How five franchises that provide beauty services to Canadians have remained strong in a recession-resistant industry
By Stefanie Ucci
Over the past year, women and men across Canada and around the world have likely put their beauty and grooming habits on pause. Staying at home and away from others means some may have halted their daily makeup and hair curling routines, and with temporary closures, others haven’t had access to their coveted hair, laser, or waxing salons.
However, as we anticipate a return to normal, many individuals await getting that first set of nails or lashes once salons reopen. Fortunately, these brands have weathered a rough and rainy storm throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, proving that the beauty industry will always stick around.
As Deka Lash senior franchise director Ricki Wilkins puts it, “This beauty industry has and always will be recession resistant; it’s here to stay. And women will always find money to make themselves feel beautiful.”
Read on to learn more about these five beauty franchises that provide unique and valuable services to Canadians!
For decades, women have relied on a handy tube of their favourite mascara to add that finishing touch to their look. Volumized and lengthened eyelashes make the eyes pop and thanks to Deka Lash, makeup wearers now have alternative methods to hop out of bed, ready to go without the extra step of mascara.
Founded in 2011, Deka Lash provides lash extensions and brow laminations, and operates with the tag line, “changing lives, one lash at a time.”
“I know that sounds pretty bold, but we actually believe it because our very elegant business model positively impacts so many lives,” explains Ricki Wilkins, senior franchise director at Look Good Brands, LLC.
Wilkins says the franchise looks for owners with strong leadership skills who are comfortable interacting with different age groups, since many lash artists are millennials, and many clients are from generation X or are baby boomers.
Fortunately for Deka Lash, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived a year after the company decided to put an emergency plan in place. Wilkins says they had 95 per cent of the plan completed and were able to jump into their strategies, which included turning dollars into points, offering clients the ability to freeze their memberships, and halting fees for and introducing daily communication with franchise owners regarding government messaging and recommendations. Deka Lash also introduced a mobile app which uses online booking and artificial intelligence for a touchless check-in once clients get within 15 feet of the studio door. Wilkins notes that in many respects, Deka Lash is a technology company that does lashes.
“A lot of my owners tell me that they never would have believed that they would be in a lash extension business,” says Wilkins. “But somebody came along and said to them, ‘look, this might sound a little crazy, but I’d like you to keep an open mind and take a look at a concept that has everything you’re looking for … can you be open to that?’ And just that little push has brought us recognition from the franchise industry as one of its fastest-growing franchises.”
Founded in 2016 in Dieppe, New Brunswick, DermaEnvy Skincare is a micro medical aesthetics clinic that specializes in laser and skincare technologies. The brand has eight clinics that offer treatments such as laser hair removal, body contouring, micro needling, teeth whitening, chemical peels, and more.
Cohen MacInnis, president of Wellness Brands Canada Inc., says DermaEnvy looks for franchisees who have a willingness to learn and the ability to work independently. “We’ve had very good luck and are very fortunate to have success stories from both within the industry and outside of the industry. Our franchise system has appealed to those without industry experience as well.”
With five years in the business as both a franchisor and franchisee, MacInnis says that the largest challenge in his career so far is definitely the COVID-19 pandemic that temporarily closed many clinics in the Atlantic provinces.
“We’ve dealt with each franchisee on an individual basis as some were more prepared than others,” he explains. “Being a younger franchise system, we had a lot of newer franchisees as well.”
The brand launched a franchise assistance program for all DermaEnvy franchisees to ensure that nobody missed a payment on their car, mortgage, or rent. MacInnis says the program is still in place and they plan to continue it indefinitely.
As for training, franchisees have access to a company cloud computer system called DermaEnvy Connect, which allows head office to communicate and store all documents, policies, procedures, and more online, while offering a support ticket system for team members. Franchisees can also train on the online learning platform called DermaEnvy Academy, which provides more than 80 training courses.
“I think a willingness to learn is a real key factor to success, regardless of industry or system,” says MacInnis when offering advice to prospective franchisees. “If you have a willingness to learn, it’s very possible to achieve success in any industry.”
Foxy Box Laser & Wax Bar
Back when Kyla Dufresne, founder of Foxy Box Laser & Wax Bar, had her first Brazilian wax done, she went to a technician who completed the service out of their home. Otherwise, her only other options were high-end spas or the back of nail salons, both of which were undesirable.
Dufresne says she realized there was a missing niche market for wax services, giving birth to the Foxy Box brand that specializes in the art of the Brazilian wax.
