Erika inspired to success

ERIKA suffers from Scoliosis herself. She said: “I was diagnosed with Scoliosis when I was 11. I was told it was mild and not to worry about it by my GP.

ERIKA suffers from Scoliosis herself.

She said: “I was diagnosed with Scoliosis when I was 11. I was told it was mild and not to worry about it by my GP.”

But Erika's Scoliosis - a medical condition in which a person's spine is curved from side to side or front to back - began to get worse.

She said: “My mum noticed it was getting worse and insisted I saw a specialist who then said they would need to operate. I asked if there was another way and I was given a Boston brace - a corset type structure - which I wore for 23 hours a day for two years. It didn't do any good at all and I was again told I would have to have surgery.”

Determined to avoid the surgeon's knife in an operation that might or might not have been successful the former Woodbridge School student determined to look for a non-surgical solution.

She said: “I found out about treatments on the continent that had been used for 80 years. I went to a clinic in Spain and reduced the amount of back asymmetry by half. It worked and if I carried on with my exercises I would never need to have surgery.”

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When she returned to the UK Erika wrote about her experiences in a specialist Scoliosis magazine and was inundated by requests from people to find out more about the treatment.

She said: “I could speak Spanish so it wasn't a problem for me to have my treatment in Spain but I realised there was no English speaking treatment anywhere in the world.

“I was about 17 when I thought I would have to set up my own clinic. I had wanted to go into accountancy. I started a website and I got requests from all over the world from people who wanted me to open a clinic.”

When she was 19 Erika managed to secure a £50,000 loan and with help from family and friends and she started up Scoliosis SOS in Martlesham.

She said: “We opened in May 2006 and paid back the loan in about 8 months. We started with one doctor and one physiotherapist now we have six.

“We treat about 20 patients a month and they come not just from England but from all over the world.

“We've had people from New Zealand, Australia, and America. We are the only English speaking clinic of its type in the world.”

The business is booming, not only is it employing an increasing number of staff it is also making its mark on the local economy.

Erika said: “People come here for a month's treatment. The bed and breakfast people round here love me.”

Erika said the East of England Businesswoman Of The Year awards - in which she won young business woman for the year - was a “real surprise”.

She said: “I entered really because I thought I'd have a go. I didn't think I'd win but it was really good to get that recognition from the business community.”

Erika said she is really passionate about her work.

Her top ten tips are:

Have a goal - “You have to know why you are doing what you are doing.”

Hard work - “Be prepared for hard work. You have to be 100percent behind what you are doing.”

Stand up for yourself - “I'm a woman in a male dominated medical environment. You have to stand up for yourself.”

Don't give up - “If you do you might as well stop.”

Don't get too stressed - “You need a good de-stressing technique. I go for a long walk.”

Find a good team to support you - “Get the right people.”

Be responsible - “You are responsible for people's livelihoods. The buck stops with you.”

Never underestimate the need for marketing - “It is an uphill battle and you should take every opportunity of publicity that comes your way.”

Give clear instructions to people - “Keep people informed and make sure you keep them happy.”

Learn to delegate - “It was hard at first but it's getting easier. You can't do everything yourself.”

Though she has yet to draw money from the business, Erika said the clinic is profitable.

She said: “I'm ploughing everything back into the business. My goal is to provide the treatment at as low cost as possible. The treatment is something that I have benefited from and it's something I want others to benefit from.”

Do you run your own business? Have you befitted from the treatment at Scoliosis SOS? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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