Interview with Ashley Woodard
Rosies Beauty Spa Pro Ashley Woodard is an Esthetician in Texas. Her extensive skincare knowledge makes her a great asset to our PocketSuite Pro community. Rosie talks to CEO, Chinwe Onyeagoro and Managing Editor, Sean Litteljohn about beauty school, getting started as an esthetician and gives them a tour of her beauty product warehouse.
Tell us a little bit about your business.
We’re located in Arlington, Texas, right down the street from The Parks Mall. That’s a popular landmark that we can tell people. They go there and then come straight down the street to find us. We are a beauty spa. We provide facials, eyelash extensions, full body and face waxing.
How did you start doing this?
I made my own natural products and I thought maybe I should go to esthetician school to learn more about the skin and what works for the skin. I went to beauty school and I got my esthetician license. At first, I was a hairstylist, and then I realized I loved skin so much more. Once I got licensed, I went ahead and I opened my spa so I could perform facials and sell my skincare products. I hired more ladies as time went on.
How old are you?
I just turned 26 this past July.
We all started at one point and I guess I’ll say, “normal.” If you really put in that work and you just keep that drive, you can be in the position that they’re in. I don’t have a celebrity role model because I don’t see myself any different from them. I always feel like I can get there if I keep pushing and keep doing what I’m doing. Confidence plays a huge part in it because if you don’t believe in yourself, who will believe in you?
We talked to other estheticians who started off doing makeup or they started off doing massage. Is there a natural path from some of these other beauty professions to aesthetics or is that unusual?
I would say it’s unusual. It’s something I just wanted to jump into and I just wound up loving it. When you go to esthetician school, they teach you facials, teach you makeup, waxing, and teach you all these different things. When you go to school, you realize what you’re good at, what you love, and what you’re not good at. I feel like when people graduate, they choose what they’re stronger at. I used to do facials, waxing, and hair altogether, and then I realized I just love facials more. I stopped doing everything and just continued doing facials full-time.
Can you tell us a little bit about your clientele? How do they find you? Do they just happen to be at the mall and they come in or do they find you elsewhere?
My spa is in the back of the mall, so we don’t really get foot traffic because no one walks past here. Most of my clients come from word of mouth or social media. I have a following on social media or some people we’ll ask them when they leave to tell a friend about us or leave a review on Facebook, leave a review on Google. Most of it is word of mouth or they find us on Instagram.
Being so young, you are probably a whiz on Instagram. What’s your secret? What is it that catches people’s attention?
The before and afters. I like to take before pictures of the facial, especially the extractions. People are suckers for seeing me extract a pimple or extract some sebum out of the nose, or they see someone come in with dry skin, and they leave with hydrated, glowing skin. Everyone’s like, “I want skin like that!”
How do you feel when you’re doing that particular part of the aesthetics process?
I’m more result-driven. So I know once I extract this or I take out these blackheads, it’s going to look so much better. It excites me to see when I get done, to show them the cotton pad with the blackheads on it or the sebum. It makes me feel good when I get it out and then it leaves them having clearer skin.
Can you tell me a little bit about how someone knows when something is extraction ready or not and how can they time their appointments to make sure they’re getting that piece?
Most of the time, if it has a full white head on it, you can extract it. I always tell my clients that if it still hurts, I won’t touch it because if it still hurts that means it’s inflamed. If something is inflamed and you’re pushing on it, you can make it worse. It can get bigger and then it hurts more. For some of my clients, if the bump is still under the skin, sometimes they have a rise in the skin and don’t have a head on it, then it’s not ready. When it has a head on it, you’re able to extract the head, or you’re able to extract the sebum out. But, if it still has the skin over it and it doesn’t have a head on it, it’s not ready. If it’s still painful, it’s still not ready because if it hurts, then trying to extract it just makes it worse.
Explain the “Dr. Pimple-Popper” phenomena. As a man, I am confused. Do women have more curiosity or can relate more to stuff like that?
