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Sunday September 22, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday September 22, 2013 MYT 3:44:54 PM
by zora chan
No regrets: Shirley left a high-profile job in Kuala Lumpur to set up her own business.
TIRED of working for other people, Shirley Hasmani Eddie decided to be her own boss. She ventured into the uncharted waters of entrepreneurship.
She left a career in high-end property and real estate in Kuala Lumpur and started
her own business, Rafflesia Spa, three years ago.
The spa, which is a subsidiary of Rafflesia Wellness Sdn Bhd, was inspired by her memorable island holidays, particularly in Bali, Indonesia.
Since then she has been running Rafflesia The Balinese Spirit and an outlet selling spa products under the name “Rafflesia Spa Essentials” in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Last week, another outlet was opened in Jalan Kulas, Kuching.
With the company’s tagline, “Now you don’t have to be in Bali to experience Balinese spa treatment”, the 39-year-old hopes to provide city dwellers, particularly women, an escapade after a hectic working day.
She shares with Sarawak Spotlight her passion in this venture of hers.
Question: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Answer: Born and bred in Kuching, I completed high school at SMB St Teresa in the 1990s. Then I took business studies at Stamford College Kuching.
In between that I moved between Miri, Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, when my father was transferred there.
I worked in Kuala Lumpur for more than seven years in high-end property and real estate market.
I love going for island holidays and one of my favourite destinations is Bali.
I’m married to Maarten Van Der Horst and we are blessed with a twin — a boy and a girl.
What inspired you to open up your own spa?
Working in Kuala Lumpur was very hectic for me so whenever I was tired after a long day, I pampered myself at a spa to rejuvenate.
Besides that my parents also owned one in Kota Kinabalu.
After giving it some thought, I decided to open my own spa but with a different style or theme. Initially when I started the spa in Kota Kinabalu, I was managing it remotely but due to its success, I’m now running it full-time. My father has been the central figure in this undertaking, giving advice and handling it initially.
Today he’s still the advisor to the com-pany.
What makes your spa stand out from the rest in the market?
I notice that there are many giving traditional massages, and since I have experienced Balinese massage before, I decided to go for that.
I get almost all of my spa supplies from Bali. I want my customers to really feel like they are in Bali whenever they step into my spa.
I also provide a one-stop centre for shoppers who are interested to buy spa products online.
Some of these are customised items from Bali and they are one of a kind.
There is also misperception with regard to the spa and wellness industry, so I put in more efforts to give the best to my customers.
At Rafflesia Spa, our focus is purely on leisure and relaxation.
It is professionally run with proper standard operating procedures and spa ethics for both employees and customers.
Our services are suitable for locals and tourists. Our Kota Kinabalu outlets are well patronised by both.
Are your masseurs locals or brought in from Bali?
In Kota Kinabalu it is difficult to find local masseurs. Being a Balinese-concept spa I decide to hire those from Bali.
Although I would prefer to hire locals to support the domestic workforce, plus it is expensive to bring in foreign therapists to Malaysia, but I had to.
In Kuching, however, it’s a different scenario — all my staff members are locals and they are well trained.
You have your own line of spa products named Rafflesia Spa Essentials. How long did it take you to have the brand patented?
It took about six months. I was very persistent in getting it done as soon as possible because having ownership of the brand name is very important.
This I’ve learned from my business experience and also by attending conferences and seminars.
It’s vital to attend these events so as to enhance your knowledge in the business and form better networking with other spa owners, as well as maintain high professionalism in the industry.
We get to learn from each other as well. At Rafflesia Spa, we solely use our own products. I’m glad to say that all our efforts earned us a two-star recognition from the Tourism Ministry last year.
What’s your long-term plan now that you have opened your first outlet in Kuching?
I’m now scouting for a second site in the city centre.
There is still a lot of room for improvement and expansion in the spa and wellness industry in Kuching, and we at Rafflesia Spa are ready to grab the opportunities and face the challenges that may come.
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East Malaysia, spotlight, Shirley Hasmani, spa
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