How my journey started . . .


Karen Ashton

Back in 2003, a mum of 2 children under the age of 3, a wife and an office manager, life felt quite tough at this time and I needed something for ‘me’, I craved to feel independent and wanted to get my teeth stuck into something. So,my journey began with my love for aromatherapy. I wanted something I could do as a hobby but earn money out of at the same time, so I had this hair brain idea that I wanted to set up an online company selling essential oils and other aromatherapy based products. To do this, I wanted to gain as much knowledge as I could on the oils before selling the products, so I enrolled on an aromatherapy course.  Part of the course involved learning massage, now this may come as a surprise to some of you but i wasnt overly keen on the thought of massaging someone, despite this, I completed the course and I passed 🙂 I then decided to take the knowledge gained about the oils and use this, but I was unsure if I was going to use my massage skills again! 😉 Well, until a month or two later, when a few friends asked if they could have a massage, and after much debate, I decided, ok, I will. Well, being in my own surroundings, and creating a nice ambience in the room seemed to help a great deal, also knowing the client I was massaging seemed to help a little too. Afterwards, I thought, I cant be that bad, as I sent the client to sleep 🙂 Result! This wasn’t so bad after all.

My online oil business was doing ok, Amber Oils, and my therapy business began, initially working from home, I started adding qualifications, reflexology, indian head massage, and so on. I was really enjoying it by now. My business name became The Amber Retreat, and I even named and registered my house in Swindon as this too. To progress the oil business, I looked into being able to blend my own oils and sell them, but this hit a wall, as I had to, back then, pay for each oil to be passed for manufacturing purposes, and this was going to set me back rather a lot of money, so this was put on hold.

I continued, instead, to progress in the therapy side of my business.  I decided I needed to build a client base and this would be really slow from home (Facebook and social media wasn’t as widely used back then) so I wrote off to as many salons and hotels as possible to see if there were any rooms to rent on a part time basis (my boys were still pre-school at this stage so wanted the balance of looking after them too) Boom! I received 4 replies all wanting me to rent their room. I had to choose which one I wanted to go for. Anyway, I spent a few years, working at a couple different rooms at hair salons and also back at home, in a cabin built in the garden, my dining room, a spare bedroom, even my lounge. I also went into business with a friend and we rented a spa within a hotel for 18 months, offering various therapies & managing staff. After many courses at various training centres, I started to run workshops and enrolled on a teacher training course at Cirencester college, this was when my next chapter started as I started to write course manuals and become an accredited training centre initially based in Swindon. I loved it! I had finally found my passion.

This was back in 2006 / 2007, & my marriage broke up during this year too so I became a single mum to my 2 boys, who were then aged 5 & 6.

I then realised why I had the urge back in 2003 to become independent . . . I needed to support myself and my boys financially. My focus, to get me through this was setting up my training school. Teaching and passing on my skills and knowledge to others became my passion. As if that wasn’t enough, in 2011 I decided a fresh start was in order for me and my boys, and the pull to move back to my roots, Bideford in North Devon was becoming bigger and bigger. When my 10 year old said to me one day, ‘Mum it will be ok moving to Devon, because I will make lots of new friends, and I can still keep in touch with my old friends, my dad and family,’ this was my catalyst I needed to get brave and ‘feel that fear and just do it’. The house went on the market on 1st March and we had sold and moved into our new house in Bideford, by 3rd June 2011, I think the universe was telling me that this was the right thing to do 🙂

I kept my training business going in Swindon to give me the income to be able to move and start anew in Bideford. It took a couple of years to build the training up here while I continued to travel around the South West teaching in salons and spas, going where the demand took me. With the support of my wonderful parents, to help with my boys, this was what made this possible for me to do.

One of my biggest achievements was becoming a VTCT assessment, firstly in Swindon, secondly alongside Wendi from HHBTA Ltd (her continued help has and is invaluable) at her centre in Gloucester, and now in South Molton, Devon.

 

At the start of 2016, I met my soulmate, Jason. (What a way to start the new year)

Now, way back, I had ‘placed an order with the universe for a man who knew how to massage,’ (among other things) well low and behold, one of the first things he told me about himself when I first met him, was he was massage and sports massage trained from 14 years ago. Yippee!! Thank you universe 🙂

An emergency op in 2016, and personal needs of his son, put paid to his job and teaching as a martial arts instructor, for the time being, and I got brave, once more, and welcomed him into the business, to help me with sales & marketing & teaching in sports massage and other massage courses.

Karen & Jason AshtonIn August of this year (2017) we married 🙂

In the last month, I have welcomed my 3000th student through the doors of Holistic Therapies Training, and through the many years of ups and downs; blood, sweat and tears; sleepless nights and anxieties, I am still living my dream and loving the journey.

To be continued . . . .  .