Joyce Atuheire, the founder and CEO of Hands of Brama Massage Clinic, had a difficult time dealing with stress. However, she found solace and tranquility in the sanctuary of a massage spa. It was during these peaceful moments that she gained inspiration and decided to start her own spa. Her goal was to share the sense of peace and joy she experienced with others who were also in need of relaxation and relief from stress.
After her spa visit, Joyce, a Bachelor of Business Administration student, shared her experience and expressed her desire to start her own spa. Despite facing jokes and discouragement, she immediately began practicing her passion by offering free massages to friends. Impressed by her skills, one friend even offered her 20k as a token of appreciation.
After completing her bachelors education, Joy didn’t pursue her passion right away. She got jobs at different places but what remained constant was her burning desire to start a spa. So much that she spent most of her time at work researching about the business and writing her business plans. This always left her work colleagues laughing at her ‘impossible’ dream that required an astronomical amount in capital to start. She wasn’t deterred. ‘I wouldn’t let it get to my heart because I knew what I was really capable of.’
The first business plan she came with was for a stationary spa, which she found out was too expensive to start that she needed an investor to see it come to life. She dug deeper.
“I started checking out massage pages on Instagram everywhere so I saw that actually the trend that was working was mobile so I said to myself I can actually do this.” Joy quit her job and traveled to Nairobi, Kenya for a 6 months training about the anatomy of the body. Upon its successful completion, she came back home.
It was nose to the grindstone time, she emptied her salary savings and with the help of a friend who was living in the UK at the time, ordered for a bed, oils, among other things needed for the business. While waiting for the items to be shipped, she launched a massive marketing campaign online, advertising her services of a mobile spa. It got a warm reception. Orders flew in in bulk. When they reached Uganda, business was in full swing. Hands of Brama Massage Clinic was born.
Launched in January 2018, Hands of Brama is a spa that offers both mobile and stationary massage with services like body scrubs, waxing, facials, among others. The company currently employs 10 people.
“We mainly use the internet, Instagram, Facebook, Google ads and sometimes sponsor our social media pages to market our services. We also rely on the recommendations from our clients. Definitely if you do a good service, someone will recommend you.”
Joy reveals just like other SMEs, her business has experienced some hurdles that would break the average person and leave them running for the hills, but not for this tough cookie. Her faith in God and optimistic attitude has helped her maintain her hands on the steering wheels of her business, steering it to the road to success.
“I am a Christian and I really want to focus on the positives because usually I know these things are for a matter of time. Sometime we can go through something but I say to myself no I won’t focus on the negative, let’s give it a day or two it will pass, we shall be fine.”
Such dark moments she says calls for an insurmountable amount of courage and will to keep going, innovation and creativity, doing constant reviewing and revisions with the goal of learning and emerging from the other end of the tunnel and seeing the light shining bright on your business.
“Just keep doing what you are supposed to do, if its quality, just keep giving the quality you give, if its advertising, keep advertising. Be innovative. Ask yourself ‘why is this failing?’ Don’t play the victim otherwise you will be a victim forever. Always ask how can we improve? Fine, these clients keep coming in, they look around and leave, why, what are we doing? Are we intimidating them? Then smile more, greet more. So you have to look, focus and see the problem. Don’t victimize yourself, see the problem and try to be better.”
Being a small service business, managing people is a great challenge as the negative behavior of just one employee towards a client can tarnish the brand of the business. Additionally, un-serious clients disrupt their operations.
“Sometimes you get clients that are not clients, these are people who are time wasters especially in the mobile business, some people call you and tell you we just wanted to prove that you people are real.”
One and a half years later, Hands of Brama has registered a number of achievements but being able to establish their physical location takes the cake.She attributes this fast growth to God’s divine grace, their non-compromising policy towards offering world-class quality services, hard work, steering clear from naysayers, making regular self-reflections, generally keeping around positive, empowered and business owners and believing her journey is different.
“You can start small but don’t be limited to how fast you can grow. No one determines that you have to take 5 years or 10 to reach the climax, you can take a year.”
She advises aspiring entrepreneurs;
- Exercise discipline.
“Be disciplined in the way you run your business, don’t be shady and all about just the money. I’ve received numerous calls from people who want the mobile massage expressing concern that some people ask them to send their money which they do but they don’t come. Then, they ask me, ‘are you legit?’. I usually tell them that I have a brand to protect, I have a place, I don’t think I can compromise that.”
- Be driven by passion
“For me it was passion, good enough money followed it. Do something that you love. It is why I left the bank, I was in a chill department but I said to myself you know what I want to do something that excites me, that I wake up looking forward to in the morning, very excited. If it’s because of money, you’ll be in it for a short while and I would imagine you’d want to be here for the long howl and build a legacy.”
- Be so good that they can’t deny you
“Do something until you don’t have to beg a family member or friend to support you. You know those people who guilt trip you, ‘you’re buying clothes from other people yet you know I also have them’. Why is she going somewhere else?”
- Be positive
“Don’t focus on the negative things please. You might start and go through more hurdles than other people but always remember why you started and what your visionis’”
- Never give up
“I know you’ve heard so many people say this and some people just say it but literally never give up. Fight to your last breath. Even if you are crawling, crawl, you’ll make it. If you have that attitude of a winner, that’s it, you’ll win.”
Article originally written by CONSOLATE NAMYALO of Glim Magazine