Wow! Where has 10 years gone?
We can't quite believe we've been here 10 years this spring! It has flown by. Looking back over photos, it's amazing how much has happened and changed. Has it been easy? Not on your nelly! But, I wouldn't change it. I always think everything happens for a reason and all the experiences have made me the person, and business owner I am today. One thing, is that I have always had such a huge passion for the beauty and spa industry, and for well-being. That passion is as strong today as it was back in 2007, when we first started.
So, back in 2007 we initially took on a beauty clinic that was on the top two floors of the building here on Gabriels Hill. I remember I had given my notice in to my employer at the time as the completion date was getting close, then we heard there had been a fire at the premises, and I had to go and ask if I could take my notice back. Thankfully, my manager at the time just laughed and asked why. I was there another 6 months due to the extent of the damage. When we finally took over it was obviously nice having newly painted walls, but having been closed for so long, many clients had found elsewhere else to go. We had to start from scratch.
Many of you may know; being is business can be tough at times. There are many things I have learnt over the years, such as starting as you mean to go on, and being more cautious when employing friends/family. I am thankful for the tougher times as it gave me the experience on how to deal with various situations, how to generally be a better manager and currently support my team the way I now do.
I had grown up with business around me, so I understood the implications and how demanding it could be, yet I loved what I did and would generally be working, even when I wasn't 'working'. It could be hard to switch off at times. I've had notices of termination of employment from team members given to me whilst away on holiday and even the evening of Christmas Eve, whilst at a party. Over the years I have realised that it's very important to take that time out and switch off, but also have a good team structure, which means that can happen. I am blessed these days to have a team and manager in place who are confident and pro-active. For example, it meant that I could be away almost the whole of January this year, when a family holiday coincided with a salon conference in Dublin and a spa visit to Massachusetts to be their visitor for the World Spa and Wellness Awards.
When we first started; we introduced new treatments, some that were not offered at the time in Maidstone, and they were a big hit. Customer service was always important to us, and we found we quickly started to see some regular faces. Many whom still visit today, which is lovely.
We were lucky to have the opportunity a year on to expand into the ground floor of the premises, and haven't looked back. This allowed us the space to offer a manicure, pedicure and makeup area, plus more spacious seating. It means that now, we can offer those beauty salon treatments (waxing, tinting, nails and makeup) on the ground floor, and as soon as you start to head upstairs the rooms are dimly lit for the peaceful massages, facials, and body treatments.
Since then, we have been blessed to help out at many events (with OK! magazine, Louboutin shoes, and more), help out various charities, such as when we travelled Land's End to John O'Groats visiting selected charities, raising over £2.5K, and pampered their teams, as well as raising over £2K for Pilgrims Hospice and Cancer Research UK in memory of a friend (who thought £500 was too big a target to set). Plus, be presented with many awards, and have the recognition of Theo Paphitis. I have also had the pleasure of judging within the industry's leading awards - the Professional Beauty and World Spa and Wellness Awards, plus the Kent Health and Beauty Awards.
So, we look back on those 10 years with fond memories and are thankful that we have grown over time and that we still love what we do as much as day one. I wanted to create The Reef to offer a peaceful atmosphere, a place to enjoy an experienced and relaxing treatment with a team who really cares, and no need to rush out afterwards. We are so happy to still see the 5 star reviews that come through to show this is how the visit was experienced.
We are also blessed to have truly amazing clients; we would like to thank you for being a part of our journey and for the support you have given us. We wouldn't be here without you, so it means such a lot.
Any comments, feedback, memories, please feel free to share below or on our Facebook page. We'd love to hear them!
Clare Cockell, Founder & CEO