Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashleigh Dundas.
Ashleigh, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
It all began when I received my first massage at age 16. I had been in a car accident and needed some specific work on my neck and back. What happened was life changing. I not only felt the physical relief but my mind felt clearer, more at peace, and my spirit felt awakened. I began researching and gravitating more toward Massage Therapy as a career in my Health Science Class. After graduation, I was accepted into a Professional Massage Therapy program at New Hampshire Community Technical College. It was one of the best decisions of my life. The training while intense and challenging was where I knew I was meant to be. It was about a two year, 1,000 hour program from start to finish. I also pursued a Reiki I & II certification training during that time as I became fascinated with natural healing. After graduation I was eager to get right out in the field and work with as many people and ailments as I could. I began in the spa industry which was a great way to increase my flow, pressure, and client-therapist skills. A few years into that with some profound healing experiences and clients who had made life changing improvements, I grew out of the spa industry and further into the holistic wellness field. I found my home in Therapeutic Massage at Enlightened Way in Tariffville, CT. It was a Holistic Wellness Center with Ayurvedic Treatments, Yoga, Therapeutic Massage and Specialty Workshops. I worked with a team of Yoga Instructors, Massage Therapists, a Naturopath, Reiki Masters, and Ayurvedic Bodyworkers. I received hands on training in Ayurvedic Treatments and Ayurvedic Lifestyle by the owners who were Deepak Chopra Center Certified. This was a life and career changing experience. It was exactly what I thought massage ought to be. Not one size fits all. Integrated, personalized, and profound. The clients and ailments I worked with broadened all my horizons. When I received the news that the center was eventually having to close was right around the time I met my now husband who turned out to be living in my hometown.
For the next 6 months I worked out of my home in private practice which inspired me to start my own. I took the leap, moved to Keene and opened my own practice, Sacred Moments Center for Wellness. It was a mini wellness collaborative with my friend, fellow bodyworker, esthetician, and MT. She was in the office right next to mine and we often collaborated in treatments. From there I grew my network in Keene as I’m a firm believer in quality referrals and building a tribe. The first year was the most difficult but my practice continued to grow steadily. During this time I was also in school training as a Holistic Health Coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The experience was amazing and added to my certifications as a Holistic Health Practitioner. By the second year my books were almost full. I had 170 clients and I was voted the Best MT of Keene 2014. Halfway into the second year, my husband had a job transition to Plymouth, MA. I made the difficult decision to close my practice in Keene and take another leap of faith to the South Shore of MA. My hopes were high, the area seemed great and I had never lived so close to the ocean. Life had about every major challenge in store for us though when we got here. My plan was to open another practice right away and begin building. It wasn’t the smooth transition I was anticipating. I was basically completely starting over from scratch, I didn’t know anyone, the area, or even how to get to the grocery store without google mapping it. Starting over is often times way bumpier than we imagine. We received an unexpected gift in June 2015, we were pregnant! Which ended up being the gift that brought me to where I am today. About 15-20 weeks in I was having severe sciatic pain. I couldn’t walk without limping it became that bad. I started researching chiropractors in the area and found Dr. Amanda at Seaside Chiropractic. Her adjustment was life changing. After a few sessions I could walk better, was in less pain, and began on a path to continued healing. She adjusted me through my entire pregnancy through every ache and pain that came up. I learned so much from her and was truly inspired! She referred me to my midwife and postpartum doula who I had life changing birth experiences with but that’s for another story.
My network began to grow and expand from there. About six months after the birth of our baby girl I decided it was time to go back to work and get back to my purpose in the world. I grew my practice out of Seaside Chiropractic and within six months I grew out of the hours and needed my own space. Massage Loft New England was born. I found the perfect flowing, healing, lofty space and my vision came to life. There’s something about picking every single piece and creating a space to welcome your clients “home” to. By home I mean, home to themselves, home to their peace, home to the relief of being out of pain and having the space to truly decompress from all the busyness of life. At the same time, I began to finally feel at home. Low and behold the community and network on the south shore is bountiful! I’m grateful to know and confidently be able to refer to the many amazing practitioners I’ve met. I’m honored to announce that after just 4 short months of being open at my new location, Massage Loft New England received Honorable Mention from the Wicked Local Readers’ Choice Awards and Best MT of Pembroke 2017. Now I work with many moms in Pre/Postnatal Sessions, Health Practitioners, Entrepreneurs, and Caretakers. It is honestly one of my most favorite things in this world to be able to take great care of those who take great care of others. I feel it contributes to a positive ripple effect and impact in this world, one client at a time.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Parts have been smooth and parts have been bumpy. Closing my practice in Keene was way harder than I imagined. When you’ve built the practice of your dreams and tons of client relationships it is a very difficult process to let go of. Reinstating my license in the state of MA was another. It took probably about three months, thousands of phone calls, 30 pages of paperwork and after all my experience and certifications the acceptance of feeling brand new all over again. Other challenges have been time, things not lining up in the timeline I imagined, finding the time to build a practice with a newborn, the newness of motherhood, completely starting over in a new area, and health challenges along the way. After my daughter was born I started to feel really sick. I was extremely tired, dizzy, and just not myself. Six months later I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Neurological Lyme. Thankfully, today after 9 months of treating it and great integrative care, I am starting to feel better and have learned a lot but it was a real struggle for a while.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Massage Loft New England story. Tell us more about the business.
My practice is all about healing. From the moment you walk in the door, the tension already starts to subside. It is a safe, quiet, cozy “soft landing” for clients to let go of all their care taking, baby soothing, piles of paperwork, and endless day to day tasks and be taken care of. A rare opportunity for peace and rejuvenation. My work while gentle, goes well beyond pampering. I incorporate some spa-like warm fuzzies like hot towels on the feet, eye pillows, and cozy sheets with real focused musculoskeletal therapeutic work that is customized to each person I work with. To top it off I incorporate Reiki healing which enhances my work as an LMT as it helps clients to relax deeper and let go of tension they may not have been aware of. I specialize in a holistic approach to Therapeutic Massage and lately have been working with a lot of moms in Prenatal Massage as well. Consistently I work with clients with chronic stress, anxiety/ depression, neck/ back/ shoulder tension, sciatica, as well as Lyme, autoimmune conditions, and allergies. I take the time with each client with a thorough intake to gather a deeper understanding of their struggles, challenges, symptoms, and experience to meet them where they’re at and be able to help them to the best of my ability. In session I follow their cues if they’re needing to talk about something I go with it, otherwise I provide a hold quiet space for their relaxation. I put together a packet with before and after care tips, any referrals, or other recommendations. Then we reschedule their next appointment and with a tea/ water in hand they’re on their way to take on the world again.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
For me it has been the people I’ve met along the way and the experiences I’ve had (good or bad) that have brought me to where I am today. I believe in sticking with and persevering through the hard times no matter what.
- Therapeutic Massage 60-90 minutes ($85-$125)
- Prenatal Massage 60-75 minutes ($90-$110)
- Address: 31 Schoosett Street
Bldg 2 Ste 205
Pembroke, MA 02359
- Website: www.massageloftne.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/massage.loft.ne
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Massage.Loft.New.England/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/massage-loft-new-england-pembroke
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleighdundas
Photos by: Stephanie Rita Photography