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Andrea Mundie of skoah: “Sometimes the simplest ideas aren’t even created yet”

Sometimes the simplest ideas aren’t even created yet. Always give your idea a chance and start looking into it. The most important way of research is to ask and listen to the customers. Oftentimes, we talk and share our thoughts, but the best research is to listen and understand what is in demand. As far […]

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Sometimes the simplest ideas aren’t even created yet. Always give your idea a chance and start looking into it. The most important way of research is to ask and listen to the customers. Oftentimes, we talk and share our thoughts, but the best research is to listen and understand what is in demand. As far as if it has been done before, luckily, we have the internet at our fingertips to search and see what is out there. Do your research to check for patents in your country, which can be found at the U.S. and Canadian Patent Offices, both online and in-person.


Asa part of our series called “Meet The Inventors”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Mundie.

With more than 25 years of sales, marketing, operations, training, finance and leadership experience, Andrea Mundie is skoah’s co-founder, CEO and president. Founded in 2001, skoah, a first to market, facials-only concept, with a membership model and a proprietary skincare product line, and has 15 locations across Canada and the U.S. Franworth, a leading growth equity firm, has partnered with skoah to expand locations in the U.S. and Canada.

Andrea took part in inventing skoah’s proprietary skin care product line, which consists of more than 70 products today, and has allowed an additional recurring-revenue stream for the brand’s franchisees.

Keeping affordability top of mind, Andrea and the team were able to create high-performance skin care products that provide a fresh and natural feel. The product line uses ingredients such as botanical extracts, natural minerals, organic compounds and powerful bio-actives for a combination of science and nature for their products.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

My background has always focused on creating experiences in real-time. I love retail as things happen in the moment. Originally, I received my degree in history of art as it was a passion, and I loved that it captured history by those living at the time, versus history books that were often stories told by others. However, I started in the retail industry when I was 15 years old and it stuck with me.

I furthered my education with a teaching degree and taught for three years before recognizing that it was not a career that I was passionate about. That teaching degree is impactful in my current role as it relates well to training, communications and marketing in the business world. Those three years helped me perfect getting a group engaged and providing a clear message. Switching gears, a friend had shared advice that I should get into sales and marketing, as it comes with a lot of rejection, and getting outside your comfort zone. As I became a part of the fashion industry, I spent a small portion of my career as a wholesale salesperson for a variety of brands, which I then turned into my own small agency.

I then joined a partnership to launch skoah, which at the time was a full-service spa. Since I was not the sole owner, I was able to still work in fashion. Eventually we bought our partner out and converted skoah to a facial-only concept. While working under skoah, I had started a few jobs on the side. I got into consulting for marketing and communications for a few brands and even worked as a brand manager for Lululemon in Canada.

I realized that in order to really accelerate skoah’s growth, it required me to invest more time and dedication. Over the past 13 years, I have focused my professional attention on skoah, and it has certainly paid off. At the time of launching the brand, it seemed to be a crazy idea to open a single-service beauty concept, but we have consistently remained pioneers in the industry. As we launched the facial-only service, we rolled out our first five proprietary products and grew that product line to our current offering of 70 products. We look to focus on one service and perfect it. Taking on franchising as a method to scale our business has helped as well.

Earlier this year we partnered with Franworth, prior to COVID-19, to look at our concept and find ways to improve and scale at a rapid rate. The pandemic has just motivated us to ramp up our partnership and make changes to our concept at a quicker rate to continue to respond to industry demands.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Keep moving forward.”

It has always been a saying I keep in mind for both work and personal challenges. If you find yourself stuck and just stay in one place, you remain there, but if you keep moving and looking for a solution it at least gets you further than where you were while standing still. This quote has helped me through so many moments to continue forward and find a way past any situation.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

It’s a really simple one, but 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. To me, it is the heart and soul of nearly every business book! And the 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Tactically, the 7 Habits, Philosophically, the 4 Agreements.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. What was the catalyst that inspired you to invent your product? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

As any new business would do, our team at skoah would take the time to listen to the clients that entered our spa. We started off with a very simple welcoming atmosphere, providing a minimalist, modern and gender-neutral environment. Our very first tag line was ‘no whale music, no bubbling cherubs, no pretentious attitude.’ As we revamped the brand to be a facials-only service, we constantly listened to the feedback provided by our clients and our team. Our beauty professionals built relationships with the guests and continued to hear them say: “I want skin care products that are easy to understand, easy to use and get results.” For us, this was that “ah ha” moment to get to the drawing board and create a product that would provide a solution to our guest’s demands.

Like any idea, it comes as a solution to an existing problem. We wanted to keep affordability top of mind and create high-performance skin care products to provide a fresh and natural feel. Through asking questions with our facial guests and doing research on the current products available, we found that people wanted beauty products that delivered on what they said they could do for the skin. Now, our proprietary line of 70 products are made from ingredients such as botanical extracts, natural minerals, organic compounds and powerful bio-actives for a combination of science and nature.

