Interview with The Ten Spot Founder and CEO, Kristen Wood

beauty-nine-to-five - beauty jobsKristenWood

The Ten Spot is an upscale Canadian Beauty Bar that specializes in wax, nail, and skin services. Their goal is to provide guests with the ultimate “anti-spa” experience, all done within an impeccably clean and safe environment. Since 2006, The Ten Spot has been leading the industry with their sleek, efficient services, and today marks the celebration of their 10-year anniversary! Currently, the franchise has 18 locations across eight cities in Canada.

Beauty Nine to Five had the opportunity to sit down and chat with The Ten Spot’s Founder and CEO, Kristen Wood. Listed as one of PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs, Kristen’s passion for making a positive impact on others is embodied in the culture of The Ten Spot. Below she shares her vision, secrets to success, and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs with us.

Beauty Nine to Five: How did your vision of The Ten Spot come about?

Kristen Wood: The Ten Spot beauty bar came about because I didn’t see anything in the beauty services market that I personally enjoyed. In 2006 there were low-end, cheap and dirty mani/pedi places, and high-end day spas that took too much time. Neither option had all the elements I was looking for, namely a great vibe and energy, time efficiency, and clinical cleanliness. In short, there was no ‘Starbucks of spas.’ I set out to create a very on-point, social ‘beauty bar’ experience that catered to young professional women, that was also as concerned with quality as high end day spas, but without the whale music.

BNTF: Can you tell us about how you went from the idea of The Ten Spot to opening the first location? What was the most challenging part of this whole process?

KW: For me, launching wasn’t all that difficult, based in part on my personality. My motto’s always been ‘high risk, high reward.’ The day I was fired from a graphic design job, my friend was consoling me over a piece of pie and I resolved to start the business I’d always dreamed of. That night I wrote a business plan, and shortly thereafter I signed a lease before I even had financing, then off to the bank for a small business loan. In a few short months I was open.

BNTF: “Beauty bars” are an ingenious way to bring clients high-quality service through a convenient location. The name of “The Ten Spot” is quite versatile in the way that it’s not exactly descriptive of a certain service. How did you come up with this name?

KW: The Ten Spot name really doesn’t have any significance other than the associations we try to give it as our brand. Some people have assumed that it invokes ‘ten fingers, ten toes’, or a top ten list. It has even been noted that I have ‘ten’ at the end of my first name. I guess it’s all of these things. For me, as a graphic designer, the initial design was more important than the words. I was going for something both nostalgic and new, something neither feminine nor masculine, and something that combined the best of New York and Miami, two cities I took a lot of inspiration from.  Another more recent addition is that we’ve done a lot of work on core values this year and our number one reason for existing is to ‘make everyone feel like a ten’ which has given our culture a huge boost.  But the name itself is a bit of an enigma, not necessarily connected to what we do other than how we connect it in our marketing. Like other big brands, like Apple or Starbucks, this isn’t a disadvantage and gives us a great deal of flexibility. It can be what you want it to be.

BNTF: Did you know from the beginning that you wanted to focus in on nail and waxing services?

KW: Yes, absolutely. The previous offerings in the market were unsatisfying from my perspective, and I believed that like me, there were many women who see these services as essential, regular, and something they might like to do with their girlfriends. Waxing has also always been a huge part of our offering and our original location at Queen West attracted its cult following in large part because of how good we are at brazilian waxing, our signature service (‘The Brazilly’).

BNTF: You put your dreams into action almost immediately after drafting your business plan – what advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs and those looking to break into the beauty industry?

KW: It’s true I felt a deep drive and wasn’t overly risk averse when I set out on my own. I know other people may feel less comfortable. I’ve had an amazing opportunity to speak to women on several occasions these past few years, and I’ve encouraged entrepreneurship strongly. Here’s how I rationalize it: if today you are living your plan B, maybe grinding it out in a day job, you owe it to yourself to give plan A a shot. In a worst case scenario, you fail and can’t actualize your dream, you’d be back to plan b, where you currently are today. The upshot is if you’re successful, you get to live your dream. To some this will sound terrifying, but risking everything on yourself is something we all do in different ways anyway, so why not do it for career and personal wealth and wellness?  The first step is to write a good business plan, so for the more risk averse I’d say start there, or alternatively look for a franchise business that already exists that does what you want to do.

BNTF: Did you have any previous entrepreneurial experience before starting The Ten Spot? Were there any pivotal moments that lead you to this point in your career path?

