It’s a massive shift transitioning from full-time employment to full-time entrepreneurship.
A shift that most people in jobs underestimate — we know we certainly did when we made the leap a few years ago.
This funny piece on the psychological price of entrepreneurship references an analogy about entrepreneurship we love: it’s like a woman riding a lion.
“People look…and think, This girl’s really got it together! She’s brave! And the woman riding the lion is thinking, how the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?”
Anita Chan went through this exact transitioning and is giving us now the opportunity to learn from her journey.
Anita Chan was introduced to the beauty/wellness industry through Bare Escentuals, which was her first summer job at 14. That sparked Anita Chan’s interest in makeup and maintaining the external beauty of our bodies. Anita Chan was a shy, chubby girl dealing with acne and had very low self-esteem.
The idea of being able to change perceived imperfections intrigued Anita, so she took on a part-time job at Sephora during high school. It was there that She realized how embarrassed she felt working on clients face to face, creating the look of flawless skin on them with makeup, while they stared at her less than perfect skin. Anita also came to realize how low my self-esteem had gotten when she did the makeup of a girl from the Make-a-Wish Foundation — she was so beautiful, despite how visibly her body was deteriorating.
"I was so inspired by her that it made me believe there is beauty in everybody — sometimes we just need a little help to see it in ourselves."
So Anita decided to dedicate her career to learning about skin, in order to understand how to actually have flawless skin rather than create it with makeup.
This led Anita Chan to pursue an AA degree in Image Consulting and got her Esthetician license while going to college.
"When it came time to choose a major, I couldn’t pick one since nothing seemed to fit what I wanted to do."
Isn’t it that we all go through a time in our lives where we just can not pick a subject or something that will lead us towards our future? However, Anita found a program at San Francisco State University that allowed her to create her own major!
Yes, Anita managed to combine courses from Speech Communication, Marketing, and Psychology and studied the Fundamentals of Self-Image. While she was in college, Anita got a job doing front desk work at a spa in the hopes she’d transition into the treatment room once she got her license.
"I finally convinced my mom to turn a little studio in her house into a facial room."
After working at a couple of high-end spas and medi-spas around Bay Area and Los Angeles, Anita had finally convinced her mom to turn a little studio in her house into a facial room. Anita always knew that she wanted to be in business for myself but the thought of not having a guaranteed paycheck was unsettling so this was a safe place to start. From there she worked on family and friends, but found her growth still limited since she only took in referral clients.
"I finally mustered up some blind courage to rent a studio at a shared space to officially offer my services to the public."
Well, having a little studio in her house didn’t last long because she started to rent her first place for her studio. Even then Anita held onto multiple part-time jobs as a flight attendant and makeup school director, they were her safety net, but then she got to a point where she really had to focus on her business in order for it to grow so she quit my other jobs.
"I held my breath and jumped in with both feet, it was scary but the real start of my business career."
After three years of working independently, Anita Chan reached a point where she knew the only way to scale her business was to find a place where she could build a team. It was an emotional, tough and challenging journey, but it led to what ANITA B SPA is today.
"I couldn't be more excited for where the journey will continue to take me."
What led you to start Anita B Spa? What was going through your mind on that day?
The one thought that motivated me was the passion I had to bring out the beauty in everybody. Looking and feeling the beauty that’s innate within us is a lifestyle choice that requires guidance and commitment. I hope that ANITA B SPA is a place where clients can take the time to nourish themselves and learn about how to live this lifestyle and mindset to the fullest.
I also worked for a fashion e-commerce startup for a short period after graduating college and confirmed my decision of staying in the beauty/wellness industry when I had to IM my manager who was sitting right next to me instead of turning my head to talk to her. Our society has become so into technology that we are losing the human to human interactions that are so important to our well-being. I knew I needed to create a place where people can still feel connected and grounded with some human touch therapy.
What do you think makes Anita B Spa different than all the other beauty spa’s?
My degree in Fundamentals of Self-Image prepared me to go more than skin deep when I’m in the treatment room with clients. I train all of my team members to really listen, assess and be intuitive to understanding what’s going on in our clients life. This is essential in order to provide our customized treatments. Our skin is a direct reflection of what’s going on in our bodies physically, mentally and emotionally, and we look at the entire picture.
I also had the benefit of seeking out many different beauty experiences and rituals from around the world while I was a flight attendant. Every culture treats beauty/wellness differently and having more knowledge of it allows us to offer clients a truly customized treatment that fits their needs. It is still very important for me today to continue traveling, not only because I enjoy it very much, but also to expose myself to the trends and new practices of beauty around the world.
Have you always been entrepreneurial?
Both my parents were entrepreneurs, but they never wanted me to be one — and especially not in the beauty business. They preferred me to be in finance, medicine or law. But I knew from an early age, after working at my parents’ business, that I was not the type of person who could be tied to a desk and predictable schedule.
What investment did you need to start Anita B Spa?
Besides the obvious financial investment, I had to invest my mental will, emotional vulnerability, physical strength, and lots of time. Capital investment alone cannot start a business. It takes a lot of hard work, effort and energy to get a business started and then you need grit, perseverance, motivation, open-mindedness and creativity to maintain it. Investing in a good support system was an absolute essential as well.
How do you compete with other spa’s?
I don’t. I love my industry and meeting anybody that’s in it. There’s plenty of clients to go around for everybody so I choose to work with my peers rather than work against them.
How do you get unstuck creatively? Do you change your treatments every now and then?
Every time a client walks through our door is a different experience. We are all ever-changing so each treatment is customized to what the client needs at the moment. Clients even fill out a short questionnaire each time choosing what drink they would like, music they want to listen to and what mood they are in. We want to create an environment and treatment that suits each individual client on that particular day.
What would you say is the most popular treatment and why is it so popular?
Our customized facials are popular because we believe the treatment doesn’t end at the spa. We put a lot of care and effort into building relationships with clients even after they leave so they feel comfortable enough to turn to us for any beauty/wellness questions they have. Next would be the G.E.L. Lashes Superboost Lash Lift. This service curls the lashes at the base with a keratin solution giving your natural lashes a longer and fuller appearance. Clients love the instant gratification and it’s a great alternative to lash extensions.
What is unique about your work with customers?
It’s incredible to have an impact in others’ lives. Building relationships with my clients is the fuel for everything I do. Every day I learn something from them as much as I hope they can learn from me. I really treat each session with my clients as a date, getting to know who they are and their lifestyle; what they desire is key to providing result-oriented services and a meaningful experience.
What popular entrepreneurial advice do you agree/ disagree with? Why?
I believe it’s important to hire for the things you are not good at. This makes our jobs much more enjoyable and allows us to focus on our passions and strengths. I am not interested in the number side of the business, so hiring an accountant was the best decision ever. I work really closely with her and pretty much call her my boss!
How would you describe your work style while running your business?
I am dedicated to nurturing my team. Besides making sure clients are happy with our services, taking care of my employees and supporting them in their growth is equally as important to me. They are the backbone of the spa and I am grateful to have a fabulous team.
Do you believe in destiny or do you think you can control your fate?
I believe we are all born in our unique way which gives us a personality to choose how we make certain decisions. Those decisions determine our fate and that fate leads us to our destiny. We can choose to be aware and understand ourselves in the decisions we make in order to take control of our fate and create the outcome of our destiny.
Could you suggest three guidelines for the individual who is entering the field of beauty and wellness business?
Never stop being a student. Nobody owes it to you to hand you their clients or help build your clientele. Mastering your craft takes time and patience, there is no other way around it.