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Worcester’s Women Entrepreneurs: Jennifer Durkin

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Worcester's Jennifer Durkin gave up the Internet for a more hands-on approach and founded Soothe Massage Therapy.

After fifteen years as a busy Information Technology professional, Jennifer Durkin aspired for more than a connection to the internet. Spending long hours upon seemingly impersonal projects, Durkin realized it was time to get back in touch with family, friends and the community in a more hands-on way. Today she finds her joy as sole proprietor of Soothe Massage Therapy on June Street in Worcester.

Durkin discovered her love for analytical problem solving and anatomy while studying at Boston University. She was captivated by courses such as physiological psychology and neuroanatomy. Now, as a licensed massage therapist, Durkin applies these skills and knowledge in a way her clients can take comfort in.  

“Massage allows me to combine my love for analytical thinking and problem solving with my interest and fascination with human anatomy and physiology,” she said.

Soothe Massage Therapy

Acting upon what she described as a “crazy idea,” Durkin commenced her training to become a licensed therapist at the Bancroft School of Massage Therapy in Worcester. Then, just one year ago, she opened her doors for business.

Durkin is passionate about interacting with clients to understand their needs. She draws upon a variety of therapeutic modalities including Swedish, myofascial, deep tissue, as well as pregnancy and postpartum massage. Then, using her love for problem solving, Durkin massages her extensive knowledge into a unique regimen to soothe each client during and between sessions.

Durkin sees her role as both educator and practitioner. Using this combination approach, she plans to expand her business beyond the massage table and into the workplace. “I love to make the light bulb go on for people, and I am starting to reach out to local businesses and groups,” she said. “Not just onsite massage, but also education and self-care type of workshops.”

Building from the ground up

New to entrepreneurship, Durkin explained that learning how to run a business presented some challenges. But she is determined to make her venture a success story. One day she hopes to employ additional therapists.

“I’ve managed people, but never anything from the ground up,” she said. “Even though Soothe is run by just me for now, there are still a number of moving parts. I made mistakes. But you learn from it and keep moving forward.”

After a year in business, Durkin is most surprised by her growing love for the business. “I was worried that my love of massage and continuing education would become tempered by the fact that it is now my job,” she said. “But my initial excitement and passion has not wavered. I love my job and I’m not sure if it’s more therapeutic and calming for my clients, or me!”

Giving back to Worcester

Durkin recently presented a workshop for the Worcester Community Connections Coalition, affiliated with YOU Inc.’s Family Needs Committee. As educator, therapist, and family woman, she enjoys giving back to the community and working with parents to demonstrate self-care techniques for the whole family.

“Regular life is demanding on your body, as well as our repetitive injury jobs,” she said. “I remind folks that the body they have is the only one they get so give it some attention a few times a day.”

Family woman and local business advocate

When not tending to her practice, Durkin enjoys spending time with her husband and 5-year-old son, as well as exploring the local restaurant scene. “I am a wife, mother, runner, reader and local small business supporter,” she said. “And I love food! Seriously.” 

Moving to Worcester with her husband ten years ago, Durkin has grown attracted to the city’s charm and potential.  

“It’s a city that has a strong foundation in small businesses, not chains and franchises. Worcester’s small business community is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s awesome to be part of, and a supporter of, that force.”

Focus on your passions

“Two years ago, I would have thought being a small business owner was crazy,” she said. Taking a leap of faith, however, Durkin set aside her reservations to pursue a passion for connecting with people and helping to make their lives more relaxed one massage at a time.

Her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who may be questioning their own “crazy idea”?

“Know your emotional and professional support system and use them! It’s perfectly okay to ask for help and acknowledge that you can’t do everything yourself. Focus on what you are good at, passionate at. That’s where your energies give you the best advantage.”


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