We had the good fortune of connecting with Alana Monge Hanks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alana, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Since I was young, I’ve been a fairly independent/march to the beat of my own drum kind of gal, so there was appeal to starting my own business in terms of the independence and freedom that it allows. I do well with being my own boss, managing my schedule, and getting to create the rules of how I want to play. I thrive in the creative process of writing my own story, and having my own business is a huge part of this. It takes a lot of work, dedication, and perseverance, and is also a lot of fun, rewarding, and fosters creativity, and I really love it.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Developing and growing my business has been the product of a lot of hard work, determination, creativity, and perseverance over a long period of time to arrive at where my business and I are today. Part of what I love and enjoy about small business ownership and entrepreneurship is the creative process and the idea that if I can dream it, I can create it! I get to choose how I want to do things, what’s important to me, and write my own story. From the birth of Skin to Soul Holistic Massage and Wellness, I knew I wanted to build a local, sustainable client base in order to serve my local community and develop long-lasting, meaningful relationships with my clients. I find this aspect hugely valuable and means I can serve my clients better by really knowing them, their histories, how they respond to my work, and what they do in their day-to-day lives that helps and/or hinders the way they feel in their bodies, minds, and spirits. I value these relationships.
In my approach with massage therapy, I also provide wellness coaching on how to develop better sleep patterns, reduce stress, and and support the body in order to feel better on a day-to-day basis. I’m a huge proponent of a proactive approach to health and wellness, and I engage my clients in conversations about this proactive approach and how it can make a difference in their lives. I also walk my talk, and prioritize my own self-care in order to feel good in my mind, body, and spirit to be able to keep up with my business and better serve my clients.
I utilize a philosophy of slowing down to speed up in various growth and expansion periods of personal and professional growth. I find huge value in being intentional in how I do things and why, having an idea of the big picture dreams and goals, while grounding in do-able next-steps. I do well with managing my time, staying organized, and carving out time to take care of my business. My business doesn’t run me, I run it, and I ground into how I want that to look, feel, and be. There have been times when I’ve needed to take a step back and reconfigure something, let go of something that’s not working, or change an approach. That’s part of the entrepreneurial journey of always having new, creative ideas afloat, trying them on for size and realizing some work and some don’t, some are a good fit and some aren’t, and that’s all part of the game and the growth. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow and to continually step into my authenticity with myself and my business.
Over the almost 13 years that I’ve owned Skin to Soul Holistic Massage and Wellness, I’ve played with what I offer in addition to my one-on-one client sessions. I’ve offered wellness and massage workshops of various types, 5 years ago I acquired my Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Certification, and have offered yoga workshops, taught classes, and incorporated some principles of yoga in the work that I do. Over time I have stepped into the role of being a well-respected massage therapist and wellness practitioner in my community, offering high-quality work from a holistic approach. I also hold a wealth of knowledge about other practitioners so that I can confidently refer my clients out if they need something different than what I can offer them.
I believe in the power of community and supporting each other, and I have strong, well-developed relationships with other business owners and entrepreneurs in my community and beyond, and this has been important for navigating the waves of business ownership. We lift each other up when challenges arise, bounce ideas off of each other, and remind each other what of what we might need to hear during those times. There’s a lot of self-compassion, learning, and growth that comes with entrepreneurship and business ownership.
Over the years I have been a member of various chambers of commerce, have participated in a number of group and individual business coaching programs, and actively seek out opportunities to continue learning, growing, and enhancing my role as a wellness practitioner.
My next journey is to expand and find 1-2 quality massage therapists to work for my business as independent contractors and book them on days when I don’t see clients. I’m extremely grateful for my clients, their loyalty, and my thriving business. I love the work that I do, I enjoy getting to know people in my community who I wouldn’t otherwise know, and I appreciate the recognition of the importance of the massage therapy and wellness work that I do. During the covid-19 2-month shut down, this was solidified even more. I’ve noticed an increase in my client’s dedication to prioritizing self-care and wellness, and specifically massage therapy, and I think when people couldn’t receive the services they were used to getting 1-2 times/month, they realized even more what a difference it makes.
