From side hustle to small business, this massage therapist talks about her path
Natalie Sciara provides mobile in-home/office massage therapy in San Diego, CA.
Hey! Tell the world what you're up to...
Natalie: I'm Natalie Sciara, Founder and Massage Therapist at Mobile Massage & Wellness. We're a 100% mobile business operating in the greater San Diego, CA area. We set up at your home, office, event, or any location you request your massage, yoga, or personal training session.
What got you started in your line of work?
Natalie: In the area where I grew up, I saw a lot of examples of what neglecting your body looks like, along with the health issues that follow. My mom was a nurse, aerobics teacher, and hippie before it was cool. She ingrained in me the holistic ways to take care of your body. She gifted me with my first massage at age 11 - an experience that helped inspire my future work.
Being mobile allows Natalie to book everything from corporate events to wedding parties.
What were some of your earliest jobs or side hustles? Any memories that helped put you on your current path?
Natalie: Like so many, I spent years working in bars and restaurants to pay the bills. One benefit was learning how to communicate with all kinds of people and personalities.
How did you eventually strike out on your own, making your own living as an independent service provider?
Natalie: It was January 2015 and I was working two different spa jobs, but also taking on some private clients. In fact, through some strong referrals, I landed a weekly gig at a local tech startup working on their employees.
The spa jobs weren't only cutting into my time, but my income. As a therapist, any spa is going to take a significant cut of your earnings. You get what's left over, plus any tips you might received.
Did this happen immediately, or gradually over time?
Natalie: This was a journey of 5 years working multiple jobs and included moves from Kansas City to Texas, and finally, settling in California.
After a while, the spa jobs just weren't enough and I set a goal to increase my independent work. Eliminating the spa work meant going mobile. Customers really appreciate when you go to their location.
Fast forward to March 2015 and I was completely ON MY OWN! Thankfully I had mentors that believed in me and encouraged me to believe in myself.
What are some of the things you do to ensure that customers are happy and satisfied?
Natalie: I listen and pay attention to their needs. My job is to make their life easier that's the number one reason I am a mobile service.
How has attracting new business changed for you in the past few years?
Natalie: Now I'm responsible for generating my own business, keeping the customers I have, and always on the lookout for more. It's not just word of mouth and yelp. It's your interaction on social media, with bloggers/influencers, and networking at local events.
What are some ways to attract new customers and grow your business that have worked well for you?
Natalie: Getting booths at races. Working at self love or one-day fitness events. Doing trades with bloggers to put us on there social media.
Have you paid for small business services (websites, marketing, etc) or joined marketplaces that fell short of your expectations?
Natalie: Yes, I have. In the past, I had paid over $300 a year for a basic version of a do-it-yourself website builder and when you added up the website's fee and other processing fees, I was paying over 6% for each payment processed through it. At the end of the day, it's just a website and doesn't really make my customers' lives any easier.
In a world where there's an on-demand app for everything, are you aware of the fees that on-demand massage apps charge their service providers? The two most popular apps charge between 25-30%...
Natalie: I am more aware these days but in the beginning I was too busy to pay much attention to price. With GreatAt, I know the fee is 5% and I get a chance to build relationships with my own clients directly instead of being just another person 'on-call'.
Natalie providing treatments at a private event.
What aspects of GreatAt help make you or your customers' lives easier?
Natalie: I get to build my brand. I can instantly send a payment request via text message or email. I don't need to add a special feature for customers to add a tip, and I don't have to set up a separate service to get reviews. I love that it's all under one roof.
How would you describe GreatAt to a friend?
Natalie: It's an all-in-one tool to promote and advertise your service, request payments and showcase your customers' reviews.
What advice would you give to others who want to start earning on their own?
Natalie: Don't overthink the small stuff like "I need business cards to start". You can start at anytime, believe in yourself and don't be afraid to learn.
Any final thoughts, words of wisdom or feedback for the GreatAt team?
Natalie: I'm very thankful to work with everyone and I love all the features y'all keep adding. I like that you connected the contacts to a payment request. I noticed the phone number automatically links when I select someone from my contacts.
I think having an option for adding an appointment time with reminders would be great as well. For now, I just do that inside of the chat area.
This app is perfect for someone starting their side hustle and gives clients room to grow with it too.
Natalie Sciara is a Mobile Massage Therapist in San Diego, CA. She can be reached on her GreatAt profile below: https://www.greatat.com/natalie