COB alumna opens business she once pitched in Lipscomb's Kittrell Pitch competition
Since the age of 14, St. Louis-native Natalie Gilbert (’14) knew she wanted to run her own massage company. At the age of 18 she moved to Los Angeles to learn and practice massage therapy at the National Holistic Institute.
But it was Lipscomb University that provided the final piece she needed to carry out her dream: a business degree and the skills and connections she needed to start a business of her own.
Now 18 months after graduating with her B.S. in corporate management and entrepreneurship she is holding a grand opening Nov. 13, from 4-6 p.m., for Natalie’s Office Spa, her brick-and-mortar space in the Granny White Pike shops across the street from the Lipscomb campus.
The massage room for individual clients is located behind Joe’s Barber Shop, but she carries out her massage treatments and wellness education services in offices throughout Nashville as she caters to companies looking to provide coveted wellness benefits to their employees.
Companies trying to attract the top talent are using wellness benefits, on top of standard health care insurance, to attract the best potential employees, Gilbert said. Companies offering either full-body or in-chair massage therapy to their employees not only attract better talent, but they also enhance productivity, lower the number of sick days and engender goodwill among their employees, she said.
“If you can bring a relaxing massage to your employees, you can completely change the office environment,” she said.
Gilbert has already provided massage services to several departments on the Lipscomb campus, an arrangement she is excited about since so many Lipscomb professors helped her through the years as she was developing her business model.
Gilbert won monetary prizes in the Lipscomb College of Business’s annual Kittrell Pitch Competition twice and served as president of the Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization for students. She was active in Lipscomb’s Center or Entrepreneurship program and participated in entrepreneurial mission trips coordinated by the Center for Business as Mission. She also completed an internship in Hong Kong through a Lipscomb program at Prudential Corporate Asia.
Joe Ivey, executive director of the entrepreneurship center; Rob Touchstone, director of entrepreneurial missions; and Marty Kittrell, a Lipscomb Board of Trustees member, were all major influences on her business career.
“I’m so excited to give back to the people who molded me, and to take care of the people who took care of me,” she said.
On Nov. 13, Gilbert will offer tours of her space (where she has been operating since May), give-aways, refreshments and massage “teasers” for guests at her grand opening.
She offers a range of massage services such as Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, pre-natal, acupressure, Thai and Shiatsu. She also offers spa services such as body scrubs, wraps and aroma therapy.
After her training in California, Gilbert worked at the Mokara Salon and Spa at the Omni Nashville Hotel during her college career and visited a massage school in Thailand during her internship in Hong Kong.
Gilbert said she strives to use “all the tools in her tool belt” to customize her service for each clients’ needs.
Interesting Note: Gilbert is not the first member of the Lipscomb family to rent her particular space in the Granny White shops. Lipscomb alumni and current Vice Provost Randy Bouldin used the space as a workroom for his floral business Consider the Lilies until several years ago. And the barber shop (connected to the spa space), was run for many years by Al Riedl, whose wife Martha was a long-time (and much revered) English teacher at Lipscomb Academy.