Roath Indie Business Q&A
Mari Arthur from Year of the Tiger Health Spa
Could you tell us about the Year of the Tiger Health Spa story – what inspired you to start it up?
I used to go to China regularly for work and on every trip I would have an hour foot massage. The companies I visited also used to take me for treatments after meetings and I really enjoyed visiting a country where massage and looking after your well-being was an important part of their culture. I often wondered why there weren’t more affordable treatments in the UK – most spas I’d been to charge a really high rate for what is often a very standard massage. I really wanted someone to open up a spa where I could get affordable but quality massages and that didn’t charge me extra for pool facilities or fluffy dressing gowns.
When no-one did, I decided to give it a go. It was a huge learning curve and I worked long hours, seven days a week for the first 18 months, with a manager I couldn’t have done it without! We now employ eight amazing holistic therapists that tailor each massage to our clients’ needs and don’t just give a standard service – a ‘one-size-fits-all’ massage. We pride ourselves on caring for our clients and giving quality treatments for a reasonable cost. Last year we also introduced a range of beauty treatments that complement our holistic offerings.
What’s the ethos behind the Health Spa? Is there a particular service/services you aim to offer, and what makes your business unique?
‘Ancient treatments for modern times’. Our ethos is to give high quality treatments tailored to each client for a reasonable cost: every one of us enjoys it when a client leaves feeling much better and lighter than when they arrive. We aim to be as ethical as possible and pride ourselves on customer service. We also donate 10% of our profit to an orphanage in Chongqing (China) as it was my massages in China that made me want to have regular massages at home.
Why did you choose to open your business in Roath?
I used to pass the corner building on Kimberly Road and often thought it would be the perfect location for a health spa. One day when I ran past I noticed it was up for rent, I enquired and the rest, as they say, is history. I don’t think it would have happened had the shop not been for rent at that particular time.
What sort of response have you had from customers so far?
We have many local regular clients who often tell us how much they enjoy coming, and have come to rely on their treatments. Our goal is to ensure these treatments become a way of life and not just a luxury. Many other cultures have massage as a standard means of managing life’s stresses and pressures, while in the West we are working harder than ever and doing longer hours. We need to prioritise our physical and mental well-being, and I believe having regular treatments is one way of doing this.
Do you have any 2012 plans you can share with us?
We would like to expand so we could offer a wider range of treatments but as we are in a luxury-end business (even though we don’t charge luxury-end prices) in the middle of a recession, we just want to ensure we survive this tough period at the moment. Plans to expand will be realised at some point but perhaps not in 2012.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We hope more people start to look after themselves and relax. Whether it’s through regular massage (and if so, we would obviously like it to be with us) or by any other means, but we need to change our go-fast culture and learn a little from other cultures that do some things better than we do.
Year of the Tiger Health Spa is located at 72 Kimberley Road, Penylan, CF23 5DN
To make a booking, contact Mari via the Year of the Tiger Health Spa website, or call 029 20450050.