Never stand still and never get comfortable. The ability to pivot and make change will continue to allow revenue to grow. Stagnation allows clients to look elsewhere. Whether this is creating new products during COVID, or bringing in a cryotherapy facial that isn’t found anywhere else, it keeps people engaged and coming back. This is as small as offering monthly perks to our members. It keeps them feeling important and interested. Aside from that, if you aren’t able to pivot when you have to, ie being forced to close because of a government mandate, you won’t be able to survive as a business. Business takes grit and the ability to see the light before it comes. When something happens to create a downturn in revenue, ask yourself why is that and what can you do about it?
As a part of my series called “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michele Henry.
Michele started her first business in 2010 with just 8,000 dollars and grew it 100% debt free to over 25,000,000 dollars in sales before selling her shares in 2018. She then started Face Foundrié, a focused facial bar featuring 20–40 minute focused facials, lash extensions and brow services. In just 20 months the company has grown to three corporate stores, completely debt free, and has a national franchise roll out in place for 2021.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My career path has been a long and winding one (like most entrepreneurs)! I started working at 13 as a receptionist and noticed I took great pride in customer service, this act of servicing people followed me throughout my career. I started a custom clothing design company where I was making one of a kind couture inspired pieces, from there I moved onto leather goods and hand bags, again all unique to the individual that would carry it, everything I fabricated during my design days was created to make the owner feel good and have pride in its originality. Just like my clients, no two of my creations were alike and I loved how that made people feel.
Spending all my money on expensive leathers took a toll on my bank account and with 2008 rolling into 2009 the recession fell upon the US, people’s spending habits changed and custom wear dried up. I found myself missing the days of shopping in refined boutiques, knowing I couldn’t afford it I searched for options for the savvy shoppers.
My mission in 2009–2010 was to create a service facing retail concept that was clean, inviting, featured clothing all under 100 dollars and a polished staff that would style looks for anyone coming in to shop. Whether they had 10 dollars to spend or 10,000 dollars, the service always had to remain the same, we would go to great lengths for our clients. I remember one year I wrapped Christmas gifts for a gentleman late that had waited to the last minute to shop for his mother and sisters.
I was constantly looking for new ways to provide cutting edge customer service, be it through Facebook (which was very new at the time) and styling virtually where I would ship looks and they would send back what the client didn’t like (again think early stitchfix, but this was 2011)! The goal was centered around customer service and making people feel pretty. We would have private styling sessions for people that wanted one on one attention and offer mimosas on the weekends to make sure customers were preoccupied from the long fitting room line. Our staff knew there wasn’t anything we wouldn’t do for a guest in order to make them happy, I hand delivered a package that had been stolen off a client’s door step one evening so they would have it in time for an upcoming trip.
After my third child my focus was in my skin. While I saw a gap in the market and jumped on it, my goal was still the same. At the root of all of the businesses I have created or been a part of, I truly try and think of what would make someone walk away and say “That made my entire day better.”
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
The most interesting story… can it be the whole year of 2020? This year was such a crazy year for this company. We did many big things including opening a third location, launched a new menu with innovative services, our Collagen Spritz won the 2020 Innovation Beauty award and so much more. It was a really good year, but also a really bad one. When the pandemic first hit, we closed under government mandate which resulted in laying off our staff of 30+ people. As cliche as it is, times really were unprecedented and stress was high. It was a lot to navigate and pivot through, but ultimately we brought back our entire staff and then some, created our top selling Glow to Go at-home facial kits and launched our national expansion plan. This year turned into being my greatest story and one of the best learning lessons — the importance of being able to pivot and bring innovation, and bring it often. We worked tirelessly to ride the wave and thankfully made it out on the other side. Nothing could have prepared me for this year but after this, nothing scares me anymore!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
The first person that comes to mind when you ask that question is my father. He is also an entrepreneur and owns a company that builds inground pools. I started working for him at the ripe old age of 13 (this is when child labor laws didn’t exist). I would tag along as he would bid out new builds and sales calls and I noticed how his sense of humor always won over clients, if he could make them laugh, he would undoubtedly snag the job. His overall demeanor was light and fun and his humor, during what would be a stuffy situation, put people at ease. That was something that always stuck with me. If you can make someone laugh and feel comfortable that seems to be the easiest way to close a sale.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I would have to reference:
“Whether you think you can (do a job) or you think you can’t, you are probably right” — Henry Ford
In college I started a screen-printing company, making tee shirts for local student groups, businesses, sports teams, really anyone who wanted something printed, I was the gal for the job. I would force myself to make 10 cold calls a day to try and drudge up new clients. I wrote on a post-it note, “I am so happy I got 3 new clients today,” even before I called. I kept making the cold calls and working hard and eventually it worked. I believed I could and so I did!
