Teresa & Sandy met in massage school, started separate businesses in different parts of Vancouver, and reconnected years later to form a business together!
“Sandy and I met briefly in massage school then later when we worked together at a franchise location in Vancouver. We each left that business and started our own practices in different parts of town. In 2012, we met up again and decided to merge our practices together for support and to grow something great together,” says Teresa.
Their joint business, Self Balance Massage opened in 2009. In the summer of 2016, they moved to their current location at 8221 NE Hazel Dell Avenue in Vancouver, Washington.
We asked Teresa what inspired her to start her own business, “Working for a franchise, creativity is a bit stifled and it's all about money. Turning out clients and upselling for the sake of profit isn't why we became Massage Therapists. We wanted to create an environment conducive to wellness and healing, where our clients felt welcome and cared for.”
They also enjoy working for themselves because it gives them the flexibility to design their business in a way that works best for them. “Our business is client-focused and we still the ability to be available for our families.”
Sandy and Teresa say they have several people they have looked up to over the years, but one massage school instructor stands out. “There was one particular instructor in school that not only taught us the skills needed to thrive, but a genuine love of the art of massage and spa work. She really sparked our imagination to create wonderful services,” explains Teresa.
As many small business owners can attest the learning curve and trial and error aspect of owning your own business can be a big challenge. “There is no real blueprint tailored to each type of business and sometimes finding resources is difficult,” says Teresa.
They advise new business owners to learn about the business side of running a business. “Passion for your craft is not enough to be successful. Hire the professionals who have the skills you lack and always pay attention to the numbers. It's not easy, but it's necessary if you want to keep growing.”
Among their successes, they cite hiring employees and nurturing the next generation of massage therapists. “We have created a place where our staff feels valued. We give them time for their own self care between clients and offer continuing education benefits to help them grow and succeed,” explains Teresa.
Teresa and Sandy treat everything from relaxation to auto accident recovery, but their ideal client is the person who sees the value in taking care of the only body they will ever have! “Well care is so much less expensive than sick care in the long run,” says Teresa.
They are excited to a part of the MOB NW and have the support of like-minded women! Teresa says, “Success only comes when you surround yourself with successful, hard-working people and that is the definition of a mom!”
You can find them online at:
Nancy has been a business manager for over 20 years in various industries. “I started out in Los Angeles working for film and TV industry professionals in a very analog way - managing household checking accounts, running staff payrolls, working with other professionals to help manage their lives, i.e., agents, attorneys, insurance folks and the like. When she moved to San Francisco in 1994, she did the same kinds of tasks, but in the music industry, “I created financial statements for various touring bands, filing tax returns, and more. Once the firm began obtaining sports clients, the tax filings became increasingly tedious and I decided to pursue other career options,” she explains.
Next, she become an Operations Director for a web boutique start-up called Studio Verso. “It was an extraordinary experience - surrounded by designers, UI professionals, engineers, project managers and other brilliant technology folks, we created one of the first e-commerce sites ever – for Office Depot ” she says.
Eventually, her company was bought out and Nancy decided to go to chef school. “After cooking at a high-end restaurant in San Francisco, I realized that it was a cowboy mentality that wasn't for me, but the good news is that I can cook anything now!”
Her next challenge was finding a job in a professional environment where she could utilize her skills and still have holidays off. She became a bookkeeper at a family-owned construction company in Berkeley, California. “I served as Operations Manager for four years until the owner's daughter was slated to become CFO and my position was eliminated,” she explains
“I decided I knew enough of the ins and outs of the construction industry and I felt I could give it a go to start up my own. This company became Capo Mastro Group (CMG) and the company still exists today. www.capomastro.com - check it out for sure - super proud of what I accomplished in San Francisco!” Nancy was bought out her partnership when she decided to move to move to Portland to allow her now 8-year old to begin kindergarten here.
“ I truly enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom, but the stipend inevitably ran out,” she explains. Her next adventure was as a Business Manager for a family-owned property management company. When they reorganized, her position was eliminated and Nancy decided to open her own business. “I decided I would love the flexibility of owning my own business again and founded Full Charge Marge - Better Books for Great People. “
Nancy says her mentors have been integral to her success. “The first is Zach Zeisler, CPA who taught me everything I know about the importance of accuracy and professionalism, even when dealing with sticky tour cash. The second would be the VP of Studio Verso - Carol Waitte - who was an early Apple employee and showed me that you can be a change-agent in a male-dominated field, maintaining a polished cool I could only hope to replicate,” she explains.
