After 30 years as a disc jockey, Colleen O’Connor switched gears and decided to go to massage school. She opened Elements in Westport Village in 2007, and loves her second career. Everything about Colleen is relaxing, from her voice to her hands and even her work environment. When she’s not busy making sure her clients are relaxed, she’s relaxing herself, enjoying all the restaurants and scenery in the Highlands. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Colleen O’Connor, our FACE of Louisville.
You own and operate Elements Massage in Westport Village. What drew you to this career?
I went to massage school later in life (I was 41), but it was something that always intrigued me. I was actually interested in massage when I was in college, but it took me 20 years after graduating to finally go back to school for massage. In the middle of massage school, I realized I wanted to own a business. I looked at ice cream, burgers — even a peanut butter and jelly concept. Elements was a perfect fit for me. It combined my massage skills with my desire to be a business owner. The biology/anatomy/physiology of massage appeal to my brain and helping my clients appeals to my heart.
How important is massage as a part of overall health and wellness?
I can talk about all of the physiological things that make massage a good thing: improving circulation, lowering blood pressure, relieving chronic pain, relieving stress — but frankly, massage is good for you because it feels good. We don’t take time out of our lives to think about ourselves — as if there is something inherently wrong with that. I think that if everyone in the world had one massage therapy session a month and one talk therapy session a month, the world would be a much better place.
Tell us a little about your first career, using your voice instead of your hands.
I was a radio personality for many years, and when I moved to Washington D.C., although offered a morning show opportunity and an afternoon drive opportunity, I decided to leave radio to pursue commercial voice-overs. When we moved to Louisville, it didn’t stop my love of doing voice-over work. It is something that I still do and it feeds my soul.
What is the hardest part of your job? And what’s the easiest?
As a business owner, I feel a tremendous responsibility to the team of professionals that works with me. We are open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and I have 24 people on my staff. Although not easy, managing a team is the most rewarding, but also the most challenging, thing I have done in my adult life.
Give us a peek at your agenda. What’s a typical day or week like for you?
I am very involved in working with other Elements owners to help their businesses grow, so my days are different every day. I use the knowledge I’ve gained over these past eight years to help solve problems and allow other owners to benefit from the mistakes I have made. I rely heavily on my management team to run the day-to-day operations of my studio, but am still actively involved in coaching and mentoring them. I still massage one day a week in my studio. I’m a massage therapist and being in the rooms with my clients keeps me grounded.
What advice do you treasure?
The founder of Elements once said to me “If you honor the people who work for you, they will honor your clients and you will have a healthy business.” I embraced that philosophy, and it has proven to be a successful business approach for me.
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my ________.
Toenails painted. I may have seven layers of different colors, but they are always painted.
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
Cherokee Park and bars/restaurants on Bardstown Road
What’s your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
Go out to dinner. Having so many restaurants to choose from, it is hard to eat at home.
Are you a night owl or early bird? What do you do during that quiet time?
My habits have changed, and I find that I am much more of a night owl than I used to be. I tend to read during my quiet time.
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
Living in the Highlands, it’s hard to justify getting in the car and driving to a restaurant. We tend to walk to places in our neighborhood. Cumberland Brews, Lilly’s Bistro, Seviche. If we drive, we usually head to Mojitos or to somewhere downtown.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
Lightning Round! Give us your:
Candy or junk food splurge: Plehn’s Bakery frosted cookies
Guilty pleasure song: “Benny and the Jets,” by Elton John
Tearjerker movie pick: Fried Green Tomatoes
Standby nail polish color: Some shade of pink
Favorite cocktail: Anything with tequila
Cartoon alter-ego: The Commissioner (from Batman)
What are three of your favorite things right now?
- My management team: Mandy Clark and Keith Smith, otherwise known as Batdizzle and Alfred
- Opal’s Dream Foundation (opalsdreamfoundation.com)
- My fully restored 1946 Wurlitzer Bubbler jukebox that plays 78s
Thank you as always to Adele Reding for her beautiful photography.
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