Shuswap Float and Wellness
“I am exceedingly grateful to everyone involved with Community Futures, as I do not believe I had the ability on my own to have survived this long without their honest, unwavering, continuing support. I didn't realize how much I didn't know, or how much I was standing in my own way by not asking for help. Their belief in me, in the business I had chosen, gives me belief in myself.” Kate Bischke, Owner
All Wrapped up in Healing
At Shuswap Float & Wellness, Owner & Operator Kate Bischke helps people find their calm energy so they can relax, heal and return to themselves.
Healing is at the heart of Kate Bischke’s business. It’s also embroidered into the fabric of her personal journey. At Shuswap Float & Wellness, Kate has found a place where she can help others heal while improving her own sense of self. She credits her community, the practitioners that line up to work at her centre, and her “zoo” (her blended family) for being the support net she needs to grow and thrive in her business and beyond.
As the owner of a holistic wellness centre in Salmon Arm, B.C, Kate stands by her products, therapies and the healing work Shuswap Float & Wellness offers because this sanctuary is where she, too, connects with her own calm energy each and every day. With the use of holistic health principles, this health spa is dedicated to offering its clients from this region a range of wellness services and treatments, which include the Halotherapy Cabin, Neurospa Chairs, Floatation Therapy, Reiki and European Osteopathy Sound Therapy. Their variety of massages covers Raynor, Raindrop, Eldercare, and Relaxation. In short, Shuswap Float & Wellness is in the business of relaxation and transformation, starting from the head all the way down to the toes.
“When people walk in here, they go ‘Ah!’ And that's it. They've entered a safe space, even if they don't logically know who I am or who my practitioners are, it's a safe space and they feel it... I use everything here. If I don't float, if I don't do the salt cabin, and breathe... My body starts to bind up things that I broke... But the relief, it's that calm energy, you come out and you don't hurt. ”
Let’s talk about the business
Kate and a group of wellness practitioners facilitate therapies designed to discover the calm energy within them so that they can shed their stress and truly relax. If you haven’t guessed it already, one of their specialties is pain relief. They also focus on helping reduce anxiety and stress.
“People tend to relax in spite of themselves… I have people coming in as far away as Vernon [a neighbouring city], and there's a float in Vernon, but they come here… We have halotherapy and neuro spa and massage, several different kinds of massage,” Kate explains. And she has no time for skeptics. If you’ve walked in her door, then you’re obviously in pain, and her mission is to make it go away. If you’re still in doubt...
“You have to float, it's the Dead Sea in a capsule,” she adds charmingly.
3 ways partnering with Community Futures BC helped Kate thrive
Increased customer reach, and therefore a larger base, due to social media training.
Retail sales. Although there is very little room available for display, she has developed an online store.
The opportunity to help other new entrepreneurs become established. She rents room-sharing space where possible.
A typical day in Kate’s life
“That's a long, long day. I always snooze the alarm,” she says, grinning. Shuswap Float & Wellness is located on Hudson Avenue in Salmon Arm. The signboard was made by her friend’s son-in-law, and what you get when you enter her location is what Kate calls, “the absence of external stimulation.” With an atmosphere that promotes rest, restricted environmental stimulation, and floating, this is a sanctuary from the rapid-fire world we all get caught up in during our daily grind. After a quick clean, Kate gets ready for people to arrive.
How the business has impacted her life
“Movement,” Kate says, then proceeds to explain. “When I first started, I had no movement over my shoulders, and now I have full-body movement.” Kate sustained head-to-toe injuries in a near-fatal accident. For decades, Kate had internalized her struggle, making it her mission to hide her pain, her brain injury, and her cancer from those around her. She had her own business prior to Shuswap Float & Wellness, with more than 10 people on staff. However, with her injuries and the desire to independently manage all aspects of the business on her own, she felt overwhelmed.
When she finally realized that she needed to ask for help, she turned to Community Futures. “The Community Futures Entrepreneurs with Disabilities [Program], God, they gave me so many techniques to grow.... The people that I worked with, they never belittled me for it… They empowered me… [This program was] a lifeline that I never even knew existed,” she beams.
Here’s what Kate learned about her business amid the pandemic
With a gritty approach to life, when life gets her down, Kate grabs some Kleenex then straps on her boots and gets back to work. When the first wave of the pandemic hit, Shuswap Float & Wellness was forced to close its doors to the public for several months. “It taught me not to take my business or my customers for granted… Being a fairly new business, it is frightening, however it has taught me the value of following up on a personal level as well as business.” she remarks. While the economic effects continue to echo through many businesses, especially those in the wellness sector, Kate’s attitude and outlook on life is sure to keep her sailing in the right direction.
The exact moment you felt the most proud of your business
Kate loves the reactions her clients give when they emerge from their sessions. The expressions on their faces, their peaceful energy, the immediate realization that the pain has dissipated, and everything in between. Kate takes pride in these moments. “The first time a stranger thanked me for being there for them, because nothing else had worked and they had been without hope... Every thank you I hear reinforces that feeling.”
How Kate overcame barriers on her entrepreneurial journey
When it comes to barriers, Kate’s seen her fair share. While sticking it out through the physical obstacles she faced, it was the psychological barriers that made her entrepreneurial journey a bumpy one. “Getting in my own way, not asking for help, thinking I knew more than I did. Muscling through when it would have been wiser to have just stepped back. People that are starting their own [business], or anybody with a disability that is in the workforce, reach out, just ask,” Kate recommends.
Kate calls herself a “lifer” because her family has lived and worked in the Shuswap area since 1904, ever since her great grandparents opened up the first drugstore in town. Now that she is in a calm place of healing with an unbreakable foundation of support, she is setting her sights high. Kate wants to innovate on her current offering of spa treatments, wellness therapies and massages. Eager to field suggestions from customers and practitioners, she is in growth mode. “The need is there, and people are searching, and I need a bigger building.... My dream, and I tend to not dream as a rule, but my goal is a wellness collective that is worth its weight in gold for this town.”
Now that she has a support network, a collective of dedicated health and wellness practitioners, and her “zoo,” she can stand tall with the confidence that she has got this. And if she doesn’t, she knows her community will be there to lend a helping hand.