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Noemi Grupenmager of Uni K Wax: “Get personal ”

Get personal — When I first started my business, I read many books about how I was supposed to conduct myself when serving a customer but none of the advice resonated with me. The books even suggested to call customers by their last name. It seemed cold and impersonal. Instead of listening to those books, I went […]

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Get personal — When I first started my business, I read many books about how I was supposed to conduct myself when serving a customer but none of the advice resonated with me. The books even suggested to call customers by their last name. It seemed cold and impersonal. Instead of listening to those books, I went with my gut and embraced customer service my way. I’ve always been a warm, caring, open person. I wanted that to come across and made it a point to get to know customers on a personal level, give a hug when it was appropriate, etc. Ultimately, I think that really helped me stand out in the marketplace.

Educate Yourself — Starting a business as an immigrant entrepreneur can be intimidating. I encountered many rules, laws and business practices that were different from those in Argentina. It was a lot of absorb but it was worth it to start my business on the right path.


Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.

As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Noemi Grupenmager.

A pioneer in her field, Noemi revolutionized the beauty industry by making hair removal part of a woman’s everyday beauty routine. Underwhelmed and dissatisfied with waxing services available in hair and nail salons, Noemi dreamed of something new: a studio solely dedicated to waxing, with a welcoming atmosphere that offers clean, efficient and professional waxing services at affordable prices alongside a waxing formulation that was free of harsh chemicals and irritating synthetic ingredients.

In 1993, after many years of in-depth laboratory and market research, Noemi made her waxing vision a reality with the opening of Uni K Wax, South Beach Florida. Uni K Wax was the first waxing-only salon in the U.S., and it had a secret weapon: ElastiKWax™, a proprietary, all-natural, skin-friendly wax formula made with beeswax and a special pine tree resin that would change the waxing industry forever. An alternative to the painful, hot honey-wax and paper strips that were standard in the industry, Uni K became the optimal choice. Uni K’s flexible wax adheres directly to the hair and is applied at body temperature for an irritation free experience.

Noemi introduced a new world of waxing services to her customers, making sure every part of the body gets equal attention no matter how hidden. She also designed a precise and unique application and removal technique to optimize comfort and reduce service time, from the antiseptic measures taken before waxing to the post-depilatory care. As the first studio to offer over 180 different services from brow to toe, Noemi’s dream quickly became an incredible success, as she raised industry and marketplace standards while servicing 200 customers a day within the first six months.

In 2007, Noemi expanded her business throughout Florida and around the country by franchising her studios and unparalleled concept. Uni K Wax is now an established concept with a recognizable name and a growing customer base with studios located throughout New York, New Jersey and Florida.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina surrounded by a loving family. My father worked hard studying to become a CPA as he raised our family and provided an opportunity for us to be able to make a future for ourselves. I have a brother who is 5 years younger than I. As I learned things at school, I would always come back to tell him things that I learned. As a result, he was really advanced for his age and that helped him in his college years. He’s held different roles in organizations throughout his career but in 2004 he joined my company to help us with our franchising efforts as COO. It has been a humbling experience to have someone who is so close to me still work with me to overcome business challenges and grow our business. Family has always been very important to us. Growing up we would eagerly wait for Sundays so the family could come together to eat, share stories & play with our cousins.

Entrepreneurship has always been in my DNA. I started my first business at the age of 15, selling transcripts of notes I took in school to my classmates. By age 20, I owned a full-blown printing business.

Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the U.S.? Can you tell us the story?

I always aspired to come to the US. At age of 22 I first visited the US while on vacation. It was an amazing trip. I really appreciated the lifestyle and stability that the country offered. It was something I felt was missing in Argentina. The time spent touring America allowed me to see the opportunities and motivated me to one day move to the country to start and grow my own business. I traveled to the U.S. often throughout my twenties & thirties and at the age of 36 I finally decided that I wanted to make a permanent move.

Can you tell us the story of how you came to the U.S.? What was that experience like?

I came in 1990 with an investor visa that allowed me to take the first steps in establishing a business in the US. The process was straight forward, but I sacrificed a lot in saving capital to be able apply for the investor visa and start my business. I came to the US and launched a printing business. I was already familiar with this based on my experience from Argentina and thought it would be a good space to start in. It was good business but with the introduction of large printing franchises such as Kinko’s (now FedEx Office), it became clear to me that my independent printing shop was not going to be sustainable over the long term. I eventually closed my printing business and shifted my focus to an idea I already had been thinking about for some time which was Uni K Wax Studio. It was a big change because the concept I created was completely new. The body waxing industry did not exist. There were not even proper licenses for our category. Nonetheless, I took it one step at a time and focused on creating our formula for our wax, then building the studio concept & developing the customer experience so that I could launch Uni K Wax.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?

