Lindsay Johnson worked her way through college providing therapeutic massages, often in motel rooms, up and down the Las Vegas Strip. But don't get the wrong idea.
"I put in my first ad that my massages were strictly therapeutic, non-sexual," Johnson said. "In Las Vegas, you have to make sure that people know your business is legitimate."
While attending high school in Laurel, Johnson decided that going to massage school would be a better way to raise money for college instead of waiting tables. She moved to Las Vegas, enrolled in massage school and began pursuing a college degree. Massage therapy appealed to her, in part because she had been getting massages since she was 8.
"By the time I was 18, I was more serious about life," she said. "I started working for four different chiropractors in one office, and I worked in a really nice spa, then I decided to start my own business."
After opening her spa, Johnson became a certified yoga instructor, and is also a licensed Realtor.
Describe how you got where you are in your career: In 2001, I moved back home to be closer to family and started A Peace of Heaven Massage, a small massage business here in town. Having this business helped fund college at MSU-Billings where I graduated with a degree in business and communications. The last semester of college I took an independent study course where I wrote my business plan for Transformation Spa & Wellness, Inc.
What's the toughest challenge in your business? When trying to find money to open the business I was turned down two times by two banks. I thought about giving up. However, opening a spa had been a dream of mine for a good 10 years and I wasn't going to let that dream go without a fight. The third banker I visited actually opened my business plan and read through it. After dissecting my life and finances, and then jumping through a million hoops (about a 3-4 month process), she finally, and thankfully approved an SBA loan.
What did you learn from that challenge? You can't fail if you don't stop trying. The fruit tastes sweeter when you have to work for it.
If you could make one positive change in Billings, what would it be? First, I would create an empowerment center for the unemployed, homeless, or struggling, to support, empower, and rebuild their lives. My spa is downtown on North 25th Street where we encounter many homeless people. Two years ago I volunteered for Project Homeless Connect and learned that most of these people had abuse issues of some sort that lead to losing their jobs, families, and homes. If there were a place where these people could grow and rebuild together and support improvement and achievement, we could get them back on their feet and active in society. Second, I would open a place for teen and pre-21's to hang out, create, and play.
Which living person do you most admire? My mother.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? By far, it's creating my spa. If I would have known how much work it was going to be, I'm not sure I would have followed through.
I'm happiest when... I'm traveling with my boyfriend, friends, and family. I'm a travel fiend.