“Being a working mother instills in you a sense of determination.” – Felicity Jones
We at DEPCO hope you had a great Mother’s Day weekend! Mothers are a fundamental part of our society. We wanted to use today’s post to honor an amazing mom and business owner! Charity Smith has been a practicing massage therapist for 9 years. After graduating from The Utah College of Massage Therapy, she eventually ended up in Kansas City, Missouri where she founded her practice Legacy Massage in 2015. Charity is the proud mother of a young daughter and loves the balance she has struck between her passion for her career and her joy in motherhood.
Check out our interview with Charity below!
-When did you first become interested in pursuing massage therapy?
I had thought about doing some kind of physical therapy, and then I had a friend go into massage therapy and she needed some hours of practice; I was like “Oh, sign me up!” She told me that there is more to it than just this spa industry. I realized I could actually help people as a massage therapist. That sparked my interest.
I went and toured the school and thought it was totally up my alley. It seemed like my type of learning, very hands-on kinesthetic learning. But you don’t know unless you try. I thought: “It’s a year. I can give it a try, and if I hate it, I hate it.” But I ended up falling in love with it.
-So if you had to describe the difference between “the spa industry” and what you do, how would you describe it?
There are so many different types of massage therapy. What I do is called structural integration. My clients know it as “Core,” but it’s structural work. You have chiropractors that work on the bones and the skeletal system. A massage therapist works on the musculoskeletal system, so the muscles surrounding the bones.
It’s putting the muscles back in place where they go. Chiropractors set bones, and massage therapists guide the muscle or the fascia back to where it needs to go. It’s putting your muscles back where they belong, helping them sit in a better place to release tension.
-Describe your training and education.
I graduated from the Utah College of Massage Therapy; it’s in the Provo/Orem area. I did the night program, so it took a year. I think if you do the day program it takes a little less time. But it’s flexible for anyone wanting to do it.
-Did you work in addition to training/school?
I did, oh my gosh. I was a nanny. I had a crazy schedule. I worked eleven hours in the day, from 6 am to 7 pm, and then I had class start at 7:30, got done at 10:30, went home, went to sleep, and did it all again the next day.
-What led you to start your own business in the massage therapy industry?
I graduated massage school, we moved out to Kansas City, and I decided to work for a chiropractor because that was the style of massage I liked. I worked there for literally one month. They work you to death and they pay you practically nothing. I was like: “Forget this. I can do it on my own.”
It was kind of impulsive, but I think sometimes that’s what you have to do to start a business: action. You just have to do something. So I started my business in 2015, and after three months of “nose to the grindstone,” working as hard as I possibly could, I had 300 clients and Kansas City was my new home. That was never the plan!
-What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
I love the business side of it so much. It’s the freedom. There’s no restrictions. For some people, that’s really scary. There’s two different types of personalities in that aspect: someone who needs that structure, and somebody who craves freedom. That freedom feels amazing to me. I can wake up and love what I do every day, and I can keep evolving and changing however I want.
-What was the hardest thing about starting and maintaining a business?
My least favorite part is for sure the taxes. They just make it really complicated. I didn’t go to school for that stuff. Even with an accountant, it’s complicated. You need to know the right questions to ask your accountant. You can’t just go in blind.
-What would surprise people about being a massage therapist and being a business owner?
As far as being a massage therapist, I think it surprises people that there are so many different variations of massage besides the stereotypical spa massage. There’s Thai massage, there’s ashiatsu, pregnancy, cancer massage; you name it and you will find a niche. There’s a million different kinds of massage practices, and they all have their own place.
For the business side, right now I have amazing and loyal clients, and it’s 99% amazing. But in the beginning, you just don’t know who you’re going to get on your table. It’s kind of nerve wracking. It’s a service industry, and people will do things that surprise you! But, the beauty of owning your own business is you get to choose who you interact and work with. You deserve to want to come to work.
-What advice would you give to any interested in massage therapy and in owning their own business?
Go and get all different types of massage, because there are so many to choose from.
For your business, hire out what you don’t know. I think as business owners, usually we didn’t go to business school; we went to whatever trade we learned. Therefore, there’s a lot of stuff we don’t know, like taxes. Just be willing to say “This isn’t my wheelhouse, and that’s okay.” You don’t have to do everything.
-How would you encourage other mothers who want to start their own business or career?
I love this question! I think more mothers should do it. They should jump on in the pool, the water is fine! Moms have such a unique perspective. They need women’s ideas and talents and creativity. We have so much to offer. There are so many different ways to do it and still be an amazing mom. Being a business owner, I have freedom. I have the ability to plan when I want to work, how much, and what I want to do.
You just have to try. The joy outweighs the fear. It’s worth it!
Charity enjoys spending time with her daughter Kiah, who will soon be celebrating her second birthday! She recently joined a volleyball team in an effort to have fun and “be someone outside of my job.” Charity loves to travel, born from spending her senior year of high school in France. She was able to go back in 2019 for her host sister’s wedding. When asked if she spoke the language, she responded: “Un ti peu.”
Understand Career and Community with DEPCO!
DEPCO’s Career and Community curriculum provides activities focused on career, family, and community. The goal is to prepare our students to enter the job market with the understanding that they will likely have familial responsibilities simultaneously. In this module, students will create their own resumes. A mock interview will also be held and recorded with a camcorder for further review.
Family is important in every phase of life, whether in school or deep into your career. Students will have the opportunity to create a family tree. They will also have the task of creating a schedule to organize the needs and demands of a family, using time management software.
Community is focused on in this module, with students learning about the resources available for the working family, specifically day cares, and senior citizen centers. Students will take on the role of a day care facilitator and use their technical writing skills to create an exercise for children. Students will also select a supportive community organization and design a promotional campaign for it.
To learn more about the Career and Community curriculum from DEPCO, click here!