SPA REVIEWS: Pampered People

Survival Skills

The situation forced Cox to take inventory of her life—and her skills. Having done some late 1990s TV appearances as a beauty expert, she decided to put her natural enthusiasm and camera-friendly face back to work. In the past couple of years she has made hundreds of appearances on local and national TV (including a stint on ABC-TV’s The View). She co-created and produced the Lifetime series Blush. And she is now a sought-after beauty, fashion and lifestyle correspondent with big plans for the future. “I want to be the Martha Stewart of the beauty world,” Cox admits.

But an even more immediate dream of this survivor is to marry again and have children. “You need balance,” Cox acknowledges. “Your business isn’t going to keep you warm at night.”

Today, having outlasted the downturn and continued to build her business—which is finally on an upswing—Cox has learned from mistakes. Her weapons against future adversity? Common sense and being honest with herself. Some 20,000 facials into her career, Stacy Cox has gone “back to basics” and “checked my ego at the door.” And she is determined to publicly share what it takes to stay afloat in a challenging environment. To that end, she has come up with six survival tips for other spa and beauty business owners:

1) Plant yourself. Cox learned the hard way not to lose sight of the basics just because things are going well, and has returned to the strategies on which she originally built her business. “It’s all the things you forget about when you’re booked eight weeks in advance,” she says. For instance, Cox originally self-promoted by meeting people one-on-one, then building upon referrals. So these days, she arrives at her cardio class 30 minutes in advance to chat with people, business cards at the ready in her purse. Or she hangs out at a coffee house or farmer’s market—popular spots where “outreach” doesn’t have to mean “hard sell.” “I’m looking for places where people are caring about themselves, where they’re being social, where discussions about spas might occur. And I’m networking with other small business owners. This is no time to be a skincare diva, no matter how much experience I have. This is grassroots.”

2) Log in Internet time. There’s no escaping social media, so Cox schedules regular time to update her Facebook and Twitter presence. “People love free tips, so that’s an easy thing to post that draws attention to what you’re doing, who you are as a spa owner. It defines your brand,” she says. Cox also blasts an info-packed monthly email.

“When you talk about how important consistency is with skin care, and that facials aren’t just a luxury, it’s all in how you say it,” she notes. “You can be warm and helpful, or you can be a nuisance. It’s all in the semantics.” Cox also sends out occasional emails listing some open appointment dates. “Clients are busy and they get sidetracked. Sometimes they appreciate a non-aggressive reminder. And emails are an easy thing for someone to forward to a friend or family member.”