Current IssueMarch/April 2024Next Generation in Franchising

Raising the Beauty Bar

Millennial franchisee Katrina Kuras shares lessons learned from five years of franchising with a beauty bar brand that feels like family

By Stefanie Ucci

Back in 2006, THE TEN SPOT founder Kristen Gale saw a gap in the beauty industry. She, like many other women, was seeking high-quality services without the price point of a high-end spa. And what does any brilliant entrepreneur do when they see a gap in a lucrative market? Fill it themselves, of course!

So was born THE TEN SPOT concept, a self-described “anti-spa” and beauty salon that not only offers an abundance of services for clients across Canada and the U.S., but also provides a pivotal career opportunity for budding franchise owners. It’s the best of both worlds for beauty bar owners and their guests.

One of the many motivated entrepreneurs is Katrina Kuras, a 33-year-old go-getter who owns a TEN SPOT franchise in Toronto.

Kuras was thrilled at the opportunity to become a business owner in late 2019 before she even turned 30 years old—even more thrilling was investing in a business where she had already been a client for half a decade. She mixed her passion for the beauty industry with her desire for business ownership to create a beautiful cocktail of franchise success.

The “anti-spa” that does it all

The average beauty bar focuses on a small offering of services—some specialize in waxing, others in nails, eyebrows, facials, or laser hair removal. But at THE TEN SPOT, clients can get it all. With a variety of membership options to choose from, the brand offers multiple beauty services in one convenient location. It truly is what Kuras calls the “one-stop beauty shop.”

“What makes THE TEN SPOT really unique is that in Canada, you don’t need to be certified to be an esthetician. So, you can have anyone and everyone providing services [without] official training,” explains Kuras. “But THE TEN SPOT made it mandatory that anyone who works there [must have] gone to school and are certified estheticians. That really showcases what the brand is about, in terms of their standards.”

She adds that all protocols and processes have been developed with safety, health, efficiency, and quality built into them. The brand’s cleanliness standards are “absolutely incredible” says Kuras, describing the “clinically clean” protocol that is upheld and taken seriously by team members in all TEN SPOT beauty bars.

This strict cleanliness was especially important for Kuras, who had eight years of professional experience as a hair stylist prior to becoming a business owner. “I started in the beauty industry when I was 16 years old, and I was absolutely obsessed with it.”

She explains that she got to experience many different salons across Canada and the U.S., including getting her foot in the door at a salon in Washington, D.C., and at various salons in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto.

“I just love the beauty industry. There’s something about beauty service providers that’s so special and unique because we have dedicated our lives to taking care of people—it’s a really special group of people,” she describes.

Keeping it clean

Kuras says she wears many hats throughout each workday: “Guest relations and relationship builder, psychologist for my team and guests, financial coach for some of my team members, life coach, career coach, guest coordinator—a.k.a. our receptionist—bar manager, hiring manager, service trainer, inventory, marketing, and accounting.”

So, what kinds of tasks does Kuras take on in a typical day? “My role is literally anything and everything. The first thing that popped into my head is plumber—I have to fix the toilet all the time!” she says with a laugh.

She also calls herself “the clean police” and is constantly making sure the clinically clean promise of THE TEN SPOT brand is upheld. Ultimately, says Kuras, “There’s nothing too big or too small for me to be doing. I’m always on call.”

Fortunately, in the last year, Kuras was able to hire an assistant manager which has helped her delegate a multitude of responsibilities. “She has been absolutely incredible,” Kuras describes. “This year is the first year that I’ve been able to have a little bit more free time, so I’ve been able to do more work on my finances and can work more on the business instead of in the business.”

A laser-like focus on success

As any business owner can attest, there certainly have been challenges along the way. And for a millennial business owner, being younger in the industry also adds some hurdles to the mix.

The biggest issues Kuras points to are her work-life balance and being “unrelatable” to people her age. “Now that it’s been a couple of years into the mix [of owning a business], people are starting to understand that I’m truly doing a bunch of different things at once. So, I still don’t have it fully figured out.”

Fortunately, she still finds time to hit major life milestones. At the time of writing, Kuras is due to graduate from university after six years working on her undergraduate degree while juggling opening her business.

Kuras is also a newlywed who tied the knot with her long-time partner in November 2023. It sure does help that her husband is a fellow business owner, too. “He understands, and that’s been huge—to have someone supporting me and understanding that my time is very minimal, and he doesn’t make me feel bad for it.”

What should come as no surprise is that the current state of the economy hasn’t been exactly helpful for Kuras. “When we opened compared to now, minimum wage has increased 18 per cent, and that is a significant financial burden on a small business owner. That’s how much the cost of living has gone up for my employees, so I’ve had to respect that increase so that I can help keep a roof over their heads and make sure everyone is taken care of.”

As a beauty business, Kuras prioritizes hiring quality esthetic experts. “Finding your people is always going to be a tough one. My way of dealing with that is, when I find ones that I love and that are great, I keep them as engaged, growing, and fulfilled in their careers as possible.”

She finds strength in the relationships she’s built with her team. “I genuinely care about each and every one of them on an individual basis. In fact, they all came to my wedding, too!”

Kuras’ advice for future franchisees is simple: “The number-one thing I would say is take the time to become financially literate.” Financial literacy can help any business owner read through and understand complex concepts such as a profit and loss statement, budget sheets, cash flow, interest rates, and more. “It’s going to help you make informed decisions on how you’re running your business.”

As for her own goals, Kuras is excited for the future of her TEN SPOT franchise. “My definition of success was always three items: I want to be the best TEN SPOT to work at, the best TEN SPOT to go to, and I want to be influential to TEN SPOT headquarters.” And, as she embarks on her fifth year in business, she’s definitely well on her way.

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