30 years ago, beauty therapist Evelyn and her three-year-old daughter Samara left their small town in Ireland for a new life in London. As Samara adjusted to the culture shock of living in a big city, Evelyn set up her own home beauty salon to make ends meet.
Now, massage is a huge part of both their lives. Evelyn continues to give treatments as a volunteer at the Mulberry Centre, a cancer charity, while Samara uses Urban to visit clients alongside working full-time in a Manchester barrister’s chambers.
What’s it like having a mum in the same profession, Samara?
Samara: It’s nice, especially because we can share tips! When I come down to London I stock up on couch roll, and she taught me to start using coconut oil which doesn’t stain towels. Mum also gives me pointers on which new treatments to train for, too – thanks to her I’m trained in deep tissue and reflexology.
“When I’m with her, I find myself thinking “if you can do it, I can do it”
What was it that made you want to start training as a massage therapist?
Samara: I knew that I had the skills from Mum! And when I give massages clients seem to get so much from it. It’s not just physical benefits with massage – there are a lot of mental benefits, and me and my mum both like being able to give that to clients.
What are your memories of growing up with a therapist for a mum?
Samara: Growing up, Mum was always doing training. I used to go to childminder’s while she went off to do her courses, then she started a little salon in our conservatory. I just remember all these people coming to the house all the time.
Mum actually used to use me as a model for practicing waxing and stuff – I think I was a bit young at the time. That was when I was about 12!
Were you two close when you were growing up?
Samara: Yeah, really close! Mum took me to all my different classes, like swimming and Irish dancing. She always had me involved in so many different things, and was eager to see what I was good at and what she could help with.
Evelyn, how did it feel when Samara told you she wanted to go into the same industry?
Evelyn: I told her to make sure she didn’t do it just because I was doing it! She had to want to do it on her own. She’s tried a bit of everything, but I know what it takes to run your own business, and it takes a lot.
But Samara’s so outgoing, wonderful with people and really healing, and she gives so much time to people. She’s a great listener and gets amazing reviews for her massages by giving 110%!
What are some of your favourite memories of Samara as a child?
Evelyn: She loved dancing and singing and make-up and cooking – she was just always full of fun! She was a beautiful child, and I noticed how she had a strong mind of her own.
When we left Ireland I think there were lots of sad bits – she was really close to my father and our family over there. She absolutely hated England for a long time, and lots of our good memories are in Ireland. We lived by a big lake, so we had lots of fun waterskiing and things like that.
How has the industry changed since you first started working?
Evelyn: It hasn’t changed a great deal, but more men are coming into it! Definitely when I was younger you wouldn’t treat many men, but that’s changing.
Any standout memories from your time working in Ireland?
Evelyn: I used to demo beauty products, and my company sent me to Northern Ireland at the time of the troubles up there. People there were crying out for beauty! Part of me thinks I could’ve started a business there with such high demand, but I preferred traveling.
And what about your voluntary work, Evelyn? Mind telling us a bit about that?
Evelyn: I give voluntary treatments to cancer patients – I’ve been there for about 15 years, giving Shiatsu treatments. In fact, we recently got an award from the Queen, with a badge and a certificate!
They have a beautiful room for me to give treatments in and it’s a really beautiful place, and a chance to help people dealing with sickness and loss.
After so long in the industry, is there anything you feel like you’re still learning?
Evelyn: You’re always learning in this business. I spend the whole year doing courses online. I’ve taken quite a few already – reflexology and aromatherapy, things like that – the biggest thing I’ve done is shiatsu, which is a four-year course. With mental health being so important nowadays, you’re learning all the time.
“Like us all in life, she’s had a few knocks. I’m so proud of her…”
It sounds like you both seem to find giving treatments therapeutic. Is that fair to say?
Evelyn: Yeah, it’s very healing, even if you’re the one giving the treatment. You’re really grounded in this business – you have to be. You learn to protect yourself from negativity.
Evelyn, is there anything that Samara has taught you about life?
Evelyn: She’s a great fighter. She gets knocked down and can just pick herself up and do so well. Like us all in life, she’s had a few knocks. I’m so proud of her for moving up to Manchester, and she’s done so well on her own.
How’s things in Manchester, Samara?
Samara: Good! I came here about a year ago after lockdown, and It’s my first time living away from home really! I think Urban’s really helped me settle in, too. It’s a great way to meet people and stay sociable. I also think people in Manchester are really nice, so that helps!
How’s Urban helping?
Samara: I’m trying to build up some money, so I normally put my availability on from about 6.30-9. I’ve got a good profile with good comments now, and I’ve just done over 50 bookings. I love going to all the different houses and meeting all these different people. I think people are surprised to hear I also work at a barrister’s chambers! I also get a lot of therapy out of it – I enjoy giving treatments so much!
Do you have any rituals you do together?
Samara: I have anxiety and Mum’s helped me so much with that stuff. She’ll go swimming outside, whatever the temperature, and we used to swim in the morning during lockdown whenever we could. When I’m with her, I find myself thinking “if you can do it, I can do it”, which really helps me move forward.
We’re also big fans of the theatre and the ballet, and we love shopping!
Want to book a treatment with Samara in Manchester? Search for her on urban.co