Bradford business owner Assunta Rose recently won the Bradford Board of Trade (BBT) ‘Woman of Influence’ award, for her business practice and mentorship to other female business owners in town.
“There are a lot of really strong business women in town,” said Rose, who was working during the BBT Gala when she was named the winner. “We all lead by example!”
Rose is a single mother of two adolescent daughters. She is a registered massage therapist and opened her clinic, Bradford Wellness Centre almost four years ago.
Over the years, Rose has climbed the entrepreneurial ladder, working as a massage therapist through private clinics to start, as well operating out of her home for a period of time before opening her first clinic at 140 Holland St. West.
Two years ago, Rose won the BBT’s People’s Choice Award. She was elated when she discovered she had won the Woman of Influence award for 2021.
“I was a little emotional,” she said when she found out she had won. “When I video-tapped the clip and sent it to my daughter, she said ‘of course you won!’”
Th Bradford Wellness Centre was nominated for five different awards this year. Rose was nominated for the Woman of Influence award last year, but didn't win.
“When I won People's Choice (in 2019), I was going to sponsor the (BBT’s) Home and Lifestyle show, but then COVID hit,” she said.
Rose says she felt very fortunate to have her clinic operational after the first lockdown, as she had five co-op students already in place to help keep the practice open.
During the pandemic, she encouraged three other local women to go back to school and become registered massage therapists (RMTs) including her assistant, Jaylin Cuco, who runs the front desk at the clinic.
"She prompted me to go back to school and acknowledged all the benefits as a career choice," says Cuco. "I've always wanted to work one-on-one with clients... she said I would really enjoy it so I applied and got accepted (into the program)."
“I had no idea I would love being a massage therapist so much,” Rose adds about her career. “Someone said I had great hands, so, I went back to school.”
Last year, Rose and her staff hosted a ‘Massage-a-Thon’ fundraiser where Rose and two other RMTs massaged 55 clients in one weekend.
“Farmers came in early, shift workers late at night,” she recalls, adding she was "curious" to see how many massages she could perform in one weekend. “It was also a 'thank you' to our first responders and front-line workers, nurses, doctors.”
One hundred per cent of all the proceeds collected during the fundraiser were donated to the Helping Hand Food Bank in excess of $5,500.
“I’ve had some pitfalls,” shares Rose. “Money does not solve all your problems, but it makes things easier.”
In 2013, Rose struggled as a single mother with two young kids, and for a brief period relied on the resources of the local food bank to get by.
“I sold everything I possibly could to make ends meet,” she explains. “So, when I started massaging… there were no limits – the more I massaged, the more money I could make!”
Rose raises her two daughters like she was raised.
Her oldest daughter Bella is currently attending Queen’s University in Kingston, studying biochemistry, and made the Dean’s list last year with a 95 per cent average.
Her youngest daughter Sophia also holds a 90+ average and attends Bradford District High School.
“My younger daughter calls me ‘Wonder Woman’,” says Rose. “Everything I do is for those two girls!”
“If I could win any awards, this one was the most meaningful – it’s like an exclamation point at the end of everything I’ve done (so far),” she concludes. “I’m a machine and that’s ok! You don’t know what’s around the corner! Live for today, enjoy what you got!”
The Bradford Wellness Centre's second annual Massage-a-Thon will be held the first weekend in December.