How Sense Of Self Became Melbourne’s Go-To Bathing Destination

Following a three-year stint living and working in Norway, hotelier and botanist Freya Berwick soon found herself embarking on a big career change.

Running a small hotel and restaurant on the side of a picturesque Scandinavian fjord, Freya realised she wanted to build something of her own that embodied her passion for design, operations, hospitality, community, wellbeing and of course, saunaing!

Once returning to Australia, she teamed up with a business partner to co-found Sense of Self — a dreamy inner-Melbourne bathhouse and spa focused on fostering a sense of belonging and connection to one’s self.

‘Sense of Self was born from seeing an opportunity to bring a more global approach to spa and wellbeing to Australia, and being very deliberate about not conflating that with beauty or performance outcomes,’ Freya says.

Now three years since it first opened, Sense of Self has grown a loyal following and clientele thanks to the team’s unique approach to wellness — and Freya’s eye for beautiful design.

Read more about how she built the business from the ground up below.

What was your initial vision for Sense of Self?

The vision was to create a space where our guests and staff can experience a sense of belonging and self connection, as an antidote to our increasingly busy and disconnected lives. How this translates into a bathhouse format is a combination of very deliberate design, customer service, brand narrative and operational cohesion.

We have been very intent on sticking to the original vision and not muddying it with conflicting messages or intentions.

What do you think has been the secret to building such a strong following and loyal clientele over the past few years?

We are so lucky to be trusted by our guests and wider community, which is something you have to earn as a brand and business, and I take that very seriously. Trust is built on authenticity and care,  both of which are the backbone of true hospitality, which alongside our company values are pivotal to how we conduct ourselves as a business.

What is the most rewarding thing about running your business?

Seeing the immediate impact that relaxation and connection has on people, which is not only a great outcome for them but also brings a lot of joy and meaning to our staff. The wide variety of people accessing Sense of Self is also super humbling.

Why did you choose Squarespace as your website building platform?

Squarespace enabled us to build something beautiful quickly and cost effectively without onerous ongoing costs.

Beyond being the primary place where our guests see our menu and ultimately make their bookings or purchases, our website is often the first touchpoint with our brand and philosophy, so it is really important for us that we convey our unique value offering in an impactful but straightforward way.

What Squarespace features have you found most useful or valuable to you?

Being able to get something up and running quickly, and then being able to manage that content easily in-house. This is perfect for when you are a small business with limited resources.

What’s next for Sense of Self?

At the moment our focus is on opening our next location, bringing more of our bathing house essential oil blends to retail, and iterating our DIY Sud & Mud offering.

Squarespace provides entrepreneurs and small business owners with the tools they need to bring their creative ideas to life, online. Using their all-in-one platform, you can claim a domain, build a website, sell online, and market your brand.

Use code ‘thedesignfiles’ for 10% off an annual subscription — learn more here.

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