Like most small business owners, Nancy struggles with having enough time to both work on her business as well as in her business for clients. She is counts the tax law differences between California and Oregon as a challenge.
Nancy advises new business owners to value yourself the same way you would want to be valued as an employee. “One thing I always emphasized, particularly when owning my construction company, is that your employees are your best marketing. I paid my carpenters and project managers large year-end bonuses, choosing to zero-out any net income of the corporation because I would rather reward my staff than pay corporate taxes. This proved to be so appreciated by my staff,” she explains.
Her ideal referral is someone who wants to be more focused on their genius, and they allow me to completely take care of managing the financial end of their business.
When asked what her biggest accomplishment was, she replied, “My biggest accomplishment is my child, Jesse. Hardest and most rewarding job I've ever had is motherhood.”
Nancy is excited to be a MOB Alliance member because it provides validation and support for women that are experiencing the exact same challenges of balancing parenthood with a career.
She also loves working for herself and getting the chance to know various clients and what their needs are. She explains, “I love the flexibility of being available to my child after school and in the mornings as opposed to rushing off to the 9-5 office job. I love not having to wait to accrue PTO hours in order to take a family vacation. Lastly, as a "Type-A" individual, I really enjoy challenging myself to be self-propelled!”
Nancy’s MOB Alliance exclusive offer is 20% off monthly bookkeeping (minimum retainer agreement - 10 hours or more per month).
You can find Nancy online at:
Meg Wise, owner of Uniquely Wise Photography, opened her business in 2015 and has over 15 years’ experience as a photographer. She grew up surrounded by photos, “My mother, growing up, was amazing at taking photos of the floor and the back of people’s heads. My father’s house was a museum of memories. There were pictures hung everywhere. There were photo albums filled to the brim. One of the things I love the most is reminiscing over old photos and conjuring up the memories. It takes me down the rabbit hole for hours on end and I love it.”
She is happier behind the camera, and her three-year old son is often her muse. “He’s obsessed with Legos, Batman, and Buzz Lightyear. He even inspired a new Inspiration series. Keep an eye out for #UniquelyImagined #UniquelyInspiredSeries,” she says. She loves that her work allows her to be there for her son. She says, “He’s only 3.5 and still wants to be around me, so I’m going to milk it as long as I can. Plus, it makes me a good role model when he’s older.”
One of her biggest business achievements occurred over the summer when she opened her studio. “I have the cutest quaint little studio in an ActivSpace in NW Portland. It’s caddy corner from Playdate PDX. It’s light and airy and perfect for newborns, maternity and families. I have maternity gowns, wraps and some props for my families to use,” she says. She also does photography on location around Portland and Vancouver or from the comfort of your home.
Meg draws inspiration from her family. Her own mother was a single mom working full time, and she has watched her step-mom build and flourish a business and become a leader in the community and while raising Meg’s little sister. Meg’s husband is also incredibly supportive and helps with business tasks.
In her professional life, she is inspired by other photographers. Meg continues to take classes, learn, and perfect her craft, “I am always look for those in-between moments where the magic happens,” she says. She also credits the MOB NW for an amazing support system, pushing her further out of her comfort zone, and connecting her with new friends and businesses.
When asked what her biggest struggle in business is she says “I think with most new businesses, it’s getting your name out there, getting new clients, and time management. I need a larger supply of caffeine and time!”
She advises new business owners to invest in themselves and continue to push their comfort zone limits. “Get out there and meet the people in your community. See how you can help each other and make friends in the process,” she says.
Meg loves to work with parents who want to capture and never forget their pregnancy glow or how tiny their little one once was. She also loves connecting with like-minded businesses who are a part of the pregnancy and newborn community.
She is excited to be a member of the MOB NW because of the connections she is able to make and the chance to help one another. “It took me awhile to attend a meet up, and then a second, but by the second time I felt comfortable around all these amazing women, and I knew I needed to join the Alliance. And you know what I love it and should have done it sooner. I highly suggest joining this amazing group of women,” she says.
Meg offers 15% off sessions and products to MOB Alliance members. She also offers15% off as a thank you for referrals - with enough referrals you could earn a free session!
