Finding ways to connect your personal interests, talents and passions with your massage therapy brand or business can be energizing, satisfying and rewarding on many levels. Think of ways you can set yourself apart from the other therapists you know with a unique business personality that will add to the richness of your life and that of your clients.
I have, and this is my story.
My Duck-Themed Business Personality
If you told me a few years ago that massage, spa and wellness professionals across the globe would think of me whenever they looked at a rubber duck, I would have thought you were crazy. I’m known as an author, speaker and massage-and-spa industry expert, but the symbol I’ve most often been associated with is sunflowers, as two of my books feature sunflowers on the cover and in the title.
But rubber ducks? No.
Well, until recently.
If you’ve kept up with me on social media or attended any of the talks I’ve given since the beginning of 2020, well, let’s just say my life has changed a bit.
In the blink of an eye I went from regularly traveling to speak at events around the U.S. and seeing a regular clientele at the successful wellness spa I owned to sitting at home, as was the case for just about everyone. During the pandemic shutdown, I spent a lot of my time helping former staff, clients and peers navigate a world in which massage therapy was paused. This drastic change created significant short- and long- term impacts on my business, career and mental health.
Enter rubber ducks.
Initially used as a coping mechanism for the intense anxiety and depression I felt in spring of 2020, a comical group consisting of four rubber ducks and a whale paddled their way into my world through an unplanned rubber duck race in my backyard creek. What started out as a silly way to spend a Sunday afternoon became a lifeline that helped me get back to being someone I recognized.
Soon after the first event, I began staging The Impromptu Rubber Duck Regatta whenever possible, taping the races and adding commentary before, during and after the competition. Because these events brought smiles, laughter and a sense of hope to me and others, I began taking the ducks, now dubbed The Dream Team, with me on road trips, kayaking adventures and almost everywhere else I went.
At the same time, I began writing about the ducks’ off-course adventures and the life lessons they were teaching. Their wisdom and presence quickly made their way into my classes and speaking engagements.
Hence, the rubber duck giveaways.
Now that a couple years have passed, I think it’s fair to say that rubber ducks have become my brand as much and perhaps more than any other of my identities.
How did this happen, and why is it good?
Owning My Business Personality
Rubber ducks are cute, fun, cheerful and take people back to fun moments or fond memories from their childhood—or for that matter, their adulthood. Rubber ducks cross the borders of age, country, religion and gender to reach people on all levels. They are not specific to any particular industry, profession or education level, and they bring a sense of fun to any event or occasion.
Owning my brand, or business personality, of being The Duck Lady gives me permission to give friends, colleagues and complete strangers tiny, duck-shaped symbols of joy, just because. It’s gotten me magazine articles like the one you are reading, inclusion in a couple of books and even a television appearance. It’s taken me to rubber-duck-themed events, photo shoots and road trips I would have otherwise skipped.
And now, they’ve led me to do something even bigger.
Although it took more than two years to grasp why I was building this business personality, or brand, or doing any of the things I felt called to do related to rubber ducks, I understand it now.
The creativity, freedom and joy The Dream Team Ducks have added to my life allows me to blend my passions of writing and helping others in a whole new way: writing children’s books and starting a brand new publishing company. The primary goal of Duck Buck Books is to raise money for partner charities by donating one dollar from every book sold.
The official mission statement of Duck Buck Books is:
Giving back, through our books.
Pretty pictures, have a look.
There’s a whale and four ducks.
Every sale donates a buck.
How does this pertain to massage? The very first book available to purchase, “Marathon Marshall & The Dream Team Ducks Go to Boston,” will donate $1 to the Massage Therapy Foundation. The book is co-authored by Marshall Dahneke, who intends to run the Boston Marathon to honor his daughter, Jacquelyn Dahneke Penrose, who passed away from breast cancer in 2022, and support the Massage Therapy Foundation. Funds raised by Marshall and our book sales will benefit massage-for-cancer-patients community service programs supported by the Massage Therapy Foundation.
Create Your Own Business Personality
How can my story help you and your massage career? Well pretty simply, no matter your career, what you do for a living is an integral part of you.
As a massage therapist, your brand, or business personality, is an extension of you—your passion, goals and desires. Following the inner longings and pulls of your heart, those things that bring you joy and personal satisfaction, and integrating them into your practice, will make you stand apart from your competitors.
But what if your passion, goals and desires have nothing to do with massage? See my story above.
Also, what makes you think they have nothing to do with each other? They both are a part of you and may combine more naturally than you currently believe.
Here are three examples of how outside passions might blend well with massage therapy or bodywork:
Many years ago, I met a Florida-based massage therapist who adored traveling, and especially loved being on the water. She combined this interest with her practice by providing massage to clients who owned or chartered seafaring yachts. This allowed her the opportunity to combine her love of water travel while providing massage to others on the vessel. Although there were times she was very busy, she often had free time during which she got to enjoy the view, food and seaside locations.
Massage therapist Sally Spurgeon specializes in post-mastectomy patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, through her company, Thérapie – Your New Breast Friend. After being diagnosed with breast cancer herself, she developed The Spurgeon Method to help women overcome the pain associated with breast surgery.
Spurgeon also has a passion for beading, and started a program selling beaded jewelry created by breast cancer survivors and other clients to raise funds to provide free sessions to women who could not afford massage following their surgery.
“Making something that brings joy to another person is always rewarding,” said Spurgeon. “When a customer buys something I’ve made to help fund a session for someone else, it’s a win, win, win. Knowing that I’m paying it forward and enabling others to do so too brings me enormous joy and satisfaction.”
Gaia Trojanowski owns Embodiment Massage in Truckee, California, and has combined her varied artistic talents with her massage and energy-work practice. Her website offers galleries of digital, photographic and mixed media art as well as a selection of poetry, allowing her to share imagery, words and tools to assist in clients’ meditation practices when they are not on her table.
“It’s also fun to use my ecstatic dance DJ skills when prepping for a ceremonial lomi lomi session,” Trojanowski said.
As one who has done a lot of healing work to feel connected to her authentic self and the world around her, she added, “When I allow myself to be in this flow, artwork, poetry, and creation pours through me, my little girl is excited with the magic that unfolds in a pure, playful and innocent curiosity.”
As a fellow traveler, I so admire the ingenuity of the yacht-bound therapist, and approach teaching at conferences in a similar way, as a vehicle that allows me to share my gift of teaching with my joy of seeing new places
In turn, Both Spurgeon’s and Trojanowski’s sentiments are so similar to the way I feel about the partnership with the MTF. It’s so rewarding that my authentic creativity is flowing from me in a way that can create a win-win-win experience. It’s an incredible gift everyone can develop and give.
Start blending the different facets of who you are and what you love to create something that can only be found through you—and a business personality, or brand, you are proud to be known for.
About the Author
Felicia Brown, LMBT, is a business and marketing coach for massage, spa and wellness professionals as well as a speaker and author. Her newest book, “Marathon Marshall & The Dream Team Ducks Go to Boston,” co-authored with Marshall Dahneke, will be released in the spring of 2023. Each copy sold will donate $1 to the Massage Therapy Foundation in honor of Jacquelyn Dahneke Penrose and The Jacqueline Project. Pre-order your copy here.