( ENSPIRE Business ) Owner of the “Best Spa in Mississippi” Uses Expertise to Guide Other Entrepreneurs
ENSPIRE Contributor: Abby Ladner
The spa industry has historically been a white, female-dominated field, but that didn’t stop Terrance Bonner, owner, and operator of the Glam Station Spa in Columbus, Miss. Despite the expectations, Bonner has created a thriving career as a Black man in the spa industry, earning titles such as “Best Aesthetician” in 2015, 2016, and 2018 and “Best Spa in Mississippi” in 2019. Bonner has turned his success into an opportunity to guide others with The Bonner Institute, an education and business consulting program for entrepreneurs. Now, he’s collected his knowledge in “Determination + Core Values = Success: A Business Building Guidebook for New Wellness Entrepreneurs.”
“Determination + Core Values = Success” is a workbook that helps budding entrepreneurs every step of the way. In his book, Terrance Bonner has taken the lessons he’s learned from his career and turned them into practical advice for aspiring business owners. The book covers a wide range of topics, from identifying your values to managing financials, to offer an all-encompassing guide to entrepreneurship. In our interview below, Terrance Bonner talks about wellness, entrepreneurship, and finding success in a competitive industry.
First of all, I’d love to hear about your background. How did you first get interested in the spa and wellness industry, and when did you decide to turn that interest into your own business venture?
I was introduced to a massage therapy in high school when a recruiter came to discuss with my senior class about the different programs they offered at their college. My initial thinking went toward, “Hmm, massage therapists make a lot of money. I think I want to do that.” But, that wasn’t the case at all. That was my initial introduction to what now I know is my calling. I ended up attending that particular school but for graphic design and animation. My parents felt that computers would be a better field at the time. I understand now that at that time they did not fully understand what massage therapy was, and so they went with what seemed to be good at that time. That was 2004, and computers were on the rise. In 2009, after 2 failed attempts at massage school, I chose to follow my heart and finally enroll in massage school. It was there that I began to write down my goals and dreams. My 5-year goal was to have my own spa. I opened in 4 years.
You’ve found such great success as a Black man in a white, female-dominated industry—are there any challenges you’ve faced as a minority in the spa industry? How did you overcome those challenges?
I faced many challenges on my journey in the spa industry. I wasn’t looked at as a professional. When I first opened my spa, I was frequently asked if I even had a license. I’ve used those situations as motivation to keep going. I keep going because I know that someone will be inspired by my journey.
I overcame those challenges by staying true to my core values: faith, determination, compassion, and dedication—It’s what my new book is all about.
Year after year, you’ve received accolades for your work as an aesthetician. How do you keep pushing yourself to stay at the top of your industry?
Education was the key to those accolades. I began early on in my career taking continuing education classes straight out of school. I received my massage license in January 2011, and I began taking my first two classes in February and March. I knew what I wanted to achieve, which was to help as many people as I could. I wanted to take as many classes as I could and perfect what I learned so that I could educate and help my clients at the same time. So, not only would my clients come for services, they also received the education behind the why. I strive to give the best service possible to each and every client, and, most importantly, I’m honest with my clients.
With both The Bonner Institute and your book, you’ve taken what you’ve learned and are using that to help others. What inspired you to use your experience to help other entrepreneurs?
My inspiration comes from wanting to genuinely help others achieve their goals and aspirations. I wanted to offer the tools and resources that weren’t necessarily available to me when I first began and also share what I’ve learned mostly the hard way so that the ones coming behind me won’t have to go through that.
Is there any advice you’d like to share for entrepreneurs wanting to succeed in an industry where they’re not the majority?
My advice is be confident in yourself and do what you were called to do and do not waiver. No matter if you’re the only one who looks like you. You are you, and that is your superpower.
To learn more about Terrance Bonner and his mentorship work, visit The Bonner Institute website here. Also, visit the Glam Station Spa website here to learn more about the “Best Spa in Mississippi.” Terrance Bonner’s book “Determination + Core Values = Success” is available now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Find Bonner’s guidebook at independent bookstores via Indie Bound.