The Female Focus: Ali Henry
Introducing Ali Henry…
Reiki Master, Natural Chef, massage therapist extraordinaire and founder of The Nurture Co…. Is there anything this lady can’t do? We had the pleasure of chatting to Ali about the road from a corporate personal assistant in London to setting out on her own. We discussed everything she has learned on her own personal journey of discovery and growth and her future plans to help others along theirs.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a London (born-and-bred) Remedial Massage therapist with 14 years’ experience. I’m a former tutor at The London College of Massage and a Reiki Master. My signature blend of deep tissue, hot stone massage intertwined with reiki is a favourite with my clients. I am also a qualified Natural Chef and, in a former life, I was corporate Personal Assistant for 17 years. My main loves in life are food and travel (preferably together!) and at the age of 28 I left London on a one-way flight to Bangkok and didn't return for four years. I circumnavigated the globe solo by working-travelling-working and I returned to London with a totally fresh perspective on how I wanted to live my life both socially and professionally. I have recently expanded my business and now have a growing team of holistic practitioners with vast ranging skills offering wellbeing to the comfort of people’s homes throughout London.
How did you discover your love for massage and Reiki?
Funny story… Back in the day I worked in a very girly office at Visa International as an Events Administrator and my line manager would only talk to you if you massaged her shoulders (seriously!), and I was her absolute favourite. She would say time and time again that I should do an intro course in massage because she said I was a natural, so I did. The rest, as they say, is history! After doing massage as a side-hustle to my 9-5 for many years I discovered an energy emitting from my hands, Spiderman style. Reiki had found me (rather than the other way around) and I was first attuned to levels 1 and 2 whilst I was living in Australia seven years ago. I was attuned to Master level three years ago. Over the years, I have added many modalities to my practice, Sports and Remedial Massage at LSSM (I was team therapist for a season at Blackheath Rugby Club), pregnancy and baby massage, Indian head massage and many more.
When did you decide to set-up the Nuture Co and why?
Since returning from my travels five-or-so years ago I always knew I'd need to build the foundations of my business and how I operate into something sustainable long-term that would allow flexibility and opportunities for others. Something that goes way beyond my own two hands and one pool of energy so that I can amplify the healing ripple effect throughout London far more effectively. It took a while for the concept to come to fruition but as I myself have been providing mobile treatments for 14 years, and the trend of on-demand-to-your-door businesses has flourished these past few years, it seemed obvious that was the direction I needed to go. And so, The Nurture Co. was born! I now have a lovely growing team of absolute superstars who offer a whole host of holistic therapies London-wide from Hatha and Kundalini Yoga, Thai and Ayurvedic massage to Pilates, Guided Nature Walks, Trauma Release Exercise and so much more...
What's the vision for the business?
My vision is to be able to touch the hearts and souls of as many people as I can with grace and integrity. With no superficiality or magic wand, but to truly hold space for an unfolding and surrender into deep healing. By hand-selecting the best practitioners whom I know resonate with my vision and have their own heart-centred practice we, as a collective, can amplify this intention to bring around potent change. Already I have felt and seen the benefits and ripple effects of my private practice over the past 14 years but it is long-overdue to extend it far beyond my own two hands and give it legs, so to speak.
It has been a delight to see the boom in the wellness sector over these past years and I feel proud and blessed to be a part of this change and to influence and assist people on their own healing journeys. I would love to see my team grow and to have a huge variety of holistic offerings for people to choose from and try out. I feel that making these alternative therapies more readily available can only be a good thing – how many times have you heard that so-and-so technique is good for your ailment but have no idea where to find it? I very much welcome the idea of being the premier directory and go-to for all things holistic. And of course, in my mind, an integral factor is to operate in people’s homes. Gone are the days of schlepping half way across town after an hour-or-two of bliss and popping that delicious zen bubble on a stinky packed tube. Needing a safe space to fully absorb, process and integrate your treatment is paramount. I'm incredibly excited for the journey ahead for The Nurture Co!
You've worked in a 9-5 job before setting up on your own. Has life changed for the better? If so how?
Oh sweet lord yes! I was an A* art student in school and swore I'd never work a day in an office in my life. Something went wrong at the age of 17 when I decided to leave school, fell into an office junior role and never looked back. Seventeen years and many-a-burnouts later I know now that the 9-5 corporate hamster wheel is definitely NOT for me. I'm far too serendipitous and guided by how I feel on any given day to be so robotic and have to fit into boxes and cubicles and follow others' orders!
Better yes. Easier, not necessarily. I think there's a common misconception that self-employed people sleep until midday then swan around trendy coffee shops instagramming their laptop setup. It IS far more flexible and freeing to set your own rules but being self-employed simply isn't a model we have been conditioned to intuitively know how to navigate, and I think it takes more time than people think to adjust to how well you as an individual work best.
