Women of Pasadena: Theresa Armour

They say that “necessity is the mother of invention” and, lucky for Burke Williams Pasadena loyalists, that was case for Theresa Armour. After a successful career working for German television, Armour found herself housebound with three small babies, craving the relaxing indulgences she had experienced while traveling. With her husband, Bill, Armour opened the first Burke Williams in 1984, with a Pasadena location following shortly. With Bill hailing from Pasadena (and countless Rose Parades attended by the family), choosing the city as a Burke Williams destination was an easy decision for the duo. Now, Armour and her team are focused on laying new foundations, including rolling out a Burke Williams skin-care line and expanding the Simply Massage brand into additional markets.

How do you feel Pasadena influences you creatively?

Our location in Pasadena was originally an old carriage house built in the early 1900s. The haylofts are now massage rooms and the central court is now our luxurious lobby. We are just finishing a refresh and have captured style elements from that time as well as hung archival Pasadena photos from long ago. It is without a doubt our most historically charming location.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a woman in your industry?

Instead of a challenge, I actually find it an advantage to be a woman in this profession because the majority of our guests are female. I have witnessed great strides over these past 40 years for women in the workplace. I am proud that the majority of our key management positions, as well as our service providers, are held by women.

What’s a typical workday for you?

My day typically begins with a design team meeting generally followed by email catchup. Interactions with my management core team members, discussing current challenges, opportunities, and ideas round out my typical day.

How have you learned from challenges or setbacks?

The concept of massage was different back in the 1980s—in the urban environment it was not an accepted, much less accessible, practice. So, trying to get investors, trying to lease space, and trying to explain the idea to others was incredibly challenging. My advice would be, in the face of unforeseen obstacles, remember the passion that ignited your dream. Small steps create momentum and momentum overcomes obstacles. What’s new and innovative will take people time to process and accept.