Studies in Business Transformation: Sophie Chiche

"Every one of my endeavors was born out of a personal story, and a desire to share the good stuff." - Sophie Chiche, CEO and founder of Shape House

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Joining me today is Sophie Chiche, CEO and founder of Shape House, a spa concept focused on helping people increase their wellness; using the ancient tradition of sweating done in the comfort of a modern setting. Five locations in California and four in NY; planning on scaling nationally.

Please share with us the story of how you decided to pursue your transformational business journey.

Every one of my endeavors was born out of a personal story, and a desire to share the good stuff.  I’ve lost 200 pounds and in the course of the journey, discovered the importance of sweating. I developed the technology and the protocol at Shape House because it helped me stay on track and I wanted to make it available to others. I was encouraged along the way by people’s responses. They seemed to be getting such value, I was motivated to add locations so that more people could have access.

What top 3 lessons could others learn from your story?

  1. Make sure to take care of yourself. As an entrepreneur, I found it too easy to make myself last on my priority list. If the product or service you offer serves a purpose, it will find its audience. But taking care of you ensures your ability to perform optimally.
  • Lean on your support system. You may not have the budget when you start to hire every skill you need to get it going; take your wise friends to lunch, pick their brain. Don’t fear asking for help around you. People are often happy to share their expertise. It enriches your competences if you can borrow those of your friends.
  • Consider “mistakes” your allies. Learn from them and move on. Any endeavor you start will present unexpected obstacles. Befriend them. Be the one who tries to solve it creatively. Be open to feedback. Don’t take it personally. (which brings me back to lesson 1; take care of you so you can be limber, creative and resilient.)

What are the most interesting or unexpected business transformation moments that you experienced in the past 3 years?

  • Going from the first location to the second one: which strangely I found harder than from 2 to 10. The first one, I executed with a lot of freedom. The second, I needed to codify, streamline, prepare it to scale and that required a lot more strategizing and planning than the first.
  • Bringing on an investor to accelerate the growth: Nothing new here, bringing capital was a major transformation for us. It gave us a lot of opportunities but it also brought a lot of change. We had to create new systems, learn new styles, establish new norms.
  • Stepping down from running the operations. In the fall last year, it became very clear to me that I was ready to write a book. I started the process of extracting myself from operations so I would have the space to do that. I transferred responsibilities to the very competent people I had chosen to take over. It was actually a smoother process than I imagined. Certainly, the biggest transformation for me personally and for the company.

Which authors have influenced you the most and that you are grateful for their inspiration and wisdom?

Daniel Meyer: Setting the table, The transforming power of hospitality in business.

He’s a ninja in the customer experience industry. His creativity and level of care are unprecedented. I’ve changed the way we welcome a client at Shape House based on what I learned in the book. His book is required reading for all managers.

What 1 to 3 tips would you give to young entrepreneurs for being successful in business and in life?

Be driven, not ambitious.

Have integrity.

Be open to learning.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

One of my teachers in high school, Stephane, saw value in me, no one (including me) had seen. She encouraged me by holding a vision of my best self, but also strongly discouraged me to continue self-destructive behaviors. She changed my frame of reference; and that never went away.

How do you think Leaders will need to change in 2020 and beyond?

I don’t make a distinction between a leader and a non-leader. I guess I see us all leaders of our own lives. The need is the same: to wake up. To get in touch with what inspires us the most. To stop self-destructive patterns so we can show up fully for our roles. To become conscious so we care for ourselves and each other.

Make sure to connect with @ShapeHouse on insta.

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