Hannah Ireson is the owner and founder of Mederi, Oxford’s first floatation centre, providing wellness and relaxation services to improve both physical and mental well-being. Founded in 2018, Hannah built the company from the ground up, inspired by her own positive floatation therapy experience during a stressful pregnancy. Since then, the business has blossomed into a safe space for other expectant mothers to relieve pain and pressure; those recovering from chronic pain or muscle strain; those on their journey of recovery from treatment, the over-worked, the over-stressed, the under-slept…or anyone at all in need of a place to ‘let go’ and unwind. Latin for ‘to heal,’ or ‘to remedy,’ Mederi places the process of healing at the forefront of its brand message, encouraging a holistic approach to recovery through the number of services offered – from a session in the infrared sauna to its signature floating therapy, where clients can expect to languish in the blue serenity of a half-tonne of Epsom salts. Above all, Mederi offers a place of tranquillity. Over the years, the centre has grown into a hub for regulars and new clients alike, offering a community space to practice mindfulness and meditation. In the future, Hannah hopes to expand the business beyond Oxford, looking to offer Mederi’s unique wellness services to a wider client base in search of new and alternative ways to improve their overall well-being.

What is your background? What made you decide to get involved in supporting entrepreneurs?
I always envisioned owning my own business, but the idea for Mederi came to me in a way I never expected. My career has spanned across multiple sectors, from working within the construction industry to the education system. Yet, a common thread between the various positions I’ve held is certainly the emphasis on customer-focused working and the need for a certain kind of emotional intelligence. These skills have been invaluable in setting up a business with people at the heart of it. Creating a peaceful space where people can feel at home offers the chance for my clients to connect not only with others, but also with themselves. Seeing the visible, positive change these services have on my clients from week to week is what makes my job so rewarding. It reminds me why I started the business in the first place.

How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
In all honesty, I didn’t. All I knew was that I had the drive to take the idea and run with it. I’d advise anyone else thinking of starting their own business to do the same. As long as you have the passion for the project and the determination to make it work, I say go for it!

What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
Determination for sure. Starting your own business from scratch can be daunting, and even more so if those around you are expressing doubt about your business venture. You’ve got to believe in your own capability to get it off the ground and running. Secondly, I’d say organisational skills are pretty crucial. If I could go back and give myself advice, it would definitely be to take your time when weighing-up the costs of everything. Areas such as advertising expenses can sometimes be forgotten when calculating business expenditure, especially when you’re trying to juggle so many things at once. It’s understandable. Above all, I’d say there has to be the desire to do good with your business. What is the message at the heart of it? How will your business bring about positive change, no matter on how small a scale? If your ethical values are central to your business, it’s sure to flourish.

What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
Social media plays a significant role in where I draw inspiration from, and it’s mainly from other business owners. On Facebook, for example, the Mederi company page is connected to a web of other floatation centre businesses across the UK, and even globally. Each one has a different approach to promoting the aims of floating therapy. In Liverpool, there is a floatation centre targeted towards athletic recovery; in Ireland, there is a trauma-based approach to advertising floating therapy services. I then incorporate the parts from their floatation centres I feel would work at Mederi, and vice versa, as we each are inspired by one another. Finding a supportive network of others in a similar position to you, who can offer advice and inspire new ideas for your own business, is so important.

What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
Being able to see the real improvement in the well-being of our clients at Mederi has been the most rewarding, I think. I remember one man, in particular, who was suffering from an ongoing illness, who started coming in regularly. After just a few weeks, the change to his feeling of general well-being improved drastically. He was relaxed, comfortable and at ease, and being able to offer that to someone in need of that kind of care really reminds you why you do what you do.

How have you funded your ideas?
When I started the business, I depended upon loans to get the ball rolling. It can be a difficult process, but so worth it when your hard work pays off. In retrospect, I think I might even have considered seeking financial support from investors. It’s definitely a viable option to look into. If you believe in your idea, that passion will shine through when approaching potential investors/applying for grants etc.

What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
I’ve found a really supportive community here in Oxford. Considering that floating therapy is a new concept to a lot of people, the response has been great. A lot of the outreach work I do is predominantly through Facebook and Instagram, and I’ve received some really positive feedback from the local community on those platforms. I think that a sense of community is so important to growing your business. It enables you to establish meaningful, trusting connections between business owner and clients, that you’ll deliver on what your business sets out to do – in my case, communicating our dedication to making Mederi a safe place to feel supported and heal.

If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?
As I mentioned before, I’d definitely recommend social media as a key tool for getting in touch with other entrepreneurs, like Facebook groups etc. Getting advice from people already in the field really helps a lot when you’re just starting out. I’d also really recommend OxLEP, a business offering grant schemes to entrepreneurs and apprentices across Oxfordshire.

Have you faced any challenges as a woman entrepreneur? If so, how have you overcome them?
I would say that the main thing that comes to mind when I think of my experience as a female entrepreneur is the aspect of being a mother. For me, being able to run my business according to my own schedule was really beneficial when trying to balance looking after my young children and working at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, it presented challenges too, but the flexibility offered was definitely a consideration when deciding to start my own company.

Any last words of advice?
I’d say that the most important thing when starting out on your own is that you have a clear vision for the business. From there, as it develops and grows, what’s important then is remembering why you started it in the first place. My advice would be to stay grounded, to remember your values. I find that practicing gratitude is crucial to this. Remembering where you started out from really makes you appreciate how far you’ve come.

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