Beauty file: endota founder Melanie Gleeson on expanding into New Zealand, transitioning from Forme, and endota’s most popular treatment
As part of ProCollective’s Beauty File series, we shine a spotlight on the people behind-the-scenes. From those at the forefront of innovation to savvy beauty entrepreneurs, we speak to experts to learn how they got their start, what their day-to-day involves, and their predictions for what’s next in their field.
Ahead, we speak with Melanie Gleeson, founder of Australia’s largest spa provider, endota, which recently launched in New Zealand with the acquisition of Forme Spa. The beauty and wellbeing entrepreneur talks us through her journey from one spa in Melbourne to over 100 today.
ProCollective (PC): Congratulations on launching in New Zealand! For the unacquainted, what are three words that encapsulate the endota experience?
Melanie: Nourish, nurture and care.
PC: How would you describe the vibe and aesthetic of your spas?
Melanie: We wanted our spas to be a place where you can step out of the real world for a moment, into a world where the only person who matters is you. Immersive in every sense, the use of aromatherapy at endota is consistent across all of our spas globally, featuring our Signature Blend Essential Oil scent. Our spas are light-filled, calming and flourishing with elements of nature to create a space for nurturing and rejuvenation.
PC: With 110 locations across Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, how do you ensure consistency and a positive customer experience?
Melanie: By putting our clients first. Our teams are committed to providing exceptional customer service that aligns with our core values of Intent, Truth, Connect, and Balance. Each pillar of the business, spa, skincare, Wellness College and Retreat are all underpinned by these values and they permeate through every aspect of endota. Our professional therapists are enthusiastic and engaged and choose to work with us for the same reason I started the business; to help people feel better. They are the ones that perform our treatments, speak with our clients and breathe our brand values. Our role is to deliver exceptional customer service in an environment where women and men don’t feel judged, and our spas are a haven for our clients to replenish their souls, leave their concerns, their stresses and their ‘stuff’ at the door and simply have some ‘me time’. It’s an opportunity to step out of the real world for a time, into a world where the only person who matters is you, which is why endota has been built the way it is. At endota we care about others and pride ourselves on our service heritage.
PC: endota’s story began in 2000 with the first spa on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Did you always have big plans for endota or did the expansion happen organically?
Melanie: When I started endota there weren’t a lot of spas around – not many in Australia and maybe four in Victoria, so it was a new concept. So new in fact, when I applied for permits we were almost denied as the council thought a spa was a brothel! People didn’t know what a spa was and fewer people were investing in their wellbeing and their health. Not only was it a leap of faith into a new business, but it was going into an industry that hadn’t yet come into its own. It was an education process in the beginning and the early days were particularly hard because of the level of uncertainty. Along the way, endota grew quite quickly and it became about learning to manage the growth and still keep the culture right by having the right people in the right place and balancing the growth with infrastructure. Fast forward to today, we are so proud to be Australia’s leading spa network with 110 spas globally and over one million treatments performed each year.
PC: What was the original inspiration to start your own spa business and has this evolved overtime?
Melanie: My vision and passion was and still is to make others feel better. The ethos of the brand was fuelled by my personal belief in the power of sharing and a desire for more meaningful connections. I was working in a day spa in Melbourne and saw first-hand the physical and emotional change in clients when they left the treatment room. I knew then that I needed to be a part of this in a bigger way. I wanted to help them feel good about themselves and have a place to go to feel nurtured.
PC: endota has acquired Forme’s nine spas. How have the spas been adapted to reflect the endota brand and ethos?
Melanie: The acquisition was the natural evolution of our founding vision – to help more people feel better. More recently, we have been increasing our focus on international expansion and we felt New Zealand was the perfect place to start given its proximity to Australia and similarities in the market. The spas have been refitted to align with our endota branding, so they look, feel and smell like our spas in Australia. We were also lucky enough to continue working with many of the amazing therapists from Forme who like us, are driven to help nourish and nurture the wellbeing of those who walk through our doors.
PC: What is endota’s most popular treatment right now?
