Reflexologist and fitness-wear designer Megan Hendry proves that the gentle nudge of unexpected life experiences happen for a reason, and the possibilities presented by an array of beckoning career paths are far too interesting to be tied down to one job until ‘death do you part’. When her initial career in fashion didn’t pan out as planned, Megs (as she is more fondly known as) took a leap of faith and changed professions but her passion for fashion never wavered, and now eight years later, she has married her two great loves. By day, this complex spirit practices wellness through ancient healing therapies; reflexology and yoga, but regularly turns her creative key and unlocks her design studio to develop the new ARNASA Movementwear brand.
What inspired you to start your reflexology practice and clothing label?
I fell in love with holistic health while working with my sister and her homeopath who were launching a self-help range of homeopathic remedies and a book entitled There’s a remedy for that! As a creative mind and artist, I was drawn to reflexology since it’s a hands-on therapy. After eight years in practice, I still marvel at its incredible healing power and the body-mind-spirit connection.
As a 19-year-old artist, I was passionate about living, breathing, and moving art. Now two decades later, I’ve combined my two great loves – health and fashion – into ARNASA, a stylish ‘Movementwear’ range.
How did it all begin?
I was a young artist captivated by the fashion world, reading Vogue magazines at the back of the Biology lab in high school. I did my research and organised for LISOF (London International School of Fashion) representatives to come and speak to us on career day. When I was just 16 years old, I had decided that I wanted to study fashion at LISOF. Fashion seemed like an exciting, commercially-viable outlet for an artist at that moment in time. I’d been sewing on my mom’s ELNA machine since I was a little girl. My interest and passion for holistic health came later.
Did you study in the field of your profession?
Yes, both but at different times, and I’m still practicing in both fields. I graduated from LISOF with a Diploma in Fashion Design in 2001 and ten years later, went on to earn another diploma in Therapeutic Reflexology from IARMT (International Academy of Reflexology and Meridian Therapy).
What was the very first fashion project you handled?
The Smirnoff Fashion Awards. There was huge pressure, but I chose to tackle the challenge head on and I experienced substantial growth from that. Facing failure was a stepping stone from which I chose to take flight.
What challenges have you faced as a FEMtrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
My business partner in ARNASA, Jane Canny, has taught me the greatest lesson; to always find the learning. With this perspective, every challenge is an opportunity for growth and lateral thinking. We have come up against many challenges on the journey to launching the range. The fashion industry is a tricky one to navigate! Thankfully, we both have persistent personalities and never backed down from our commitment to produce a high-quality, locally-manufactured Movementwear range and we are constantly working on ways to improve and grow.
How many hours do you work in a week, on average?
About 60 hours, give or take, but I split my time equally; three days at my practice and three days on ARNASA. When you run your own business, it’s an easy decision to make. Simply choose to put in the extra time and then BREATHE…MOVE…SOAR!
What drives and motivates you each day?
- Living my passion – To wake up each day, breathe deeply and truly live each day of my life; inspiring health and balance in the people I treat by providing a healing, supportive space at my practice; creating living art in the Movementwear I create through ARNASA.
- Gratitude – I am very blessed to live on Delta Park and be surrounded by nature, even in the midst of this bustling city life. I so appreciate the balance! I am grateful for the special friendships and partnerships that I’ve made.
- Yoga and dancing are big parts of my life. I love being part of the salsa community which is defined by friends, dancing, learning, laughter and health!
What has been the most effective way of marketing your businesses?
My reflexology practice has grown exclusively via word-of-mouth and referrals from dear colleagues.
After frustrating interactions with digital marketers, we’ve realised that no-one understands our brand and vision better than we do, so we’re learning the steps ourselves and implementing them carefully and methodically as we grow, focusing on Instagram and Facebook as our platforms, learning about website optimisation, and tracking SEO using Google Analytics.
The lesson to be learnt on this journey are never-ending, and both Jane and I have a hunger for knowledge. We’re really grateful and excited to have incredible yoga teachers on board as ARNASA ambassadors; Tarin Calmeyer @thechocolatepretzel; Casey Chiang @caseychiangyoga; Steven Heyman @stevenyogaworks; Tawana Randall @tawanarandall and Dee Le Roux @deeleroux. They have been such an asset, from modelling for our photoshoots to wearing the pieces and getting the word out, which all contributes to building the brand.
We have mannequins, which we decoupaged in our white dragonfly tissue paper, wearing ARNASA at Zen Hot Yoga World, to give people an opportunity to see and feel the quality of the pieces. Online is tricky, marketing is key. Our goal is to do lots of pop-ups and events to bring the brand to the people, which will give our clients the confidence to shop our range online.
What is the most courageous thing you’ve done as a FEMtrepreneur?
At 28 years old, I took a leap of faith and changed careers. After meeting my incredible lecturer and mentor, Lize Copeland, I signed up for a two-year, full-time, intensive reflexology course. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I was deeply fortunate to have the support of my family during this time. I loved being a mature student and gave it my all to graduate with distinction. Reflexology continues to inspire me eight years into my practice.
Now, at 38 years old, I’ve just launched ARNASA with my business partner. After the heartbreak of my first love affair with fashion, it’s taken huge courage and daily commitment to do the work and build this label up. From concept and design to patterns and production in the factory, we are involved in every step of the process.
