CEI Stories

Serving & supporting small business owners just like you.


February 05, 2021

Serenity Holistic Massage

Emily Bilodeau had never imagined she would be a small business owner. As a high school English teacher Emily envisioned a life spent in working in education. However following the 2008 recession when schools across rural Maine were reducing budgets, Emily decided she needed to have a backup plan. And so she opted to study massage therapy.  Over a decade later Emily is thriving as a female entrepreneur in Farmington, Maine.  She has grown her business from a part time side hustle to a full time job. 

Emily studied secondary education at the University of Maine at Farmington, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2000.  Seeking financial stability Emily decided to pivot from her master’s in education program to massage therapy school.  She liked the idea of having a skill that paid well, offered flexible hours and fit with her school year schedule.  She opened her own massage therapy practice in 2006, while also working part time for a local spa.  In 2008 Emily and her wife bought a home in Farmington where she established Serenity Holistic Massage.

One of the biggest hurdles for Emily was taking the leap from part time to full time in her business. With the help of CEI Women’s Business Center, Emily was able to create a sustainable transition budget for herself and her business. As a new full-time sole proprietor, Emily worked closely with her WBC business advisor to implement best practices around accounting, marketing and record keeping. She also joined the local WBC Rural Women in Business networking group as a way to give and receive peer support.

Serenity Holistic Massage is located in the small, bustling college town of Farmington, in Franklin County Maine.  Designated a Medically Underserved Area, there is a dearth of accessible and affordable healthcare services for local residents. Serenity Holistic Massage is one of a handful of private practices in the area that offer a variety of holistic and therapeutic massage including craniosacral therapy, pregnancy massage, warm stone massage and  Kinesio taping.

As an entrepreneur and business owner in Farmington, Emily recognizes the importance of networking to help build her customer base, as well as a way to give back to her community.  An active member of the Farmington Downtown Association and Chamber of Commerce, Emily helped spearhead new community activities and promotions that highlight the vibrant business community of rural Western Maine.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Emily proactively closed her business even before any social distancing or stay-at-home orders were issued in Maine. With the help of her WBC advisor she was able to navigate the CARES act and PPP loan process, which proved essential in keeping her business viable during the pandemic shutdown.  Currently running at approximately 70% capacity of her pre-COVID-19 client load, Emily is continuing to learn how to navigate this new normal. The good news is that her appointment book continues to remain fully booked and she is able to provide ongoing quality care to her community.  

Learn more about Serenity Holistic Massage

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