CD: When did you start AIR and Clean Your Dirty Face?
SP: I started AIR® in 2013, and Clean Your Dirty Face® in 2015.
CD: What services do AIR + Clean Your Dirty Face provide? What makes them unique in the market?
SP: AIR is an aerial fitness franchise company where we specialize in taking an intimidating art form (aerials) that traditionally exists only in dance companies and cirque du soleil, and transform it into an athletic, 50-minute fitness class that is approachable to boutique fitness clients.
Clean Your Dirty Face is a two-part business: (1) facial bar franchise company specializing in 30-minute facials with (2) esthetician-formulated skincare products. The brand is developed around educating today’s clients on how to properly care for their skin in an accessible way. Our team is comprised of licensed estheticians, and our simple process is modified to fit every skin type and leave clients with clean, more radiant skin in 30 minutes. It’s the place to visit an esthetician regularly and receive personalized, professional skincare in a way that easily fits into our clients’ busy lives. What makes the Clean Your Dirty Face skincare product line unique is that we’ve formulated clean products with our in-house estheticians, and tested them for client feedback from over 50,000 facials, making the products not just credible but also effective.
CD: Why did you start them?
SP: I was a practicing attorney in Chicago, IL who looking ahead, didn’t see a bright future as a female partner at my firm, so I quit. I didn’t have much of a game plan in mind other than I wanted to start a unique business in the wellness space. Before starting AIR, I studied a lot of models, including the franchise one, and looked to Pure Barre for inspiration. At the time, Pure Barre stood out from every other model that I was researching. Carrie had created more than just another franchise concept, rather, she had created a fitness franchise model that allowed aspiring entrepreneurs an accessible, low-risk outlet to transition out of their corporate careers and into a business that fit their evolving lifestyle. It was a model that aspiring entrepreneurs were passionate about, and it was that passion, community, lifestyle, and other immeasurable features that made Pure Barre unstoppable while under Carrie’s leadership.
I set out to find a similar group of franchise owners who were just as passionate as me about seeing AIR succeed, and it worked well. Over the years, the workout has been refined and is still one of the most dynamic workouts in the market. Specifically, our one-point hammock that hangs from the ceiling makes you lose your point of stability, thereby forcing you to engage your core immediately without even realizing it.
CD: What is your purpose?
SP: My purpose is to educate, and to take really complex concepts and simplify them to make them accessible to today’s client. Once AIR began to take off, it was a natural next step for me to enter in the skincare space. Facials and fitness both fall under the same ‘wellness’ umbrella so similar to fitness, you’re not going to see skincare results unless you analyze your life from a 360 perspective. For example, seeing results in fitness doesn’t mean just working out multiple times per week, it also means you have to consume a clean diet, drink water, and hold yourself responsible in other aspects of your life outside of the studio.
Similarly, achieving clear skin isn’t just about using the right products. Our licensed estheticians educate our clients about not just how to clean their dirty faces, but how to clean their dirty lives!
CD: Where are you headed?
SP: I’m focused on growing my brands in a healthy way. I’m interested in continuing to find the best franchisees for our brands who will work hard, and represent the brands well. After all, leadership is about creating opportunities for others, and that is especially true of our franchise owners.
CD: How are you headed there?
SP: I have identified markets that we want a brand presence in and will be focused on introducing multiple locations in those cities.
CD: Something you love about franchising and something challenging.
SP: I love that I get to work with partners who have a vested interest in making sure that their business is successful — something you don’t always get with hired staff. A challenge is that you also get partners who have an interest in seeing *their* store succeed and not necessarily concerned about the greater good, and that’s where you can have individuals representing the brand in a way that is not good for their peer franchisees and/or the company.
CD: Lesson(s) learned thus far on your journey you’d like to share with other Entrepreneurs.
SP: Your time is valuable. It’s easy to get distracted and focus on new projects or tasks, even if they are related to your business. It’s important to stay organized and tackle each task in order of priority — in other words, don’t waste time on projects that will produce minimal results, only focus on the tasks that will produce great, measurable results. I like to tell my team “there’s a must-do list and a nice-to-do list, and we will never get to the nice-to-do list under my watch.”
CD: Any challenge(s) you’ve encountered as a female business leader and advice around.
SP: To understand the challenge, I want to explain my background first. I was a consultant for Accenture before I was a corporate attorney and in both corporate worlds, I was left out of many male inner circles. In other words, as a young female associate, I wasn’t invited to firm outings because I didn’t play golf, or to partner lunches because I was the only female in my practice. Fast forward to 2020, I now lead a company that employs 98% females. I constantly strive to make my company inclusive at all levels. I never want anyone (including our men who are now the minority in my company), to feel the way my corporate career made me feel for being female. My advice is to stay true to yourself, serve as a good role model that others can respect, always lead by example, and understand that the company culture starts with you.
CD: How do you fill your cup?
SP: At my core, I’m an artist. I wake up at 4:30 AM everyday to paint and draw. I like to paint large scale paintings but currently don’t have the space in our Chicago home so I’m focusing on smaller art projects at the moment (right now, I’m illustrating/writing a children’s book for my kids).
CD: Favorite Books +/or Podcasts?
SP: When I first started, I read a lot of branding & marketing books. Now, I like to listen to the podcast “How I Built This with Guy Raz.” My favorite episodes on that podcast include Peter Rahal from RXBar, Chip Wilson from Lululemon, and Yvon Chouinard from Patagonia — they all share a sense of authenticity, which is refreshing.