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By Brandon Twyford Dynamic Duo Finding Opportunity in Adversity When an unexpected turn of events left sisters Peggy Stam and Mary Deckard out of work from their jobs as massage therapists, they decided to take advantage of the ensuing period of uncertainty to open their own practice. Three and a half weeks later, in June 2015, Mary and Peggy took the plunge and opened Balance Massage and Wellness. With a successful practice in place, they opened their own massage school less than a year later. Mary and Peggy didn't start their careers as massage therapists. Mary has a degree in apparel merchandising, and Peggy has her degree in restaurant, hotel, and institutional management. Before becoming massage therapists, the sisters each spent several years working as professionals in their respective fi elds of study. However, both women had a passion for helping others, and over time, they each began to seek a more fulfi lling career. It was their mother, an enthusiastic supporter and frequent recipient of massage, who urged Mary to enroll in a massage training program, and in 1990, Mary completed her training. Peggy, watching the joy and satisfaction her sister found in practicing massage, followed suit and enrolled in a massage training program as well, graduating in 1997. When the sisters decided to open their practice, they made it a point to focus on creating a positive and effective experience for their clients. They credit much of their practice's success to the friendly and inviting work environment they foster, which has resulted in an atmosphere of teamwork, not competition. "We also surrounded ourselves with professionals from different disciplines, from accounting to advertising and marketing, and made a large investment in a professional website," Peggy says. The sisters' lifelong passion for helping others eventually led them to open their own massage school in February 2016. Balance Massage School came about from a desire for Mary and Peggy to share their knowledge and experience with massage students who, like them, are seeking a fulfi lling career. "We want to make sure our profession is well represented by future generations," Mary says. Between fi nding themselves out of work and planning to open a practice less than a month later, the sisters had no time to lose. "Our biggest challenges were writing a business plan, furnishing the offi ce, and setting up a scheduling system, all in a short period of time," Peggy says. Opening a massage school came with a whole new set of issues—namely, completing the mountains of paperwork required by the state and recruiting new students. Through everything, the sisters relied on each other to make their dreams a reality. "We love working together, and we're aware of each other's strengths and weaknesses. Together, we have created balance," Mary says. Mary (an ABMP member since 1997) and Peggy (a member since 1998) are both big believers in self-care for career longevity. Peggy urges students and new practitioners to "take the time to take care of yourself. Do resistance training and stretching to prepare your body for the physical work, and don't overschedule!" To prepare students who are just graduating from their massage programs for a long and fulfi lling career in bodywork, Mary advises, "Work with confi dence, be adaptable, continue to learn, and take care of yourself." Brandon Twyford is associate editor at ABMP. ABMP Member Profi le Longtime MTs (and sisters) Mary Deckard (left) and Peggy Stam opened their own massage school in 2016. "Work with confi dence, be adaptable, continue to learn, and take care of yourself." —Mary Deckard DS 6 September October 2016

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