KW: I wouldn’t say I’d done anything entrepreneurial before launching The Ten Spot. My drive really came from a mantra my father repeated to me throughout my youth, which was ‘do anything you want, just make it a business.’ He deeply believed in the notion of self-sufficiency, working for yourself, and using whatever talents you have to create something new. I may not have ever heeded his advice and I am so blessed that it clicked in when I was 24.

BNTF: How do you stay motivated while working towards your business goals?

KW: For me there is never a question of staying motivated. A business like this is like a rocket ship hurtling forward, and a failure to be engaged at all times would mean a crash. That sounds dramatic, but we are constantly changing in an evolving and very competitive market. I’m also blessed to entirely adore what I get to do every day. I’m a high energy person and our day-to-day work totally aligns with my energy. So overall the secret is simple: do what you love at a pace that suits you.

BNTF: Celebrating a 10-year anniversary is no easy feat in the beauty industry! What factors do you believe most attributed to the success of The Ten Spot? What does it take to build a successful beauty brand like yours?

KW: It’s such a lovely compliment and to me the success is really a tribute to the incredible people at every level of the company who have believed in the vision and values and grown with us. There are several things that have for sure advantaged us: the first being the amazing people we’ve on-boarded across the company, from franchise partners who have invested and run their locations, to frontline teams, and every role in between. Our success is contingent on interpersonal relationships and great service. Another factor relates to how we came into being: at the outset I had a very compelling vision for the company, and it was so spot on (pardon the pun) that it actually hasn’t changed much, though it’s been refined. We want to occupy the same place in the market as we did those years ago, and the vision’s not changed. The vision and our overall approach has clearly resonated with guests, as 10 years in we’re as busy and popular as we’ve ever been. The last thing I will mention is never taking any of this for granted. We have to strive at all times to stay current, and bring in new thinking and expertise as needed, and we always listen to how the dialogue with our guests is changing, rather than assume what got us here will take us the next step forward.

BNTF: What would you say is the number one thing you’ve learned during the growth of your company?

KW: The number one thing I’ve learned relates to authenticity. On the one hand, I never want to regret making a decision that’s counter to what I knew was the right thing to do. This happens to all business owners, when advice you’re getting doesn’t align with what your gut is telling you. The other side of this coin is also trusting those closest to you if they feel more strongly than you do in opposition to something you’re proposing. It’s a tough balance, and has taken me some maturing, but it’s about being authentic to the moment in decision making to make the right choice.

BNTF: How does franchising empower other female entrepreneurs?

KW: Franchising for some people can act as a shortcut to entrepreneurship. Many potential entrepreneurs are worried by risk, and franchising can give some assurances in terms of seeing a business that’s already working in other markets with lots of the kinks worked out, and with head office support. You still get to be an entrepreneur and your business succeeds or fails based on your ability, but franchising gives you a huge head start, and there is probably a franchise opportunity in every business category. I’m proud of the young women who have invested as our partners, and share my original dream of owning a trendy beauty bar in a great neighbourhood.  In a perfect world more young women would hear about all the opportunities in entrepreneurism as a way to choose a career where there is less of a glass ceiling.

BNTF: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

KW: My father’s line ‘do whatever you want, but make it a business’ obviously had a huge role in shaping my destiny. I wouldn’t be what I’m doing now if I hadn’t heard those words.

BNTF:  What are your career goals for the future and your prospects of The Ten Spot? 

I have a deep belief that The Ten Spot has the potential to grow globally. Our immediate next step is to continue to grow in Canada and think carefully about a skillful entrance into the US, as many companies have learned hard way that it’s a different competitive environment. Ultimately I hope to be in the driver’s seat when The Ten Spot goes international.

BNTF: What do you love about working in the beauty industry?

KW: Working in beauty is ultimately satisfying because of what an impact it can have on the guests we serve. I personally love the feeling of going into a beauty bar, maybe feeling a bit glum, and after services and interactions with cool people I feel a thousand times better. And it’s not just pleasure, it’s feeling better about myself. A confidence boost and renewed energy.  There are few other businesses I can think of that contribute this way.

BNTF: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

KW: I am so grateful that we’ve made it to our tenth anniversary, something that would not be possible with all our guests as well as the remarkable people I work with every day.  x. Kristen

Image courtesy of Kristen Wood

By Savana Gray

Looking for a beauty job? Find beauty jobs here.

Are you an employer? Post your beauty job here.

Follow us on Instagram for beauty jobs, makeup tips and beauty trends!

Share your comment...