From finance to facials, the entrepreneurial women behind Dublin’s Buff Day Spa have combined their experiences and business acumen to great effect as Niamh Mac Sweeney and Anne Whelton discovered on a timeout day.
A recent visit to The Buff Day Spa on Dublin’s South King Street was not only relaxing and holistic, it was enlightening and inspiring.
Aside from being pampered, primed and beatified within an inch of our lives, we also discovered from talking to Marsha Abrahams and Eileen Fleming that there is more to this beauty duo than meets the eye. Theirs is a story of entrepreneurial spirit at its best — they took a leap of fate, persevered and made it work.
The original founders — Marsha Abrahams, Jo Hepworth and Eileen Fleming — first met in Utrecht, in the Netherlands where they were working in finance, sales and IT.
“I had my first massage in 2000 in Holland,” co-founder Eileen Fleming recalls. “For me this massage was a life changing experience. Never before had I felt that amazing feeling of being utterly relaxed, aware, but not asleep … it was like a little piece of heaven on earth.”
Although, Hepworth moved to Colorado, Abrahams to the UK and Fleming back to Dublin, they regularly caught up for ‘girlie’ weekends, and seeing there was little in the way of day spas in Dublin, they were inspired to bring their concept to the city.
Seeing a gap in the market is all very well, but it takes guts, determination and nerves of steel to turn an idea into a commercially viable business. So what inspires someone to take that leap — from the security of a career in the corporate world to the daunting unknown that confronts all entrepreneurs?
“Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to own and run my own business,” Marsha Abrahams explains. Seeing her Dad run a hairdressing business, she was keenly aware of the challenges and pitfalls of owning, running and making a business a success. Most SMEs strive when they have a diverse skillset that they can tap into, and for the co-founders of The Buff Day Spa, that has been a crucial element to its success and longevity.
As a CIMA accountant, Abrahams was in a position to sort out the initial company incorporation, and thereafter the financials. Hepworth’s sales and marketing background helped promote and win new business, and Fleming’s background in IT was crucial as the business set about establishing IT solutions and systems.
“Between the three of us we have experience across all business areas,” Fleming says, “and we’ve also all retrained to specialise in nail, beauty and massage therapy”. According to Fleming the biggest learning curve in setting up and establishing the business was staff management. “This is something we have focused on throughout the years to ensure our staff are happy, motivated and love what they do,” she says.
Shying away when faced with challenges and adversity it not an option according to the entrepreneurs. “Even 12 years ago we were confronted with ‘no’ at every turn. But we were fortunate with the support we did get from family and friends,” Abrahams says.
“Don’t be afraid to try because what’s the worst that can happen?” is the best advice she was given. “Watch the cashflow,” the former accountant says, “many profitable business fail in the first few years because they don’t keep an eye on cashflow.”
According to Fleming: “You’re only as good as your last treatment. Be prepared to work like you have never worked before. Always keep your core values at the centre of what you do. Never compromise on quality and encourage each and every team member to ‘be the best’ at what they do. And ensure you and your management team know your break-even point at the outset,” are her final pearls of wisdom.
Having taken the leap into the unknown more than 12 years ago, and having sustained and grown throughout challenging times, is testament to The Buff Day Spa’s holistic concept of sustainability, relaxation and longevity.
Whether it’s a lazy afternoon enjoying one of the spa packages or a relaxing massage, facial or one of the many beauty treatments available, there really is something for everyone at this unique and centrally located spa. And long may the Queens of South King Street reign there.
ABOUT: The Buff Day Spa
- Who: thebuffdayspa.com; +353 (1) 6774624
- What: City centre day spa
- Why: Holistic retreat in the heart of the city
- When: Mon-Fri 10am-8pm and Thur until 9pm; Sat 10am-6pm; 12-6pm last Sunday of every month
- Where: 52 South King Street, Dublin 2 (next door to the Gaiety Theatre)