Welcome back to the Interview feature on the blog. It's been a little while since I last posted an Interview so I'm very excited to be back on board with the wonderful Vicky Wilson, a Reflexologist from Windsor who today will let us in on some of the secrets of her trade and her success!
THE PARTICULARS: Vicky Wilson is a Reflexologist and Foot Health Care Professional based in the Windsor area with clients in and around Berkshire, UK.
THE SCOOP: I first visited Vicky myself last year seeking out Reflexology treatment for relaxation and to help me to de-stress. We hit it off instantly as Vicky has such a warm and friendly manner that puts all of her clients at ease and I immediately poured my heart out to her before having the most relaxing and revitalising treatment ever. I instantly felt like I had found a treatment that could really help me and ran home to tell my husband and friends all about it!
Vicky has not always worked in this field and started out on a change of career path after having a series of treatments herself back in 2002. With this in mind I thought it would be interesting to invite her to tell her story in a little more detail as well as to give us a greater insight into the world of a Foot Health Care Professional. So let us begin…
Q: What is your own educational background?
I completed high school with GCSE qualifications; ranging from English Literature, Geography, Home Economics and Typewriting (RSA I & RSA II)….hmm that shows my age!
Q: Can you talk us through your early career path prior to starting your own business as a Reflexologist?
I started out on a Youth Training Scheme in Retail aged 17, quickly becoming a Sales Assistant, then within a year joining the Management Training Scheme. Soon I was Assistant Manager in the Handbag and Luggage department. I then left this choice of career and spent nearly 7 years living on a Greek Island and travelling around the world, through the States, Italy, France and Switzerland.
Q: What led you into training in the field of Reflexology and Foot Health Care?
When I finished my travelling I moved to Brighton and although I had a fab job working for Ericsson I wasn't completely inspired. My mum suggested I take part in a short 6 week course of Reflexology to see if I enjoyed it…..I loved it and enrolled in a years training with the Cheryl Butler School of Reflexology qualifying in 2004.
Q: Could you explain in a little more detail what Reflexology/Foot Health Care entails and the services you provide?
As a Reflexologist I offer treatments to help with relaxation, to alleviate pain, to help rid the body of toxins and to ground emotions, hopefully allowing my client to be emotionally and physically relaxed and grounded. I also specialise in Maternity Reflexology supporting women in prenatal, pregnancy and postnatal Reflexology.
My role as a Foot Health Professional; this is what I call my Mechanical career as opposed to the Reflexology which I believe to be my Holistic career. As a FHP I offer a Foot Health care service, which covers toenail cutting, corn, callous, ingrowing toenail, involuted nail and fungal nail maintenance. Also care of the High Risk and Diabetic foot. The role of a FHP involves working with a completely different group of people; some people are unable to reach their toes to cut them, or they have nails that are much thicker and need specialised equipment to cut them. There are people who are diabetic or on medication whose feet just need that extra special bit of attention.
Q: What kind of training do you need to undertake to work in this area of healthcare?
To train as a FHP I studied for a year. I had to complete 12 essays, 12 exams and then I completed a period of practical training in a clinic where I then passed as a FHP.
Q: What drew you to set up your own company and branch out on your own?
I started my own business as a Reflexologist as I had my son in 2005 and then my daughter in 2006, childcare was so expensive that my husband and I made the decision that I would be a stay at home mum and work as a Reflexologist during the evening and at weekends.
Q: What is it like to be your own boss?
Being my own boss – it's fun, it’s rewarding and I've learnt a lot about how to run a business; marketing, financing etc.
Q: Has it been worth the risk – has it been what you initially expected?
Yes it has been worth the risk; I have raised my two children being able to take them to school and pick them up and so have been able to spend quality time with them whilst they are young. I didn’t know what to expect when I started to run my own business, so every day is a learning curve.
SCALING THE PEAKS:
Q: What have been your personal professional highlights and how did you embrace them?
I contacted a local paper a few years ago and they wrote an editorial about myself and my business, that was a real boost. I bought lots of copies of the paper and sent it to my friends and family and even to mums at school. I've also worked alongside The Princes Trust - for the Palace to Palace bike ride I organised a team of Reflexologists to give free mini treatments to the cyclists that completed the ride. I did this for about three years and it was great fun.
I do also love it when a Reflexology client gets a positive outcome from their treatment, for example women who come for pre-natal treatments as they are unable to conceive and then less than a year later they have their baby! Joy!
HITTING THE ROCKS:
Q: Setting up alone can’t possibly come without its challenges – what have some of the difficulties been?
The challenges I have had setting up my own business have ranged from decision making, I miss working in a team and making decisions together and financial decisions, I have made a few mistakes along the way, but then I have learnt from them.
Q: What have the harder times taught you for the future?
For the future I have learnt that actually I can talk to my husband and friends and ask them their thoughts, sometimes I forget I can ask people for help. I have also learnt that if I don’t push myself into being confident about my job then how can I be successful! Confidence (and a smile) goes a long way.
Q: Do you have any tips, secrets or anecdotes you are happy to share with us – either relating to your company or just as part of your chosen career as a whole?
I will say that whatever you decide to do as your career, you have to love it and embrace it. Without the passion and desire to be successful then it will be very hard to run a successful business.
Q: What is it like being the boss – how do you deal with stress and stay on top of your game? On the flipside what are the benefits of working for yourself?!
Being my own boss is hard at times, some days you feel on top of the game, and other days you may be feeling a bit ‘meh’. If there is a ‘meh’ day then I do some exercise; yoga, running and then I feel so more positive.
Q: As part of each interview in this series I like to delve a little further into the individual and their personal relationship with their chosen profession. Could you give us the lowdown on one relevant item/thing that helps to inspire you? Anything that you feel has inspired you along the way and relates to what you do.
Actually my mum inspires me. She started her own business during the recession in the 1990’s and has been very successful, she inspires me to keep striving forward. My mums motto for me is “The World is Your Oyster.”
DIRECTION AND ADVICE:
Q: What has been the most important thing you have learnt since starting out?
Since starting out the most important thing I have learnt is to stay positive and to keep striving forward.
Q: What have been the biggest surprises?
The biggest surprise of all is being successful!
Q: Are there any major no, no’s – pitfalls you would tell people to avoid?
I don’t think there are any no no’s, running your own business is a huge learning curve. Of course we learn from others, our mentors and people who inspire us and the biggest person we learn from is ourself. You may make a few errors along the way, but believe me you only make that mistake once!
Q: Are there any particularly useful resources out there for those interested in doing what you have done?
Speak to others who are experienced in the same field, maybe shadow someone in the same career path.
THE FINAL SWEEP:
Thank you to Vicky for such a positive insight into her chosen career and running your own business. She has shown that you can choose a new path in life and make it a success. If you remain positive and work hard you can make your passion grow and thrive.
If this career path is of interest to you then I hope that Vicky's practical tips and advice come in useful.
If you haven't tried Reflexology and are finding yourself under stress and in need of a little relaxation then I personally can't recommend it enough. Of course it's about finding the right practitioner and treatment for you but I do believe that it's a great way to help you unwind and ease worries and tension - if you get the chance give it a go and see what you think!
For further information visit the Feet for Life Website: www.feetforlifereflexology.co.uk