How do you achieve a work-personal life balance?
I strive for daily balance by taking a walk in the park, soaking in an Epsom salts bath and reading a book before bed. I dance twice during the week but my Sundays are sacred. Sundays begin with a 90-minute flow class of Vinyasa Yoga in the Park in beautiful Emmarentia, followed by a light strategy meeting to prepare for the upcoming week, and ends with salsa dancing. I also find that it helps to take a moment in each day to do something just for me… It’s an investment in my peace of mind and body, which will positively influence all those around me.
Describe yourself in three words:
Passionate. Logical. Creative.
What do you love most about your job?
My reflexology practice is cocooned in a really healing, serene space and it’s here that I get to breathe deeply, connect with my clients and nurture friendships. My ARNASA clothing label allows me to indulge my creative side through the crafting of beautiful Movementwear, which is art that people can live their lives in. It’s about making art relevant.
What business challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
Honestly, I’ve never been one to harbour on challenges. I follow my intuition, go with the flow and try to find the solution, which often leads me to unexpected experiences and places. It’s really about perspective.
I love The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz, and I try to live my life by them:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
What have you learnt about entrepreneurship on the road to success?
It’s important to adopt a ‘one step at a time’ approach to how you grow a business. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. In other words, make an effort to find out what your customers’ needs are, and then adapt to try and fulfil those needs.
What has been your greatest career achievement thus far?
The launch of our ARNASA Movementwear label. After meeting Jane at a yoga class about five years ago and during subsequent conversations while treating her in my reflexology practice, we realised that we shared a dream to create a Movementwear range, and decided that together, we could achieve so much more. Jane and I began diligently working to create ARNASA in February 2017.
After seven years of strategising and trial and error, our ARSANA website and online shop finally went live in the first part of 2018. I’ve realised that courage, perseverance, belief, and a great partnership can all play their part in making dreams come true.
Then from a soul-body perspective, and as an extension of my healing reflex practice, I’m a member of the Conscious Care Circle (CCC), a group of caring people who lovingly support those on a cancer journey. In May 2018, we hosted the first ‘Death Café’ in Johannesburg, which is an international organisation that creates a safe space for people to meet over coffee and cake and desaturate the fear associated with death. We’re so proud to have Jackson’s Real Food Market as our venue and will be holding monthly meetings with inspiring speakers. This is part of an international initiative to alleviate the trepidation related to death as we drank tea, ate cake and chatted candidly about death.
Is there anything that you hope to achieve in future?
We’ve connected with the incredible team at Hospice and are hoping to unite forces and really make a difference when it comes to support and care.
On a personal note, deep-sea diving is on my bucket list. The thought of exploring an underwater world and connecting with the energy there is simply mind-blowing.
Who do you look up to most and why?
All those who are living their dream through the use of aligned words and actions. I deeply value the strong, inspiring women in my world.
- I’m incredibly inspired by writer Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, which is a must-read for all creative beings out there!
- My dear friend, Tarin Calmeyer, who is living a truly bold, inspiring and beautiful life. She’s the most fearless and mindful woman I know.
- My business partner, Jane Canny, who is a highly-respected businesswoman. I learn about business and life from her daily.
- My sister, Lisa Hendry, who taught me that true strength is gentle, kind and compassionate.
What advice would you give to other young female entrepreneurs?
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen!
- It’s going to be incredibly hard work… but it will be worth it!
- If you find a partner with complementary skills who you can trust completely and laugh with, treasure them and make magic together!
- Stay curious and stay hungry!
- In my practice and in my life, my mantra is ‘Just breathe’.
|Favourite business tool:||Ooh… There are many: My diary and planner (hardcover), hot stones at my reflex practice to sooth deeply treated feet, 0.5mm black fine-liner for drawing and designing, Corel Draw for pattern-grading, my super-sharp nippers to finish off garments beautifully!|
|My personal style is…||Being true to me; edgy with a feminine touch.|
|Heels or flats?||Depends on the situation. Both are equally important and my shoe rack is stacked with a variety!|
|Favourite item of clothing?||My ARNASA gear and tasselled leather.|
|I unwind and relax by:||Dancing/reading/walking in Delta Park.|
|Favourite shade of lipstick:||Plum, red or nude.|
|Book recommendation:||Almost French by Sarah Turnbull.|
|Favourite coffee haunt or restaurant:||The Eatalian in Parkmore for coffee.
La Boqueria in Parktown North for tapas and wine.
|If you had an unlimited budget, where would you shop?||Tom Ford’s designs; these are living, breathing art, and the workmanship and quality is unparalleled. They will forever top my list! I also love vintage clothing and anything that tells a story.|
|Dream destination:||Always Spain!|
|The one thing required for success is…||Action. Just keep going one step at a time…|
Megs’ road to success may have hit a speed bump in fashion at first, then veered towards alternative healing, but now that she’s turned onto the most exciting part of her journey, one thing is for certain; with her savvy business partner by her side, her innate creative talent, and her intuitive knack for heeding cues from the universe, Megs should dare to dream because reaching the destination of her wildest career dreams seems inevitable.
To book a reflexology treatment, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in wearing ARSANA Movementwear? Shop the ARNASA range online