From identifying when you're actually more productive (not necessarily between 9-5), co-working to solo, always available to strict boundaries and so on. Don't get me started on self-value and impostor syndrome or setting fees in-line with the value of your offering. I personally needed to burn-out for the absolute last time and truly deeply despise working in an office to make the leap simply because I was on such a great wage which is a huge contrast to being a self-employed massage therapist in one of the world’s most expensive cities!
I sadly don't remember breakfast or lunch for 17 years of my life as they were inhaled on the go or whilst emailing at my desk. Now I have chosen a much more relaxed pace which falls in-line with my offering and business model. I don't see how I can nurture anyone else if I don't nurture myself first.
As part of the self-employed community ourselves we've realised how important self-care is to ensure we feel our best. What's the common misconception about massage/reiki and people investing in alternative therapies?
I feel with the rise of wellbeing and mindfulness, the tide is rapidly changing when it comes to self-care, how much it improves mental and emotional health and boosts productivity. However that hasn't always been the case. I've been in this industry for a long time – way before jazzy yoga pants and green juice were popular! Until relatively recently (and still with some) massage, reiki and other holistic and alternative treatments were seen simply as a splurge or occasional treat. I had an interesting conversation recently with a client about how many people in their 20's are choosing a healthier path in life because so much of it is documented for the world to see on social media. I'm from the generation of undocumented hard-core raving and burning every candle at all ends and only thinking about fixing yourself once you're absolutely broken. I feel as we continue to realise through our own experiences that prevention is better than cure and that it is a worthwhile investment to consider regular maintenance massages and the like.
What's your advice for the self-employed community on self-care?
If, like me, you've transitioned from 9-5 to self-employed, you would have been given one relatively small set of tasks to do, and now all of a sudden you're a PR and marketing guru, website designer, social media whizz, business relations manager, HR manager and accountant as well as doing the job you're actually doing. It all takes time. Be gentle and patient with yourself and celebrate your successes at every stage regardless of how small or big. Never ever compare - we are all running our own races. There may be many-a-blog and book written on how to be a pro in your own start-up however we are all unique and there's no one manual just for YOU.
Advice to the self-employed community?
“Find ways you operate optimally on a mental and emotional level and work from there – whether it be meditation apps, journaling, list-making, hot salt baths, regular jogging, eating more veggies, ensuring you get your 8 hours of quality sleep per night and so on. A solid foundation is paramount. Like I've mentioned before it is way easier to prevent than cure so making sure you prioritise self-care is key.”
Do you recommend any TED Talks, podcasts or books if we want to find out more about massage, reiki, and holistic therapies? We're always learning!
I read and listen to such a broad range of topics, and not necessarily just about massage per se, but my particular interest is around consciousness, how to heal the physical body through doing deep emotional work (something I focus on with my clients) and therefore how to heal our communities, wider society and the planet through living grounded, authentic, heart-centred lives. I currently love these podcasts:
‘On Being’ with Krista Tippett
‘The Rich Roll’ podcast
'Where Should We Begin' is a fabulous podcast by the excellent relationship counsellor Esther Perel.
I'm always scanning TED Talks to watch at mealtimes (my not-so-guilty pleasure!) and I have many favourites but a stand-outs are:
'The Power of Vulnerability' Brené Brown
'My Stroke Of Insight' Jill Bolte Taylor
'The Art of Being Yourself' by Caroline McHugh
If you are interested in the deep dive into the not-so-easy but absolutely worthwhile journey of truly healing your physical body by healing old emotional wounds then a good start would be to read 'When the body says no' by Gabor Mate and 'Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom' by Christiane Northrup. I feel like 'The Five Love Languages' should be a must-read for everyone as it will give you that light bulb moment when it comes to truly understanding how your friends, family and loved ones operate on a giving-receiving level and how that effects our expectations and outcomes within these relationships. 'Belonging' by Toko-Pa Turner is a beautiful read about rediscovering and restoring the beliefs and benefits of community – both within ourselves and our wider circles.
What's a quote you live by?
“You can't give from an empty cup”
Like many I've lived the polar opposite to this for so many years that now I actually can't live any other way that putting myself first. Only when we feel great on a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual level do I feel we excel and live 'in flow' rather than constant 'fight and flight'. This is a concept I encourage both my clients and loved ones to adhere to. By each owning our own mental and emotional health we don't outsource our happiness or lay expectations outside of ourselves and therefore feel empowered and aligned. Good times!
To find out more about the amazing Ali then visit The Nurture Co. to find out more! She’s also kindly offered our readers an exclusive offer of a 75 minute massage for the price of 60 minutes. Just quote “Mac&Moore” when you get in touch. The offer is open until 31st December 2019. Now what are you waiting for!?