Erika Wasser is the founder of GLAM+GO, a network of salons between New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. A former on-air television personality, Wasser wanted to incorporate the fast and efficient beauty services she experienced in green rooms into her everyday life. “When I wasn’t working, I still needed that ability to get in and get out. I wanted to give the green room experience to women everywhere,” she said.
Why did you start your business?
I graduated in 2009 and my first job was writing for “The Tyra Banks Show” as a script P.A. I was doing standup comedy at night. Through standup, I ended up getting picked up by the Digital Broadcasting Group when Google bought YouTube and they were flooding the market, trying to build television content on YouTube. I hosted the home and design channel called SPACEStv. HGTV then picked me up.
I was in-between shows and I had all these auditions and readings and I was trying to work out and stay in shape and find a boyfriend. The lynchpin for me always was my hair. I have no metabolism, so working out is not optional, it’s an obligation. I thought, “What if I could replicate the green room and be in and out looking fabulous in 15 minutes where I needed it most – at the gym?” So, our first location was at the barre studio where I worked out in New York.
How did you finance the business at the start?
I really didn’t want to start a business. I just wanted one hairstylist in my gym locker room to do my hair. I asked the owner, who said, “OK, let’s try it.” I booked a stylist and she had a clipboard where people could come in and sign their name in before class. It wasn’t a business that needed any funding. But, what ended up happening was that women went berserk. People were crossing other women’s names out or writing their names in between appointment slots. The gym called me and said, “You need to come in and control this.” So, for the first four months of the business, I just guarded a clipboard in the locker room. That was the sounding bell for me that women really do need more efficient access to beauty services. It went from there.
Managing the Company
How do you manage cash flow?
We raised a small seed round of venture capital in 2015. From there, we built a model that works, so the business funds itself. The majority of our scale has come from that small seed round and cash flow.
What’s the most challenging thing about running the business?
Running a consumer brand is a huge challenge. Your opinion is essentially meaningless. You have 17 opinions happening at once across multiple time zones. Your heart is so much in it and it’s such a reflection of your personal taste, but sometimes you have to remember to step back and realize that you can’t be everything to everybody.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running the business?
The most rewarding thing is seeing how many women’s lives we’ve made better. Our members are what make our business worthwhile. It’s really those personal relationships that come along with a personal service that make all the difference.
What I’ve Learned
What’s the biggest mistake you made when you were starting out?
We’ve made so many mistakes from trusting the wrong people to wrong decisions. But, in our opinion of entrepreneurship, you need to give yourself the room to make mistakes. All of the learning from those mistakes has gotten us to where we are today. We’re “progress, not perfection” kind of people.
What’s the smartest thing you did when you were starting out?
We were always really honest about our failures and we never tried to lie. That’s made all the difference. We have really high-end partners from Fairmont Hotels to Exhale Spas and Loews Hotels. They were really taking a chance on us. Very early on, there were times when we couldn’t provide service at the level we wanted to, or we forgot to pay our phone bill, or we caused a giant flood in one of the locations. I think the reason we haven’t been asked to leave and we’ve scaled within our partnerships is because we’ve always owned up to the mistakes we’ve made.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Make sure you give yourself the room to be human and an entrepreneur, because they’re not mutually exclusive.
What’s next for GLAM+GO?
We’re opening our first flagship storefront in Tribeca, New York. It’s our first full-service salon. We’re going to be doing color, cuts, memberships, blowouts, waxing, and really focusing on how we can better serve our core customer, the busy woman. We’re asking, “What does she need beyond a haircut?” We’re bringing business services like printing and scanning and a bag valet where women can store their belongings so they don’t have to carry their things from work to the gym to a date. We’re really trying to cater our space to the needs of our customers.