Irish Women in Business: Jenny Faison & Sarah Wilson of Nautilus Beauty & Holistic Therapies Centre 6 years ago

Irish Women in Business: Jenny Faison & Sarah Wilson of Nautilus Beauty & Holistic Therapies Centre

With awareness of wellbeing and mindfulness on a daily rise amongst a generation of young Irish women, would you consider holistic therapies to tackle your mind and body concerns? We speak with Jenny Faison and Sarah Wilson about going after what you want, the challenges in taking a leap of faith and treating the body, mind and spirit at the same time. 



What is your background – where did you grow up, is there a history of entrepreneurship in your family?

Jenny – I’ve been on a bit of a journey. I was born in Colorado and raised in North Carolina, which is where I met my Irish partner who was living in Bermuda at the time. We lived in Bermuda for a number of years until 2008 when we moved back to his hometown of Dublin.

My dad is a retired New Mexico State Police sergeant and my mom is a nurse so my family history isn’t one of entrepreneurship specifically, but it is of working very hard, which is key when running your own business.

Sarah – Originally from Dublin, I have been living in Ashbourne, Co. Meath for the past 24 years. I am also a mum to two beautiful daughters Ava, 6 and Sloan, 12 months. Entrepreneurship is definitely in the family, my dad runs a successful printing and promotional wear business. My family have been and continue to be, a great support system for me in starting & growing my own business.

What was your first indication that this would be the career for you?

Sarah – After my Leaving Certificate, I went on to study property management. I worked primarily in office based roles for many years.  After having my first daughter, I knew I would like to do something that would take me out of the office and allow more flexibility in my hours. I wanted a change and after speaking to a friend who had taken the same Holistic Massage course, I thought it would be something I'd really enjoy.

Jenny – My working background has always included roles where client and customer care were very important. From being the office manager of a technology training company, interacting daily with students, trainers and vendors, to being the very busy executive assistant to a human resources director, I have really enjoyed helping others. Ironically, it was also through these roles that I realised how truly negative the impacts of high stress levels can be, and I decided it was time for a change. I considered a variety of new paths including being a nurse, a nutritionist, and even a dental hygienist at one stage (which is ridiculous considering I have a complete fear of going to the dentist!). After much research and time, I decided massage therapy was right for me. 


Where and what did you study? 

Jenny - I studied at Walmer College and Holistic Centre in Raheny in 2010 and 2011. At the time, they offered a massage specialist certificate. I earned ITEC diplomas in the following massage specialties: Aromatherapy, Holistic (Swedish) Massage, and Indian Head Massage. I hold a diploma in Hot Stone Massage and a certificate in Pregnancy Massage. I have achieved the ITEC Beauty Specialist Certificate in Skincare & Eye Treatments, including Facials and Eyebrow & Eyelash Tinting. ITEC is leading international specialist examination board, operating in over 38 countries worldwide

I have completed an Advanced Clinical Aromatherapy, Level 1 course (2012) as well as Clinical Aromatherapy in Cancer and Palliative Care (2013) taught by the highly regarded Rhiannon Harris.

I am a Certified Infant Massage Instructor. I completed my Infant Massage Instructor training with the International Association of Infant Massage who have a comprehensive programme of practical and theoretical training that is used worldwide.

I also have nail and tan qualifications and I’m currently completing an ITEC course in reflexology.


Sarah - In 2009, I qualified in Holistic Massage and Anatomy & Physiology at Walmer College and Holistic Centre in Raheny. I also went on to also study Aromatherapy, Indian Head Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Pregnancy Massage and Facials at Walmer.

I have trained in LaStone Therapy with Maura Barry of LaStone Ireland and I have recently completed an advanced consultation workshop with Marie Reynolds.  I also have nail and tan qualifications.

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At what age did you first suspect you would eventually go into business for yourself


Sarah - Just shortly after my 30th birthday, less than a year later we had opened Nautilus.

Jenny - I was nearly 40!

Did you pursue other careers before launching your business? 

Jenny - I was always one of those people who worked to live instead of lived to work and I held a variety of jobs, from recruiter to office manager to executive assistant. It wasn’t until I hit my mid-30s that I started thinking it would be nice to have a career that I was actually passionate about. That’s what led me to make a complete change of direction and I decided to become a massage & beauty therapist. Through that journey I discovered a lot about myself; what actually motivated me, excited me and brought me joy, which ultimately led to establishing Nautilus Beauty & Holistic Therapies Centre.


Sarah – Before starting up the business with Jenny, I had been working from home. Working from home had been great but Jenny and I had a cohesive idea which I was really excited to expand on.

What were your goals when you set up your business?

As we know that so many new businesses struggle and fail within the first three years, we were both determined to have realistic goals. Our goal for our first year was to generate enough revenue each month to pay our bills without having to dip into our own pockets. Every month we achieve this, we have a little celebration. We’re very happy to say, that so far, there’s been a lot of celebrating! We also wanted to make a difference in our community of Fairview. We passionately believe this is a great area with lots of wonderful small businesses. To help promote Fairview, we set up the social media accounts for the Fairview Notice Board and we manage these on an ongoing basis.

What challenges have you faced thus far?

We’ve made some rookie mistakes, like leaving our address off our initial opening flyers. We just assumed EVERYONE would know where we were located!

It sounds a little clichéd, but we have worked really hard to not see difficult situations as challenges but rather as learning opportunities. We try not to be too hard on ourselves and we really try to enjoy the journey. We’ve been very pleased that the reception and feedback we have received has been incredibly positive and supportive.

Many people don't really understand the term "holistic therapies" - what does it mean to you, in essence?

