Former social worker and mum of three Ashlene McNamee is someone putting these techniques into practice every day after launching her own holistic therapy business through the Go For It programme in association with Mid Ulster District Council.
Ashlene set up Ashlene Rosanne Holistic, offering reflexology, reiki healing and also delivering sound meditation classes in Cookstown, Dungannon and online.
She delivers reflexology to clients in her premises outside Cookstown and also in the community for cancer patients with Care for Cancer in Omagh.
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The treatment of reflexology is based on a theory that different areas of the feet are connected to different organs and body systems. Reflexology is a form of massage that involves applying varying amounts of pressure to the feet to deliver health benefits.
Ashlene only set up her business in 2020, but first developed her passion for reflexology years ago when she treated herself to a session.
She said: “I had it done years ago when I was stressed, and I loved it. I was mesmerised by it, loved it and I came home that night and slept like a baby. I thought it would be fun to do a course in reflexology, but I never thought I would be changing career. But it was a lightbulb moment when I walked into that course. After I finished the course, we had a room set up in the house and I would have had some clients coming to me to get their feet done.”
November 2020 was when the mum-of-three considered changing career in order to have more time at home with her children.
Ashlene said: “It was lockdown and the children were being home-schooled at that stage. I was having to pay somebody to come to the house to home-school them because I was out at work and my husband was working and farming. So I just made the decision that I would leave work and when lockdown lifted, I would give it a proper go.”
During this time when Ashlene was at home with lockdown she wrote and self-published the ‘Truth Who Am I’ ebook and audiobook, available to buy on Amazon.
Ashlene now has a good client base, and she also teaches sound meditation classes in Cookstown, Dungannon and online.
The Go For It programme is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business mentors through Northern Ireland’s wide network on enterprise agencies. It provides expert advice and help with developing a robust business plan to help turn ideas into a commercial enterprise.
Ashlene got in touch with the Go For It programme on the advice of her sister who had previously set up her own business.
“She said to give Go For It a ring as they might have grants. Go For It didn’t have grants, but they could do a business plan and I thought I might need that wee bit of backbone,” she explained.
“I never had any issue with doing the work, but I was finding it a bit scary to push myself for more work. I hoped it would give me the confidence to keep going and that was it - the business plan.”
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, councillor Córa Corry, congratulated Ashlene on her success: “The Council is delighted to support new businesses like Ashlene’s. She is a perfect example of what is possible with just one great business idea and the proper support.
“Mid Ulster is home to the largest business base outside of Belfast, with 98% of our businesses being micro or small. We are proud of our strong entrepreneurial culture – of which Ashlene is a fantastic example. I wish her and her thriving business every success in the future.”
Business Adviser Shauna Rooney, added: “Ashlene approached Go For it wanting to transfer her passion for holistic therapies into a viable business opportunity. We were delighted to help her achieve her dream, by offering her the support and guidance she needed to develop a business plan.
“The business plan really helped Ashlene focus on the financial aspect of running a business such as developing a two-year financial forecast and costings for her target market, as well as the necessary sales and marketing techniques required to get the business up and running.
“It is fantastic to see Ashlene’s business grow, and we have no doubt that it will continue to flourish, we wish her every success for the future.”
The project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme and the 11 Councils.