When it comes to running a business of any size, few can deny that location is critical to survival. This new monthly series highlights some of the advantages and disadvantages of operating in remote or rural communities through interviews with small businesses across the country.
Nicole Mead is the creator and owner of WAX!T, Prince Edward Island's only walk-in waxing studio. WAX!T is a member of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), Canada's largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.
WAX!T Inc. is a walk in only specialty hair removal studio. We specialize in custom brow creations and offer a growing line of exclusive skin care and cosmetic products. I founded Wax!t in Feb. 2011 after realizing I couldn't get the job I really wanted. I decided to start this business by looking at what I was good at, what I really enjoyed doing, what could make me a sustainable living, and what could be duplicated.
We now operate in central Charlottetown PEI which has a population of 34,500. It is a place where you can't go to the grocery store without knowing someone which is great because it can make or break a business in a small town.
What position do you hold and do you have employees?
I am the creator and owner of WAX!T and I recently hired great two hair removal specialists employees.
Location is obviously important when it comes to running a business: What challenges do you face operating in a small town or rural community?
Location is key. During the first year of business WAX!T was located a short distance away from the central part of town. This caused several challenges with our walk in concept; it was not visible or accessible for our main clientele. Finding and employing skilled staff has also been a challenge. Finding necessary and quality inventory, products and supplies on PEI has offered some difficulties.
What strategies do you use to overcome these obstacles?
A few years ago, I moved the studio to a more central location. This allowed people to simply walk in or drive and park conveniently. This change has made us much more noticeable and makes WAX!T a favourable choice for clients looking for our specialty products and services.
It takes time and patience to source out highly skilled individuals; we are now fully staffed.
When we are unable to source the necessary products and supplies on PEI, we turn to the Internet. It has been very important for purchasing what we need. We have created our own line of products exclusively for WAX!T clientele instead of sourcing from another company.
Alternately, what are some of the benefits of operating in a rural or remote location?
The benefit of operating a business on PEI is that if you have a good business or product and you're a good person, you will become successful. There is not as much competition as in big cities and people love to shop local when they can.
What role – if any – does the government play in addressing your specific business pain points?
The government helps with funding opportunities for hiring staff once you find the person you wish to employ. Aside from that I would say we are pretty much on our own.
Given that hiring is often difficult in smaller communities, do you have a succession plan in place or do you hope to sell your business when you retire?
I believe entrepreneurs can't stop working or creating. I plan to expand our product line and eventually add additional locations. I believe that good service and hair removal won't go out of style for a long time.