In order to highlight the amazing local businesses in Florida’s 47th District, the Anna For Florida campaign has launched “47 Means Business,” an ongoing blog series to spotlight local business owners in Lake Eola, Downtown Orlando, Winter Park, and throughout the district.
Our blog digs deeper into local businesses by collaborating with business owners to showcase their success and to identify what the legislature can do to support them. Together, these profiles come together to create a larger picture of the amazing diversity and ingenuity of local business owners that Anna hopes to serve and represent in the Florida House.
Team Anna: What inspired you to start your small business?
Tess Falk: When I first started my career as a massage therapist, I worked for all sorts of places. Whether with hospitals, chiropractors, resort spas, or massage clubs with membership programs, a consistent theme kept arising for me in these environments. I couldn’t implement ideas to improve services, create more efficient protocols, use better quality products, or generally heighten the massage experience in any of these locations. I kept hearing from my managers that I needed to “stay in my lane,” and that I had a lot of great thoughts that weren’t welcome. The reality in most corporate businesses is that there is a very real chain of command, but I was at the bottom because I was “just a massage therapist.” I learned quickly that if I wanted to provide the level of quality that I believe in and to create the vision I had in my mind, I had to go out on my own.
Owning my own massage practice with my husband allows us to provide a space we love to the community that, we believe, is both relaxing while therapeutic. We are a family-oriented practice, where clients are treated as such. We have the freedom to provide the highest quality connections with people. Our skillset is vast and our practice functions are at an advanced level because at @Peace Massage & Bodywork, the most important person is the one you are with. Our goal is to help people learn how to heal themselves.
TA: What is the most exciting part about owning and operating a small businesses?
TF: I think the best part of owning and operating our own business is that we have the discretion to make decisions based on each individuals’ needs. We have often provided discounts to people on a fixed income to be able to accommodate the realities of their healthcare budget. We love that we can change our days off and hours based on our needs around travel and family. We love the fact that our business allows us to play with our creativity, our protocols, the products we use, and more. We’re always seeking to advance and being in the driver’s seat definitely makes that possible.
TA: Describe a perfect day at work.
TF: For us, a perfect day at work goes like this: At the end of every massage session, the client is smiling, pain-free, or feeling significantly better, and thankful. Hopefully, so much so that they recognize the value of therapuetic massage and decide to integrate it into their life more regularly. In addition to hands-on help, we hope that each client leaves with more information about how they can help take care of themselves before and after they leave.
TA: Are there any current policy issues impacting your business? If so, how?
TF: The massage industry in Florida is highly regulated. I think Florida has done a great job at improving safety and creating more awareness of issues within the bodywork industry. I feel safe in knowing that the legislation and the Department of Health are on the same side as the licensed community and are very good about detecting massage locations in Florida that should not be practicing. With that said, what affects the independent contractors in ant field is healthcare. My husband and I pay a large amount of money monthly to have catastrophic health insurance plans with very high deductibles. We are both very healthy and use our plans infrequently, other then our yearly wellness checks. We believe it is important to have insurance because you never know what’s going to happen in life, however our plans don’t cover short-term disability, dental, or vision. We pay high costs out-of-pocket because our bodies are our careers. My health is a priority, and I think legislation needs to change around healthcare in many ways. I think groups of independent contractors in the same field should be able to create group insurance coverage, so we can all be covered and have better priced plans.
TA: What could the legislature do better to help you thrive?
TF: My husband and I both personally believe that massage should be part of the benefits you receive in your health insurance plan. We think it is a vital part of healthcare, both corrective and preventative. We think legislation needs to change surrounding how we approach health, wellness, and the way we treat patients in general. The massage industry is growing, and has become more understood and accepted in America over the last decade. There are more than enough therapists in our field looking for good steady work and full-time positions with benefits, where they can plan for their futures with assistance and matched retirement savings plans. At @Peace Massage & Bodywork, we believe in the need for this integration for the benefit of both practitioners and patients. We must start looking at the body as a whole and not pieces. The whole being – mind, body, and spirit – must be addressed for healing. It is all connected, and we are all connected.