5 Questions with… Noel Asmar, founder of Noel Asmar Uniforms
Catching up with Noel Asmar, the founder of Noel Asmar Uniforms
“I am as much an entrepreneur as I am a family person,” says Noel Asmar. “My personal challenge is the constant striving for balance between work and family.” By all appearances, Asmar is winning that challenge. The founder of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Noel Asmar Uniforms is a high-flying creative thinker who juggles the occasionally conflicting demands of running a company and maintaining a family with thoughtful energy and unadulterated joy.
Asmar’s life path traces a love for style and beauty that led to a logical destination. “I started my career in hotel management overseas, because I loved to travel, learn languages and experience other cultures,” she explains. “While on business trips in Asia, I would spend my time off in the night fabric markets. I was consumed by my passion for textiles and colors, and started a limited collection of women’s eveningwear. But I soon discovered that the spa industry didn’t really have a ‘spa uniforms’ category. My sister, Patricia, has an esthetics business so I started designing pieces for her. In 2002, I launched as the first spa uniform supplier selling online.”
Of course, before that launch came plenty of homework. Asmar spent a year in R&D to source technical fabrics that would support the job function of spa professionals. She started as Spa Uniforms Inc., offering one style, available in three colors. Ten years and one name change later, Noel Asmar Uniforms, Inc. features more than 8,000 SKUs and services thousands of spas and hotels worldwide. “Our company is growing and expanding into new markets,” Asmar reports. “Most recently we launched an equestrian apparel division—I am a rider, and have been inspired to design for other riders.”
In designing lifestyle apparel and uniforms, Asmar gets to combine her business skills and passion for marketing, and “marry my creative side with everything I do,” she reflects. “This is my dream job.”
DAYSPA recently asked this contented industry entrepreneur to share a few personal thoughts about pursuing and achieving success. —Linda Kossoff
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1 To what do you attribute Noel Asmar Uniforms’ successful track record?
I believe we have a loyal following because we go the extra mile for our clients—we have a dedicated customer service team lead by our passionate manager, Allison. We’ve built amazing relationships with our clients. We listen to them, we understand their specific roles and the products they work with—and we design garments with that information in mind. And all business decisions are made with an ethical conscience; we always weigh how decisions will affect our staff and our customers.
2 How would you describe your leadership style and the workplace culture you’ve established?
I am a firm but compassionate leader with a focus on goals and planning—I have a vision for my company and my brand. I also have an open-door policy. It’s a very ‘family-like’ culture here, a friendly, supportive environment spiced with a lot of passion for what we do. We hire for personality first, skill second. Right now there are 20 employees and we are currently building an international sales team as well. We have amazing people working for us, and we simply couldn’t do all that we’ve done without them!
3 How do you like to spend your time away from work?
I recently had another baby—we have two sons and now we have a baby girl—so I totally savor my time with my hubby and children. I am also a horse lover; we have two Friesians at home and a day out riding is my form of yoga! I also love to cook and entertain, am changing my interior design all the time and am a passionate photographer!
4 What was the last great book you read or film you saw?
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh [CEO of online shoe and clothing shop Zappos.com] is a great book. I love the culture at Zappos. And my hubby and I just watched Hitch with Will Smith again… just love a great romantic comedy.
5 How would you sum up your personal philosophy?
“Life is too short—just go for it!”