Kasey Watson, Lynsey Hansen and Jody Hollier when Lynsey was working at Garden House of Morro Bay.
Photo courtesy of Lynsey Hansen
Before most of her friends and clients suspected a worldwide pandemic would impact their lives and businesses, Lynsey Hansen, the recently appointed membership director for the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, knew something was about to happen.
“Mom warned me about a month ahead that COVID-19 was coming.” “Mom” is Linda Hansen, who owns Global Directions Travel based in Grover Beach and her worldview business insight was, indeed, global. “She said other countries were beginning to shut down and I better start saving my money because it was going to hit us and be around awhile.”
It didn’t take long. Lynsey belongs to a book group that had been meeting for Sunday brunches. As they said goodbye after their March 2020 gathering, she recalled saying, “This might be the last brunch for awhile.” Two days later the Governor mandated the lock-down.
Although Lynsey had been a licensed massage therapist for several years, it was late 2018 before she took the leap to officially establish her solely owned business in Morro Bay at 645 Main Street, Suite F. She had attended Lucia Mar Massage School, then certified at the California Holistic Institute of San Luis Obispo. But for her first seven years she saw clients at leased space with another therapist and bookings from her mobile business as she continued to take more courses to hone her skills. Once she opened her own space, she instantly joined and became actively involved in the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce. Her guerrilla marketing strategy focused on networking. She joined the Ambassador Committee, attended all the mixers and helped out with Chamber fundraisers. Her strategy worked.
She said, “2019 was my biggest year. I felt I had come into my own with three-quarters of my time slots filled regularly. I was excited and knew 2020 was going to be even better.”
However, her industry was one that had to shutter. “Mom knew it was going to be long-term. I spent a couple weeks feeling melancholy. I tried to apply for unemployment, but being self-employed I was denied. I applied at Albertson’s and some other places, but wasn’t hired. Then I ran into someone I knew in a parking lot. She was recovering from surgery, and when I asked how she was doing, she said she needed help.”
This serendipitous meeting triggered help for a different type of client and opened a door for what Lynsey needed to get her through some tough times. “She hired me for some personal care support and when I told one of my friends, Jody Hollier, I had found a little something for work, she said they needed help at Garden House of Morro Bay where she was assistant administrator. It was part-time doing some weekend cleaning, shopping, and general socializing with the residence. I applied and the owner Kasey Watson offered me a position. Putting puzzles together with the residents was my favorite of many duties.”
Lynsey was able to pay the rent to keep her office and ride out the time her business was closed until summer when she was able to take in massage clients again. “I love my massage job,” she said, “but I also learned I might need to think about alternatives if this happens again or something else happens, and I can’t earn a living.”
Massage therapy as a career was actually not on her radar when Lynsey moved to Yosemite after growing up and attending schools in Los Osos and Morro Bay. “I was 22 and had lived in Yosemite a couple years trying to find myself without a lot of vision.” She admits Mom is her biggest fan and best friend, but ultimately her Mom-advice was to get her life together. “She said I either needed to find a real job or she was signing me up for Cuesta College.”
Lynsey had to smile as she added, “Living back home again and going to college without a clue what to major in was not what I wanted to do. I wanted a real job that didn’t feel like a real job and something where I didn’t have to wear shoes.”
She knew Yosemite friends who were massage therapists. Their lifestyle seemed to fit her criteria for a career. “I chose Lucia Mar Massage School because graduation day was on my birthday. It is a real job, but it is also work I found out I’m good at. And I don’t have to wear shoes while I’m doing it.”
During COVID-19 she missed her friends and networking opportunities at the Chamber. “One day I was having lunch with Erica Crawford (Chamber CEO) and she said a part time position for membership director was opening. She thought I had the skills to do the job and being local and owning my business could be helpful when talking about membership. I didn’t want to close my business, but needed the extra income so part-time seemed a good opportunity.”
Since November 2020, Lynsey has been working her way through the list of Morro Bay business visitations, renewing memberships. Next she’ll be inviting new members who she is sure will appreciate the services offered.
“I always wondered if there was a job out there that was fulltime networking and talking about our businesses. That’s what I now do. I’ve learned firsthand the challenges of being a small business, but I also know the Chamber helped me grow my business when I needed it. I’m excited I’ve been invited to be a cheerleader for our local businesses.”