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Joanna Meiseles - CEO of Snip-Its

1. Tell us how you founded Snip Its?

When I took my first son Ben to get his first haircut, I assumed there would be a place for kids, but there was not. We went to an adult salon, a family walk-in, but it was not everything I hoped it would be. We walked in and the hairdressers ran to the back room because they didn't want to cut his hair. I wanted the hairdresser who eventually did cut his hair, to tell him that he was cute and relax him. I also expected her to say that Ben was behaving well and doing a great job. But nothing happened. I really wanted that cut to be a special experience for Ben and me, but it really fell short. That experience was my 'Ah Ha!' moment. I thought, 'There should be a better way.' I said to my husband, 'I should open a children's hair salon,' and he said, 'You should and call it Snip-its.' So that very first day, I had an idea and a name. There was no turning back.

2. How did you get into franchising?

I was looking for ways to grow the company so I attended a seminar on franchising thinking that it would be a good option. I learned that Snip-its was a great candidate. I had opened five salons in the last six years and all five were successful and profitable. With franchising, it seemed like a smart move to grow the brand.

3. Do you think that franchising is a good option for women?

Franchising is great for entrepreneur types who want to do something on their own, but don't want to recreate a system. For women that juggle a lot, franchising is a great model because it comes with a proven team of experts and a network. Most of our franchisees are married couples with children and who have experienced Snip-its first hand. They know that Snip-its is great for kids and a long-term career option. Still franchising has many demands and if you are looking for a flexible lifestyle model, then it's not for you. You need to wear many hats, manage the business, recruit, train, and satisfy customers. It's a lot of work.

4. Do you believe woman can have it all?

I have addressed this issue at length in my blog, "The Great Working Mom Adventure" a few months ago. Definitions of having it all vary from work to stay-at-home moms, but for me it represents how I find peace and happiness in what I do. I make time for family, balance it with Snip-its and find ways to be creative and self-fulfilled. Women should be free to do whatever they choose and feel good about it, no excuses or apologies needed.

5. What are your own experiences in juggling a career and a family?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs so I have learned along the way to balance life and home. With Snip-its, my husband and my kids are supportive. In fact, my oldest son knows that he was my inspiration for Snip-its. Being an entrepreneur is a commitment to your business, much like a commitment to a child. That's why they call the business the "brain child" of the founder. Being as busy as I am, it really helps that my business is about kids. My kids love Snip-its and love that I am known around town as the "Snip-its lady". They totally get what I do, and I can talk to them about my work. That has made a huge difference. Also, I have great help and support all around me. I have a great team at the office and a wonderful babysitter at home, so I get lots of help. Finally, I should mention that being the boss has its privileges. Although I work probably 60 hours a week, I can be flexible with my schedule. This allows me to get home early some days to be home with my kids after school or work from home in the morning to get some reading done and exercise. It is all definitely a juggling act, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

6. How successful is Snip-its today?

We have created a new niche in the children's' service industry by helping kids get a quality haircut in a fun environment that caters not just to the kids, but to the moms as well. In the last year, our franchised units grew by 26 percent and we now have 58 salons with 41 franchisees in 23 states. Franchise Times named Snip-its the 30th fastest growing franchise in the nation. While we like hearing that, we take a lot of care to support our franchisees with ideas and tools to fuel their success. We are still at the beginning of our journey.

7. What do existing franchisees say about Snip-its and being a part of the team?

I think they would say that they love Snip-its, but it is a lot of work to run a good business. Many franchise owners share ideas with one another, which is great. They have this whole network of entrepreneurs just like them, sharing the same experiences to draw on when they need peer-to-peer advice. We've also heard good feedback on the team of marketing and operations consultants that we have brought in to provide support in the field. I have learned that having good, dedicated, passionate, and committed franchisees is critical to our
success, so we spend more energy on existing franchisee support than we do on growing the number of units. Our franchisees appreciate the level of support we provide.

8. What are the greatest lessons that you have learned along the way?

If I had listened to all the people who told me I wasn't skilled or smart enough or that my idea was silly, I would never had turned my dream into reality. Remember, you can't be all things to all people, so whatever it is that you are passionate about, make that your number one goal.

9. What advice would you give to mom entrepreneurs to follow their dreams?

Trust your instincts. If you think you have a good vision, do your homework, research, and test it. Then write a business plan. Dare to be an entrepreneur.

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