After working in the corporate human resources
environment for more than 15 years for three top Fortune 500 companies
in their industries (Aerospace, Financial and Chemical respectively),
Myra Dorsey knew it was time to launch her own business, one through which she
could add something of value to others. So in 2011, in Carroll County, Maryland, she did just that.
The result was La Bodi Massage, a mobile service company that stresses the philosophy of self-wellness. It offers individualized, custom massages that adhere to specific therapeutic needs. It also caters to pro- (Baltimore Ravens- Mariners- Hawks) and college athletes and high school athletic teams, corporate business establishments and senior center facilities, among others.
Besides launching her own company, Dorsey also found time to write a book, Benefit of the Doubt, a novel about a woman facing the challenges of balancing life and a career in the corporate world.
TNJ.com: What led you to launch Labodi Massage Inc.?
Myra Dorsey: I was in the Human Resources field for 15 years and was tired of always being the person people ran away from. I wanted to be a benefit to others and have them come running to me. Because of the stresses as an HR leader, I found myself having to get a massage weekly just to sustain my mental and physical well being. I thought about how beneficial it was in preserving me; it was not a luxury but a necessity and that coupled with wanting to help others was the leading factor of my wanting to start my practice.
TNJ.com: How does it stand out from other spas?
MD: Let me clarify first.. I do not have a spa… I have a massage “practice.” It is very different from spas or other entities in this area because my main focus for the practice is mobile services. We cater to corporate, medical facilities, universities and sports teams (high-school, college and professional) where we bring our services to you. Yes, I do have a home office and just opened up my private studio two weeks ago for the public but I didn’t want to appear to be a “factory like” spa like many well-known entities, where I personally don’t have control over my schedule and/or my therapists’ schedules. I collaborate with my team of over 40 and we manage the needs of the public based on how we feel and availability. It has started to expand and take on a huge demand for what we do… When in the studio, my clients don’t have to worry about anyone else from the public… it is individualized, customized service. And because I have complete control of scheduling, we can accommodate our clients’ needs and fit them in a lot easier than the average spa. Plus again, I can’t stress that we also come to you.. not just to your onsite business but we can come to your house which is not common for the average, well-known spa.
TNJ.com: How did you fund the startup?
MD: Because it’s mobile, there is little to no cost other than a table, a chair and oils/lotions. My work and training – that is, where the money goes and all of the specialized training I received which is above and beyond the average therapists – sets me apart from other therapists and makes my clients want to only work with me or others that I may train for what I want them to perform for a certain clientele. I did take out a small business loan to help with those expenses.
TNJ.com: What were some startup challenges and how did you overcome them?
MD: Trying to brand my name and my techniques. For the first year, I was providing many free massages and worked many discount deals so people could see how good I am. People would say they would continue but all they wanted was a free massage so my labor hours felt wasted. However, there were some great contacts that came out of those many laboring hours so I guess it was not all for naught. I will also say it’s tough trying to get people to realize that massage is not something they should look at as a luxury, but as a true benefit and direct connection to their health that could alleviate a lot that doctors prescribe medicines for. That has always been a challenge and still continues to be.
TNJ.com: What have been some challenges as you’ve expanded?
MD: People now want to partner with me but don’t realize that massage is really labor intensive especially the way I massage my clients. So people are not willing to pay for what a massage is worth. I oftentimes feel my professional is still looked down on and/or people take what we do for granted and others have no clue what we go through and that we are considered healthcare practitioners. That will always be an ongoing challenge.
TNJ.com: What is key to being a success in the service industry?
MD: Have a niche that you are good at that others cannot compare to regarding service. Be a good networker (I have an edge because of my HR background with the contacts I have, and the training I have to build partnerships/ business relationships) Don’t give up and think out of the box. If it wasn’t for me going way out of the box on how to advertise, promote and make initial connections, I would never had landed some of the clients I have. You have to be creative to set yourself apart for the average competitor.
TNJ.com: Advice to others in the service industry?
MD: If it’s your passion, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. You can do anything you put your mind to.
TNJ.com: Goals for this year?
MD: Grow my practice by half… and I am off to a good start.
TNJ.com: What led you to write Benefit of the Doubt?
MD: It’s based on a true story and I had to share my experience with others to let them know that when you think you have hit rock bottom, with the right perspective you can change your path and create your own reality. There are many people who needed to hear my story or still need to hear my story and I have found when I share my story/experience, I am helping to save lives. I wrote the book to be a mental healing for myself and to cleanse myself of a horrible period in my life, but realized in the process it was going to be a blessing to others and that has proved to be true.
TNJ.com: What do you want leaders to take away from Benefit of the Doubt?
MD: You can create your own reality and that giving up is never an option.