Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Terrie Absher, Founder and CEO of Total Glow, located in Menlo Park, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I believe that Total Glow is a one-of-a-kind business. Although we started out in skincare, we’ve expanded to cover comprehensive bodily wellness that inspired our name. We pursue a total glow for our clients, a healthy radiance that shines from the inside out. In an environment that encourages restfulness, retreat, and refreshment, we are constantly implementing and inventing new techniques for whole-body rejuvenation and fortification. The Total Glow team also has expertise in a variety of Eastern facial massage, body sculpting, and unique wellness treatments.
Our standout is that with this amazing breadth of services, we can build a custom treatment plan in conjunction with the latest technology. I always stay up to date on the latest research and innovation in our industry and put countless hours into research and communication. This allows Total Glow to assess our clients' specific needs and deliver the most effective treatment with the highest quality tools and ingredients. I also mix original Ayurvedic and Korean facial serums and regularly create new treatments to respond to the unique needs of our Total Glow community. Total Glow is truly a multi-faceted project: the research and development that happens behind the scenes and the finely tuned services we offer at our facility.
Our customers are very special and truly inspire us to provide the very best for them. They range in age from teens to 70s, with the middle of the range being the majority. Our typical customer is someone who wants to look their best and maintain and/or prevent aging with one core commonality, which is that they tend to lean toward individuals that want to look natural and avoid any major procedures or anything that would look unnatural or actually change how they look. They are willing to do the work and take care of themselves and are very open to education and new experiences that support their goals. They share our enthusiasm for beauty from the inside out. We really love how appreciative, gracious, and kind our customers are. New staff often comment on not only how great our team is but how wonderful our customers are.
Tell us about yourself
I started my business out of my own home, working two jobs as a single mother. Growing up, I had chronic cystic acne. Being a young person and feeling insecure in your own skin (literally!) is a tough experience. I’m a natural problem solver, and I care a lot about health and wellness, so I spent a lot of time developing expertise in skincare, fitness, nutrition, mindfulness, etc. Helping people look and feel better had become a skill I valued in myself, and eventually, it became a business. I feel so fortunate that what I like to do at work and at home so often aligns. Cooking healthy meals at home and for my staff, fitness (pilates and running), yoga and meditation, and overall wellness play a role in my personal life as well as my business practice.
Having struggled with my skin my whole life, I empathize deeply with my clients and feel their journey is my own. The environment I want at Total Glow is an extension of what I try to create at home. I really enjoy creating and maintaining an immaculate environment at home for my family and at Total Glow for our team and clients. I love getting involved in every detail, from what candles we use to the waterfall we installed in the lobby, to create a sanctuary that is beautiful, restful, and inviting. It’s a lot of fun to think, “What will my team enjoy? What will my clients find relaxing?” and I get to enjoy a beautiful work environment too. I am always looking for ways I can improve our clients’ experience and results. That pursuit has led me to study Ayurvedic medicine and aromatherapy, obtain a license in wellness education, and continually expand the treatments and services that Total Glow provides.
My business keeps me motivated because wellness is something that applies to everyone’s life – it’s about achieving that total glow, that overall wellness, that I’ve named my business after. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I love working with my staff. I have a really dedicated, kindhearted team of professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds. We’re an intergenerational, international team, and we all have a stake in what Total Glow means to us. As much as I teach my staff, I also learn from them, and most of all, we have a good time doing what we do because we all believe in it.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
From my point of view, my biggest accomplishment is that as we have continued to grow and change, I have never wavered from my goals in opening Total Glow. My integrity in business remains solidly intact, and the quality of our services and the closeness of our staff reflects that. My genuine care for my staff and clients has made Total Glow a place where the service starts immediately upon walking in. To cultivate a positive environment with truly good people for staff, I can count on operating in the best interest of customers. It’s really a dream come true. There is a lot of pressure in any industry to offer services that would bring in easy revenue, but that isn’t what we are about at all. Every aspect of Total Glow has to be up to my personal standards. Every single person matters. That’s the core of it, and it’s never changed for us.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I face the challenges that all female CEOs do. Gaining trust that I have what it takes to succeed is a process that has sometimes taken longer. In the beginning, I had to prove that what I had to offer as a businesswoman had value, so I felt the need to work harder and work longer, which is still a part of my life. The main thing I have experienced from the beginning and through today is definitely keeping a work-life balance which includes my staff. I want us to bring our best with us, work hard, and be committed to our customers. In order to do that and be able to nurture and care for our customers and continue to be enthusiastic means we have to take care of ourselves too.
Keeping our business successful and every member happy to be here and feeling supported in their life means letting go of the old school “rules” and allowing flexibility or knowing when someone needs time off or other support. I have had times when it felt overwhelming, and another female in a very similar situation knew what to say, what kind of support to provide, and how to give me the boost I needed. That’s the resource I want to be. It is so important to treasure and invest in our community because although everyone’s life is different, we can always connect through many of our shared experiences as women.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
My first piece of advice for those who want to start their own business one day is to really put in the time to do the research. It’s important to know what is involved in a business, whether it’s the physical space, the website, marketing, or the cost of getting the business up and running–and enough to keep you going the first year! You have to have patience, and part of that is knowing what you are getting into. It’s not as simple as having a service to provide – you have to figure out a lot more than just your product!
Also, don’t try to do everything. Having it all is doable, but it takes proper support, and it takes being really honest with yourself. It can be hard to let go of something that’s always been your responsibility, but maybe it’s not essential, or someone else can do it. Take care of your health, please. You’re the heart of this business! There will be long hours, and a weekend is not a weekend; it’s another workday.
And, of course, treat your staff with respect. Be flexible with their needs and treat them well. There is no success without them. One of the most important pieces of advice I can offer is to connect with your sisters out there. They will help you through the toughest times and they will celebrate your victories. I’m part of a community that I didn’t know existed! Support is all around us. I have some incredible clients who share amazing ideas, provide feedback, and make suggestions, which is very valuable. You can’t do it alone because it’s not sustainable and will catch up with you. Ask for help. That’s what life is about anyway, caring and helping one another.
Where can people find you and your business?
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