(The Woodhouse Day Spa's Jeni Garrett is the seventh female executive to be profiled in our series highlighting women in business.)
NEW YORK (
) -- Jeni Garrett, founder and CEO of
The Woodhouse Day Spa
, was born to be an entrepreneur.
Garrett, 33, grew up on a dairy farm in the rural countryside of southern Texas, and her first job as a young girl was starting a roadside flower stand. She handpicked the flowers from the field, and sat at her stand trying to sell flowers to anyone who would pass by. At 14, she started buying and selling cattle. When she was 21, Garrett postponed her collegiate studies to take a leap of faith with her then-fiancé into day-spa services.
Garrett opened her first spa in her hometown of Victoria, Texas, in 2001. Three years later, she started franchising the concept and has grown the franchise to more than 29 spas in 14 states.
Another 12 franchises are expected to open in the U.S. this year. And Garrett aims to add at least 125 domestic locations over the next five years.
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The Woodhouse Day Spa is also expanding internationally, with plans to open its first location in India this year and a signed master franchise agreement there for the development of 100 locations over 10 years. She's also looking to Canada and Mexico for expansion.
Garrett spoke to us about the challenges of starting a business so young and how The Woodhouse Day Spa is standing out in the $13 billion U.S. spa industry.
Why did you decide to open a spa and how you were able to run it at such a young age? You must have had a lot of confidence, because when I was 21, the last thing I was thinking about was starting a business.
Well, I'm not sure I did have a lot of confidence back then, but I've always loved spas. My mom and I would travel to Houston to go together on Mother's Day and special occasions. I just fell in love with it at a young age. They were all very mysterious to me back then because there weren't a lot of day spas around. [Years later] I had the opportunity when a friend of mine -- she's now our director of operations and has been for the last 10 years -- was traveling with me to Houston to go visit a day spa, the thought popped in my head, and I said, 'We need one of these in Victoria, our hometown.' That was on a Friday and on that Monday, my fiancé at the time and I bought a house. Twenty-nine weeks later, we opened our first Woodhouse Spa.
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How did you know it was a good business idea?
I'm an entrepreneur at heart. Victoria, Texas, was an experience-starved society and there was not a lot of competition 12 years ago, and I knew that. I just had an instinct -- a marketing instinct that we could market this, and that we could create a demand for these gift cards and make this a sustainable business model. And, again, I was young. I was confident. I went into it with probably less planning than most people would these days. It was 12 years ago, so I didn't spend a whole lot of time on
. These days I would probably be paralyzed by research. I wasn't back then. I think that all of those things helped me.