Kayleigh Purser embarked on her journey in massage therapy back in 2004, commencing her studies to become a specialist rehabilitation bodyworker. During this time, she recognised the existence of a glass ceiling that needed shattering. Fueled by her desire to empower female, self-employed bodyworkers to reach their full potential and establish a harmonious work-life balance, she decided to take action.
In 2014, she introduced a unique opportunity for self-employed therapists to increase their income by accepting ad hoc working hours with local spas. This marked the beginning of a journey that would lead her to establish Sapphire Spa Solutions Ltd in 2018, a recruitment agency catering to therapists. Her commitment and determination bore fruit, allowing her to patent a deep tissue massage therapy technique in 2020. This technique not only benefits clients but also supports the health and well-being of therapists.
While the global pandemic temporarily disrupted her plans, she pressed on. In 2022, she realised her vision with the opening of Sapphire Spa Academy. This significant milestone enabled her to teach The Purser Method of Deep Tissue Massage Therapy to spas and therapists across the UK, expanding her positive impact on the industry.
Thank you for interviewing with us today, can you introduce yourself to us?
I’m Kayleigh, the founder and CEO of Sapphire Spa Solutions Ltd and founder of The Purser Method of deep tissue massage therapy. Sapphire Spa Solutions Ltd started out as a temporary recruitment agency for spas, with the purpose of improving the working lives of massage therapists, especially self-employed massage therapists within the industry. The company has quickly progressed to also offer training for therapists through Sapphire Spa Academy and the opportunity for self-employed therapists to have affordable treatment room rentals in Cheltenham through Sapphire Spa Therapy Centre. In 2022 we also opened our own treatment rooms in Cheltenham, offering superior, spa and health treatments, including The Purser Method. The Purser Method of deep tissue massage therapy is my pride and joy.
I firmly believe in the mind, body, spirit connection and how our health and wellbeing is a product of balance and harmony between each element. I try to bring this balance into my everyday life and when I am not at work you can find me working out at the gym or chilling out in a spa! I am an avid reader, especially of crime fiction and motivational, self improvement literature. I have even had my own book published and enjoy writing in my spare time.
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
I became a massage therapist in 2004 and started my journey to becoming a pain management and rehabilitation massage specialist. In the early days of my career I bounced between self-employment, working in various salons, hotels and for a fostering unit for abused young women, and employment, at times full time employment in spas. Did you know that the majority of massage therapists end their career through injury after just seven years?
By 2013 I was suffering and in March 2013 a severe car crash involving 11 other vehicles very nearly ended my career. However, rather than quit, I decided to fight! I learned as much as I could about human anatomy, different massage techniques, yoga, some Thai Chi, meditation, psychology and self care and eventually in 2018 I started putting all of my knowledge together to create a deep tissue massage methodology that not only offers the patient a deeper, more systemic and safer massage treatment but supports the health and wellbeing of the therapist. In 2020 (02/02/2020 to be precise) my massage technique was patented as a unique massage modality and in April 2023 The Purser Method of deep tissue massage became a world wide recognised and accredited massage training course.
Since starting, have you made any changes to your business model?
Like the human body, business is constantly changing and evolving but I am always mindful of my reasons for starting my company and whenever I make changes I first bring myself back to my WHY. It is very easy to get distracted and go after the next shiny object and of course, I have made plenty of mistakes in business. However, remembering that Sapphire Spa Solutions Ltd exists, first and foremost, for the benefit of self-employed massage therapists and our reason for existing is to build a better and fairer spa industry for all massage, beauty and spa therapists, keeps me on the right track.
Have you ever had a mentor? If so how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?
I have had a few mentors before, some good and some not so good. It is important to have people around you who you can trust to tell you hard truths and help to guide you with your decision making but it is also important to make sure that, at the end of the day, you make decisions that are right for you and fit your WHY.
What outlets do use for marketing?
