Meet Shannon Conley, the founder and owner of Urban Waxx, a Portland salon that only provides waxing services.
A New Jersey girl at heart, Shannon moved to Portland (by way of Charleston, SC and LA), in January 2007. After 10 years of working in spas and salons all around the country, she opened her dream business: a wax only salon with an over the top customer service philosophy.
While not fixating on how to make Urban Waxx the best waxing salon on the planet, Shannon moms it up with her other babies, Stella and Dino. Her five year plan for Urban Waxx: locations everywhere (including NYC!!!), Serious Serum in Sephora, and an army of Smooth Operators waxxing the world, one happy guest at a time!
What is your company?
How did you come up with the idea?
I always imagined a salon where all I could do was wax.
During my years of working in spas, I realized that waxing services would work best in an atmosphere where it was fun and comfortable. I also wanted to deliver an over-the-top customer service experience all day every day.
Where did you find your first customer?
When I first moved here I knew no one! I would literally walk around and introduce myself to people and tell them about my business. That was before Facebook was big, and Instagram. Social media was in it’s infancy, so it was a lot of hustling!
How did you determine your target market?
I felt that I was my target market. By that, I mean that I was looking for someone who wanted a special and unique experience, not just a service. Targeting a guest was more about serving a guest’s needs, not about their age or background.
What are you currently doing to reach them?
Almost all of our referrals and new guests come into Urban Waxx through word of mouth. We offer incentives to our current guests to refer their friends, and that has certainly helped people to spread the word! We also stay connected with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and our own blog.
How much did you start up with?
Ha! Not very much at all! I basically maxed out 3 credit cards and did everything I could on a shoestring budget. Over the years, we have changed the opening process completely, and we also re-did the original Urban Waxx.
Did you bring on investors, get loans, or grow naturally?
I grew naturally. Now, that we are focusing on a more aggressive growth plan, we are including options like loans and the potential of investors.
What’s the best advice someone has given you?
Just because you don’t know how to do something doesn’t give you an excuse to not do it. I don’t have a background in business, so there have been times where I would excuse myself from not knowing something. That does not work when you own your own company. If you don’t know how to do something, then learn!
Know every single thing about your business, whether it be the finances or how to plunge the toilet. Just because something isn’t in your wheelhouse doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Sometimes the most difficult things for me to learn and focus on have also been the most rewarding.
What are your keys to staying productive?
Lists and goals. I create lists to plow through every day and I try not to let them carry over to the next day. I also create lists of goals for each week, month, and year. If I am not constantly working towards something, I do not feel productive.
When you started, what was one thing you wish you knew?
To ask for help and delegate! For so long I tried so desperately to handle everything myself. It’s impossible, and it definitely stunts growth. Assembling a team of bright, creative, trustworthy individuals was essential to the evolution of Urban Waxx.
What resources or books do you refer to regularly?
I love all things Zingerman’s. I have read all of Ari Weinzweig‘s books and I often refer back to them. I love the fantastic book “Service Included” by Phoebe Damrosch, because it illustrates customer service in the 4-star restaurant business so beautifully.
I am a big fan of Steve Jobs, and I refer to his writings quite a bit, too. The list of writing on customer service, business, leadership, and personal growth and development is endless. I am always researching and reading.
Has your company experienced any close calls or lucky moments?
I have a quote that I love about luck: “I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.”
More than anything, I feel like if you show up, work hard, stay present, and keep your vision in your sights at all times, luck will come.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me is being a great Mom, an honest boss, creating a meaningful guest experience, and having a business that is profitable.
Where would you like to see your business 5 years from now?
Growing and evolving. Always growing and evolving.
How can people find you online?