“We’re hair removal, but we really are much more than that,” says Dufresne. “We’re a brand and a culture and we’re a big part of giving back to our communities and really affecting women’s lives in a positive way.”
“We’re looking for [franchisees who are] excited about making a positive impact in their community because that’s really what we do,” says Dufresne. “‘Energy is everything’ is one of our core values and we believe that’s how we impact our clients.” The membership model also provides a recurring revenue for franchisees and brand loyalty for clients.
Training for new franchisees includes a week at headquarters in Victoria, British Columbia, as well as a team visit at the new store for two weeks. After that, the company has a monthly call with all team members, provides weekly KPI reports, and Dufresne routinely takes individual calls with franchisees.
Foxy Box was closed for three months at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but has since reopened. Dufresne says they’ve even sold two franchises and opened three locations over the past year.
“We really didn’t take a pause. I kept on my whole team from headquarters full time, and we made sure that our online presence was huge,” explains Dufresne.
As for advice Dufresne has for franchise prospects, she says it’s all about “ensuring that whichever business that you choose to go with, that it sings to you and you’re both in alignment. As a company, make sure their core values and brand really resonate with you.”
GS Beauty Group
The GS Beauty Group system has a strong presence in malls across the country. Within the system is Trade Secrets, a retail beauty superstore with an attached salon, and Glamour Secrets, which offers services including a lash bar and nail salon.
Doug Warren, director of franchising, joined GS Beauty Group in 2002 when the brand had five stores, and grew it to about 100 locations, making it the largest professional beauty retail chain in Canada.
Warren says the system is preferably a hands-on business for investors, who ideally have a passion for the beauty business. “New franchisees get a month of training in a store,” explains Warren. “We train in all aspects from A-Z: front of store, back of store, customers, and product knowledge.” Franchisees are expected to be knowledgeable about all the items their store stocks, which Warren notes is nearly 10,000 products.
During COVID-19, those products are what helped keep business afloat, as many mall locations experienced multiple shutdowns. Warren says the brand’s warehouse in Toronto allowed them to increase their online presence and keep the brand in the forefront.
The ideal franchisee is someone who’s “able to follow a formula and not question the stuff we do,” says Warren. “I think the main thing is no matter what their background is, they’re willing to be part of a team and be teachable in our system.”
Prospective franchisees are encouraged to follow the system and formulas, and not to try to reinvent the wheel. “The key is customer interaction and service on a daily basis,” says Warren. “It’s not easy, it takes a lot of energy. So that’s a challenge to get people that buy the franchise to be there, engage, and consistently have the type of customer service that is required [with GS Beauty Group].”
More than three decades ago, Jade Clinics CEO Jennifer Desloges began developing a system that’s different than any other in the world. As a professional electrologist, she found a variety of challenges with the existing system including client discomfort, inadequate results, and uncomfortable ergonomics.
“I was about 20 years into my practice, and I worked a lot,” explains Desloges. “It dawned on me: I need a plan so that my electrolysis method will continue beyond me, and franchising just popped into my head.”
Today, Jade Clinics operates in British Columbia and Ontario, offering treatments including electrolysis hair removal, body sculpting, and skin rejuvenation.
“There’s a huge need for this service,” says Desloges. “People want hair removal. A lot of times they choose laser because they think it’s permanent, but it’s not. Electrolysis is the only permanent method of hair removal, but only if it’s done correctly.”
Desloges says the brand accepts franchisees with no experience in electrolysis because they get trained completely on how to do client consultations, perform the Jade method of electrolysis and other services, as well as operate the clinic. Training is updated once a year and quarterly staff meetings occur with all practitioners to make sure goals are being reached and the system is operating effectively and efficiently. Desloges’ daughter, Janine Jost, is also a franchisee, and is the liaison between the franchisees and head office.
“One of the main things we’re looking for [in a franchisee] is someone who has that heart for caring because some people would find this job mundane without a purpose behind it. Going to work each day knowing you’re changing lives is very thrilling.”
Desloges calls COVID-19 a “two-sided coin” and notes that “It was an opportunity for us to say to our franchisees, ‘we’re here for you and going to help you through this.’ We’ve had every one of our clinics reopen and they’re still doing business, so that’s a really big positive.”
Overall, Desloges has put in decades of work and research to help her franchisees succeed. “When you buy into a system, use that system! Don’t think that you’re going to come in and do it your own way – it doesn’t work,” she advises. “You have to believe in it.”