Starting a business from the ground up is difficult task for anyone. An even more challenging task is starting that business during a struggling economy.
But for Anne Mason-Arnold, she made it look easy as her business, CloudMover Day Spa, received the accolade of Best Day Spa on the 2012 Orange County Hot List in November on CityVoter.com — a business promotion website.
This is the third top honor Mason-Arnold's business has received, being named Best Day Spa in 2010 and Best Massage in 2011 by the same organization.
Mason-Arnold, 45, said she is honored CloudMover was given such high marks by her clients. And even after relocating from their old location near Golden West College to the Five Points Plaza, her clients have embraced the move with open arms.
"We want to give the clients what they want," she said. "If you give them what they want, then they're going to come back."
Carly Smith, CloudMover's lead esthetician, said about 90% of the clients pre-book and come back.
With a background of advertising and marketing, catering to her customers had always been Mason-Arnold's biggest priority.
She had worked for the Anaheim Ducks during the team's infancy in the mid-1990s and learned marketing and branding techniques during her time there.
"I was watching this and was amazed at how these things can happen," Mason-Arnold said, describing how Disney marketed a sport that was non-existent in Orange County.
Mason-Arnold originally wanted to become a chiropractor when she was in college, but was drawn to marketing after receiving degrees in marketing and business management at Cypress College.
Wanting to go back to the chiropractor field and observing the lack of affordable day spas in Huntington Beach in 1995, she decided to tackle the niche market and began planning her approach.
"I always knew that Huntington Beach was going to step up and become a tourism destination," she said. "So how do I tie-in tourism, massage therapy and advertising?"
That answer soon became CloudMover Day Spa and Mason-Arnold started her marketing approach.
Even before the business opened, she trademarked the day spa's slogan, "Where the locals go" and built the business from there.
It took some time before Mason-Arnold could open the doors to the public. She had planned on opening in the early 2000s, but due to the events on Sept. 11, she postponed opening the day spa until 2006.
"I went to a trade show in Anaheim that was all-things spa and it was empty. It was two days after [Sept. 11]," she said. "It would have opened sooner, but there are other things in the world that happened."
It still wasn't easy to get the business off ground. Not only was she starting a business from scratch, but also during the beginning of the recession.
It was because of Mason-Arnold's "fiscally conservative" nature that her business managed to go through the recession with hardly any scratches.
"I'm budget conscious and I don't believe in wasting money," she said. "A lot of people fell into a situation where overspending happened, and if you've got assets, you've got to be smart because you can never know what can happen later."
The spa technicians, or service providers as Mason-Arnold calls them, have been the backbone to the day spa.
Most of her 18 service providers are independent contractors, some she has kept since day one.
Kerri-Lynn DeHart and Diane Sorensen, both senior massage therapists, have worked with Mason-Arnold from the start and had trust in her decisions.
"She's very good to us and we've been very good to her," said DeHart, who has been in the spa industry for 11 years. "When somebody treats you well in this industry, you tend to want to stay with them."
Sorensen, who's been a massage therapist for 10 years, said the move to Five Points Plaza has been welcomed with open arms and is happy to see the business thrive.
"The people that come here are decent and we try to offer them a good rate," Sorensen said. "They like us and they come back."
Both DeHart and Sorensen agree that Mason-Arnold has made the right decisions during the business's infancy and have nothing but respect for her.
"She's a very good massage therapist, but she's also an excellent marketing person," DeHart said. "She's very intelligent and knows how to present this in a way that is appealing to a very broad spectrum of people."
Though CloudMover Day Spa has been placed at the top spot of the OC Hot List three years in a row, Mason-Arnold and her staff won't let it get to their heads.
"Just keep fighting the good fight, doing the right thing and offer new products and services as they come and are proven effective," DeHart said. "Most importantly, give the customers what they want."