I’m grateful for the many people who have supported me along the way of my entrepreneurship and business ownership journey, and Skin to Soul Holistic Massage and Wellness and I have come a long way! I’m excited to continue to step into what’s next, how I can continue to grow as a person, massage therapist, and business owner, and how I can continue to best serve my clients and community.
I would also like to highlight the importance of giving back, assisting those who have less, the value of service, and the desire to help others, which have all been an important part of my life from a young age. This has shown up in different ways throughout my business ownership. When I was first starting out, and didn’t have funds to spare, but had more time gaps, it was in the way of trail maintenance, volunteering at a local farm, and offering complimentary post-race massages (double dip there…service and getting my name out there). I have frequently gifted massage therapy certificates to local non-profits for their fundraisers and silent auctions, and I myself have held fundraisers and events to raise money locally and internationally. I think it’s importance to use whatever means we have, whatever privileges we are born into as well as grow into, to promote acceptance, compassion, and bridging gaps between differences. One of my on-going fundraising efforts is to raise money for a charity school in Kenya near and dear to me, Destiny Garden School, in Mtongwe outside of Mombasa. The past few years I’ve combined my birthday with either an in-person or virtual fundraiser, and there have been a few times when I’ve donated all massage tips received in December to various causes locally as well as Destiny Children, the charitable organization in the UK that funds Destiny Garden School.
I also think it’s important to build community locally, and one of my gifts is creating opportunities to bring community members together in an open and authentic, connecting way. From creating and facilitating a women’s empowerment group for a few years to offering free community yoga out of the local library for a year to offering a community book group that was successful in person and then virtually in 2020, these are examples of how I frequently have side-projects/passion-projects that I put my heart and soul into in addition to Skin to Soul Holistic Massage and Wellness. My position as a connected, well-respected small business owner in our community means I can use this leverage to bring awareness to efforts I find important and to provide ways to help others.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is an interesting question because I live in an area that is a tourist destination so there’s a lot that people like to see and do here. It seems like even more people come here post covid-19. I was actually born in Denver and we moved up to the Roaring Fork Valley when I was 8 so I have a lot of history here and am one of the rarer to find, Colorado natives. It’s been a little project of mine with my husband the past few years, to discover some of the hidden gems nearby as many of the places in nature where I used to love to go are too overrun with people for my liking. That said, I’ll share some of my favorite known spots for this and that. Entertainment: Glenwood’s Vaudeville Revue; Live Music: Steve’s Guitars, Palisade Bluegrass Festival, Carbondale Mountain Fair; Yoga: True Nature Healing Arts in Carbondale (also for the cafe and boutique, the reflexology path and labyrinth) and The Yoga Cooperative in Glenwood; Coffee Shop: Deja Brew for to-go, and River Blend for hanging out; Local Food/Farm experiences: Glenwood’s Tuesday evening Farmer’s Market; The Alpaca Ranch and Boutique in between New Castle and Silt, Sustainable Settings Ranch outside of Carbondale; Happy Hour: Riviera Supper Club; Best in-house veggie burger: Glenwood Springs Brew Pub; De-stress: Iron Mountain Hot Springs; and then lots of time by the river, out in nature on hikes and camping, cross-country skiing and downhill skiing, backpacking, hut trips, etc.!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I developed an appreciation for hard work and business ownership by working for my father and his real estate and property management business during my growing up years. Working for him solidified a sense of business management that has contributed to my success with my massage therapy and wellness business and entrepreneurship. Early on in my business ownership I invested in a year-long business coaching program that blends soul and strategy, which was perfectly aligned for me and my approach. This was with business coach, Christine Kane, out of Ashville, NC. There are so many people and programs that have influenced me and where I am today, that I can’t begin to mention them all here. Having loving, present parents as solid role models, attending quality schools and getting the opportunity to attend many educational and experiential programs were a huge part of my upbringing, and I am grateful.