A calming approach

'Anything driven by right intent is successful' says endota spa founder, Melanie Gleeson.

Driven by an authentic need to nurture and revitalise others, Melanie Gleeson, Founder and CEO of endota spa proves the power of leading with love.

Melanie Gleeson has an incredibly calming way about her, and mere minutes into our interview it was clear that this was one very special individual. The perfect personage to lead Australia’s largest network of day spas, Gleeson opened her first endota spa in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in 2000 motivated by a desire to give back and inspire others to connect with themselves. 

Today with an annual network income of 80 million dollar across 105 spas, Gleeson employs over 1000 people (90 percent of which are female) and by successfully bridging the gap between the beauty, health and wellness industries, has positioned endota and herself as a leader across wellbeing, mindfulness, beauty treatments and skincare. 

“Anything driven by the right intent is successful, and maybe not always at first, but it gets there. endota has certainly been driven by love and it’s been driven by a need” Gleeson explains, “The busier we are, the crazier we are, the more we try and do; well you have to have the opposite side to that, where you can regenerate.” 

While today the term ‘wellness’ is often bandied about, this trailblazer was humanising the need to “disconnect in order to reconnect” some 18 years ago. In those early stages, it was about education. Gleeson recalls that the catalyst for endota’s evolution was the emotional and physical change she saw in people after a treatment. 

“People would walk in tight and stressed and when they left a treatment room they had changed; that was where the vision crystalised, I needed to give people the time and the space so they could fill up and get back out there to do what needed to be done. Feel better, do better, be more.” But the lessons and the imparting of knowledge didn’t finish there. 

Today with an annual network income of 80 million dollar across 105 spas, Gleeson employs over 1000 people

The name endota is an indigenous word meaning beautiful

The name endota is an indigenous word meaning beautiful, and for Gleeson, integrating indigenous culture into her life wasn’t an intentional application, it’s just simply part of who she is. “Respect for self, respect for others and respect for the environment is very much something I’ve grown up with: and from a school age part of the journey was integrating indigenous culture into our learning.” endota operates consciously and currently the network is in collaboration with an inspiring group of indigenous women located in Fitzroy Crossing, WA. 

The partnership aims to support indigenous female artists as well as the empowerment of local indigenous women and their families. Presently, some of their artwork can be found on the Colour™ cosmetic packaging of endota’s products, and in return they receive a percentage of sales. 

“There is just so much knowledge and wisdom that we have not given full credibility or understanding to and for us we work with the Marninwarntikura girls and they create the most amazing art. But it’s more than just the art, it’s their stories, it’s their reliance on nature, it’s learning to live within a season and with great Mother Earth and being thankful for what’s she’s provided. We take it for granted but I think indigenous cultures very much remember what She gives us,” explains Gleeson. 

Walking the talk, endota’s guiding inspiration is the natural environment of the Mornington Peninsula: its expansive light, relaxing colours and the power of nature to heal is embodied throughout the endota spa network, their products and their organic treatments. 

Naturally, the beauty world is evolving, and emerging research in mind-body medicine is now changing the face of the wellness landscape. Essentially if you feel good on the inside, it will show on the outside and for Gleeson, with more than half a million people visiting an endota spa annually, there’s been a notable shift in the perceptions around self-care since the launch of her business. 

“Self care is not seen as a luxury anymore,” she explains. “Science is now backing up things we’ve known and been doing for a long time and when people take time to meditate or have a treatment or put a beautiful product on their skin they slow down, there’s touch involved, we’re calmer, we’ve got less cortisol running through our system. It’s a really great time for the wellness industry to work with science to talk about the benefits of taking care of yourself.” 

Science and its support is paramount to Gleeson’s business: so too is a team with shared values, a passion for the work and intuition. Armed with an extraordinary network that supports the ideals of endota, Gleeson - who is yet to find anyone who can keep up the pace and evolve with a business if they don’t love it - continues to lead with love and empower future female innovation. “Women, we need seats at the table. We’ve got so much wisdom, insight and knowing to offer that we need to have more confidence in being heard.” She continues, “We have an inner knowing; all of us, and when we find the stillness to tap into it then the answers come. For me it’s less about being in the head and more about being in the heart. Don’t be afraid to embrace these instincts. When we start intellectualising everything and we forget to feel, we lose that. Don’t be afraid to feel.” 

Naturally, the beauty world is evolving, and emerging research in mind-body medicine is now changing the face of the wellness landscape