I’m Nadine Hocter, I started Sheer Bliss in 2006 and this is our story.
I was a high school dropout who went to beauty school in the hope of getting a trade under my belt. Working towards a career that would offer me diversity. Beauty therapy became a labour of love for me.
At the brave young age of 23 and being a single mom, I started a massage business with a mobile massage bed that I borrowed. When I worked in a salon I felt like I spent so much of my life there. I loved my work and my clients with my whole heart but I was missing so much of my little girls life growing up.
I wanted to start a business that would create a space for women to work and have enough time for life in-between. I always felt that the value of a massage always comes from the therapist and that when a therapist is not remunerated generously, you feel that in the massage. I promised then, that as a business we would always pay our therapists well and we still do. In fact, Sheer Bliss pays five times the industry rate. Our therapists can earn in four days what some salons pay in a month!
I had no business training and no real idea of how to run a business. What I did know, was that if I could get customers to buy my idea and I could keep my promises to them, this would work.
Sheer Bliss began under the name Pixie Trix offering manicures, pedicures and makeover parties for little girls. This was a first in South Africa and the idea took off!
I needed a website, but I had no capital, so I found a friend willing to trade and gave his girlfriend manicures and pedicures for a year until it was paid off. I knew that I wanted to work with corporate clients and get into events. Pamper Parties were a great platform to meet new clients and grow a network.
I spent most of my days with a Yellow Pages (yes this was that long ago!), contacting event planners and corporate offices to tell them about this amazing offering we had of how to show their staff appreciation with massages delivered to their desks. People loved our massages and because we always had a policy of using qualified therapists our standard was always higher than that of our competitors.
The soccer world cup dominated all budgets in South Africa. We lost a lot of business due to sponsorships, times were tough, and sales dropped to 10% of our regular turnover. This was the perfect time to use this opportunity to reinvent the business and re-brand under the name Sheer Bliss. I still love the name and the logo and the brand behind this logo has grown into a well-known name in corporate massage. A brand was born, and with it, our company culture.
We opened our Cape Town branch and we still have the same staff working with us now that we did when we opened, this is unheard of in the beauty industry. Our clients are familiar with our team and the branch is growing year on year.
It was with this change that we got loaded with NetFlorist as a preferred supplier for mobile massage to homes and with Discovery for wellness days.
We launched our famous 6 Minute Moment Massage and this is still our biggest seller, this massage creates the perfect – quick at your desk massage for large numbers of staff.
We wanted the massage to be a sensory experience and highlighted what we had already been doing, we use specific music for this massage and set up specific décor for every massage. Each massage comes with a box of our delicious fudge and the massage is performed with our signature sequence. The last touch to this sensory experience was ensuring that all of our therapists smell the same, everyone smells like vanilla. We often have and people walking into a room commenting that they can smell that we are there – in a good way!
The business took on a fresh new look with new uniforms, earthy feel décor and a brand-new website.
Our focus moved into driving staff productivity through touch, backed up with neuroscience. Our massages stimulate brain chemicals that benefit staff and this has become more relevant as time has gone by.
We also wanted clients to really start getting to know our therapists and gave them name badges and tried to bring the same team in for the same corporate clients to familiarize our clients with the therapist herself, after all your experience is as good as the therapist you have on the day and we always want feedback to improve our therapists skills and our service to you.
We are pioneers in the industry by incorporating technology with massage. Using Virtual Reality encompasses the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is the next industrial era. MEED was launched in July 2018 and is our most innovative product yet. The team have been blown away with the technology and they have been pushed to learn more and stretch their boundaries and improve their skills on different levels. Our clients are wowed with every massage and the experience is so immersive that it feeds into taking a short break, this one really is a virtual vacation at your desk.
We have opened our KZN branch and started paving the way for franchising opportunities, we are thrilled with the space to run operations from in the Umhlanga area. This branch opened in September and we look forward to bringing our great service (and delicious fudge) to the Durban area.
The brand is strongly geared at women empowerment. Many of our therapists are single moms and our team know each other well – we are friends and colleagues. Sheer Bliss has motivated and assisted therapists to get driving. In addition to this we donate 1% of every invoice to various charities on an ongoing basis. We care about the beauty industry and lifting the standard of therapists by empowering these women through recognizing their hard earned skills. Our internal incentive program makes it possible for therapists to better their skills and gain new qualifications.
Sheer Bliss is now leading the way in corporate massage. Our team have grown from 10 massage therapists in Johannesburg to 54 therapists in the three branches over the last five years.
We plan to cultivate and hold a strong national footprint for corporate and mobile massages providing employment and independence to therapists all over South Africa and in time possibly Africa.