Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Erin Dressander, Co-Owner of Wanderlux Salon + Spa, located in Grand Rapids, MI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are an elevated salon + spa in the core of our urban community. Services we offer range from hair color + cutting, customized facials, energy work massage, reiki healing, infrared sauna therapy, brows + lashes. My business partner and I acquired the spa side of the business back in October. The previous owner was looking to sell, so we saw an opportunity to add it in with the salon side of the business. Our business model for both clients + employees is to provide an elevated experience rooted in radical self-care + opportunity. Every human is welcome through our doors, as they are.
Tell us about yourself
I worked in corporate America in my early to mid-20s deciding that that road wasn't for me, so I broke free. Creativity has always been the epicenter of how I live my life. First attending culinary school, then some business school, I kept circling back to wanting to be in the beauty industry. Expressing my creativity is how I knew I was going to navigate my livelihood. So off, I went to cosmetology school. Post-school, I worked in two local salons in the Grand Rapids area before branching out into entrepreneurship. My business partner and I wanted to design an environment that allowed creatives to determine their own future in the business of beauty + self-care. From the very beginning, our industry was designed in a way that didn't leverage hairstylists to be paid adequately for their talents + offerings. Our company's model is one that is self-led; therefore, the employees have autonomy over their schedule, their pay structure, vacation, education, etc. We have an hourly rate structure that excludes gratuity. Our clients are paying for the value of the artist's time vs. just the service. Pay equality is at the forefront of our model. We strongly feel gratuity is and should be a thing of the past as the history that is linked to it is quite disappointing. Standing strong in our own values is what we teach when you join Wanderlux. Leading with emotional intelligence is what we strive to live by day in and day out.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Weathering the storms of change. As a mother of 2 young children, I have had to pivot a lot, especially through COVID. Having to shut the business down during Covid, re-evaluating everything, and then coming back stronger had its rewards for sure, while at the same time questioning everything. Finding balance + pleasing everyone is nearly impossible, but finding harmony is the true win. I am able to run the business while spending ample time watching my family grow together. Above any financial gain, time + freedom is my true victory. Change + failure are what drives me to learn + grow in my business as an entrepreneur. I am a leader in self-care, so I have to make sure to manage that to the best of my abilities.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Managing other humans. It is rewarding in so many ways, but can also be the most challenging at times. As a business owner, drowning out all the noise to stay focused on the vision and growth needs to be a top priority; however, other people's livelihood is at stake. I don't take that lightly. Identifying whether or not someone is serious about working with us can be hard, but listening to my gut allows us to make hard decisions quicker of letting them go. Like any relationship, there is always a "honeymoon" period where those first few months are all about getting to know one another. Sometimes it works, and sometimes, it doesn't. I have learned that either way, I am learning + growing as a leader.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Ignorance is bliss.
- Give yourself grace.
- Ask for help when you need it. There is always someone out there to offer help, whether it be consulting, lending money, or delegating. If you believe in your vision, so will they...and if they don't, then find someone who does.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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