Tell us a bit about MASAJ and how it all started?
Scarlet originally trained as a massage therapist and built up a loyal customer base, learning a great deal about the industry and what customers need and want. Through doing the work, she spotted a gap in the market for a massage & bodywork brand which really helped busy city-dwellers to escape the urban grind - a place where anyone felt able to come and receive regular top-quality bodywork, at prices that were comfortable for the average Londoner. And so, MASAJ was born! Our company motto is 'Come As You Are' and we work hard to create and maintain a space where everyone can feel that they belong. We've aimed to flip the traditional massage business on its head and work hard to change many of the challenges and misconceptions about this industry.
You have recently had a relaunch/ rebrand – Can you tell us a little more about this?
Like many service-based businesses, the COVID pandemic massively affected our business, our studios are only just able to reopen after over 4 months of being closed. During lockdown we've been focussing pretty much all of our efforts into the product side of our business, and that was really the catalyst for our re-brand. We'd always had a modest line of own-brand products which were designed to complement our studio treatments, and we've been amazed by our community's appetite for these products, and their desire to support a small business like MASAJ during these uncertain times. We're lucky that we've been able to adapt in this way, and we're both really grateful to have had the chance to focus on creating something beautiful out of such a difficult situation. Now that we're able to reopen the studios, our new branding, website and product line seems to fit even more perfectly, and we can't wait to share all that's new at MASAJ with the world!
Tell us about Bobby and Debbie your studio dogs and how they came into your lives?
Scarlet has had her Cockapoo Bobby since he was a puppy, which went against her usual mindset to rescue animals. She needed to have a dog that was hypoallergenic so safe for an office based companion, as well as for our clients on site. The online breed-selector came up with Cockapoo time and time again, not just for these reasons but because they are famously well-behaved and easy to train. So it seemed Bobby would fit in perfectly with her busy and ever-changing schedule! Bobby is a very sweet and woolly man with a big loveable heart. He is ball obsessed and particularly fond of his two cat sisters, Mate + Monkey. The three are regularly seen hanging out together. The best thing about Bobby is that he is very happy going on 3 hours walks or runs with Scarlet, but also doesn’t mind lounging on the sofa for days on end.
Alice's dog Debbie was a rescue, she came to London in late 2018 through the charity Saving Pound Dogs Cyprus. Like many rescues, she was incredibly shy at first and had obviously had a tricky start in life, so it's taken a while for her to really relax and settle in to London life. She's a total mongrel - best guess is that she's part Dachshund mixed with some kind of terrier, but that scruffiness just makes her all the more adorable! Her favourite things are cheese, cuddling on the sofa, and classical music - such a diva!
How does owning a dog fit into your general working day?
I think it's safe to say that our dogs have loved having us working from home more during lockdown! Bobby is much more adventurous than Debbie and will quite happily roam around the MASAJ site, greeting team members and clients, where Debbie is a tad more picky about who she chooses to hang out with! Both of us really value the time that we can spend with our dogs out and about and away from our laptops - and so a normal working day tends to involve walks slotted in throughout the day! It's a great way to de-stress, get out for some fresh air, and get some head space when you're having a long week. We’ve mostly found most of our best ideas come from being away from screens!
When you’re not working where do you like to hang out with the dogs?
Alice lives close to the Olympic Park, so that's Debbie's go-to walking spot. It's particularly beautiful at this time of year - all the wildflowers are out and it's lovely to walk along the canal early in the morning, surprisingly peaceful for London! Scarlet moved to Norfolk at the end of last year and so has a plethora of country walks right on her doorstep. Whether they are exploring her new city of Norwich or meandering country public footpaths, the two are always up to adventure!
What essentials do you always have on you when heading out for a dog walk, and what do you carry them in?
For Alice, it's always a heck of a load of treats! Debbie is still working on her training and so having treats to hand at all times is a must! She's also recently discovered the joys of a tennis ball and so we're always sure to have one with us, usually in a MASAJ canvas gym sac. For Scarlet it's the same, a black MASAJ gym sac on her back and an indestructible ChuckIt ball. Scarlet also has a waist lead so she can tie Bobby to her and run with him!
What adventures do you have planned with your dogs for later this year?
Alice's family are all based out in Kent, so Debbie will be happy to spend a few days with them in the country, enjoying the long walks, tummy rubs and rabbit-chasing! Scarlet is off to Scotland with her entire family (she is one of seven siblings) and an army of 5 other dogs! 7 days spent hiking and wild swimming on the cards. There’s also murmurings of New Year spent away in the countryside up in Scotland too with some friends, so two Bobby-centric holidays on the horizon.