My family has been in the industry for 90 years, dating back to 1929. As a child, I swept hair off of the floor at my parent’s hair salon. Both my mother and father were hairstylists. From my experience of watching my parents, I developed a deep passion for the industry. I loved the artistry of the craft and witnessing how people felt after receiving treatment. I went to beauty school and was formally educated at the age of 17. Next, I started my own salon which later lead me to open my first Phenix Salon Suites.
Phenix Salon Suites is a leading company in the beauty industry that is providing salon suites for Salon Professionals throughout the United States. The company’s approach to operating with the Salon Professional in mind has proven to be key to its growth and success. This is attributed to the fact that I’ve grown up with a nine-decade history of family involvement in the beauty industry. I currently have 25 Salon Professionals in my immediate family which has allowed for an in-depth perspective of the requirements for success.
Phenix Salon Suites has over 250 location nationwide and is rapidly expanding throughout the United States as well as, internationally. The company has been named five times to the Entrepreneur’s Top 500 franchise list and has been the recipient of multiple industry awards. The Phenix Salon Suites difference is in truly understanding the Salon Professional and what they go through on a daily basis. The company is also widely recognized for the family culture they have created within their locations and throughout their organization.
What inspired you to start your own business?
During my 20’s, I met my husband and we were preparing to have our first child. At that time, I was renting a booth in a salon. I went into labor early and while I was at the hospital giving birth to our son, the salon owner called my husband and requested that he bring down the booth rent right away even though she knew that I was in labor. At that point, I was certain that I wanted to go out on my own. I also knew that I wanted to create an affordable solution for other Salon Professionals who wanted to become their own boss.
Shortly after this experience, I opened the first salon that I named after our son Phenix. He is the namesake of our company. A few years later, I expanded and rather than offering booth space, I built a salon with individual suites that could be rented and completely customized. This was the start of Phenix Salon Suites.
Is this your full-time job?
Professionally, I own Phenix Salon Suites, the By Gina Product line and my color line that is about to launch, COLOURS by Gina. I also write many articles for publication and do speaking engagements and public appearances. However, first and foremost, I am a mother and a wife. My family is very important to me. I strive to keep God and family first in my life.
How do you structure your days?
The first thing I do is spend time with the lord and read my daily devotional. I then have my coffee while reading my bible. After that, I take care of my family. I prepare lunches for my kids, take them to school, and attend to other miscellaneous duties. Next, I move on to my workday which includes working with my staff on corporate initiatives, writing articles, preparing for appearances, and doing hair for a select-clients.
Where is your business based?
We have over 250 stores nationwide and should surpass 300 stores during 2019. Our locations span coast to coast from Florida to Seattle. Our corporate headquarters are in Encinitas, California, with an additional executive office in Colorado Springs, Colorado where we began.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I had a vision and a mission to bring culture back to the industry. I believed in it so much that I acted upon it by opening my first Phenix Salon Suites in Colorado Springs, CO.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and attracting new customers?
Developing a good culture and operating my business with integrity has been the cornerstone of off what we do. We always strive to keep the Salon Professionals first which has contributed to developing a good reputation. For us, a good reputation in this business means everything.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
In 2012, when the economy took a hit, we had just started to expand our business. It was a time that I really had to challenge myself to face my fears and continue to move forward with the faith that I was making good business decisions.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I had to remain focused on my goals and work through my fears. I became more determined than ever that I could push myself through adversity. Eventually, the economy bounced back and all of the focus paid off.
How do you keep motivated through tough times?
I read my daily bible devotional. I spend time with the Lord and get my spiritual food every morning. This carries me through both good and bad times as well as my work day. I continually focus on the things that I can accomplish rather than thoughts that are self-defeating.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
We don’t focus on the competitors, instead, we focus on providing great service to Salon Professionals by ensuring they have the opportunity to own their own business at the fraction of the cost of owning a full-scale salon. Our goal is to provide the optimal environment to support them. However, I strongly believe that the fact that my family has been in the industry since 1929 has contributed to our success. Being a stylist myself for over 30 years, I have a very good understanding of the demands as well as the requirements to be successful in the industry.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The best advice comes from my husband and co-founder, Jason Rivera, “Make God your business and not business your God.” Another favorite that was said to me recently is “Run your own race.” To me this means that I focus on being my best self in all that I do.
What do you wish you had known when you started your business?
Make sure to surround yourself with good people who you can learn from and trust. For me there is still a lot to know. I am learning more now than when I started out. And, I continue to surround myself with people who help me to grow personally and professionally.