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Success Story: Sherrie Tennessee

16 Dec 2016
Sherrie Tennessee has 15 years of experience in the spa industry including the role of a massage therapist, nail tech, spa owner, speaker, professor, educator and author.

In addition, to receiving multiple awards throughout her career, Sherrie’s writings have been published in some highly respected industry outlets, and she has been asked to speak to many public forums.

Sherrie is completing a Ph.D. and holds a Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in marketing and entrepreneurship. She is currently the Education Manager for Sandals Resorts International - Red Lane Spas and the Education Director of SpaSOS.

How did you get your start in the spa industry?
I started in the Spa and Wellness industry in 2001 as a massage student at Baltimore School of Massage. I attended the program after the encouragement of my co-workers and boyfriend. I have always loved the connection achieved through touch, at the time I was working at Johns Hopkins University in the cancer research department. It was a very intense job, and I found a quick shoulder rub could reduce a day of stress in my co-workers. I attended the program with the intention of working part-time, fifteen years later it has become my full-time career and passion.

What industry resources do you use to continue learning?
The industry resource I use to continue to learn about the industry is the International Spa Association (ISPA) Annual report. Though I have changed careers, research continues to be the foundation upon which I have built my livelihood. The data shared in the ISPA reports services as a compass for where the industry is as well as for what lies ahead. I speak several times a month, and my presentations always include data from ISPA reports’ which validates the industry’s growth and earning potential. I feel it is truly important for those in the Spa and Wellness industry to understand the magnitude of the industry and the facts included in the reports gives me the power to do so.

What professional achievement are you most proud of and why?
The professional achievement that I am most proud of was the launch of the Red Lane Institute in my role as Group Education Manager at Sandals Resorts International – Red Lane Spas. It had been a goal of mine to start a school since I had begun teaching in 2002 and in 2015 the dream was realized. As the Education Manager, I developed the curriculum for all the training which include Anatomy and Physiology, Customer Service, Retail Knowledge. In addition, I launched the Red Lane Institute Massage Therapist training program, a twelve-month US based program for individuals who wished to become therapist in Jamaica. In November 2016, eighteen students graduated and are now therapists in the industry. The program was truly the culmination of my fifteen years in the industry and has completely changed the lives of the graduates.

Is there someone in the industry who has had a profound impact on your career?
The person who has had the most profound impact on my career was Cheryl Thommen. Cheryl was a true friend, mentor, and source of inspiration. I was Cheryl’s Teaching Assistance when I began on the path of educator at Baltimore School of Massage in 2002. Cheryl’s kind and loving words gave me the much-needed confidence to stand in front of students, to share my insight and knowledge. Cheryl allowed me to take over her classes at the massage school as well as a local university. The exposure changed the course of my life and career; I am truly grateful for her guidance. Though Cheryl transition over, I still know I carry her dreams of sharing the transformational power of touch with those in the industry.

What is the best part of working in the spa and wellness industry?
In the spa and wellness industry therapist are considered change agents for the guest, giving a new (out)look on life. In my role as an industry educator, I get to be a change agent for the therapist as well as leaders in the industry. I love speaking at the various trade shows or training sessions. I get to share my passion as well as industry insight with attendees. These individuals can then take the information back to the spa or their treatment rooms and have a different awareness about the industry, their roles, and consumer.


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