There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

It is helpful to find a gap and fill it when coming up with ideas. There is no such thing as the perfect time, so any opportunity to create a business or product, go for it. The biggest thing I have found to hold people back from launching their ideas is fear. My biggest piece of advice to overcome the challenge of launching a new business idea is to put the negativity aside. And to do this, ask yourself, ‘why not me?’ Every successful entrepreneur is a normal person, no different from anyone else. It comes down to grit and resilience.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

Sometimes the simplest ideas aren’t even created yet. Always give your idea a chance and start looking into it. The most important way of research is to ask and listen to the customers. Oftentimes, we talk and share our thoughts, but the best research is to listen and understand what is in demand. As far as if it has been done before, luckily, we have the internet at our fingertips to search and see what is out there. Do your research to check for patents in your country, which can be found at the U.S. and Canadian Patent Offices, both online and in-person.

Did you have a role model or a person who inspired you to persevere despite the hardships involved in taking the risk of selling a new product?

My role models are definitely my kids and their entrepreneurial ideas. It doesn’t occur to them that there may not be a market for something, or that their price isn’t quite right. In the mind of a kid with an idea, their business plan is a success. That raw, innocent vision and attitude is so important to leadership and entrepreneurship.

For the benefit of our readers, can you share the story, and outline the steps that you went through, from when you thought of the idea, until it finally landed on the store shelves? In particular we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.

Our process has been relatively unconventional. We started with a few products after and tried them in our spa for a few years. We learned that our customers loved the idea of natural ingredients, but efficacy is paramount. We then created a plant extract blend with our chemist. Selecting a chemist was important as many manufacturers prefer you use their white label formulas. Look for a smaller lab where you can work directly with the chemist. Listen and learn as much as you can from the chemist and bring your own ideas, thoughts and data from your customers. Be driven by data. Pay attention to what is selling, what isn’t and the reasons for both.

Inspect the manufacturing faciality and request safety standards, and to review the standards around raw materials. And if you don’t know how to do this, invest in a consultant. Minimums are high, and products don’t last forever. So it’s a science to create the right ones. Having the connection to what happens in the shop is a significant benefit to us as we can understand the entire cycle.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I recall making was when I was in a business situation and I tend to use cliche’s slightly incorrectly. I said at one point, “I’m like a snake in the grass’. What I intended was that I can be slightly introverted, and then speak up and surprise people. I had no idea what the cliche actually meant!

The early stages must have been challenging. Are you able to identify a “tipping point” after making your invention, when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

In both our business concept and product line, we noticed a tipping point as we honed in on what we wanted to provide specialized service in. As we focused our attention to become a facial only service, we were able to hear the niche feedback on skin care products. It was a simple hand and hand development where we wanted ways to grow our business and be leaders in the industry and found out what the guests wanted improved. A huge takeaway that helped us launch our product line and succeed was that the product went along with our service.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Invented My Product” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. That creating a new category (like we did with facials only) takes a lot of time, patience and focus.
  2. Trust your gut.
  3. Don’t worry about what you don’t know. Most people are willing and happy to help.
  4. If you feel uneasy, walk away.
  5. Take the High Road.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

I would say to start off by doing research as to if the product already exists and if there is a demand for it. Continue to ask around to see what consumers need a solution for and how your idea might be able to solve their problems. Once the demand is recognized, make sure the product is not already out there and find a way to get into the process of bringing your idea to life.

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

I have always had to more or less figure things out on my own. Consultants are great to run a process, but I think coming in with some data is important. And one of the biggest hurdles is analysis paralysis. Just start and learn as you go. You can always pause and seek help.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

This has so many factors including timing and how much competition is coming? Also — age and your runway for getting to your exit. And, vision, what size company do you envision or what exit do you desire? Lastly, do you have the ability to fund this?

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I hope I have! I am proud to be on the Board of Coast Mental Health-I love the work we do. I am also a speaker and mentor for other women starting or running their own businesses through the Forum For Women Entrepreneurs. But my biggest hope is that I am impactful in teaching my three boys and my daughter how to be great humans. They are remarkable teachers themselves and as a single parent, I feel they’ve been tremendously adaptable, resilient and flexible.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

A platform where people could be heard. I lived for a while with my four kids in a neighborhood in Vancouver with one of the highest concentrations of homeless people. It was heartbreaking, yet beautiful. We learned the power and gift of listening. When we were afforded the opportunity to speak with our community members and could hear them tell their life stories, we understood the incredibly challenging lives most had lived. Through affirming their challenging lives and listening, it was remarkable the uplift and affirmation of their value they shared they felt. Most people walk by feeling unsure what to say, do or how to react. Offering yourself to listen, to simply say hi back, the humanity of interaction without judgement or fear is transformational and fundamentally, so simple.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love the opportunity to speak to and share a meal with the woman who was the first to graduate from Harvard Business School. I’d love to understand her experiences and compare just how far we have, or have not, truly come.

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