Star turn

Session work is usually the domain of nail and make-up pros but salon owner Monique Hart has worked as a session therapist for over a year. Eve Oxberry finds out how the backstage passes have boosted her business

How did you get into session work?Monique Hart

I’ve had my own business for over eight years but I relocated just under a year ago to new premises where I now operate as The Hart Spa within a lifestyle centre in Middleton, Staffordshire, which has a garden centre and a restaurant on site. I trained with Lava Shells when I opened, which is where I met Clare Anderson [managing director of the brand’s distributor Shared Beauty Secrets] and got involved with her mobile events company Lava Angels. We go to loads of different events to do Lava Shell massages.

What sort of events have you done with Lava Angels?

One of the first events I did was the Lava Shells fifth birthday party for celebrities and press at Whisky Mist nightclub in London. I also did the Big Reunion Tour with all the boy bands, including Blue and 5ive. I also worked backstage with The Saturdays. I’ve done celebrity football matches as well as more corporate events like one at Virgin’s headquarters.

Which is the most exciting event you’ve done?

The Big Reunion tour, because it was really interesting to work backstage and see what goes on. I got to watch all the bands prepare and helped them by massaging them before they went on stage. Then there was the privilege of being given tickets to watch them perform, which was fantastic.

What are the challenges of working backstage?

The set up’s very different because we have to take everything mobile and sometimes fit it into quite small spaces! It’s strange trying to create a relaxed environ- ment for massage in a really hectic backstage area. At The Big Reunion Tour, we’d been given our own area for massages and there was a tattoo artist set up right next to us tattooing some of the celebrities, so that was quite a challenge.

Football Match Lava ShellsHow does the arrangement work?

If it’s an event where Lava Angels has a lot of notice I’ll book out the time in my diary, but sometimes, if it’s a celebrity who wants a massage in their house, I could get a call that morning to see if I’m available. I can just do the events that I can work around my business. You don’t get paid for the work but it’s worth it to me for the support I get and also the new clients it brings to my paid business.

How has it helped your business?

All the social media that the events generate and the marketing Lava Shells does has brought new clients to The Hart Spa. The celebs involved often mention us on their social media channels, which is amazing publicity, and we take pictures of ourselves treating them to use in our own promotion. It gives you a bit of credibility because new clients think “oh she’s massaged the Saturdays so she must be good”.

I’ve also got a lot of business support. Clare’s back- ground was with Champneys, formulating their products, and she’s advised me in the development of my own organic product range, which I want to launch in summer. The other Angels all run their own businesses so we share advice and tips too; it’s great to have that support network when you work alone. I know Lava Angels is looking for more therapists to come on board and I’d advise anyone to go for it. It’s such exciting work and really does help you build up your clients. PB