Born in Denmark, Birgit Campana moved to America with her family when she was only nine. She married at eighteen and did not have the opportunity to attend college. When her friends went into the military, Campana decided to join too, beginning a seventeen-year military career. Campana gives high marks to the U.S. military for teaching her important life skills that enabled her to experience success as an entrepreneur. She credits the Army with developing her work ethic, ability to follow through, and organizational and problem-solving skills.
One thing they instilled in her was going all out to make things happen. “Tell me what you can do, not what you can’t,” and “Bring me as close to yes as possible” were frequent mantras. As well, military leaders she encountered modeled qualities that she values and tries to live by, such as tenacity, strength, justice, and a sense of fair play.
Military Meets Corporate America
After the Army, Campana experienced a series of trials when adjusting to civilian life. Accustomed only to military uniform or casual clothing, Campana had never dressed for business before and had to learn the basics of civilian professional attire. “It was tough,” she says. “I didn’t even know how to put a business outfit together.”
When a series of temp jobs proved unfulfilling, Campana tackled her first “real job” as the Senior Executive Assistant at a non-profit corporation. The workload made it almost impossible to keep up. After eighteen months, she decided it was not going to work and resigned. After she left, the job that she performed as one person was divided among four other employees. In true entrepreneurial fashion, Campana knew that if she were going to work that hard, she would rather work for herself. She explored various business ideas, at one point discussing with her husband the possibility of opening a pizzeria, or trying her hand at Amway, but nothing seemed like a good fit.
While in the military, Campana had taken some medical courses, not really knowing if they would come in handy later. “I’m just fascinated with the human body,” she says. Then one day while she was having a treatment from her chiropractor, she asked him what happened to his massage therapist. He said the therapist had moved on, but that one of his other patients was going to massage therapy school and that she would graduate in just six months. This piqued her interest. “Six months? I could do that,” she said.
Before she left his office that day she had secured an agreement from him that if she graduated from massage therapy school, he would save an office for her where she could treat clients and build her own business. At a time when she was beginning to doubt everything, her husband and her chiropractor believed in her. With the military mindset of ‘going all out to make things happen’, Campana registered for school, soon graduated, and immediately set about getting to work.
A Spa Is Born
When she had first talked about becoming a massage therapist, but still wrestled with feelings of fear and apprehension about the future, a trusted friend and superior from the military said to her, “Sometimes we just need to take that step off the cliff and see what happens. And you know what? If you land on your feet, it’s all good. If you land on your face, you can always flip burgers at McDonald’s, right?” Those words put things into perspective for her and helped keep her motivated to move forward with her business.
Four years later in 2004, she took another leap and signed a lease on a location, which would become the luxurious Dansk Day Spa at Occoquan, VA. She hasn’t looked back, has built a steady and loyal clientele, and employs a staff of women of diverse talents and training who keep her customers coming back. She also holds popular “Open House” events at the spa, meeting regulars and potential clients. At these events she invites other local business owners to network and promote their businesses as well.
For more information on the wide variety of services they offer or to book an appointment, visit the Dansk Day Spa website.