An interview with Jennifer Oram of Songbird Reflexology.
Describe your business.
Songbird Reflexology provides a unique experience of health and wellness through a peaceful atmosphere that allows you to fully engage in reflexology therapy. Songbird strives to create a well-rounded approach to health while setting the bar for a new standard of natural wellness. Along with treatments, Songbird offers nutritional support, wellness products and valuable take-home information to create optimal health long term.
What brought you to the region?
My husband and I were living near Barrie and we wanted to be closer to our families in Eastern Ontario. We found our beautiful home in 2016 and we just love the community feel and the connection with nature.
What makes the Bay of Quinte a good fit for your business?
Songbird Reflexology currently operates out of my home in Frankford which sits on two acres. Being in this area has really allowed me to create Songbird the way I envisioned; being integrated with nature and wildlife, feeling peaceful and ‘at home’ when you arrive and being close with other business owners in our community. There are so many wonderful people who live here and it is honestly a pleasure to be in the health and wellness field in this area.
What was the hardest thing about starting a business?
The hardest part of starting a business was that a lot of information and research had to be done in different ‘places’. I found I had to learn for myself a lot of little pieces of information from a lot of other small business owners which would later become necessities or could potentially have big implications down the road.
I am a very detail-oriented person naturally, so I aimed to ensure Songbird Reflexology was ready in all aspects (booking system, accounting system, payment systems, etc.) before I officially opened my doors. I registered the business and it took over a month of preparations before I had the business and experience ready the way I wanted it for my first client.
I chose to delay my official opening because I wanted the experience to be well thought out, simple, enjoyable and like nothing you’ve ever done before… and for me, this begins with people searching for Songbird online, seeing a Songbird business card, booking an appointment and more!
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the area?
Be confident in your vision. My inspiration for Songbird was driven by the Mercedes mindset: “The best or nothing.” There are a lot of structures in place for how small businesses should start or be run, what’s normal, what has been done in the past and so on, but I also think it’s really important to be true to yourself and how you envisioned your business running.
Another piece of advice would be to reach out and don’t be shy! Introduce yourself or send a quick Instagram/FB message! The BoQ community is very supportive and it can make a big difference to a business owner to know that they are making a difference in their community.
What surprised you about starting a business in a smaller community?
It’s surprising and also very encouraging to see just how MANY brand new small businesses there are in the BoQ!!! And it is motivating to see so many young entrepreneurs here who have a specific vision, bring it to life and support their fellow small business owners.
How have you changed your operations during the pandemic?
Besides procuring PPE for staff and clients, Songbird limited the number of appointments per day to accommodate for thorough disinfecting between clients. Since our establishment in 2018, Songbird has been set up to run efficiently while always respecting and promoting clients’ health and safety. Our booking system has always been an online user-friendly platform and we use Square as our payment system, which allows for tap payments and e-mailed invoices.
Appointments are always booked with buffer time on either side to ensure that there is no overlap between bookings. Songbird is set back from the road in an open, beautiful countryside setting with lots of fresh air. Appointments can even be booked for outside on the beautiful porch, weather permitting! Masks are mandatory for both the client and the practitioner as well as hand sanitizing before entering the office.
We also set up an online COVID-19 screening questionnaire which is automatically e-mailed out 24 hours prior to appointments. We offer a few high quality products which a the beginning of the pandemic we started shipping to clients as well as doing free delivery porch drop offs! Clients really appreciated this. It made adhering to their health goals achievable during such an uncertain time while keeping each other safe. Songbird was closed in 2020 from early March to mid-June under provincial restrictions, which was very tough for our rural small business, however we have a phenomenal community here in the BoQ who are always finding new ways to support local!
Describe your perfect day off.
My sister and I tried the sea-doo rental for the first time a few summers ago in PEC and just getting used to the speed/weight of it I imagine would have been pretty amusing to watch. We laughed so hard and topped out around only half the speed it’s actually capable of, but we thought gently rolling over even the smallest wave would send us straight into orbit. Lots of fresh air and sunshine and doing something a little out of my comfort zone is usually a day to remember! My husband and I love to find new restaurants around the BoQ and go for hikes with our Golden Retriever, Flyer.
What’s your secret to surviving winter?
A few winters ago we discovered the magic of day trips to Amherst Island to try spotting Snowy Owls. When you finally find one it’s like spotting a unicorn. They are so majestic and elusive; the males are quite ghostly if you are lucky enough to spot one! If you have any interest in birds or nature, give this a go. Bring your binoculars and just try to find a white blob against a white background… no problem!
If you were to have one word tattooed on you, what would it be?
Hmm… that’s a tough one! Instead of a word, I would probably choose a small mountain range with two peaks or an orca–they are my favourite animal and it’s a dream of mine to see one in real life! I have also climbed seven of the Canadian Rockies and the experience of the being in the mountains is other-worldly–it holds a big place in my heart.