I started the business (with my co-founder, Sam Offit) in 2010 when we were right out of college. We didn't have nearly enough money for a security deposit, high rent, or a build-out in a commercial space, so we started the business out of our apartment. We saved our profits until we had enough money to open our first retail location in Santa Monica. From there, we continued to re-invest our profits time and time again to open more stores. Currently, we have 9 stores (soon to be 10) and haven't raised any outside funding.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
At first a lot of family and friends doubted the idea of us quitting our stable jobs to run a business. To be perfectly honest, we ignored those who questioned us and tried to seek advice from those who encouraged us. Today, my mom (Colleen Ryan) is a shareholder and our CFO and Sam's cousin (Rachel Solomon) is a shareholder and our COO so it worked well to listen to those who were supportive!
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
I would say our customer experience is the most influential factor in SUGARED+BRONZED's success. Our mission statement is "to provide good vibes and fantastic services so that every client exits a salon in a better mood than when they entered" and we really try to live by that.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
This speaks mostly to those in the brick-and mortar-sector, but I one of the most important lesson's I've learned is that trying to save money on a contractor often costs you a lot more money in the long run- and frustration! Although we couldn't afford the best contractors in the beginning, it was good to go through the process and learn the value of experienced and professional contractors. They have not only made our stores look much better, but they've also made life so much easier.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
My advice would be scrappy as possible. Not having a lot of money (or really any money) when we started the business turned out to be one of the greatest blessings. We learned how to do things on our own, how to track the return of every dollar spent, and most importantly, to only spend money on places that mattered. I think it's can be so easy to spend a lot of money on PR, social platforms, graphic design, etc. and at the end of the day none of it really matters if your core business isn't functioning to the best of it's ability.