The Female Entrepreneur:

Multiple Roles and Dynamic Work Design in Service Start-up


Julianna scored her job                       (ten being the most enjoyable job you can imagine).

by MK Ward

A spa is a space for clients to relax and de-stress. But what is it like to work in a spa?


Let’s find out with Julianna who is a beauty therapist and the owner of Limon Health & Beauty Spa. There’s relaxing Enya-like music playing and Julianna’s voice is calm and soothing. Everything in the room, from paint colour, music volume, scents, towel texture, and flooring were chosen with the intention to invoke a sense of calm. The ambiance put me so at ease that the interview was one of the more difficult ones because all the subtle details of the environment made it hard to concentrate and work rather than relax. Yet, we soon found out that cultivating such a calm experience is complex and challenging work.

It’s like having two jobs


Julianna has over a decade of experience in this industry and deeply understands the work.  After she launched Limon Julianna found that although we was working in the same industry she knew well, the work design of an entrepreneur was different from her previous jobs.


“In the beginning I overdid it, which you have to do when you have your own business. It’s like having a baby I would think, because it’s constant and it consumes you.”


She described how she had little to no down time because it is as if she’s dealing with the work demands of two jobs. On the one hand, she’s a beauty therapist performing treatments for clients in the spa. This involves specialized tasks and activities, which is a knowledge characteristic of work.


On the other hand, Julianna would work wherever there was internet connection to reply to emails, work on the website, and manage her social media. In addition to virtual upkeep, Julianna positioned the spa in a way that makes it essential to source quality products (organic, plant-based, vegan, animal cruelty free, eco-friendly). Sourcing requires searching for suppliers, sampling products to see which toxin-free products are effective, and deciding to order a selection. The knowledge characteristics of her job includes lots of information processing and can be cognitively demanding. Although her work design has changed to include more interaction outside the organization.

Demands becoming resources


Julianna’s work design has changed as her work tasks shifted from when she started Limon.


“In the last 6 months I still do as many hours, but less treatments and more work on the business itself including workshops, event networking, and online presence. Networking at events is a challenge because I am introverted.”


The networking events and workshops can be draining. However, over time the contacts made, relationships developed (social support), and knowledge acquired (cognitive development) become resources.


While her work design has evolved alongside her business, some aspects remain constant. For example, Julianna relishes in the creativity of the business and the ability to create something that fits her priorities, one of which is environmental sustainability. “I like creating something that takes care of the environment because we live in a world where we are destroying it so that is very important to me.” Julianna has consistently put time and effort into sourcing and using toxin-free, organic where possible, vegan, plant-based products. She sees nature as a stakeholder, similar to how she sees her clients as beneficiaries of the spa. This ability to do what she loves in a business that follows what she considers best-practices meant that despite the complexity and many demands of the job, Julianna rates it 10 out of 10. “There’s only so much time and you spend so many hours at work so what’s the point if you don’t like it .”


a little more...

Same Industry,

Very Different Work Design

Cognitive Work Demands: Lingual Challenges