I have been extremely lucky with Sapphire Spa Solutions, in that, I built the business through word of mouth alone. I have managed to cultivate an exceptional reputation that has meant that until recently, marketing has not been a priority. However, more recently we have decided to expand the reach of the company and this has meant looking into more advertising and reaching out to more people and businesses. Networking has been crucial for this and we have had particular success with the Spa Life UK Conventions where I have been invited as a guest speaker and to feature on a panel of experts in a debate over the recruitment crisis in the industry.
What or Who has inspired you most recently?
I am very lucky to have a big sister. We have incredibly different personalities, likes and dislikes and ideas of what success means. To me, she is the most successful person on the planet, her capacity for kindness and generosity are overwhelming and she has the ability to see the positive and balance in any situation. She recently told me that she is envious of how successful I am and that she sees me as more successful than she is and yet I strive every day to be more like her.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?
You don’t have to change who you are to run a business, in fact people are more likely to buy from you if you are authentic.
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
This is a very tricky one and something that requires constant attention. It is very easy to be all work and no play, especially when you love your job and are passionate about making a difference. It took me many years, the right romantic partner and constant checking in to achieve this balance. The first step for me was to create a diary plan of what my ideal week looks like and then (where possible) only schedule in specific tasks on specific days. It is not always going to be possible for you to stick to your perfect week but it gives you a structure to aim for and the most important thing is to honour your personal time.
Name a seminal point in your career so far?
The obvious answer would be my car crash. However, there was a moment before then that has had a far more profound and slow burning impact.
When I was 19 years old I had started my self-employed massage career and had landed a contract with a foster unit for young women. I was very sheltered and naive at that age and still very young. My role was to offer aromatherapy massages to help the girls to feel calm and to introduce them to a positive human touch, something that most of them had never experienced. It shocked me at first to see their reactions to being touched, as if they were fully expecting to be harmed. It didn’t take very long for some of the girls to feel comfortable enough with me to share some of their experiences. They were mostly between the ages of 12 and 16. As someone who was outside the fostering unit, of a similar age and not an authority figure to them, I became a confidant for a few of the girls and they would share a lot of their traumatic upbringings with me. The pivotal moment came when one of the girls who saw me regularly, missed a number of treatments and when she finally came back, she was very clearly different. She couldn’t hold eye contact, was extremely nervous and didn’t want to undress for her massage. I offered her a massage through her clothing which is not ideal but was still a way of showing her a vital, positive touch. When I reached her wrists I was struck with a sudden feeling of despair and blackness. It is difficult for me to describe and makes me feel hollow and sad just thinking about it, even now, almost twenty years later. At the end of her treatment I asked her if there was anything that she wanted to talk to me about and she simply rolled up her sleeves, showed me her bandage wrists and said, “I just had enough.” I remember going home with this feeling of despair following me like a fog. It consumed me for days and I realised that I was completely out of my depth with treating these young women. This was the catalyst for me going to University to study Psychology for three years and the beginning of me properly putting together the mind, body and spirit connection.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
Helping other people and seeing their lives change.
Are there any leading entrepreneurs or SME leaders that you admire and if so, why?
Sadly, I have yet to find them.
How do you define your own success?
I know how I should answer this question but it would not be an honest response. The honest truth is that I still have not figured out exactly what success means to me. It is not money or business expansion or anything that I can put my finger on. The closest I get to feeling success is when a massage client tells me that they are no longer suffering, thanks to my treatment, or when a spa calls with an emergency and I find them the right help, or when a therapist takes my training course and writes to tell me about how they have increased the amount of treatments they are doing and are not experiencing any pains or exhaustion because of the skills I have given them or when a self-employed therapist tells me that they are now able to afford a holiday because of the work that I have been able to provide for them. I suppose, to me, success is making a difference.
Finally, what can we expect from you next?
Sapphire Spa Solutions Ltd will be expanding across the whole of the UK, offering extra work and support for self-employed massage and beauty therapists and high quality, temporary staffing solutions for spas across the UK.
The Purser Method will start popping up in different spas across the UK and perhaps even internationally, as I spread the training method to as many spas and therapists as possible.