Last week, Andrea Scott, the co-founder of skoah won the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award. Andrea’s strong leadership of the innovative brand helped her nab the coveted annual award. skoah, a membership-based, facial-only shop in Vancouver in 2001 and it has since grown to 17 locations throughout Vancouver, Seattle, Boston and Calgary. We sat down with Andrea to learn from her experience as an entrepreneur.
1. What first inspired you to begin a career in the beauty and skincare industry?
Interestingly we were outsiders to the industry when we got started in 2001, but when we learned about the industry we were intrigued. What got us excited was our first ‘spa’ experience. While it was relaxing and beautiful it really wasn’t designed for young, urban working professionals. For a one hour facial, we were in the space for 3 hours-steam room, lounge, etc. And it was expensive. But more than that, we both left feeling very intimidated. We felt inspired to create a more empathetic, positive, approachable experience. And an experience that catered more to young, urban working professionals. And when I say working professionals I mean stay at home moms too-essentially people who are extremely busy, but who want a high quality experience in a positive environment. Back in 2001 when we started spas had similar atmospheres. When we opened, our aim was to create a more modern, minimal and gender neutral space that felt very welcoming. And we wanted to make sure people felt very positive and welcome. I think our lack of experience early on was a huge benefit. It allowed us to think like a customer.
2. What inspired you to launch skoah?
I think the above captures the question, but one thing to note is that when we first launched, we were a full service spa with essentially a different attitude and atmosphere. After about 18 months we made a defining decision. We launched the concept of Personal Training For Your Skin. So we evolved from a full service spa to a facials only spa and launched our own product line. We did this before the idea of the single service concept was even a thing! There were no high end nail bars there were no massage only places and definitely no blow dry bars. Interestingly and to our huge advantage, we are still really the only ones out there doing what we do-facials only with our proprietary product line.
3. What has been your biggest achievement/obstacle?
Biggest achievement is what I believe we have done in this industry. We have really in Canada and starting in the US created a new experience in people’s lives. Essentially they come for monthly facials, and many of our customers tell us this is all new to them. It’s become a part of how they take care of themselves. I feel very proud of this. As along with this, we build very powerful relationships with our customers. The biggest obstacle can be having people come for the first time. Many people have had intimidating or unfortunate facial experiences in the past. But once they come in once, they come back and we have incredible repeat customer rates.
4. What does winning the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award mean to you?
Well, I was first intrigued as Veuve Clicquot is my favourite champagne! But more than that, when I learned more about Madame Clicquot I was impressed with her enterprising spirit in a world so incredibly different than the one we live in today. And she was 27. The same age I was when we first got started. I’ve heard there is something magical about that age. The main inspirations to me were on how we were judged. On creating something different and unique even within a big industry, in being bold and committed to doing something different, and in being incredibly focused on goals. The whole experience with Veuve Clicquot has been incredible. Not just in winning the award, but in the questions they asked me and how different they were than most award type questions. I knew right away they were a different kind of company. But the whole process of preparing for the awards, of having the opportunity to present our company and ourselves has been really truly enjoyable and interesting.
5. Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My advice is Why not you? It is so easy to talk ourselves out of things. We don’t have the experience or the resources or the X. But in most cases many successful entrepreneurs were in the same boat. So why not YOU!