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Conversations with Blake Bates

Today we’d like to introduce you to Blake Bates. 

Hi Blake, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Upon entering the field of massage therapy a little more than five years ago, I started to realize a troubling pattern within the industry. The commonly accepted practice for spas and massage mills (envy, elements, hand, and stone) is to start massage therapists at a painfully low hourly pay. Sometimes as low as $13/hr. I just couldn’t wrap my head around that. Massage therapists take a great amount of pride in their work. They often go above and beyond to ensure that each client’s experience is relaxing, therapeutic, and beneficial. These large franchise massage establishments prey on this empathetic nature and often schedule up to 8 massages per day for each therapist causing immense physical and psychological burn-out. Tennessee Massage Collective was established as a way to give massage back to the people who truly make it great. The therapists. By joining together as independent massage therapists, we were able to become more visible and credible. As we grew, I was also able to provide a safe environment, marketing, and a central scheduling system, all while making sure each massage therapist is compensated fairly. We are still a very young business but my hope is that as we grow, we will set an undeniable example of the changes that are desperately needed to further the industry. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Tennessee Massage Collective was started officially in August of 2019. So, in addition to learning how to own and operate a business, I had to quickly adapt to the rapidly changing world around me. Personally, I knew that I would be fine, but now there were people who were relying on me to keep this dream of a better industry alive during the COVID era. Miraculously we were able to stay afloat despite the restrictions, confusion, and fear circulating so heavily in 2020 and 2021. Every day is a new challenge for a small business owner with or without covid. Navigating the world of entrepreneurship is no easy task for anyone, but we don’t start because it is easy, we do it to create a better life for ourselves, and hopefully for those around us as well. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As a massage therapist, I pride myself on finding the root of a problem. My massages are not the typical run-of-the-mill back rubs, that one might experience during a spa day. As a specialist in Deep Tissue, Therapeutic, and Medical Massage, I derive a great deal of satisfaction from alleviating chronic pain. Earlier in my career, I employed the standard deep tissue techniques to achieve this goal. While this is effective and often achieved the desired outcome it resulted in quite a bit of pain and discomfort for the client. As I grew and became more experienced as a therapist, I was able to produce my own techniques that result in maximum benefit while minimizing agony for the client. 

What matters most to you? Why?
What matters most to me is to create an environment in which massage therapists have more freedom and comfort in their craft allowing them to innovate and push the industry forward as a result. 

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