Bringing a touch of Byron Bay to North Queensland, Jeanne Hobbs established the very first day spa in sunny Townsville seventeen years ago. Starting as a sole trader to now having a team of ten beauty therapists, Jeanne continues to go from strength to strength. Offering indulgent body treatments, luxurious spa parties, and an extensive line of organic skin care, Tropical North Day Spa is the ultimate place to visit next time you’re travelling through Queensland.
To conclude our Women in Leadership series, Jeanne and I had a chat about how she gets the best out of her team, why she loves organic skin care, and her advice on handling unexpected challenges and coming back stronger than ever.
What lead to you opening your own spa?
When I moved to North Queensland, I couldn’t find an environment where I wanted to work so I set about creating the very first day spa in Townsville. I wanted to create a beautiful environment where likeminded people would enjoy working.
Before then I had worked on my own out of hair dressing salons, but this was my first business where I had staff. It grew naturally, and as I started to get more clients; I hired my first therapist. Then as we got busier, I hired the next therapist and the next. Eventually my team grew to ten therapists and I stepped back into a behind the scenes role.
What has been your greatest challenge in business?
I’ve certainly had a few challenges. In 2012 we had just expanded the spa into a larger space when we experienced a fire and lost everything. We had to set up a temporary premise and it took about ten months before we were able to return to our spa. It was a challenge, but it taught me that we were more than the equipment and the beautiful environment. Our staff, the training, and the products we use were really what made us.
In 2014 my husband had a career ending accident. I ran the business from home for twelve months while I nursed him. It was a huge rehabilitation process. It took me physically away from the spa, but between the hospital and nursing him at home, everyday I sat on my phone running the business, organising ads, planning promotions, paying the bills, and talking to staff. This taught me I could successfully run my business from the outside.
Then in 2019 we had our flood and lost everything again. We had to move into another temporary location while the spa was rebuilt. We were back just in time for Christmas and then COVID hit in 2020.
There are ups and downs but each challenge has taught me something. The fire was a lot of work and I lost a lot of money, but it taught me that I could set up and create something elsewhere. The flood was the same. I’d been there and done that. COVID was easier, in a sense, because we just closed, and I got stuck into all the planning and spring cleaning that I never have time to do. We were very lucky in North Queensland and we only closed for six weeks before we could open again in a limited capacity. Since coming back we haven’t slowed down. We’re thriving.
What inspires you to keep growing?
Having people walk out of our spa and say “that experience was amazing, and my skin feels incredible” is what inspires me. That fills my cup. I do it for myself as much as for everyone else, though it’s lovely to have a positive effect on people.
What is the secret to getting the best out of your team?
Having a presence in the spa is important. I’ve started having weekly one on one meetings with my staff to keep on top of how they’re feeling and where they may need help. I’m a big believer in training and regular good communication with my team.
As a long-standing business partner with Eminence, what is it about the brand that has aligned with your spa so well?
I moved to completely organic skin care in 2011, a long time before organic took off in Townsville. Now that we know more about organic skin care and why it works better, it’s really grown in popularity.
I love that Eminence products are entirely natural and deliver amazing results. I don’t want to use anything in the spa that isn’t safe to eat, although we don’t recommend that!
What advice would you give to women wanting to start their own business?
Don’t try to compete with other people, just compete with yourself. If you continually try to do better than what you did yesterday, you don’t need to worry about what anyone else is doing.
Changing your relationship with the way you think about money is important. I’ve shifted my thinking from ‘I need to make more money’ to ‘I need more guests coming in’. You can spend a lot of time stressing about finances, but that energy and time is better spent on growing your business.