A few months ago, I did an interview for a blog about female business owners so I decided to republish it here. Enjoy!
1.) Who are you (with age if comfortable)?
My name is Hannah Sowd, I’m a 39 year old skin care guru.
2.) What’s your business?
Hannah Sowd Skin Care in San Francisco, CA.
I’ve been a licensed esthetician and massage therapist for 17 years. I started this business in 2008 and launched my line of skin care products sōwd:therapy for skin in 2011.
3.) When did you decide to take the plunge and “create the life you want”?
I started my current business out of necessity. After living in Los Angeles for 10 years and working for The Spa at The Four Seasons Hotel, I moved to San Francisco and I couldn’t find a position that didn’t feel like a step backwards. I feel strongly about being able to customize my treatments which doesn’t always fit into the parameters of a spa environment.
I began renting a room in a shared studio space 2 days a week while I worked at a dermatology office 4 days a week (I worked 6 days a week for over 2 years). As my business grew, I was able to launch my product line and move into my own studio space. I started very small, using the limited resources I had available to establish a base clientele. I am grateful to my loyal clients that stuck with me even when I was working out of a shared studio space on a sketchy block in San Francisco!
I didn’t “take the plunge” financially speaking until I moved into my current studio space. I had very specific ideas about the space I wanted to create and the services I wanted to offer so I borrowed a small amount of money to make that happen. Knowing I had a core group of followers gave me confidence to take it to the next level.
4.) Why do you love it?
I love the lifestyle, sometimes I forget where my “business” ends and my “self” begins; I am my brand! I am constantly thinking of new ways to promote my services, to streamline my process and keep my business technology up to date. At the moment, I’m obsessed with the idea of having an app: book appointments, order products, email me skin care questions and read my blog all in one place.
I love the relationship I have with my clients. I interact with such a wide variety of people on a daily basis. I enjoy a sneak peek into lives that are very different from mine; teenagers with prom drama, brides with wedding jitters, retirees planning the vacation of a lifetime. And they all come back to their next session with great stories!
I love being able to keep my own hours and the variety that comes with each day. I may have to work on Saturdays but I can often sneak out during the week for an afternoon yoga class or a matinee showing of a new movie. It’s a great way to avoid the crowds!
I love the creative aspect of my business; I have one of my paintings hanging in my studio, 3 years ago I learned about HTML and built my own website, I get to shop for the softest sheets and coziest comforters for my treatment table. Those parts are actually fun for me!
5.) What’s one piece of advice you have for anyone thinking of taking the leap?
Be prepared to work like you’ve never worked before! If you think the work day ends at 5pm and you should have holidays off, owning a business might not be for you.
Be proactive and seek the help of professionals; I wouldn’t be where I am today without my business consultant, my financial advisor and my accountant. Create a business plan so growth is sustainable, a solid framework is very important. If a task takes 2 hours of your time and can be outsourced for minimal cost (like laundry or data entry) do it. Spent your time doing tasks vital to the growth of your business, don’t drain your energy on the small stuff.
And it will cost you more than you think, guaranteed!