel better. When I am helping others, the focus is off of whatever is bothering me. I feel energized by this and love getting swept away in the possibilities of how I can make someone else’s day or life better. Knowing that even in the midst of my own difficulties or pain, I can still do something truly inspiring, powerful and healing for others has always given me hope. Admittedly I love the instant gratification of a client saying how much better they feel after I have worked with them – or a student telling me that I inspired them to do something new in their business. That goes way beyond brightening my day. It brightens my life!”
I asked Felicia what other professional goals she was trying to achieve. “My next project is transforming my online home study courses into physical form. After that I plan to finish the next volume in the book series, and create DVDs on effortless draping techniques and waterless spa treatments. I am also really interested in being enlisted as a paid celebrity endorser for massage, spa or wellness products (hint, hint industry vendors:-); hosting a talk show related to the massage/spa industry. I’m also ready to venture out a bit into other markets as a speaker as what I teach is applicable to any service business or industry. As for my own massage practice…it is currently being transformed into a wellness center. I envision attracting more of the best and brightest practitioners to create an unparalleled community resource for pain relief, healing and wellness.”
On a personal note, one of Felicia’s most recent achievements and challenges is her participation in several sprint triathlons. “They are short distance triathlons, but they are still challenging. Before I started doing triathlons, I had recurrent nightmares about drowning and had not been swimming in more than twenty years. Now the nightmares are gone and I am thrilled to be able to swim without being afraid. I am very proud of myself for pushing myself to do the first triathlon and completing every one I’ve entered! Training for and completing these triathlons is a fantastic metaphor for the journey we all must take day after day, week after week to be able to reach our personal and professional goals. It’s given me a fresh perspective on what is possible while providing me inspiration and empowerment in all areas of my life.”
When asked what advice she would share with practitioners about becoming successful in their careers, Felicia had this suggestion: “Start by knowing what you are passionate about doing, being or having. If you can connect with that passion and let it be the driving force behind what you do, amazing things are possible. Let your passion drive you toward the goals you set, the type of work you do, and the clients you seek. Then take action every day towards bringing your passion and goals into being.”
“On a personal level, I am a really lucky person. I’ve had everything and lost 'everything' and am on a mission to have it all again. But I also know who I am, know who my friends and know I am loved. I get to do what I love every day and know that I make a difference in the world. That’s such a gift and worth more than any amount of money I can imagine.”
Felicia’s advice is not just advice – it is her practice and example to the world. Follow her example and you too can create your own picture of success.