Aimee Blake and William Johner, a couple living in Seattle once came to visit family in Phoenix, Arizona for a couple of weeks. Being on vacation, Aimee decided to treat herself with a day of nurturing, rejuvenating treatments, and self-care. Quickly, she hopped on google and began looking for a place to get a sugaring service. Living in Seattle for almost a decade, Aimee had become a devoted customer of sugaring hair removal services for it is a much less painful and much less invasive technique to get naturally smooth skin. Unlike regular waxing, sugaring does not affect the skin as it only attaches itself to the hair growth, unlike regular wax which sticks to the top layer skin and rips off all the dead skin cells along with the hair creating tiny wounds on the skin. These wounds further expose you to ingrowth issues and harmful germs risking infection or itchy problems. In this manner, sugaring is a better way to remove hair for not just sensitive skin but all skin types. Unfortunately, as Aimee found out, this service was not well known at the time and hence not available in every city. She was disappointed to see that there wasn’t a single place in the valley which offered sugaring hair removal service. She knew how much the people there were missing out on. It was then, Aimee sat down with her husband William on the kitchen table and started piecing together a modern spa concept what is now, ‘Sugar Sugar’.
“A think a lot of times people think organic means they have to “give something up”. Give up taste or effectiveness or adding additional costs, and so on. It is our mission to show people organic is better for the consumer in every way. Our clients think so!”
Aimee and William founded Sugar Sugar in 2012 and have been in this business for over seven years now. Starting with a simple mom-and-pop spa, they have now opened a second brick and mortar location in the Arcadia Phoenix neighborhood specializing in organic hair removal. It is their motto to “Discover the Beauty of Organic’. Aimee says, “It’s who we are. I think a lot of times people think organic means they have to “give something up”. Give up taste or effectiveness or adding additional costs, and so on. It is our mission to show people organic is better for the consumer in every way. Our clients think so!” Being in the beauty industry, Aimee and William care more about what their customers want; that is why they believe they are growing so quickly. William shares, “We were built by consumers because we couldn’t find what we really wanted within the hair removal market. We started franchising because we have so many clients who visit Scottsdale from around the US. Our staff would hear: “please come to Dallas” or “where are your locations in Chicago”. So, we decided to share what we do.”
Building a concept!
The sugar paste used in the hair removal process at Sugar Sugar is simply made from sugar, lemon, and water only. There are no paper, sticks, muslin, or additives involved. As sugar bonds with itself and does not attach to the skin at all, it successfully extracts hair from the follicle without breakage or deep extraction and gives better results than traditional wax. And it does all of this with better margin. This concept is often referred to as ‘sugar waxing’ by DIY enthusiasts, however, there is no wax involved in Sugar Sugar’s product. Hence, for them, it is just sugaring. In the hair removal market, there are only so many participants who offer sugaring as a service to their clients. Therefore, this couple has built their concept by following buying patterns and using science to predict the flow. Apart from this, William exclaims, “We build all of our own content too. So that’s a big win for us. We designed a fresh look for a fresh and exploding market.” To which Aimee adds by saying, “The only other service providers like us are the fast-wax franchises. They do their thing. But once a client tries sugaring, there’s no going back to waxing.”
In terms of franchising, Aimee and William look for people who are passionate about running a successful business, serving their clients and are excited to take the beauty industry to the next level. Hence, they also prefer candidates who can easily grasp their system and are willing to grow financially from it. For that, good communication is compulsory along with effective management skills. As support to their franchisees, Sugar Sugar offers access to its online university and arranges monthly call sessions with the owners. Apart from this, they ensure their ongoing support in case any issue arises and the franchise owner needs their help.
Self-care and Health-care amidst COVID 19
As the coronavirus pandemic shook the world, and the lockdown was ordered in all parts of the world, the beauty industry was heavily impacted endangering several businesses to shut down. There were only so many businesses who were able to catch up as it began lifting and one of them was Sugar Sugar who rather did it beautifully. Sugar Sugar has always been more focused on cleanliness and sanitization more than the aesthetics. According to Aimee their training and protocols typically supersede CDC and OSHA. Hence, they only had a few more things to take care of. She shares, “We’ve try to be solid stewards and maintain a healthy work and client environment. When we reopened, we tried to be as “proactive” as we could during this reactive time. For our clients, masks were mandatory. This was weeks before Arizona’s mask mandate. We put our staff in masks as well. We have set up sanitizing stations within our foyer(s) and extra sanitizing time between services to ensure safety for our staff and clients. We are a science-based business. So, we listened to science.” In addition to this, Sugar Sugar also launched an initiative called ‘Self Care and Health Care’ where they contributed revenue to the self-responders and healthcare workers. Moreover, they offered free facial a week for people risking their safety in the healthcare sector to serve others. Overall, William says, “COVID 19 hasn’t impacted our flow.”
Looking to the future
Aimee and William are few of those people who are passionately working towards something simply because they believe in it. When their clients talk about how extremely well their experience was along with the results it brings Aimee back to her own learnings that inspired her to get into this business in the first place. Speaking of how dedicated and loyal she is to the cause, William asserts, “Aimee is a spark plug. She’s positive, patient, and kind. We’ve tried to build Sugar Sugar around those ideals. While these things are free for us – and our staff to provide, they produce tons of ROI!”
Over the years, the couple has kept all their focus on what the client says and expects from them as a service provider and using that knowledge they have evolved the custom ‘spa-science’ into each customer’s Sugar Sugar experience. William says, “Sugar Sugar has been our passion. It was a very successful spa long before it was a franchise. We’ve built it from the client perspective, and done so from the owner/operator perspective. Not from the “Franchisor” perspective.” As for their future ventures, he adds, “The intention is to grow Sugar Sugar organically and with the purpose to make sure that each franchise owner has the best opportunity for success. Our biggest goal is to be the best in organic hair removal and other beauty solutions in the country. People talk. Our clients keep finding us.”