When I decided to start my first business….I had about 6 dollars in my bank account and took out a loan against my car, unbenounced to the bank, that car didn’t even work. I had friends, mentors and family members telling me it was far too risky, and that I should take the corporate job at Target instead….I was biking to the build outs and decided I was all in and had to make it work. After months of a tireless buildout, I would bike from our soon to be retail location in St. Paul to my apartment in Minneapolis, about 12 miles. When we were finally ready to open the doors we had a line around the block for our grand opening party, within 4 hours we sold out of every piece of merchandise in the store, within three days we made our initial investment back and then some. It all went back to having that mindset and belief it could be done.
These two moments for me were so relevant because it showed me that hard work beats most things. If I believe in what I’m doing, do my homework, and hustle like heck, my odds are a lot better and I can continue to prove that to myself.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?
After having my third child, I searched for skincare treatments that could support my changing skin, the shift in hormones, age, pregnancies, and life, my skin needed some serious help! Honestly, I was not confident, I didn’t feel good about myself and it was starting to take a toll on me.
With three little ones at home, I didn’t have the flexibility to book a spa day three weeks in advance or fit within the typical narrow business hours. Unimpressed with the amount of time and money I had spent on med spa treatments, I was determined to build the bridge to accessible and approachable skincare.
FACE FOUNDRIÉ was created in early 2019, featuring walk-in service accommodations for lash extensions, facial waxing 20 to 40 minute facials and an array of custom curated skincare products. Grounded with the mission to make accessible and approachable skincare an industry standard.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
So often salons and spas focus on hair, massage, nails and skincare and facials become more of an afterthought. Our goal was to be skincare, and only skincare focused. No massages, no nails, no hair, we focus on just the face.
No need to get undressed for your facial, we are an open-air concept, that means you are in and out in just 40 minutes.
Every touch point in our space makes our clients feel good: the greeting, bedside manner and closing- oil ritual, custom water, compliment card and chocolate. Every single interaction within our space is carefully curated to make the experience what it is.
Not only can we help people feel good in their skin, but also in general. The way we treat people always leaves them bringing more good into the world and that is really our mission. Rarely have I ever gone into a salon or spa and been treated the way we do things here at Face Foundrie.
Another aspect that sets us apart is our products! We carry the best of the best product lines and are super picky. We also have our own personal products including our Collagen Spritz. This proprietary spritz is pure collagen that is systemically absorbed into the skin — I could go on and on about this product but it just won the 2020 Beauty Innovation Award for best face mist. We are using top products like this in all of our services, and selling them! We are constantly on the hunt for the best new products and are even making our own based on customer feedback!
When you first started the business, what drove you, what was your primary motivation?
My motivation has always been to make people feel good about their skin. I remember after having my third child, my skin was out of control and it shook my confidence to the core, it’s hard to go out in public and hide your entire face (well it was in 2017, now we have these lovely masks).
It’s amazing to see someone’s confidence blossom after their skin starts to improve. When you look good, you feel good and ultimately you do good. That is it, to make people feel good.
I believe that it is super important for people to consider their mission and movement when starting a business. How do you create your concept to make a difference and get people to stand behind it. When you have a slogan, it can feel and look good, but when you have a movement, you create a community that can make change.
What drives you now? Is it the same? Did it change? Can you explain what you mean?
My mission has always remained constant but it grew in all the ways we have seen it take shape. Even more so with our clients reactions to our concept — it’s become therapeutic for people and even more necessary during the uncertain times of covid. We reopened our doors and our mission aligned with the populations’ need for self care and services that champion compassion and peaceful moments away.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have several new projects in the works!
We have a large national rollout plan for 2021 as we are franchising FACE FOUNDRIE! Our goal is to find like-minded people to partner with and help build dreams, and skin confidence around the US.
We have seen the “feel good” impact our concept has made on clients over the past 20 months and know with certainty that now more than ever is a time when people need uplifting self-care moments incorporated into their routine.
Seeing the community the concept has built here in the midwest, we knew that this had to be everywhere. There is nothing that will benefit society better than people truly feeling good in their skin.
New 7 step skincare line, made cruelty free with clean products we are set out to change the industry by introducing modernized products: for example our day cream has a blue ray blocking ingredient that helps combat screen damage and photo aging.
The topic of this series is ‘Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue’. Congratulations! Seven figures is really a huge milestone. In your experience what was the most difficult part of being able to hit your first million-dollars in sales revenue?
Finding good staff that really live out our vision day in and day out. When your staff has the same passion and drive about the company, mission and concept, it really shows in everything you do. When the staff is there just to get a paycheck, that shows even more.
Similarly, finding providers that have positive energy as they have to pour theirs into the clients day in and day out to make sure they have the best experience possible.
Could you share the number one sales strategy that you found helpful to help you reach this milestone?
