“Knowing that I am the only one responsible whether things go right or wrong is empowering and motivating in a way I never really experienced when I was employed in other roles.”
Meet Deirdre Casey, member of GirlCrew Dublin and Owner/Lead therapist Zest at Work
Picture the scene, it’s a miserable Wednesday morning and you are hunched over your desk at work furiously finishing some reports. Your back and shoulders are aching, and as you stretch you think about the massage that you’ve been dying to get for months. Suddenly, Sarah from Accounts pops her head around the door and tells you that you’re next – what do you do? Well, first, you’d thank Sarah (after all, GirlCrewers have good manners), but if you’re lucky enough to have Deirdre Casey and Zest at work in your office you’ll probably do some sort of celebratory jig.
Founded in 2010, Zest at Work is an on-site corporate massage company that offers holistic treatments to weary employees. Their 15 minute miracles combine elements of Swedish massage, Indian head massage as well as Chinese acupressure; all of which is done seated, without oil and over clothing so it’s perfect for any work environment.
After working in corporate sales for years, Deirdre had climbed the ranks and landed a role as sales manager but she knew this life wasn’t for her – “I had always wanted to go back to college and had an interest in holistic healing…so in 2008 [I] decided it was time to take the plunge.” After moving back in with her parents, Deirdre also took a part time job and “knuckled down for a few years and got [her] qualifications in Holistic Therapies from SCD (now BCFE).” After graduating, Deirdre worked at a hotel spa but she soon realised this wasn’t the right environment “I didn’t enjoy how it was run or how staff were treated in that particular establishment. I felt it was important that I work towards being self-employed and being there promoted me in to action. I took a ‘start your own business’ course and with the help of the Local Enterprise Office, got a small loan, and started up my corporate massage business.”
1. What is the best thing about running your own business?
The sense of satisfaction from a job well done is amazing. I love my work and feel that that comes across with each treatment. Knowing that I am the only one responsible whether things go right or wrong is empowering and motivating in a way I never really experienced when I was employed in other roles.
2. What did you find most challenging about creating your own business?
Managing my own expectations and learning to accept my limitations.
Right at the beginning it seemed like a series of dizzying highs and crashing lows especially when I was cold calling and looking for my very first clients. The disappointment felt at opportunities lost can be immense when it’s your baby you’re promoting. With time I came to realise that I needed to manage my own expectations of how the business was going to grow. I began to approach sales differently and I began to seek assistance with things I had little or no knowledge of. It’s important to understand all the elements of the business but I am not and do not have the time to become an expert in every field.
3. What is your proudest business achievement to date?
When I signed a client that I had been involved with for three years, I literally would not give up on them as I knew it would be a big deal and that eventually they would have budget. Finally the stars aligned and because I had been consistent in my communication with them they immediately thought of Zest at work. It validated for me a lot of the hard work that had gone unrewarded for so long and when things aren’t going the way I had planned I try to reflect on that particular client.
4. What would be your one tip to others who want to set up their own business?
Have a good long think and ask yourself ‘Is this what I want to do every day?’
I love massage and holistic therapies and know 100% that it’s what I want to be doing. If I didn’t have that then I don’t think it would have been possible for me to continue on and grow the business. I’ve had ideas on other businesses and ways to diversify mine but I always ask myself that question. If it’s not what I want to be doing then I will let it go and stick to what I know and love.
5. What would be your motto in life, and in business?
You do what you can, when you can. It’s easy to put pressure on yourself and think ‘I should do this, I should do that’ but it does nothing constructive. I know myself well at this stage, and making pie in the sky targets and goals isn’t helpful. It puts unnecessary pressure on you.