Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in hospitality but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Cara Thurman, Owner of Vinings Massage and Wellness, located in Atlanta, GA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Vinings Massage & Wellness (VMW) has been serving the Atlanta community since 2012. Cara Thurman established VMW with the two-fold mission of creating a sustainable place for exceptional massage therapists to work as well as providing Atlanta with best-in-class massage therapy services. We are not your typical spa. We focus more on the therapy aspect of massage and strive to be industry leaders. With a focus on quality and healthcare, we have developed industry-leading COVID-19 policies and are trusted by Atlanta's top hospitals. Though we offer a variety of massage modalities at our wellness center, we also have a unique niche in medical massage. Not only are we contracted by several local hospitals to provide inpatient massage to cancer patients and post-op patients, but we also provide employee massage for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

At VMW, we take the time to get to know each client and their needs, then establish a treatment plan unique to their goals. I am extremely proud of our staff as well as our loyal clientele. We have clients that have been coming to see us for nearly ten years, and our staff turnover rate is a fraction of the industry norm. Once clients find us, they seem to keep coming back, just reading our online reviews.

Tell us about yourself

I see my career as more of a calling than a job. I know first-hand how scary it can be to have surgery, be hospitalized, and have your health be out of your control. I was born with a congenital heart defect and have spent my entire life in and out of hospitals. I have had open-heart surgery four times, open chest surgery once, and too many cardiac catheterizations to count. I have spent many nights in the hospital, in pain and scared that my life would be cut short.

My last open-heart surgery was on February 23, 2009. This was the first big surgery I had as an adult, and it changed the course of my career and my life. Leading up to the surgery, I was running a small organic vegetable farm in Vermont. The stress and anxiety of preparing for an open-heart surgery caused me to seek help. I decided to integrate therapies not offered by my traditional medical team into my care. I found help from a massage therapist named Susan. Susan and I worked together for weeks leading up to the surgery. She helped calm my nerves and get me into a positive mindset. She also worked on my husband, Patrick. The change I saw in him after their sessions was as helpful to me as having a massage myself. Working with Susan during my recovery, it became clear that massage therapy was my calling and what I would do as my life's work.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I am proud to be the owner of Vinings Massage & Wellness, a 5-star-rated business. We are Atlanta's #1 provider in health care employee, oncology, and medical massage. I am also proud to employ some of the most talented and compassionate massage therapists in Georgia. We have an amazing team, and I am extremely proud of every one of them!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Being a business owner is not for the faint of heart. Managing people, especially in an in-person service industry, is a constant challenge. You have to be willing to see outside the box and follow your heart. You also need to be able to see the best in people and always try to be positive.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be positive
  2. Set aside time that you are not available for your business, be really off, even when you don't feel like you can.
  3. Know that you are going to care more than anyone else does about your business. Try not to take things personally and keep moving forward.

Where can people find you and your business?


‌If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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