New and innovative services at a competitive price! We really worked on creating a new category for facials as they have traditionally had a higher price point, but we bridged that gap and leaned into this new concept to fill the space in the market. We have done this by always listing the price of things and being really transparent. Usually costs are harder to find, and not very visible, leaving the client to guess if they can afford it or dreading looking at the menu. We know our price is a selling point and we made sure to have that be seen by our audience to draw them in.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you or your team made during a sales process? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It is funny to think about some of our mistakes as… well, funny. But something that makes me laugh is our flagship store launched with our front bar facing the service area, after about a week of working the space we realized how painfully awkward it was for both the person working the front desk and the guest receiving the service…
It goes back to making sure the end user, ie. the consumer is comfortable…originally our space was all open air, after hearing feedback from guests that they would have preferred a bit more privacy, we installed curtains in between the service stations, this allows groups to still be together and open the space up or close it off for individuals.
We can laugh at it now, but it really taught us the importance of listening and making change. Would the experience be the same and would we have reached 7 figures if we didn’t?
Does your company have a sales team? If yes, do you have any advice about how companies can create very high performing sales teams?
Not a defined team, if you believe in the concept and know the concept, odds are you can sell it in one way or another. My advice for creating high performing sales teams is to help people use what works for them. Similar to love languages or personality types, every person works differently. Find the sales strategy that works best for the particular person and pair that up with the person/company/team you are trying to sell to. Have a young fast paced company you are pitching to? Which one of your sales reps selling style would be most effective? Teach your team to sell the way they are most effective then pair your rep and account accordingly.
Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”. Please share a story or an example for each.
- Continuing to come up with innovative ways to stay relevant with clients, both pre and post covid. When we were closed during COVID, we created a product called the Glow to Go Facial Kit. This is an at-home facial kit that includes everything you need to treat yourself at home. This was a game changer for us while we were closed and continues to amaze us by being our top selling product online in 2020. People use this for Zoom happy hours, presents, bachelorette parties and more, even though we are back open. Another example is how we keep up with the up and coming beauty industry trends! We launched new services that were hard to find in our area but becoming increasingly popular. We are now the top provider with the most competitive price. We watch the trends, pay attention to what seems to stick and what doesn’t and are sure to implement and adapt quickly.
- Bring in young, hungry staff members. When your staff is at the beginning of their career, they are ready to work and go at it full force. They are bright-eyed, but more importantly fresh-minded. They are ready to innovate and find the creative solution to every problem but often have a way of seeing things in a different light. Invest in your younger staff when you have a hutch that they have potential as they usually have an edge that you need to keep growing.
- Use marketing as more than just a sales tool. Our brand is what makes our company feel the way it does and affects how people feel about us. Our brand carries a large personality. It has a sense of sophistication and wit about it that makes you want to see more of us. We are exactly who everyone wants to be, and we allow you to “sit with us” and become it. We empower people to feel strong, confident and maybe a little sassy if they’d like. Personality is everything, it’s why we continue to attract people to our brand and it shows through consistently in all of our messaging. This has helped us reach seven figures in revenue because there is a reason to like us other than our products. Our brand sets us apart and lifts us up.
Between strategic partnerships with local companies and influencers, our audience grew tenfold. Not only did our Instagram following reach nearly 30k in under two years, but our client list grew with many referrals. Using tactics like such allowed us to hone in on more traditional marketing tactics including mailers and a word of mouth referral program. We started to invest in our clients who will end up telling 10 friends how much they love us, and bring them in, and that has been a game changer.
My advice on this is find your voice and use it, it will translate to the audience you are trying to reach. Pay attention to where your audience is listening, it may not be where you think. Even though our influencers made social pretty, it was investing back into our clients that made the difference. Use data, analyze and use marketing for much more than just stuffy ads! Be creative with your marketing tactics and it will translate to your revenue.
4. Listen to the customers + provide amazing customer service. If there is one thing we pride ourselves in, it is 100% customer satisfaction. Rarely do we have a guest leave upset because we allow our employees to do whatever it takes to make things right. This go’s back to the referrals, we go above and beyond for every customer and they return the favor by bringing us more clients, whether they know it or not. This is how we have been able retain clients and have them help us bring in new ones. Our company is built on customer service and it is almost always our top compliment. This in itself boosts revenue, if it does on thing it is retention which could be the most important!
5. Pivot, pivot, pivot. Never stand still and never get comfortable. The ability to pivot and make change will continue to allow revenue to grow. Stagnation allows clients to look elsewhere. Whether this is creating new products during COVID, or bringing in a cryotherapy facial that isn’t found anywhere else, it keeps people engaged and coming back. This is as small as offering monthly perks to our members. It keeps them feeling important and interested. Aside from that, if you aren’t able to pivot when you have to, ie being forced to close because of a government mandate, you won’t be able to survive as a business. Business takes grit and the ability to see the light before it comes. When something happens to create a downturn in revenue, ask yourself why is that and what can you do about it?
