The esthetics industry has become a network of support for women and industry professionals everywhere. Whether it's starting up a personal skin care business, or becoming a franchise spa owner, the opportunities to become a female entrepreneur are endless.
Melinda Sykes, franchise owner for Waxing the City, a national brand with over 120 locations, began her journey as a business operator in 2017. Her impactful leadership quickly grew her studio location to a million dollar business in less than four years, and the second highest performing Waxing the City location by annual revenue.
Today, Sykes employs a full-time staff of 16 estheticians that receive full employments benefits, and she has now launched a tuition assistance program that covers tuition and lab fees for cosmetology and esthetics students. She also guarantees employment at her studio upon graduation for these students.
Sykes sat down with Skin Inc. to discuss her experience as a Black, female owner and entrepreneur, how she got started in the industry and what advice she has for her fellow industry professionals interested in spa business.
SI: How did you get started in the industry?
MS: In a way, I stumbled upon the opportunity after moving to a new city that did not yet have a waxing studio nearby – a personal care service I got used to while living in bigger cities. I knew right then that there was an existing need and felt certain that a waxing studio would succeed in my new neighborhood, just as I watched them flourish in larger markets. The immediate need for a studio and the ability to be first to market, coupled with my own entrepreneurial drive led me to Waxing the City. After months of research and eventually visiting the Waxing the City headquarters, I ended up opening my first studio in November 2017.
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SI: Tell us about your experience as a Black, female owner/operator of a successful brand?
MS: It can be challenging to find people that look like me and own their own business, specifically within this field. Waxing the City’s parent company, Self Esteem Brands, has been tremendously helpful to me as I navigate being a Black, female owner. The global brand recently launched an incentive program making franchise opportunities more accessible for Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities across the U.S., including a reduced initial franchise fee for minority candidates. I'm grateful to work with a brand playing an active role to increase minority business ownership and driving diversity in the franchise space. While it can be tough to find that sense of community that falls into place when you see others like you working in a similar industry, I’m proud to play a part in raising awareness for future minority business owners.
3. What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs?
MS: First and foremost, be persistent. Do not take no for an answer just because someone doesn’t agree with your vision. Agreeability does not always mean success. Second, be part of communities that support your dream – they will be there as you discover new possibilities.
4. How has the brand supported you through your impressive career?
MS: After being with Self Esteem Brands for over five years now, it’s clear how they have evolved over time. When you form a partnership like franchisors and franchisees do, you can only hope that your partner will continue to evolve as you, a business owner, continues to grow in your career. Through everything, Self Esteem Brands has remained supportive, open-minded, and aligned in the vision of improving the self-esteem of the world. As an entrepreneur in the self-care and wellness space, there’s not much more I could ask for.
5. What inspired your student loan forgiveness program?
MS: I always knew that part of the reason I wanted to be an entrepreneur was to have an impact outside of running a successful business and knew that once I could offer help, that would be my next undertaking. I feel fortunate to be able to reduce student loan debt and offer a guaranteed job upon graduation.