You’re absolutely right and it’s the very first topic we address on our FAQ page on our website:

What does holistic mean?

The term ‘holistic’ is derived from the Greek word, holos, meaning whole, and holistic therapies…are based on the idea that health is the result of harmony between the body, mind and spirit.  Stresses of any kind, be they physical, psychological, social or environmental, can upset this balance and cause ‘dis-ease’.”

This means that our treatments are more than just going through the motions of a back massage. We look at stress levels, nutrition, fitness, etc. and we offer home care advice that helps to support our client and prolong the positive effects of their treatment.

For example; if someone comes in and rates their stress level as an 8 out of 10, they’re drinking 5 cups of coffee a day, they’re not sleeping, they have headaches and their shoulder hurts, we don’t just simply massage that shoulder. Holistic means we try to help them find ways to bring that stress level down, to help reduce their caffeine intake in a way that works for them. This should help improve their sleep and start to reduce the tension they are experiencing in their shoulders, neck and back. We teach stretches they can do at their desk during the day to help further relieve that shoulder tightness.

For all of us, so much of what we do every day can directly impact how we feel. As people, we’re not just one element, one aspect. We are complex creatures. To us, holistic means that for a treatment to be as beneficial as possible, it may have to address more than one aspect.

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What are the benefits of holistic therapies?

Complementary therapies such as massage, aromatherapy and reflexology are great options for helping to reduce stress, relieve tension & anxiety and they can even help improve symptoms of depression. These therapies can also help reduce muscle aches, pains and tightness. Those tend to be the primary areas of concern most clients have when they come in for a treatment. From a holistic standpoint, we help our clients see that taking the time, even just one hour, to themselves to have a quiet, restful break from the world, can be so restorative. Holistic means that when we talk to them about their home care advice for example, they become more aware and begin to reconnect with how they are feeling. We’re trying to give them back power and control as they become more invested in their own health and well-being.

Do you think there are certain challenges that are unique to women who set up their own businesses? 

We’ve been very fortunate in that we have not come up against any challenges that we feel are specifically because we are women.

What do you consider your greatest achievement to date? 

The success of Nautilus so far is at the top of the list. To see the vision we developed come to life and a happy, thriving life at that, is really great. When we read the reviews people leave, we’re practically in tears every time. It really means so much.

Jenny - Personally, getting a mention in The Gloss last year by the beauty editor, saying; “add this name to your list of brilliant beauty people, Jenny Faison, is the wonder-hands behind the very lovely Lucy Annabella Organics body treatments at Harvey Nichols” still gives me the biggest smile!

What is your favourite/least favourite part of your job?

We love every part of what we do. No two days are the same. We’re busy every day and our to-do list is incredibly varied. Ultimately, we get to decide what to do to make Nautilus the very best it can be. Having that goal is exciting and fun but we feel a lot of responsibility towards our clients to achieve that.

We’ve only really had one moment where we thought, “this is not going to make today’s highlight reel”. That was the morning we had to clean up someone else’s dog poop from right outside our front door. PLEASE people, clean up after your pups!!

What is a typical working day for you?

That’s one of the most interesting things about being a small business owner, “typical” has gone right out the window. Every day starts with a coffee! We’re huge fans of social media and we love seeing what’s happening in the world before starting the day. Most days have us seeing a variety of massage and beauty clients. Along with this we spend time marketing, attending networking events, studying, planning for upcoming classes & workshops, welcoming students, teaching, cleaning and laughing. And that’s just for Nautilus. We have also created and now manage the Fairview Notice Board Facebook and Twitter accounts, which means we need to keep on top of what’s happening in our community and help share the news with others.

Where do you find inspiration?

We find inspiration in all kinds of places. It could come from learning a great new therapy or it could be as simple as taking a beautiful photo of the daffodils in Fairview Park. We’re inspired by meeting other therapists and other small business owners. We’re also inspired and motivated by the feedback our clients take the time to send us or post publicly via social media. We’re also inspired when someone brings us food, “just because”.

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Are there any other women in business that you look up to?

Michelle Delaney and Laura Hilliard Brady are two women we both look up to. Michelle and Laura co-owned and operated Walmer Holistic during the time we both did our training there. They have both moved on and are now running their own thriving practices. Their enthusiasm and passion for the field of massage and beauty therapies has inspired us and motivated us to be the best therapists we can be. They instilled in us the value of a multi-disciplined approach which focuses on client care, ongoing training and self-care. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Celebrate your victories no matter how small, because you have to enjoy the journey. Life is not a dress rehearsal. 

What advice would you give to other Irish women who wish to get into business for themselves? 

However hard you think it’s going to be, double that. Be realistic in that starting a business is one of the most challenging things you will ever do, but it’s also one of the most wonderful and rewarding things you will ever do.

Be sure to set aside some time for yourself! Self-care is critical for longevity.

Reach out and go to networking events. Meeting people who understand what you’re doing and trying to accomplish is at the same time reassuring and energising. You’ll feel better knowing that others have similar struggles and you’ll share the joys of those good days.

What are your plans and ambitions for the future​? 

In the short-term, we plan to add waxing services in May and reflexology in June. We’re really excited about the reflexology as it is a great complimentary therapy. Longer term, we want to see Nautilus continue to grow and thrive. We want to see more and more clients coming to us as their location of choice and taking some time for themselves. With the range of services we offer, from massage & beauty treatments to workshops & classes, we want to be someone’s “perfect escape to restore, revive and inspire the body, mind & soul.”


For more on Nautilus Beauty & Holistic Therapies Centre visit their website here or call 01 534 0003

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