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Timmins masseuse moves home to make it big.

Returning to her roots and starting a business in Timmins has proven to be a successful move for 29-year-old Melanie Brousseau, registered massage therapist.

Brousseau developed an interest in the profession at an early age when she would practise massage techniques on her athletic brother, who suffered sports injuries.

"When I was in high school, the program became available at College Boreal," she says. "When I saw the program in their pamphlets, it just jumped out at me."

Consequently, the opportunity to study the course in her maternal language was a bonus for Brousseau.

After attending the three-year program at College Boreal in Sudbury, Brousseau earned her 2,200 hours of the required education and hands-on work experience, wrote and passed her provincial exam, and is now registered through the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario.

Born and raised in Timmins, she was excited to return to her hometown and use the skills she learned at college.

"Both my husband and I are from here," she says. "We just love the features the North gives us."

Brousseau rents space in a building with a chiropractor, where she maintains her own business called Massage Therapy Clinic. Her clientele has steadily increased over the five years she has been in operation.

Within her first year, Brousseau had seen about 850 clients. Since that time, she has serviced approximately 3,000 clients.

"It's been great," she says, to the point where many evening clients must book several months in advance.

Her continued success is partly due to the fact that she sets hours to accommodate her clients and the working community whose schedules run a typical work day from 9 am to 5 pm. Brousseau also works on a referral basis with other professionals, such as the chiropractor in her building, medical practitioners and physiotherapists.

Her bilingualism are also an asset, as it attracts clients she may not otherwise receive.

"Some people only speak French, so they search out massage therapists who are only French," she says. "There are only three of us (massage therapists) out of eight that speak French in Timmins."

The manner in which she executes her work is another feature that builds up repeat clientele. It is evident in an average work week where hands-on time ranges from 18 to 22 hours; however, Brousseau says she works a 40-hour week once assessments are performed, followup questions are answered and the education components are factored in.

"We educate our clients on how to take care of themselves at home with self care and exercises," she says.

Another indicator of her success is the distances people travel to receive treatment. Many are from as far away as Hearst, Kapuskasing, Cochrane, Matheson, Iroquois Falls and Kirkland Lake.

The clientele who enter Brousseau's clinic are from all walks of life, with about 65 percent women, averaging in age from 35 to 60. Although OHIP doesn't cover therapeutic massage, individual benefits do, depending on the company and the plan.

Brousseau says more companies are including massage in their packages because employees are asking for it in their contracts.

She has also seen an increase in referrals from medical doctors since she started. Now, 10 percent of her referrals are from medical professionals.

"They are beginning to appreciate the necessity of it and the intervention."

Looking back on her five years, one of the hurdles Brousseau has had to overcome is integrating work with family. Being self-employed, she was not eligible for maternity leave. Despite the demands of motherhood, she has some flexibility to work with her husband's shift-work schedule and her own, so she can attain a balance between work and family.


As Brousseau continues to build her business, she contributes her success to supportive clients, and looks toward future goals in the education of therapeutic massage or the sciences.


Northern Ontario Business
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Title Annotation:TOP 5 YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS; Melanie Brousseau, a massage therapist
Author:Larmour, Adelle
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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