087: Identified need for a floatation centre in Northern Ireland to solve high trauma levels in the population. Started one in 2015 and in first 6 months turned over £24,500. More than tripled that to £126,000 in 2020 and grew FTE to 6 (Vivian McKinnon)

Presented by Troy Trewin

Troy has worked intimately with 26 businesses in 20 years. He knows their numbers, understands their growing pains and people issues and has helped with most financial aspects, as well as having coached on leadership and management.

March 14, 2021

In this episode, I interview Vivian McKinnon, the Founder and Managing Director of Hydro-Ease, Northern Ireland’s only dedicated floatation centre. She is also the founder of Wellness Consultant and the regional coordinator for SMART Recovery UK. Vivian is committed to reducing the impacts of trauma and related symptoms using the latest approaches in neuroscience in unison with floatation therapy, developing Reconnection and Floatation Therapy (RAFT) her own unique approach to healing.

An inspirational and creative therapeutic practitioner, an authentic and engaging trainer, and international Public Speaker Vivian firmly believes RAFT is the perfect antidote to our modern frenetic world. Having almost three decades of lived experience of adverse childhood experiences, trauma and addiction she was introduced to floatation for the first time in 2004. After having a very profound and enlightening experience she was keen to understand what had taken place. 

When the owner/operator of the float center could not provide the answers she sought she decided to find out for herself, this saw her returning to education and training alongside some of the most fascinating minds in the world of the modalities she has studied. Working with leaders to vulnerable and disengaged young people throughout the Charity and Voluntary, Public, and Private sectors across Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In 2004, she came across floatation when she was in recovery from trauma, addiction, and seriously compromised mental health going back to her childhood experiences. When she moved to Northern Ireland she realized there was no floatation center and so decided to open one in September 2015 and within the first six months their turnover was £24,500. In 2016, their annual turnover was £60,000 which more than doubled to £126,000 in 2020. She started out as the sole full-time employee and currently has 6. Vivian feels the hardest thing in growing a small business is keeping in the present, and says that the one thing she would tell herself on day one of starting out in business is, “You’ve got this. Get in there and smash it, girl!” Get ready for some small business ownership inspiration. Enjoy!

This Cast Covers:

  • Offering trauma recovery for 40% of people in Northern Ireland who live with the impact of trauma from the legacy of past troubles.
  • Combining 25 centimeters of body temperature water and half a tonne of Epsom salt to help people recover from trauma.
  • Her history with trauma and how she transitioned from the charity and voluntary sector to start Hydro-Ease. 
  • The lifestyle changes that have over time caused increased trauma in our bodies.
  • £0 to £24,500 in the first 6 months and doubling it to £60,000 in annual year: Hydro-Ease’s growth trajectory.
  • Growing from being recognized as a commissioned service by the Department for Health and the Health and Social Board.
  • Moment of success: Standing on stage at the 16th Annual Mental Conference and giving a lecture on mental health.
  • Thriving in marketing by understanding your audience, finding out where they are and using that to target them.
  • Combining her savings and some personal debt to fund the business.
  • How managing the fast growth of the business challenged her.
  • Working with anyone she wants and knowing that she doesn’t have to do everything in her business.
  • Vivian’s core hiring tip for small business owners: The person who does best in an interview isn’t always the best person for the job.
  • Continuous engagement with employees and embracing their ideas for the business.
  • Why every small business owner should work on their mindset to grow their business.

Additional Resources:



“Success is being happy and having a great work-life balance” – Vivian McKinnon

“Understand your audience, find out where they are, and then target them from there” – Vivian McKinnon

“Remember that you’re just as important as everybody else” – Vivian McKinnon

“The person who does best in an interview isn’t always the best person for the job” – Vivian McKinnon

“Not everybody will get your business the way you do” – Vivian McKinnon


Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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