Andrea Mundie of skoah: “Perfection is the enemy of progress”

Perfection is the enemy of progress. I love this advice because so often we wait until we have everything figured out before hitting go. The truth is nothing happens until we move forward, even if we aren’t entirely ready or things aren’t all that dialed. As a part of our series about business leaders who are […]

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Perfection is the enemy of progress. I love this advice because so often we wait until we have everything figured out before hitting go. The truth is nothing happens until we move forward, even if we aren’t entirely ready or things aren’t all that dialed.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, 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 dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

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 tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

skoah is a first to market facials only concept. When we converted from a regular spa to facials only in 2003, we were many years away from the world understanding single service concepts. We had to work hard to explain our why, which was to be the best in the world at a single service. We also wanted to create a different way to experience purchasing skin care products. Our goal is to provide empathetic and educational skin care coaching. In doing so, our customers are well equipped to manage their skin and make decisions on great products for themselves.

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 cliché’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 cliché actually meant!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I had a few. Wayne Deans and I were introduced years ago when I was a participant in a pitch contest. He comes from the finance world and helped me refine our ask and our why. But we ended up becoming great friends, and he is a mentor to me in all aspects of my life. I lost my Dad almost 8 years ago, and Wayne really filled a lot of the gaps for me in terms of a thoughtful, caring listener and friend. I also have a great friend and fellow entrepreneur named Deanna Embury, who started Blended For You after selling her first business to a major grocery chain. It’s at times, tough to find someone who truly understands the highs, lows and absolute insanity of entrepreneurship. Lastly, Sean Jones, who started Spence Diamonds. He built a remarkable company but is of great help to me in part because he tells me what others won’t tell me.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I think there needs to be a market first. Sometimes, concepts come about a bit too early. That was probably our experience. It took many years to gain traction because the world wasn’t quite ready for single service when we were. So my learning is that timing and market need are imperative. That being said, at the root of it, being disruptive with an idea or concept is one part of it. Consistency and stability in terms of guest experience, quality, etc. is imperative. I think that being disruptive is generally not a new idea, but rather a new experience around an existing concept. For example, we didn’t invent facials, but we created a new experience with facials. Starbucks likewise didn’t invent coffee, but they did create a new way to experience coffee. This is what great brands do!

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

1. Keep Moving Forward. When we stop and get caught in analysis paralysis, nothing happens. Even when we are faced with a major problem, standing still is not a solution. Pause make a decision in the moment and then go.

2. Perfection is the enemy of progress. I love this advice because so often we wait until we have everything figured out before hitting go. The truth is nothing happens until we move forward, even if we aren’t entirely ready or things aren’t all that dialed.

3. Why not you? I actually had this revelation myself on a day when I was wondering how I’d ever get things truly off the ground. And it occurred to me that every single entrepreneur is simply a normal human being, so why not me over anyone else.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I’m always considering how we can improve within our business and/or create a relevant and meaningful new revenue stream. While we have all had to adapt to rapid automation of so many things as a result of COVID-19, I also think there is a really interesting and concerning issue around connection and in person interactions. Of course, at the root of skoah, doing facials and the human touch is magical, and we can do that safely. But I also have a couple new ideas that I am working on that relate to the world changing as a result of COVID-19. Stay tuned, but I’m brewing up 2 new concepts that have been on my mind as we’ve been living through such a changing world. I think the benefit of COVID-19 is that it requires us to be incredibly resourceful. And I immediately go to the place of focusing entirely on “what is the opportunity in this?”

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

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.

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.

You are a person of great influence. 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.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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