Being her own boss and setting her own schedule were two of the major draws to massage therapy for Tamar Kummel. Yet she hasn’t restricted her practice to just massage. She’s allowed herself to follow her own heart in the process.
Read more in our exclusive interview with Tamar below.
1) What made you decide to become a massage therapist?
“At 25, I needed a new career focus. I wanted something where I was making a contribution every day. Making people happy, healthy, educating them. I needed something related to my interests that would be fun and challenging, and that I could be my own boss, and set my own schedule. It was then about 6 months of my looking at all the things I was interested in, knew about, studied, traveled, and eventually combining as much as possible into one type of practice. I had a theater background. In theater or chorus, group warm ups very often start with a 5 minute massage, so I was used to it. After being injured many times, massage became one of my usual therapies to hold me together.”
2) What advice would you offer to a recent massage graduate?
“So many things! 1) Follow what you love. Focus on why you got into the business. Some people are drawn to healthcare, some to sports massage, some to travel industry. Massage had so many work options. You have to find where you are happy. 2) Keep track of your classmates and co-workers! Start your own referral network because that’s how we get work. 3) Trade massage often! It’s so important to practice what you preach, take care of yourself, and experience different massages. It’s so easy to get out of touch or forget how vulnerable our clients are. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves. 4) Keep really good notes on your clients and your accounts. This is an independent contractor type of business, and no one is getting paid ON the day. So you better keep track of who owes you what, because no one else will! 5) If you think you might practice in another state someday, or want to add personal training certificates, do it as soon as possible. A lot of your medical knowledge will slip away if it’s not used. So take other exams while the information is fresh.”
3) Looking back, what would you have done differently starting out as a massage therapist?
“After school, I started working at a chiropractor’s office, just to get to touch a lot of people for practice. But I hated working there and I stayed for a year and a half. I wouldn’t waste a minute of doing a job I hated ever again.”
4) What is one thing that has really made your business take off?
“Just staying proactive, meeting other massage therapists, keeping in touch with clients (and creating incentives for referrals).”
5) What keeps your clients coming back?
“Hopefully, the good massage! I also keep my rates competitive. I create price packages, referral incentives, and reminder emails. Also, face time is important. If you have clients that you know from a group setting, then it’s worth it to return to that group periodically so they SEE you. I find just being there is the best reminder.
“I also hope that my business is special. I’ve worked hard to pay attention to detail so my clients feel safe, taken care of, comfortable. I want the whole experience to be like a hug for their soul. I have a photo on my wall of a sleeping kitten in a tiny hammock. That’s my reminder and goal for every client. To feel secure, safe, relaxed, and loved. They can leave their problems with me instead of taking them with them when they go.”
Tamar Kummel is the owner of Healing with Touch. She is a New York State licensed, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Neuromuscular Therapist, California licensed Massage Therapist and ACE certified personal trainer. Tamar studied massage all over the world and then graduated from the prestigious Swedish Institute of Massage Therapy in New York, where she continued as an assistant teacher for 2 years.
Besides receiving her certificate in Sports Massage, and becoming a Reiki Master Teacher, she has also done massage on athletes at 3 Olympics (2002 Salt Lake, 2004 Athens, 2012 London), the 2002 and 2009 Iron Man Triathlon in Lake Placid, NY., and the US Open Tennis tournament. Tamar is also an accomplished actress and writer.