Hitchin mum's baby massage enterprise expanding into China and beyond
PUBLISHED: 16:56 28 July 2018
A Hitchin mum who used her redundancy money 11 years ago to start a baby massage service from home is set to expand her social enterprise business into China, Malta and St Helena.
Justina Perry, 50, says she still has to pinch herself to believe it’s all happening.
She’s also about to open the first MamaBabyBliss spa, in Sun Street – in partnership with Isabelle Maguire of the Secret Garden – and, in addition, eminent obstetrician and perinatal mental health expert Dr Raja Gangopadhyay has agreed to join her team of experts.
The businesswoman said it all began when she was pregnant with daughter Natasha, now 22.
She recalls: “I thought I’d have an amazing pregnancy, that I’d sail into motherhood and stay at home to bake bread and make jam. But the birth was very traumatic and I couldn’t breastfeed. I had postnatal depression and really struggled.”
And even though she had an easier time with her second daughter Alana, now 13, Justina never forgot those early days.
She said: “Because of my own experience, I had a deep desire to do something to help other mums.
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak and when my job disappeared, I decided to train in baby massage and yoga and started running small classes.
“I did more and more research and realised the journey to motherhood begins in pregnancy and enjoying that helps you have a positive outcome.”
Expectant mums who attended her pregnancy classes didn’t want to leave as their babies became toddlers, so Justina extended her classes from birth to three years old. She was getting enquiries from all over the UK and the business expanded organically – from being a one-woman band, she began training women to use her techniques, after a business mentor suggested it.
She said: “It was during the 2010 recession. I read somewhere that the people who were most expendable were mothers – they were part-time, cheap, and it so incensed me that I decided to do something about it.
“I set up a franchise to enable women to have the opportunities I’d had, to combine motherhood and a career. We now have 40 MamaBabyBliss teachers throughout the UK, plus 60 beauty salons in the UK offer our Truly Bumptious Treatment to pregnant mums.”
When a businessman from Shenyang in north-eastern China approached Justina about opening a franchise there, she couldn’t have been more delighted.
”Our mission is to support women all over the world,” she said. “Of course there are cultural differences, but the mental and emotional impact of motherhood is universal. It unites us as human beings.”
MamaBabyBliss also works in specialist mother and baby units across the country. “It helps very vulnerable mums and babies bond at this vital time,” she said.
The company also produces a natural vegan skincare range, made in Britain.
Justina loves flying the flag – particularly in these troubled times – and is dedicated to empowering women.
She said: “It’s about getting the best work-life balance. I work hard, but it’s on my terms. I’ve never had a business plan but I believe if you have passion and a purpose, you’ll be successful.”