Walking into Sacred Circle Wellness and Massage is an immediately relaxing experience.
The walls of the one-room massage studio are painted a soft blue, the ambient music plays low, and the air is perfumed with essential oils. As soon as you walk through the door you are greeted by owner/operator Belinda Stick at the reception desk.
Stick's friendly manner, quick smile and easy conversation reflect the atmosphere of the new business. Tucked behind a second hand bookstore on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Jarvis Street, it is a haven for sore muscles, pinched nerves, and sagging posture.
From the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation, Stick opened Sacred Circle Wellness and Massage after receiving her massage certification at Mount Royal University in Calgary.
She began the program knowing that she wanted to be her own boss.
"Being independent, working towards a dream, and knowing that the only way I can shape this dream is if I start my own business and build it from there."
Stick's long-term goal is to open a holistic treatment centre. Adding to her repertoire as a massage therapist, she is pursuing a degree in psychology.
"I truly believe in the rehabilitation system. What I see lacking is the opportunity for more in-depth treatment, more time to heal."
Stick notes that it is difficult for members of the community to maintain sobriety when they return from treatment.
"Adding to the treatment by offering options to return to school, or a trade to follow, finding a niche that they will thrive in... Being able to explore these aspects, I believe, would give [patients] a better chance at maintaining sobriety."
Stick believes that this alternative approach makes a difference with those trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and that a holistic approach to treatment can help.
"Keeping an open door, offering workshops and classes if they do find themselves struggling. It's a mixture of finding a spirituality and finding a purpose."
Stick would, of course, incorporate massage therapy into the healing regime.
"It is not only physically helpful, but mentally and spiritually helpful as well. I'm not a therapist yet, but I have clients who are on the table, and they just talk. They need to just talk and let it out to someone who is not going to be judging them."
Stick knew that starting a small business would be an uphill venture, but was prepared for some of the challenges through her training at Mount Royal University.
"I was determined, I'm stubborn," she says with an easy laugh.
She was challenged by the medical knowledge required for massage therapy.
"There was a lot that I wasn't expecting. We had to learn all the names of the muscles, the bones, how the muscles attach to the bones. It's kinesiology. We were also required to take a marketing course."
Stick reflects on some of the challenges she has faced.
"I had to start really small. I used lot of my own money. I went into this business blind, so everything was completely new for me," she admits, although the marketing training she received helped prepare her for what to expect.
"It's been over a year now, and I've come a long way."
Owning and operating the new business is more than offering massages and therapy.
"I'm working on my website, making my own business cards. Everything is done on my own right now, and I figure that's the only way I'm going to get this done."
In addition to being the on-site therapist, Stick is the marketing director, receptionist and finance department.
"I'm working seven days a week. I'm on call on the weekends. When you have your own business, you are never not working."
Menu items at Sacred Circle Massage and Wellness include therapeutic massage, deep tissue massage, prenatal massage, hot stone and Indian head massage.
Stick also offers ear candling, a process that is used to aid with hearing, sinuses, headaches and vertigo, as well as colds. A complete list of services and cost can be found at her website http://sacred-circle-wellness.webs.com.
For Stick, the reward that comes from her job is immediate.
"When I'm finished with a client, and they say 'Wow, I can actually sit up straight!' it's wonderful. It's just...wow!"
Sacred Circle Wellness and Massage is located at 4137 4th Avenue in Whitehorse (behind Well Read Books).