There were a few people that helped me tremendously with the transition to the US. The first one was a man named Michelle K. who was my first landlord. He helped me navigate the construction of the studio and took a chance on me by not requiring all the typical deposits and terms that a lease agreement entails. Second, my two daughters. They both embraced my Uni K Wax Studio idea and worked at the studio 7 days a week to make it a success. Next, our customers. Our business grew very quickly thanks to their devotion. The customers really embraced it and help market our business through word of mouth. Some of them even helped pass out flyers on our behalf to ensure we would be successful.

So how are things going today?

Very well. From what started as an idea with one studio in Miami Beach, Florida has grown to a million-dollar business. We have 34 locations in New York, New Jersey & Florida and developed a sustainable franchise model that entrepreneurs can leverage to build their own successful business.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

From a customer perspective, we help our customers feel beautiful. Waxing removes unwanted hair so they can be comfortable with themselves as the meet new people and share moments with loved ones. For our waxers, we offer an opportunity for advancement. Many of our employees have gone on to become Uni K Wax Studio franchisees. It’s a very rewarding aspect of the business for me. Waxers, many of whom are immigrants like me, start as the core of our business and grow to become business owners with their own employees and living their version of the American dream.

You have first-hand experience with the U.S. immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest to improve the system?

My experience with the immigration system was good since I satisfied the requirements for the investment visa when I wanted to come to the United States. However, there are many other people who have experienced difficulties. In order to improve the system, I suggest,

1) Facilitating the reunification of families that were separated so they can through the immigration process

2) Accelerating the regulation for the DACA program

3) Loosening up the restrictions for individuals that are qualified and clear background checks to enter the USA

Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.

Hard work is key — Nothing good comes easy.When we launched our first studio in South Beach, my daughters and I would work all day at the studio, seven days a week. We had to work extremely hard “in” the business to get it to the point where we could work “on” the business.

Follow your heart when working towards your goal — Passion is so important. Working hard is showing up over and over to achieve a goal. Following your heart and the passion that you have for the product or service you are providing in this world is what drives you to achieve your goal.

Find and keep great people that you meet along your journey — You cannot do it all. You need to seek out people who share your vision if you want to grow your business exponentially. In my case, I was able to identify people who I knew could help me take the company to the next level. It could be a waxer, a studio manager, someone in accounting, or even a customer. Once you find someone you know could be a valuable part of your team, do not hesitate to act on it. Over the years this practice has helped me add terrific people to my staff who have helped advance our company in each chapter of our history.

Get personal — When I first started my business, I read many books about how I was supposed to conduct myself when serving a customer but none of the advice resonated with me. The books even suggested to call customers by their last name. It seemed cold and impersonal. Instead of listening to those books, I went with my gut and embraced customer service my way. I’ve always been a warm, caring, open person. I wanted that to come across and made it a point to get to know customers on a personal level, give a hug when it was appropriate, etc. Ultimately, I think that really helped me stand out in the marketplace.

Educate Yourself — Starting a business as an immigrant entrepreneur can be intimidating. I encountered many rules, laws and business practices that were different from those in Argentina. It was a lot of absorb but it was worth it to start my business on the right path.

We know that the U.S. needs improvement. But are there three things that make you optimistic about the U.S.’s future?

I see a big commitment to science because of the pandemic. The measures taken around stimulus payments mean that people have more money to jump start the economy once we are able to navigate through the pandemic. And due to events of the last year, I anticipate more racial and social equality in the months ahead.

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 U.S. whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them!

I would love to have lunch with Oprah Winfrey. She overcame a traumatic childhood to go on to become a journalist, talk show host, and award-winning actress. She was also the first woman to create her own production company and we are even the same age.

She has built an incredible empire while maintaining humility. Her compassion apparent in her philanthropic efforts, giving millions of dollars away to charity. It would be great meet her and learn more about what drives her to achieve such a high level of success.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

You can connect with me on LinkedIn — www.linkedin.com/in/noemi-grupenmager-33763828/ or follow our business development blog — https://unikwax.com/franchises/blog/ — where we share great insight into opening and growing a business — especially helpful if you are an aspiring entrepreneur who is new to this country.

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


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