You can find Meg online at:
Like all MOBs, Bryna Sampey, IBCLC, of Doula My Soul is a busy mom and business owner. “I have 3 kiddos, a seafaring husband, a dog, and 10 chickens. Whew! It's crazypants all the time at my house-- At least there's always a pot of something yummy bubbling away on the stove,” she explains.
If you aren’t familiar with doulas or the letters after Bryna’s name, she says “I'm an IBCLC- which is a lot of letters that stand for Boob Lady! Just kidding. It means I'm an Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. Which means I'm qualified to help with a variety of situations, from basic to complex, that relate to breastfeeding, helping babies with special needs feeding at breast, breast milk feeding, bottle feeding, or weaning.”
Bryna works with clients in their home or online, whichever fits their needs best. She also teaches classes through Doula My Soul and at OHSU Center for Women’s Health. While Doula My Soul’s physical location is in Vancouver, but she serves clients from Lacey, Washington to Salem, Oregon and even the coast!
She started her business after finishing her IBCLC training, which includes 4,500+ hours of training and a very large test, and moved from Monterey, California to the Pacific Northwest for her husband's job.
She says, “I love being in business for myself primarily because I get to determine the choices our company makes, where the money we spend goes, and the consciousness with which we approach families. We have a very strong commitment to honesty and transparency in our process, and an equally strong commitment to treating every client with the kindness and respect they deserve, no matter their circumstances.”
The mentor Bryna most looks up to is Sonja Massey, BSN, RN, PHN, IBCLC. “She is an angel of love and kindness to all who know her. She uses her knowledge combined with such gentleness that families are put at ease instantly- and her care is unmatched. I love continuing her work of helping families and training new lactation consultants,” Bryna says.
Since she provides individualized care for each baby and family, Bryna’s biggest challenge is scheduling and timing. She never knows when an appointment may take longer than expected or what kind of traffic she’ll encounter between appointments.
She explains, “We never know when an appointment will need to run long because of a baby's complex needs- so that creates difficulty in building our schedule. We are often running behind in our day- which feels bad because always being ‘on time’ and offering specialized care, not to mention traffic getting across town, sometimes, are often at cross-purposes. Let's just say I TOTALLY understand why the cable company gives you a big arrival window on their appointment days!”
Although starting your own business from scratch sounds exciting, Bryna suggests potential business owners investigate whether or not someone else is already offering what you are, or if they have something that would dovetail nicely with what you do, and get them to hire you. Or partner with them. “Don't start out with your own business straight out the gate! “
Bryna also urges new business owners to educate themselves in areas they aren’t familiar with. “If you must, take classes. You need them. Yes, I know you're savvy and smart and everything- you need those classes. Hire a tax person. Hire an accountant,” she says.
As Doula My Soul grows, Bryna strives to build community with ongoing events and gatherings to support local charities and initiatives. Last year, Bryna and Doula My Soul hosted an educational conference to bring more awareness about Tongue-Tie & its challenges to local providers and parents. Including parents was an unusual choice for an educational conference and speaks to Bryna’s dedication to educating and assisting families.
Doula My Soul also hosts the WellMama event every year. Bryna hopes the funds raised at WellMama will support Doula My Soul’s newest initiative: a grant-funded research program that will hopefully demonstrate the positive outcomes of skilled postpartum doula care in high-risk families.
When asked why she loves being a part of The MOB NW, she responds “CONNECTION! I love the connection and networking the MOB community provides. If I ever have a need, the MOB is there for us, in business, and for me personally! Aria has built an incredible network of resources for our area & beyond. It's a beautiful thing.”
Ideal referrals for Doula My Soul include anyone who would like support, education, and resources for breastfeeding, birth, or the postpartum period.
Bryna and her team specialize in complex issues such as high-risk, surgical, and medically compromised births, feeding and swallowing difficulties related to tongue and lip tie, and postpartum care with medically fragile infants, or parents with disabilities. “We can handle the tough stuff,” says Bryna.
When Bryna isn’t helping babies, helping mamas, training new lactation consultants, or teaching classes she enjoys knitting, hiking, camping, escaping to Big Sur, and surfing. She also loves cooking and making stuff.
You can find Doula My Soul online at:
Twitter - www.twitter.com/doulamysoul
Facebook – www.facebook.com/DoulaMySoul
Instagram - www.instagram.com/doulamysoul