Masa and I moved in together six months after we met. We bought our first place and got married in 1999. I graduated from the BEd program in 2000 and tried substitute teaching for a while, but it wasn’t a good fit for me. I didn’t enjoy being stuck indoors all day in a classroom and the work felt too repetitive. During those six months, I learned a lot about what kind of career I did want instead.
After the experience of substitute teaching, I went to the opposite extreme and worked in the oilfields. A friend of mine had a well-testing company and I helped manage his crews. Much of the work was far out of town, so I had to travel a lot.
Masa and I had our first child in 2004 and that changed everything for me, as I wanted to be at home more. In 2005, I stepped away from the oilfield work and got into the automotive industry, managing car dealership sales departments until 2012.
Next, I got a job handling business development for a scaffolding company. The stability of that position helped us get ahead as a family and, a few years later open our first Massage Addict franchise.
After leaving the art world, I took a real estate course and got my licence as a residential realtor. I worked in the industry for the next 14 years, during which I got to know a lot of homebuilders.
Eventually, one of the smaller custom homebuilders offered me a job, which involved both show home sales and working on plans for townhome projects. Given my background in art and design, it was really neat to be involved in the development and alterations of floor plans, as well as selecting interior colour schemes. I was with that business for seven years.
During my career in real estate, Renan and I had three children. Each time I unofficially went on ‘maternity leave.’ I was self-employed and it was too easy to fall out of the game, such that it felt like I had to start again from scratch each time. As a realtor, I did enjoy the freedom of not having anyone looking over my shoulder, but I knew it would be better if I could put the same amount of energy into running a business I owned. Everyone wants something that’s theirs.
Renan and I started to look into business opportunities. We respected each other’s specific talents and were good at dividing responsibilities without stepping on each other’s toes—this had already come with balancing our family life and work life—but it was still very hard to find the right business for both of us. We threw around a lot of different ideas.
We talked about what kind of business to own. From my university days, I knew how to run a pizza place, but Masa couldn’t picture herself in a greasy kitchen or, for example, pouring coffee in a café. Plus, those types of franchises carried high overhead costs.
The idea of opening a Massage Addict clinic came from our experience as customers of their location in Sherwood Park, Alta. We liked the concept and the business model, which involved a relatively low franchisee investment at the outset and a membership program with direct billing to customers’ health insurance providers.
We were both health-conscious and could picture ourselves running a Massage Addict clinic. We applied and planned to open one in Edmonton in October 2014.
A friend of mine was a member at the Sherwood Park Massage Addict clinic, which was the only one in this province at the time. Renan and I also became members there about three years ago and the idea of buying a clinic crossed both of our minds. It struck us as a great opportunity. I noticed the franchise’s design and colour scheme, for example, seemed to appeal to both female and male customers, so the potential market was very broad.
I searched online to get more information and to find out how to join the franchise system. The franchisor accepted our application and we went for it. This was under the company’s previous ownership, when there wasn’t a lot of structure. We put down our deposit and were really excited.