What would you advise to another business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth or sales and “restart their engines”?
Bring in young, hungry innovators. It’s ok to be stuck, we sometimes become creatures of habit in our own business. Allow yourself to trust a younger generation to adapt. For example, I had no clue how to operate or any want to understand Tik Tok. Our marketing team, being young women who understood the platform personally really pushed to have a presence, I trusted their vision and that it would match the brand standards and it became a great platform to train and educate new clients about the services we offer.
I would also challenge leaders to ask themselves: what are the habits I have created in my business that have forced me into this standstill? List these 3 or 5 habits and find the exact opposite. For example: we were using Instagram influencers to help build brand awareness, as this is very much the “norm,” but we turned to our local businesses and partnered with them and saw a much more effective result.
In your specific industry what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?
Using instagram to book in, they are already on that platform, might as well make it the easiest way possible for the end consumer to book in. As much as we want the consumers to come to us, sometimes it takes going to them first.
The app and how it allows contactless check in and check out. This was born during COVID to ease people’s fears. Another example of the pivot. What is preventing people from coming in and what can we do about it? We were generously applauded for our COVID measures and it allowed many guests to continue to see us because they felt safe.
Listening to our customers and finding the marketing methods that work best. We are all about numbers and what is getting results. To our surprise, we ended up going back to older methods such as mailers and word of mouth because that is what was working. Don’t be scared to do what you see is working even if it is different.
Based on your experience, can you share a few strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?
Customers are ALWAYS right and you always go above and beyond for them! Always strive for 100% customer satisfaction, this is part of our mission. If someone is less than thrilled with a service we comp it and get them back in to prove them wrong. At the end of the day our goal is to make sure every person who experiences our brand has a good experience and this is why it is one of the reasons I believe we grew to a seven figure revenue stream. One strategy we rely on is giving our staff the ability to make things right. They don’t have to call a manager when someone is upset or unsatisfied. They know we trust them to make it right, whatever it takes. This usually alleviates a lot of the customers anger from the start. We have extensive training on how to do this but also continue to teach them new ways to provide outstanding customer service. When you are confident in your staff, your staff are often more confident in their ability to handle the situation and provide that experience.
As you likely know, this HBR article demonstrates that studies have shown that retaining customers can be far more lucrative than finding new ones. Do you use any specific initiatives to limit customer attrition or customer churn? Can you share some of your advice from your experience about how to limit customer churn?
I 100% agree with that! We have a few initiatives that focus strictly on retention!
Our membership programs keep members coming back and allows them to have certain perks along the way. We also incentivize them by offering them special promotions, exclusive for members, throughout the year. This keeps our members happy AND encourages other people to become members. An example of something we have previously done was a free Scalp Massage enhancement in the month of August for all members! People love this as it was an added bonus and, who doesn’t want a free scalp massage?
We have a smart marketing system that tracks our customers. This allows us to do things like target people who haven’t been in within 90 days and reach out to them offering a new discount paired with a new service we were offering. This has been a really powerful marketing tool for us in terms of retention.
Following an appointment, clients get an email/text where they can leave feedback about their service. We know people don’t like to complain to people’s faces, so this gives them the opportunity to tell us if something went wrong and feel comfortable doing so. This allows us to make things right and retain them as a client. I can’t tell you the amount of times we have gotten someone back in for a complimentary service to make it right and they are now regular clients.
Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂
This is something I am actively working on because any brand with influence should be mindful of what they are influencing. We have a tab on our website that says “JOIN THE MOVEMENT.” Here you can submit your response to the question, “What would you tell your younger self?” This can be about anything, but our idea was how do we help young kids and teenagers not experience this lack of self-confidence or poor self-esteem. It is also pretty healing to share and see all of the responses people across the country share. We want to try and support young people and build up their confidence at an early age. Our goal is to make people feel good, but where does this feeling bad start? Often around ages 5–15. How can we help combat this?
We have big plans with our responses, including sharing them with different organizations that touch young people (hello, Girls on the Run) and compiling them into material that can be used to impact this age group.
So long story short, my movement would be: A Message to Your Younger Self, how to create a generation of young people that experience self-worth and self-confidence in a way never imagined.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders 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 with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
We couldn’t pick just one!!
Lori Greiner, I love her ambition, energy and ability to manage so many different companies. She empowers women and I just love that. Not to mention she has amazing skin.
Lizzo, she really has taught the world and women of the last few years to love themselves and their bodies just the way you are, she is raw, unapologetic and truly believes that kindness is key.
Sarah Blakely, she said “I did not have the most experience in the industry or the most money, but I cared the most.” This quote has always stuck with me, especially through my Face Foundrié journey considering I didn’t know much about skin at all! I admire the way she built a self-made empire and continues to shake up the business world!
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!