It Takes a Village! How Red Lotus Float came to be.
My name is Marie aka #RedLotusFloat
I #floated for the first time in May of 2017, my husband and I spent a weekend out of town about an hour away. A co-worker (thank you Nora!), who knows I have chronic pain issues associated with Fibromyalgia, told me about a float place in that town. I had never heard of ‘Floating’, so I read up on it and thought – why not check it out?
During the very first float I got the very clear message – “I need to open up one of these”.
I immediately listed out the reasons why this was not a good idea. I have been visiting my parents every other month in Nevada, since my brother died of heart attack in 2016. They needed me. My husband had already begun the countdown to our retirement and leaving my corporate job would throw those plans off. I don’t have that kind of money, etc. etc. etc. I never mentioned it to my husband and I put it out of my mind.
In January of 2018, I took my dear friend Tina to check out the same float center. She has been diagnosed with Lupus, a type of autoimmune disease that has shown to respond well to flotation therapy. As we were relaxing after the float, I told her, and I quote “Every time I float, I think, I need to open up one of these!” I still giggle at this statement, since ‘every time’ equaled twice, but non-the-less, that is what I said. She excitedly exclaimed, “YES you do!” Chills went up my spin, the hair on my arms stood up and I knew there was something to this. We went for coffee and talked about it for the next 3 hours. I had no idea how many of our future hours would be spent on this very topic! If she knew, she might have thought twice about fanning the flames of this fire.
I went home and told my husband Mike my ‘crazy’ idea. He said, “let’s look into it.” I immediately began researching what was out there on the world wide web. Turns out, thanks to companies like Float On and celebrities that love to float, there was a good amount of information available to me, there are even Podcasts on the subject! #NewRetirementPlan
Naming this new endeavor was important. I knew I needed a name that had meaning. For me the meaning was just as important as whether or not it was marketable. I googled and researched, focused, prayed and pondered. When I landed on Red Lotus Float Spa, I was extremely happy that I could not find another business with the name. Eureka, we had a name! The color red generally represents love and a passion for living (and IS my husbands favorite color!) The lotus flower has long represented the purity of something beautiful emerging from murky water below. Side note: ironically, as soon as we had incorporated the business name, we found a Black Lotus Tattoo and a Blue Lotus Yoga were businesses near us. Kind of funny how that worked.
Next up, a logo. I had a picture in my mind but I am not an artist and certainly not a graphic artist. I took my idea and childlike sketch to my daughter Lillie. Fortunately, she is an artist, granted it is typically with hair (@lillie_4_hair) or food, but an artist she is. #Talented She built upon my idea and created the basic sketch of the logo we have today. I love our logo and I will forever be grateful for her skills!
One day I came home and my husband said, “hey, let’s drive to Indiana this weekend and talk to a manufacture”. I am blessed with the best partner! The trip did not result in a business relationship, as the manufacture and I were not a good fit but the trip itself gave us a good amount of time to talk about this proposition and what are next steps would need to be.
I began researching and developing the Red Lotus business plan, then seeking funding. In the meantime, I told those closest to me and they continued to fan the flames of excitement for this project. In March, 2018, we incorporated Red Lotus Float Spa.
#Warning for any new business owners or entrepreneurs. If you are creating a company, purchase your website first! There are people who make a living by buying websites for newly created companies and selling them back to you at a ridiculous markup! I registered the company with the state of Maryland and the very next day someone bought redlotusfloatspa. They tried to sell it back to me at a 600% markup compared to what I paid for www.redlotusfloat.com. I share this every chance I get, in hopes of helping someone else avoid these vultures.
I reached out to the first place I floated for some guidance. They were unfortunately unwilling to speak with me but gave me a curt ‘Good Luck’. As you might have guessed by now, I am not easily discouraged. I reached out to another float, this time Paradise Float in Annapolis. www.paradisefloat.com Owner Denise Pearson was kind enough to speak with me and even let me shadow her on a Saturday. She represents a bigger portion of the float population in her willingness to help. I feel very fortunate to be a part of a group that so willingly shares ideas, do’s and don’ts and basic experience. Denise introduced me to an online float resource group that has been invaluable in this process and for this she will always have my gratitude.
We really wanted to purchase our floats in the United States and we were lucky enough to find Superior Float Tanks in Norfolk, Virginia. www.superiorfloat.com We took another weekend trip to visit their facility and talking to Johnny over brisket at The Dirty Buffalo. This began what I believe will be a long-term business relationship. They have been extremely helpful and knowledgeable in this process and it is a comfort to me that they are just hours away.
I continued to reach out to other float owners and continued to be assisted, shared with and encouraged. I believe strongly in creating win-win situations and I want to give a special shout out to Bob and Stacey at Truth, Mind and Body in Sparks, MD. www.truthmindbody.com They met with Mike and I over dinner, encouraged us, gave us the cold hard facts on parts of the business that can be daunting and provided us a fabulous resource to send people to float. You see, I was (and still am) so excited about floating I wanted to get everyone I knew somewhere to float! I didn’t want them to wait for me. They continued to serve as a resource through the entire construction process. #Mentorshiip
I also reached out to the Small Business Association and joined the Float Tank Association. I continued to educate myself, take courses, read blogs and articles and listen to podcasts.
My friends continued to give me encouragement and share resources. My entrepreneur friend Katie introduced me to the program that I eventually would find funding through.
In December of 2019, my husband and I secured funding and retail space. Construction of that space started in March. The entire ongoing process has had its share of roadblocks, detours and challenges but progress has continued to be made. We can see the finish line! I feel this is where I need to give my husband Mike, the man behind the curtain, a HUGE shout of gratitude. Not only is he my rock and my biggest fan, I would have never survived the construction without him.
I also need to scream a big THANK YOU to my friend Tina. I cannot imagine being able to do this without her constant and consistent help, feedback and encouragement. She is the mastermind behind the website and basically anything related to marketing. I am beyond excited to carry her products from Zonia’s Rainbow, www.zoniasrainbow.com . Some of which have been created exclusively for Red Lotus Float Spa.
I need to acknowledge Linda and Sara at Clover Oak, www.cloveroak.com who held my hand in bringing forth my vision with design advice and sourcing. Many of the beautiful features you will find here are a result of their brilliance and problem solving.
I also made the incredibly good decision to join the North Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce. They, collectively and individually, have been helpful, supportive, informative and are overall a great group of people to know! #NAACCC
I want to shout out my Allegis Group family. #AllegisCares They have been a source of comfort, encouragement and excitement for me during this crazy ride.
Lastly, I need to thank my family and friends, too numerous to mention. They provide endless feedback, support, ideas, social media shot outs and support of all kinds! Evidently it not only takes a village to raise a child but to open a small business in America.