Melanie: Definitely our Organic Infusion Facial. It’s a signature treatment at endota that uses our COSMOS certified Organics skincare range. Our Surrender Spa Package is another popular one, which combines elements of our Signature Organic Relax Massage with our Organic Infusion Facial – total bliss!
PC: Do you notice any patterns in demand for certain treatments? Do you think trending treatments are ever reflective of wider societal factors?
Melanie: Massage has always had great demand, particularly post-pandemic when so many people were craving physical touch and connection. We have also seen steady growth in the demand of our high-performance facials, as clients are looking for options that combine relaxation with real results. New Age Light Therapy and our Hydro-Microdermabrasion are amongst some of our most popular high-performance facials.
PC: Increasing demand for self-care and wellness treatments has seen more providers enter the market. What do you think has been the key to endota’s success in a competitive market?
Melanie: Our care and professionalism, as well as keeping our finger on the pulse and listening to our clients. We put their needs at the forefront of everything we do.
PC: What does a typical working day look like for you?
Melanie: I start my day by scanning my emails and reading a quote from my dad – he takes the time each morning to send our entire endota team at head office an inspirational quote. From there, I get up, shower and get my boys ready for school, before heading into the endota Support Centre for work. My schedule is busy but I find balance in my day by taking time out for myself, even just for 5 or 10 minutes to sit, breathe and be present.
PC: And, what about outside of work, what would we find you doing?
Melanie: Spending time with my boys; my husband and two sons. I love being outside in nature, doing yoga or pilates and walking on the beach with my dog. Before bed I listen to a guided meditation or sound healing for a restful night’s sleep.
PC: Wellbeing is at the core of everything endota provides. What does ‘wellbeing’ mean to you?
Melanie: At endota we believe the experience of wellbeing is our natural state. Wellness should be seen as a necessity and not a luxury. We understand the pursuit of wellbeing is a way of life, so we focus on achievable and realistic micro-rituals that you can incorporate into your day to day life to help you feel good in the moment and more resilient in the long term. We can’t always take huge chunks of time for ourselves. It’s important to be realistic and find moments of small self-care that enable us to sustain a natural state of being. Even just 5 or 10 minutes to sit, breathe and be present can make an impact.
Our wellness choices can enrich our minds and energise our bodies, whether that be through time in nature, taking part in meditation, pilates or regular spa treatments.
PC: How do you prioritise your own wellbeing?
Melanie: By incorporating micro-rituals into my daily routine. Whether that is stopping for a couple of minutes to breathe, or doing a yoga or pilates class. I find balance in my life when I take a few moments to reflect and practice being still. I have always believed that practicing mindfulness every day is vital to maintaining a happy and balanced life.
PC: Throughout your career, what have been some of your proudest moments?
Melanie: There are so many. We have achieved so much and have grown so quickly, I still pinch myself. I am humbled by the growth of the endota brand and feel so blessed to be doing what I love and have people walking away after a treatment, physically and emotionally replenished. Opening endota Wellness College, our training school, launching endota Retreat, our online wellness hub, and expanding overseas with nine spas in NZ and one in Bangkok are amongst some of the most exciting moments most recently.
PC: What is endota’s philosophy when it comes to skin?
Melanie: At endota when it comes to skin and skincare, we understand that there is power and potency in purity. We see so many different faces in our spas each day, so we understand how to address unique skin concerns through our skincare and the treatments we offer. Our endota Organics range infuses bio-active and clinically proven plant-based formulas to help skin feel healthy and nourished. Our New Age range focuses on using high potency ingredients designed to target specific skin concerns and provide real results.
PC: Talk us through your daily skincare routine…any can’t-live-without products?
Melanie: I love to keep it simple! I use my Deep Hydration Moisturiser every day and keep my Hydrate Me Mist in my bag for a refreshing spritz throughout the day.
PC: Lastly, what’s next for endota? Any plans for future expansion in New Zealand?
Melanie: We have so many exciting things coming up! We recently launched The Peninsula vibrator in collaboration with Vacation Vibes to help our clients prioritise their sexual wellbeing, as this is one of our wellbeing pillars. We are also excited to be launching a new treatment very soon, our Electro-Mesotherapy body treatment. There are also plans for further global expansion in Asia Pacific, so lots to look forward to!