Q&A with Camille Pierson of The Float Spa

In a secluded spot in Hove, the Float Spa is Brighton & Hove’s only flotation therapy centre – and it’s changing people’s lives. Camille Pierson founded the company when floating transformed her own life back in 2015. Brighton & Hove Living Wage and Camille find a serene room at The Float Spa to speak about the wellness industry and the future of The Float Spa.

By Charlotte Kidd

Camille burst into an unfamiliar industry from a taxing and toxic job in marketing. Since then, The Float Spa has grown into an award-winning therapy centre that has science on its side. Floating offers a whole host of benefits; from aiding creativity to improving sleep. Camille knows first-hand the toll a stressful lifestyle has on your body. This is why she does all she can to ensure her employees have a holistic, non-work centred approach to their lives.

LWC: Tell me about your decision to create The Float Spa – why floating?

CP: Floating saved my life. All I really wanted, was to be able to offer floatation therapy in Brighton, because it didn’t exist down here. I wanted to share with the people of Brighton & Hove what I had found. For me to relax and take time out from my busy schedule was un-heard of back in 2014, the fact floatation had a profound effect on me, I knew other could benefit too. Everything else was an add on. In 2014 We found an original location near Hove station – and it was a tiny little space. It would’ve had two float tanks, and that’s it. There were issues with getting planning permission to change the commercial use from the council, and after a few months or back and forth, we let that place go and found what is now our Third Avenue location. I was worried it would be too big. That’s when my husband suggest we put yoga in it to complement it. But to start, I just wanted to open a float centre – everything else has been a surprise.

What are the best and worst parts of the wellness industry – to you?

The worst part? There are cowboys making huge claims. There are so many people who offer therapies, and people buy into these ‘claims’ which are not properly researched. So, you’re battling. There are people, undergoing cancer treatment, severe mental health issues, who are vulnerable. They look for someone to help them and they are quite rightly desperate and I can see that others have taken advantage of the situation and this is sad to see. At The Float Spa all the work we do complements the work of conventional medicine which is backed up with scientific research. We do not overclaim, but support our clients on their journey – taking the time to listen to their needs and make suggestions if possible.

But the best part? Well, it’s supporting people and watching their lives change in front of your eyes. The moment someone who never thought they could have children wheels their baby in their pushchair. Or someone who’s hit rock bottom, and supporting them into their new life. Someone overcoming grief – smiles for the first time in a long time. Someone trying a yoga class for the first time and seeing the post-yoga glow, or someone in chronic pain being pain free for an hour. That’s the best part. There’s just too many to mention.

What’s in store for the future of The Float Spa?

We opened in 2015, spent all this time investing in our business, and in 2019 we sat down – all guns blazing, ready for 2020 to be our year. We opened a second business, it was meant to be amazing – everything was going really well. Then Covid hit. We rely on people coming in so we were hit really badly. Whilst yoga hasn’t quite recovered to pre-pandemic state, we’ve diversified so we’re less reliant on yoga. So that’s OK. And the immediate future I suppose is continual recovery and seeing how much we can play. I’d love to offer retreats, and maybe even open another one, I don’t know quite yet.

What do you still have to learn about the industry?

Everything. Every day’s a school day. I’m not arrogant in saying I know it all. I know a lot, but even then, too much information can be annoying (especially for my husband, who’s like for “god’s sake, what are you doing now”). But anyone who walks through the door will teach you something, whether it’s a client, therapist, teacher, child. The learning potential is endless.

If you could’ve done anything differently, what would you have done?

Not have our landlord would be one. I was very naïve to start, I hadn’t run a business, I didn’t always know what I was doing. We made mistakes. Sometimes we spent money on things that were unnecessary. We made changes that didn’t work. I annoyed people. Because I’m not perfect. I grew up in Manchester, and sometimes I’m very black and white, and that can be taken the wrong way. But fundamentally, I’ve had team members and teachers who’ve worked with me for the whole seven years and clients still coming since the first week we opened. So I’m not doing that bad a job.

What contributes to your staff’s welfare?

I don’t manage them, I lead them. Because I hated being micromanaged. In job I had before my boss wasn’t very nice. When I’m faced with a situation, in the back of my mind I wonder: what would my old boss do? Because I then do the opposite. I never shout at anyone. I never get annoyed. Mistakes happen, and I’m forever saying: It’s OK, we’ll fix it. Because I don’t think my team ever want to do a bad job, they make mistakes, and I make mistakes, and it’s admitting you can make mistakes and that’s OK. If you kept making the same mistake over and over, well maybe there’s an issue, and I would question why that is. But we spend a lot of time finding the right candidates. I’ve got a huge emphasis on the Right to Disconnect – It’s important not to pester staff when they’re not in: it would have to be really urgent. It’s about respecting the boundaries that person has. Private life is private life. So when you’re here you do good a job, but when you’re not go and enjoy yourself.