Maintaining work-life balance is much discussed these days, and many argue it’s impossible to achieve professional success without sacrificing personal life. But Taneth Jiraswakedelok, co-founder and principal of award-winning brand Divana, disagrees. For him, success comes from “a healthy lifestyle, a positive mentality and a flexible mindset”.
“It’s essential to have a good balance in life, especially for those of us working in the wellness business. We can’t just talk the talk.”
A pioneer in the country’s spa and wellness industry, Jiraswakedelok first discovered his interest in the field while working as a Swissair flight attendant. “I was very impressed by Switzerland, its nature and healthy culture. Swiss people are punctual, open-minded and hospitable. I also really love the natural hot springs there,” he remembers. “Every time I went to Zurich, I would visit a nearby town called Baden for its hot springs.”
There, Jiraswakedelok stumbled upon a small clinic that offered alternative medicine, such as Ayurveda and Chinese acupuncture. He was surprised by how cosy the clinic felt, saying that he had never seen anything like that before: “It didn’t feel like a ‘clinic’, more like a neighbour’s house!” he says. “But they didn’t have Thai massage, so I thought about doing something similar, but integrated with our famous massage and heritage.” In fact he did more than just think about it; during his four years of life above the clouds, he also managed to earn a degree in Tourism Management and write his thesis on spa business.
Following the 9/11 crisis, Swissair went bankrupt and as a result, Jiraswakedelok was laid off, along with the international crew. “It changed my life,” he says. “I saw it as an opportunity for me to do what I liked instead of feeling upset about it.” So he went back to his home country and, together with two friends, created the ideal spa he had envisioned for years.
“Back then, all the high quality spas in Thailand belonged to five-star hotels…but there were few, good day spas around, if any” he says. “Divana began as a small garden-home spa with a relaxing environment, where clients felt like they were simply visiting a neighbour in Thailand. We wanted to incorporate traditional herbs, oriental wisdom and Thai culture while offering international quality service.”
Since its inception 14 years ago, Divana has grown to beceome multiple day spas, a clinic and the Dii Wellness Med Spa, which has twice been recognised as ‘Medi-Spa of the Year’ at the AsiaSpa Awards. Having followed his heart from Thailand to the world and back, Jiraswakedelok discovered a simple formula for success: “You have to believe in the things you do, feel well and think positive. Only then can you put good energy into your work and influence other people. Remain open-minded so that you can welcome innovation and meet the changing expectations of people at all times. Dii, for example, is our response to the need for innovation at this age. And we’re also going to launch the Divana Academy of Wellness & Longevity with a university to create a solid foundation of wellness experts for the industry.”
Last year, Jiraswakedelok was selected as one of the Top 40 Elle Men of Thailand, which recognises men from different industries who have both the looks and the brains. As someone who could easily pass for a person in his early 30s, the 42-year-old entrepreneur attributes his youthful appearance to going to the gym at least twice a week and eating well. “Whether you want to stay healthy or turn back the clock, diet is key. Many people don’t know they are actually allergic to their favourite foods. Sometimes, the symptoms are very subtle. I personally avoid flour, eggs and dairy products, because they make my face swollen.”
Jiraswakedelok continues, “I’m very lucky to be able to turn my lifestyle into a profitable business. People look at me and see that my method works. It gives me tremendous motivation when I am recognised for what I do.”