Escape Mobile Spa: Kerry Matthews

Escape Mobile Spa: Kerry Matthews

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The entrepreneur

Kerry Matthews launched Escape Mobile Spa a little over two years ago and has found a niche in the pamper industry. It isn’t the mobile spa concept, that’s not new. Her niche lies in uncompromising quality and attention to detail, giving clients a very VIP experience.

“Anyone can start up a mobile service where you have a portable bed, a set of wheels and throw in some massage oil,” Kerry says. “Offering a service like massage requires a lot of physical energy and commitment, so we offer a high quality service to a controlled number of corporate and individual clients,” she adds.

Where it all began

Kerry has always been on the move and around people. Working for Club Med and on a cruise ship for years meant that a settled lifestyle lacked a certain appeal. A catalyst for starting Escape came in the form of a devastating injury. “I was taking part in a cycling race and I got hit by a taxi,” she explains.

“I wasn’t able to stand for long periods of time, so working in a traditional spa was out of the question. I needed something that allowed me to do what I love, but also gives me time to sit – like doing admin,” she laughs.

Getting it off the ground

Starting off in a room in her home, Kerry developed clientele through word of mouth until six months later she was able to finance her outside therapy room and mobile unit. “The mobile unit began part-time offering services to corporates, kitchen teas, golf days, and special occasions like Secretaries Day.

I’m only one person and I knew that girls at beauty schools need to complete 200 hours of work before they can get qualified. I saw a win-win opportunity because I needed part-time, flexible staff and they needed a place to practice,” Kerry explains.

It’s all about the escape

“When we go out and meet clients we go out of our way to provide an escape. We pack the car full of props, screens, dividers, candles, aroma therapy, music, the works. People can never believe how their boardrooms transform!” Kerry laughs.

“But that’s the point, people are stressed, tired and burned out, and rarely have the time to go somewhere and pamper themselves. So we bring the escape to them” she explains.

If a client is visiting Kerry at her home, they’d better know where it is because there are no signs. “We do that deliberately because people want to get away for an hour and not have people know where they are. It’s a real (if temporary) escape from their lives. I also put a lot of effort into creating an authentic, exotic atmosphere in the garden and therapy room. People feel as if they are in Bali or Thailand.”

The way forward

In order to grow the business it’s not a matter of getting another car, building another room and getting more therapists. The trick is to maintain the extremely high level of service, so growth will come from diversifying and offering more wellness centred services that extend beyond a massage session.

“As long as people have jobs and lack time we’ll always have the mobile unit, but what I see happening is teaching people how to incorporate wellness into their lifestyles and treating massage not as a special treat but as part of maintaining wellness,” Kerry explains.

“When people feel good and are less stressed, they don’t get sick as often and are happier. Giving is receiving, so providing the best possible service and seeing people respond positively is a great reward,” she smiles.

Tracy Lee Nicol
Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.