endota CEO and wellness innovator Melanie Gleeson shares her journey of building the largest wellbeing network in Australia and what she has learnt along the way
Australia’s largest day spa network, endota spa, was founded by Melanie Gleeson and school friend Belinda Fraser in 2000 with just $5,000 and a “boldness, passion and set of audacious goals,” says Gleeson.
After leaving her position as an au pair to manage a small spa in Victoria, Mel noticed the true impact spas could have on people, “I saw, firsthand, a physical and emotional change in women from when they entered the spa to when they left. I knew I needed to be a part of this in a bigger way.”
Opening the first location when Gleeson was just 26 years old, the first spa was on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and provided guests with a holistic wellness experience that inspired them to connect both with themselves and those around them.
For Gleeson, the goal has always been to change people’s mindset around wellbeing. “In my opinion, wellness is not a luxury and should be considered a priority rather than a treat.
"Our mind, body and spirit connection are intrinsically linked and are integral to our overall health and wellbeing.”
Gleeson’s sheer determination, passion, vision, and hands-on approach over the past 21 years has seen endota evolve into Australia’s largest wellness network, with over 100 spas across the country, 1500+ employees, over 140 Australian made products and three dedicated wellness colleges.
Today, the network continues to evolve, providing new additions to its wellness offering, including an online Retreat program, and further spreading its messages of connection each and every day.
Despite the sheer success of the day spa network, Gleeson says she is always learning, evolving and sharing her experience with other like minded ‘wellness entrepreneurs’, her key insights to success fall into four categories:
Gleeson’s experience growing up on the picturesque Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, fostered a passion for the Australian landscape and developed into her drive to ensure the endota brand incorporated and emphasised the natural environment around them at every turn – which became the overarching endota brand story and unique ethos.
“I was raised to respect our environment and the heritage of our country and I wanted to ensure that whatever I did in business reflected this, too”.
“When we were looking for an appropriate name for the first spa, we came across ‘endota’ which is an indigenous word, meaning beautiful.”
Discovering the name was the catalyst for developing a brand that truly harnessed the environment around it, reflected in the use of natural ingredients native to Australia, fragrances unique to the territory and the incorporation of the country’s indigenous culture.
‘Your vibe attracts your tribe’ is a pop-culture phrase that Mel has been harnessing from the very beginning of her career, believing that nurturing her feminine attributes and applying them to her leadership has allowed her to attract like-minded people to the brand.
“We are all connected with the universe and when you set an intention, you are manifesting it to happen. Set intentions for who you want around you and you will multiply your levels of success.”
endota have removed the ‘standard’ hierarchy-based business structures in their network, scrapping things like a head office and instead harnessing a support centre that works in conjunction with their business partners.
“We are consistently mindful of building and nurturing relationships, both with those within our business and those around us. I am always mindful of this and conscious of the contribution of those around us to the growth of the brand.”
“At endota, we are consistently considering the needs of our customers the minute they walk through the door, which allows us to tailor the experience to meet each individual’s needs.”
One of the first things Mel discovered about wellness customers was that they were seeing spas as a luxury instead of a necessity. “When we discovered this, we instantly set out to test and push the thinking of our audience, which developed our key message – to communicate to women that visiting a spa shouldn’t be considered a luxury treat, it should be a healthy habit.”
Having spent the last 20 plus years establishing endota as Australia’s most loved spa and beauty brand, supported by a comprehensive range of professional and retail skincare products, the international demand for endota skin care has shown strong growth.
In the last couple of years, endota have established distribution into Thailand, Canada, New Zealand, China, US, and we are looking toward Singapore, Malaysia, and the EU next.