In the lead-up to FWE’s annual Gala on February 20, 2017, we sat down with Pitch for the Purse Finalist, Andrea Scott of skoah who has created the ultimate experience in personalized skincare, combining facials, skin-care and a proprietary product line.
Q: Why did you start skoah?
Andrea: skoah was created because we saw an opportunity to make a change to an industry that was not focused on young, urban working professionals. Our goal was to create a concept that didn’t yet exist: a ‘facials only’ membership model service with a focus on education and empathy in a friendly and approachable environment. Likewise, we wanted to commit to our guests skin-care success by offering an in-house product line that combined natural ingredients with science based active ingredients. Today’s guest isn’t only interested in receiving a product, they are interested in the experience, the story, and the relationship they build with the brands they choose to support – skoah embodies this relationship with intention.
Q: How is your business different from the competition?
Andrea: We are the first to-market concept of a single-service boutique specializing in facials. Many single-service concepts exist today, (hair blow dry bars, nail bars, massage bars) but we are the first facials-only concept. We focus our service on facials, but we support our guest’s skincare regime by making and selling our own proprietary skin care product line. To compare skoah to a beauty counter, or stand alone skin care product store, we offer a very robust, enjoyable and educational experience around the purchase of skin care products. To compare us to a full service spa, skoah skin care trainers (estheticians) concentrate only on facials, so their level of skin care knowledge is incredible. They can do more facials in a day that they may do in a full week or even a month in a spa that offers many different types of services. This expertise is increasingly important to today’s consumers.
skoah did not invent facials, just as Starbucks did not invent coffee, but rather, we created a new experience around facials. I believe Starbucks did the same with the experience of coffee drinking. Just as it is now the norm to have a personalized coffee beverage, we aim to incorporate monthly facials as a regular part of a person’s life and beauty regime.
Q: What is the best business advice you ever took?
Andrea: This may sound odd, but one of the most impactful things that shifted my entrepreneurial mindset one day came as I looked at the many different products and items in my bathroom. I realized that a regular person like me created every one of them. So I said to myself, ‘why not me? Why can’t I do what I want to do? Why someone else? What do those who have achieved massive goals have over any one of us as individuals? The answer is nothing… nothing except the will to try, the desire to work hard, and the drive to keep pushing and keep going. That’s it really, so why not me?
Q: What was the greatest obstacle you overcame and the lesson you learned from it?
Andrea: We had very aggressive goals when we opened our first corporate stores in the US. We opened 3 locations at once and then were then hit with some very major, personal tragedies including the passing of my 3-year-old nephew. It was absolutely horrendous. Things did not go as planned and we were really stuck on how to fix the problem. We had to look closely at what was working really well, and what was not and then execute a plan to solve the problem. This was tough because we had invested a lot of capital, personal energy and life force. There were some major positives from this experience, including our realization of a better growth strategy for skoah. We would likely not have discovered this otherwise. But it still stings to have made some mistakes. So the realization for me is not that mistakes get made, but how we fix them is where the power is. I don’t at all believe failure is a badge of honour. Failure sucks. But leveraging this for positive change is a powerful lesson.
Q: What inspires you to grow skoah further?
Andrea: First, we want to own this category we have created. It works. We have built a loyal following of long-term members who are engaged by the incredible stories our community share about our service.
I also feel a tremendous responsibility to those who have worked hard within our company – the backbone of our success, their passion and effort deserves huge rewards especially as they continue to help drive our growth. Lastly, through franchising, we can create an incredible opportunity for others to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. I am so proud of our existing franchisees and current skoah store owners. Everyone has a different background, but all share a passion for making people feel great. I have learned a lot from other skoah ‘owners’ and they really help shape our brand and create the culture of skoah.
Q: Is there an app or business tool you use to help you stay focused and on track?
Andrea: I am so old school, I love my daytimer but I think it’s because at heart, I’m a writer! I love to write thoughts and feelings attached to dates – it grounds me and brings intention to my actions. But in terms of life, I travel a lot, so rely on the hotel app for my preferred hotel, airline apps for quick bookings or flight delays. And I am conscious of work-life balance and my physical health, so using my phone to measure my steps, my runs and my sleep helps keep me on track and it sends me alerts when I’m out of balance!
Q: If you’re awarded the $25,000 Pitch for the Purse prize, how will you use that money?
Andrea: I would like to create an amazing process for those interested in becoming a skoah franchisee. I would like to invest in this process and develop a program and the supporting tools needed to get a prospective franchisee well on their way to their own successful entrepreneurial journey with skoah.