Jeanette Falu-Bishop has a drive to help others — particularly wounded veterans. She says she “fights for the little guy” and it’s always been that way.
You don’t need to step on other people to be successful, she says, and she aims to be a living testament to that.
A massage therapist and brand market strategist, Falu-Bishop’s many endeavors have led to an impressive résumé, including a Presidential Volunteer Award and various positions within the Department of Defense. But her journey has not been without its challenges.
“Walking into arenas where there are a majority of men, or where I’m the only minority, I have to be extremely professional and I have to be confident. If I come across behavior that offends me, I cannot react,” Falu-Bishop said. “I’ve been in situations where the things that were being said were not favorable to any minority. I’ve had to address it without being aggressive in any way. I have to be very tactful to avoid being mislabeled or generalized.
“With the branding side of my work, I started getting other businesses asking me for help. I always beat up the bully, so that transition to helping others was very natural for me. I would’ve never seen myself where I’m at right now.”
Bishop spoke with the Business Journal about what motivates her to give back to the military community, and her advice for women aiming to start their own businesses.
How long have you been in the Springs?
I actually grew up here and moved away because my husband was in the military, but I’ve been back in the Springs for about 13 years.
Tell us about your work as a massage therapist and brand market strategist.
I have nearly two decades of entrepreneurial experience. I’ve launched three successful businesses and contracted as a traveling massage therapist for wounded veterans across the nation. I now assist CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs by utilizing multifaceted strategies and branding with an emphasis in business coaching for massage therapists. I have my clinic where we provide injury recovery and massage therapy, but I also mentor other massage therapists who are on that same career path on how to work with injuries and how to network their businesses and align themselves with doctors, chiropractors and attorneys.
What’s your educational background?
I went straight from massage school to being a massage therapist. I really learned through experience on my own. I was a paralegal for several years and I think that helped me be a better business owner, because I knew how to draft contracts and how to handle those types of situations.
What has the road been like getting here?
I started the business while I was in Germany on a U.S. military base, as a certified massage therapist. My work earned me a Presidential Volunteer Award signed by President George W. Bush for the many volunteer hours donated in the service of our military. I established the massage program for the Air Force Wounded Warriors and I later became the head massage therapist for the United States Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment as part of the medical team for the Department of Defense Warrior Games. I dedicated my time to the military and motivated other massage therapists. This motivated me to start my own nonprofit organization called Warriors in Recovery.
My nonprofit assists wounded veterans and military widows with injury and emotional recovery. This helps to show wounded warriors that there are other alternative methods of healing. We incorporate other services, such as massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractors. We also include humanitarian tactics like digging water wells in Liberia, West Africa, and assisting in Puerto Rico with the devastation from Hurricane Maria. In 2019, I launched Massage Business Education & Branding to inspire and coach entrepreneurs to successfully operate and grow their business. I continue to educate massage therapists as a continuing education provider through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. My work has been featured in top industry magazines, including Massage Magazine, which has been featured by renowned international lecturers. In 2019, I was inducted into the World Massage Festival Hall of Fame for my dedication to the massage industry. In 2020, I was the presenter at the Global Wellness Professionals Marketing Summit Inspire Group and I’m excited to say that I’m also going to be a presenter at the World Massage Festival in August of 2021, as well as the One Concept Canadian and American Massage Conference in September of 2021. My business has been pivoting.
What’s been the most difficult part of this journey for you?
The pandemic. I was doing great. My company was doing great. We were seeing clients. People were recovering from injuries — and then we had people show up and test positive for COVID. I would quarantine my staff and even though they weren’t working, I still had to pay them. ... I sold [the massage clinic] part of my business. I now mentor massage therapists so they can become business owners themselves. I decided to pivot because I do not want to be responsible if something happens to my staff. It’s more than just money. Anything I’ve ever done for these last 20 years has not been about money. The goal is to help people and do right by people. That was the hardest decision, to decide I can’t be responsible for my staff or clients if something happens and they’re exposed.
There are a few other ways in which this journey has been difficult. It’s been difficult having this type of business as a woman, especially a minority woman. I have to be completely professional. For example, when I go home, I’m a mom. When I’m at work, I’m still a mom first, but I’m also a businesswoman.
What motivates you?
I grew up as an Army brat, as the youngest child of a military member. I was raised to move with a purpose, and what motivates me is helping people and connecting with people in a way that is genuine and authentic. I fight for the little guy; I’ve always been that way. I also want my kids to see that their mom didn’t give up and that to be successful, you don’t need to step on other people. In my eyes, there is no such thing as a competition. I think if you are manifesting your own journey, then why should it be a competition? You get more joy out of it if you’re building with joy compared to competition. When I think about all of the stuff I’ve created, what I think of is transformation. I try to leave every area better than I found it. If you have that skill, why not use it?
Who is your biggest role model?
My role models are the people that I love. The people who allowed a platform like this for me to be here and to be talking to you — those are my role models. Those people that made it OK for me as a minority woman to be professional and successful. I hope to do that for someone else. I hope when people see me, they see this has not been an easy ride for me and they see that I’ve worked hard to get to where I’m at. I’m proud and I want them to be proud of me and what I’ve accomplished. My husband is also one of my biggest role models because he is so strong and calm. He is smart and honestly the one that keeps me grounded when things get tough and I’m not sure what to do. He is the one I come to. He’s such a good person and that helps me be better myself.
Do you have advice for women planning to start their own business?
Know your worth and don’t be afraid to receive. As women, we are typically givers. We always want to help and give and sometimes it can be hard to receive. You have to know that you are valuable, and you’ve earned it, so it’s OK to accept. I think most men in business are about the numbers and they ask for what they want, whereas women are more hesitant typically. You’re deserving and you worked hard to get there, so go get it.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I am a portrait photographer and that’s part of what my business is. In my spare time, I like to photograph creatives. I love to create. I also spend time with my family because I’m a mom first, before anything. I have four children. I also do game night with my family and I love photographing contemporary glam.
What are your personal and professional goals in 2021?
My goal for 2021 is to continue to build my online platform at massagebranding.com, and on that site what I do is mentor massage therapists and wellness professionals. It is an on-demand platform and my goal is to upload videos and provide more content for that site. For the clinic, my goal is to provide more online platforms, which would allow clients to perform self-care at home.
I think I’m at a stage now where I never want to get comfortable. My goal is to always continue to do things that make me happy and to watch my kids as they get older. They’re home because of COVID. My goal is to make sure that they’re ready for this world. At the end of the year, when hopefully COVID isn’t much of a factor, I want to do destination photoshoots in Italy and Paris.
Any closing thoughts?
“It always seems impossible until it is done.” — Nelson Mandela.