Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stephanie Lightfoot – Together Everyone Achieves More

On February 12th, Good Life Wellness center located in Savage, Maryland is celebrating a milestone - their 10 year anniversary. They are having an open house featuring organic food and will be giving the public the opportunity to see and experience the different wellness services they offer such as massage, acupuncture, nutrition counseling, life coaching and chiropractic care to name a few.

At the helm of this wellness center is Stephanie Lightfoot who is a certified massage therapist. She originally purchased Hands On Bodyworks from a former colleague and also inherited all the clients. During the course of helping her clients to de-stress, she developed a rapport with many of them where they felt comfortable sharing some of their concerns which had led to the tightening of their muscles. Because of her compassion, she referred them to other practitioners such as chiropractors and mental health counselors so they could have additional help to get fully healthy.

Lightfoot began thinking about a proposition that would be a win-win for everyone. The practitioners she was referring clients to each had to pay rent and utilities for their individual practices and clients had to drive all over town to meet them all. She thought to herself – why not form a co-operative and have the practitioners all in one location to share overhead costs and also support one another? This would also be convenient for the clients to have their additional health needs addressed at one place.

She chose a co-operative as a business model so that everyone can benefit since each practitioner has ownership of their individual businesses and they can give referrals to one another. In addition, decisions are made democratically and everyone has a vested interest in the co-operative’s success. There are currently 12 practitioners who make up the co-op and include a naturopathic doctor, mental health counselor, life coach and energy healer. In 2007 a second location, Bikram Yoga, was opened in Columbia, Maryland. This type of yoga is commonly referred to as “hot yoga” because it is taught in a hot studio with high humidity for 90 minutes each time.

The decision to create a co-operative as opposed to a traditional business owned by one person, has enabled Lightfoot to live a balanced life. She said when she became a business owner she was told she would never have free time for herself and yet she has experienced the exact opposite. As a mother of two she is able to work around her children’s schedule and she is also part of a band. Lightfoot says, “The most pleasant surprise I have found as a business owner is the freedom I’ve experienced. The business is truly running itself and I can choose which days I want to work.”

Choosing this business model was influenced by her two year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kingston, Jamaica. One of the lessons she learned was the importance of teaching the people she was there to help, the attitude of ownership and being invested in their own success long after the Peace Corps volunteers have gone. By doing this, the people will still function because they are self-motivated. She used the same idea for Good Life Wellness and it continues to flourish as a result.

As an entrepreneur, Lightfoot has faced several challenges. One of them was due to not having a full-time receptionist since she could not afford one. For many years she was responsible for answering the phone and returning calls and admits that she lost many customers this way because it was not possible to answer every call or return calls in a timely manner. When she found this solved the problem. This company provides a virtual receptionist and answering service and has transformed her business.

This attentiveness to customers who call has helped the company with its goal to help people and to stand out among the competition. They pride themselves in creating an environment where they can build solid relationships with their clients. Lightfoot says, “People come in to Good Life Wellness looking for relief from all different kinds of pain. Whether the pain is physical, mental or emotional, we work hard to find out what it is and give them relief.”

Another challenge is the impact the economy has had on the industry. Because the services they offer are considered alternative medicine, they are not covered by health insurance plans. As a result, customers who come to Good Life Wellness have to pay 100% out of pocket and with people losing their jobs there are fewer people who can afford the services. Lightfoot’s team has been using a lot of specials and discounts especially for first time customers. They also offer packages to existing customers so that they can lock in a lower rate if they commit to using a service a few times.

So what does the future hold for Good Life Wellness? Lightfoot says, “I have a big vision! I am currently renting space but one day would like to purchase a facility where I can offer wellness workshops over several days; teach yoga; have an organic farm and even maybe a concert venue.” Although this is indeed a big vision, Lightfoot plans to yet again to use the co-operative model. She firmly believes that connecting with others who share your vision is the best way for everyone to succeed. She truly epitomizes the acronym T.E.A.M. that together everyone achieves more!

Please visit for more information. Experience Good Life Wellness for yourself  by attending their open house on February 12th,  (2011) from 1pm – 4pm to celebrate their 10 year anniversary.


  1. I really liked reading about this innovative idea. By putting the clients together with many different providers in one venue is a win-win situation for both parties, but then to have all the providers be sharing in a business cooperative makes it even better. This allows the providers to be a part of a team which makes each one stronger than having stayed in an individual office somewhere. Each provider has more to offer their clients now since they can mention the other businesses that are right on their premises. Lightfoot could have viewed the other businesses as a threat to her own enterprise, but instead she brought them together as a team, which will help the clients in the end.

  2. I agree with Kim that the idea of having several providers in the same location and in the co-operative agreement is great. I think that each one in the co-operative is an individual as an entrepreneur himself (or herself). I wonder how many of the members of the co-operative have grown to become individual business owners or how many have left the group during the 10 years of operation. This would be the down side to the co-operative business model. I think entrepreneurs in a co-operative business model may work in two ways; they may not be motivated to grow as individual entrepreneurs or the business could be a trampoline to catapult growth for an individual owner. Abram