To mark the beginning of a new series focussed on women and wellness, Sangeeta Venkatesan, Chairman of FairVine Super sits down with Melanie Gleeson, CEO and founder of Endota Spa on her journey of building the largest wellbeing network in Australia and views on wellness.
Melanie Gleeson has the courage to see opportunity in adversity, that enabled the CEO and founder of Endota Spa to not only adapt quickly during the toughest months of COVID-19, but also innovate and grow the business to new heights.
“This was the time we as humans need healing more than ever. We put together a range of wellness bundles for our customers and we kept our teams and customers engaged, by running virtual conferences and product showcase with over 120 attendees (we sent product gifts and champagne so we could celebrate virtually but together.
"We had over 200 students online within two weeks of the lockdown. Converting all content and adding engaging activities such as meditation, cooking classes and yoga.
"Our spas have never been busier since reopening after the lockdown. It is truly amazing to receive customer feedback on just how needed Endota Spa services are. Customers now understand that their wellbeing is a necessity not luxury.
"We are launching a new online retreat program and new products including a women’s sexual health and menopause range. We are listening to our customers and evolving with them.”
She believes that her ability to adapt has been key to her success in building and growing the Endota brand.
Born and raised in Mornington Peninsula, Melanie always had an interest in wellness. This led her to open the first Endota Spa in the year 2000 when she was just 26 years old. Her sheer determination, passion, vision, and hands-on approach has led Endota Spa to be the largest day spa network in Australia with over 100 spas across the country, employing over 2,000 people.
It was her upbringing and a spiritual connection to wellbeing that led her to focus on wellness. “In my opinion, wellness is not a luxury and should be considered a priority rather than a treat.” Our mind, body and spirit connection are intrinsically linked.
More analysts have agreed of late that COVID-19 is spurring a new reality: every brand now needs to behave like a wellness brand, and wellness will increasingly no longer be the sole preserve of wellness brands.
“There wasn’t a lot of focus on wellness and Australia didn’t have many spas twenty years ago. Today wellness is a $4.6 trillion global industry”.
Looking back, she says “I knew no fear, and had nothing to lose. Raising capital was tough with little emphasis on wellness in those days. So, we borrowed money from friends and family and set-up our first spa close to home. Finding a landlord was the hardest part – nobody would lease us space. We spent all our time on marketing and networking. The first spa did exceptionally well, and we grew the business from there. I still have the front desk that we had in our first spa at my home.”
Talking about women and leadership she believes that feminine values have their own importance and relevance in leadership, which come with an emphasis on empathy and collaboration. “Women have more tolerance for certain issues, and because we’re constantly juggling work and home, we have a natural ability to prioritise. Women often underestimate their ability and strengths. When really, they are masters of creation.
“COVID-19 has shown we can work remotely and get the job done. We always knew it as we are a company built by women and we're always engaged and forward thinking."
“Customers now understand that their wellbeing is a necessity, not a luxury."
Melanie believes in leading by example. When asked about her leadership style she says, “my leadership motto is to be open and honest. I won’t ask people to do what I won’t do myself”.
She adds, “It’s important to accept responsibility and accountability for your actions. If you are confident in who you are, and believe in your actions, you don’t need to worry about what other people think and say.” Those who share your values will be in alignment with your bigger vision.
When asked if she would have done anything differently if she were to live her life all over again, she says “probably, but I have learnt from things that didn’t go well, so maybe not. If I had one more chance, I would have got involved in government policy and speak for women and emphasise the need to focus more on health and wellbeing.”
Melanie believes in continuous learning and supporting the community and those who support the community. She takes a holistic approach to wellbeing and believes that it is really a culmination of financial, physical, and mental happiness.
“Women are at the heart of home and community. Example – if I am happy and well, I give more to those I care about. My wellbeing has a ripple effect on those around me. This is where we need to take a broader approach to wellness.”
At FairVine Super we recognise the need for women to feel fulfilled and take care of our needs, which is why we have partnered with Endota Spa to offer our members 9% of your purchase amount into your super. You take care of your wellness regime, and we will look after your financial wellbeing.