From temper tantrums to agitated stylists, getting a haircut is not always a great experience for a kid. Joanna Meiseles realizedthis in the early '90s, when she was hoping to find a salon that did things differently. Instead, she discovered a business opportunity. Now, as founder and owner of Snip-its, Meiseles created a salon that not only caters to children, but blends entertainment with grooming in order to accommodate her young, restless clients. After 20 years, there are 63 Snip-its franchises throughout the United States. Meiseles shared her success story with Business News Daily when she went behind the business plan to explain how Snip-its grew from a good idea into a full-fledged franchise.
Business News Daily: In a nutshell, what service does your business provide?
Joanna Meiseles: Snip-its is an innovative child-focused salon and entertainment concept that is turning a traditionally mundane and often unpleasant experience into a fun-filled, animated adventure. The child salon provides friendly and knowledgeable staff, animated gadgets, computer games and a character-filled entertaining environment geared to creating an enjoyable haircutting experience.
BND: How long have you been in business?
Meiseles: Snip-its recently celebrated its 20th anniversary andis the market leader in the children's sector of the hair care industry delivering top-quality haircuts in a safe, clean and friendly environment.The child hair care franchise operates out of 63 locations across the country.
BND: Did you start with a formal business plan? If not, how did you lay the groundwork for your business?
Meiseles: Back in 1993, I sought a hair salon that catered to my young children. Instead of simply looking for the next best hair salon to go to, I discovered a business opportunity. At each salon I visited, the stylist didn't want to deal with my wiggling, squirming kids, the cleanliness standards were suboptimal, and there was no originality in the design that would actually grasp my kids' attention.
I had never written a business plan before and since I had no formal experience, I focused on learning about the basics: kids, parents, hair, demographics, and how to raise money to form a successful business. I met with a friend who looked at it and helped me fill out the major financial questions.
One thing I did know is that that there had to be a better way to cut kids' hair and create a captivating salon experience, rather than one that's filled with tears. Before launching my first Snip-its salon in 1995, I knew I wanted to create a brand that would be synonymous with quality children's hair care, all surrounded within a welcoming and entertaining environment. Everything about Snip-its would be proprietary and wholesome: the Snip-its characters, the games and stories, the Magic Box that dispenses a prize at the end of a visit and an all-natural line of hair care products specially formulated just for kids.
After two years of extensive research, planning, developing a cast of entertaining characters and creating "The Magic" that would become the essence of the concept, I opened the first Snip-its salon in Framingham, Massachusetts.
BND: How did you finance your endeavors, both initially and as your business grew?
Meiseles: Initially, I raised $300,000 from friends and family and put in $100,000 towards the business myself. Combined, that helped get the first salon designed and opened. To scale the business, I worked with two other friends and close family, along with one institutional venture capital round.
BND: Is your business today what you originally envisioned at the outset or has it changed significantly over time?
Meiseles: The business is exactly as I envisioned it, better even! Since its founding days, the brand continues to be synonymous with my mission, offering quality children's hair care and an environment that celebrates kids.
With 400 million kids haircuts taking place every year, Snip-its has revolutionized the children's hair care industry by making haircuts fun for kids, relaxing for parents and rewarding for stylists. There are only four franchise companies servicing the kids salon niche and Snip-its is the largest and fastest growing of them all.
BND: What are some lessons you’ve learned? Is there anything you would’ve done differently?
Meiseles: Everything along the way was a lesson. I had no prior experience in franchising or the hair care industry, so everything was new at every stage of growth. I learned the importance of launching a startup quickly rather than waiting to perfect the business model. Nothing is ever going to be perfect when launching a new business but it is important to get out there and do what you've set out to achieve opposed to sitting around and waiting for every small detail to fall into place. I also learned the value of mentorship. In 2007, I hired Jim George as a consultant who soon became full-time COO, then president and CEO of Snip-its. His three decades of knowledge in franchise and salon development was extremely valuable and to date, he is one of the key players to thank for taking Snip-its to new heights. Overall, I don't know that I would have done anything differently, but I think all the successes and failures along the way made me a better entrepreneur.
BND: What were the most important factors that contributed to your success?
Meiseles: The most important factors that led to Snip-its' success was its well-executed and innovative concept, the demand for quality kids-focused hair care services, and its compelling economic model.Snip-its salons will generate between $249,000 and $343,000 in average top line revenue and between $34,000 and $67,000 in average profit margins.
Snip-its recently announced a new salon redesign initiative that will decrease the initial investment costs by 30 percent. As part of the redesign, Snip-its updated the fixtures, materials and technology to enhance the customer experience.
BND: What are the next steps you want to take as a business owner? How do you see yourself achieving those goals?
Meiseles: Personally, I am going to launch another startup. Although I wouldn’t have done anything differently with Snip-its, I have learned a lot over the 20+ years since I started Snip-its. It seems logical that I would put my experience and knowledge to work on another venture.
BND: What is your best advice to someone with a great business idea who is ready to give it a shot?
Meiseles: Just go for it. You'll never have all the answers, so don't wait for it to be perfect. Also, make sure you understand the economics and that you have enough capital to weather a few storms along the way.