It’s funny because with the men, not even extractions, with facials period, they’ll be like, “Oh, that’s a woman thing.” I even have one client, he’ll come in, and he’ll tell me, “Oh, don’t take my picture. I don’t want anyone to know I’m getting a facial.” Many men think that facials are not for them, but I always say that skin has no gender. Everyone’s skin needs to be pampered, needs to be cleaned, and taken care of.
Check out our comprehensive resources for everything you’ll want to know about becoming an esthetician including training, certifications, associations, and licensing!
When did this start for you? As a teenager, were you like, “Hey, I’m going to work for myself and here’s how I’m going to do it?” Or did you work somewhere else and then decide to go out on your own?
I graduated from college in 2016 with my Bachelors of Business degree, so after mid-May, I was looking for a job, and I really couldn’t find a job I wanted. I kept seeing commission jobs, jobs I wasn’t interested in. So, I started braiding hair. Well, actually, when I was in college, I started braiding my own hair and then I started practicing on my friends. I got good at it and I just started braiding other girl’s hair around campus for extra money.
When I graduated from school, I had a family friend, and she had a salon. In the state of Texas, you don’t have to be licensed to braid hair in a salon. She was telling me to come work at her salon and I just kept dodging her and saying, “No, I’m scared. I taught myself how to braid, it’s something I’m good at, but I don’t know if I’m good enough to be in a salon.” She was like, “Just come in.” I finally decided to go in for an interview and I started working there. I was working there for a few years and then that’s when I started getting into the skincare side of things because I started having skin problems. I couldn’t find anything in stores that could help my skin. A lot of stuff burned my skin before I found something that could work. I got into looking up natural remedies. I started making my own skincare products. That’s something else that took off and more people were interested in it. I started retailing to other people, other local friends, and family. Then I realized I should go to school to learn more about this.
Once I got closer to finishing school, I was like, “I need my own spa. I can’t keep working at the beauty salon and selling products.” I just went for it. I called around the buildings. We were somewhere else before this and this is our second location. I called the owner of that place and we just talked. He said it was a now or never thing. He was like, “I can move you in by August, but if you don’t take the opportunity now, then I can’t hold it for you.” I took the opportunity in August, but I didn’t graduate from beauty school until October. I had a spa, but I wasn’t working because I didn’t have my license yet. I was still doing hair until I got my license. I was able to do facials. While I was in school, I was saving my money to afford to have a place. I purchased all the stuff I needed while I was in school, little by little, and not spending too much money. By the time I got my license, I was ready to work.
By the time you were making some of these bigger bets, you already had a good set of clients, a network and a place rented. Would you recommend that to other folks who are in college or who are just getting started?
I would recommend that they start saving money and building capital. People think they can jump into it and they fail the first year because they don’t have enough capital. They don’t think about the overhead and additional expenses. That’s why I started saving money ahead of time. I jumped into the business, but I wanted to make sure I had a certain amount of money before I started doing anything. So, I could save enough money to open my business and then cover the first three months. I had three months to get my business rolling. I’m glad it did pick up for me in those three months so that I could continue in business.
Three months of savings is your recommendation?
If I didn’t have those three months, I was thinking about applying for a loan.
Is this work a good side hustle or is it too time-consuming and intensive to do on the side?
I wouldn’t recommend having your own brick and mortar as a side hustle, but if you work inside of a spa, you could do it. My eyelash tech, she’s full-time here, but she also has a part-time job. She has money coming in from here and she also has money coming from her part-time job. When I was just doing braids, I could do braids, go to class, and do my part-time job. If they perform just the service and don’t have a full-time business, it could be a side hustle. I know for me personally, I couldn’t do anything else on the side because I have my products, I provide a service, and I also run the spa. I would be running crazy if I tried to do anymore or have a side hustle.
Were there any rough patches where you were like, “Oh, I’m not sure this is going to work out,” and if so, how did you get through it?
I don’t necessarily feel like I had any rough patches. My family is super supportive. My mom and dad helped me out a lot and helped get the second spa open. I had them to rely on. The only rough patches I would say were, I guess, dealing with some challenging customers. Sometimes I’ll have bad customers. I’m nice to everybody, so it affects me personally when people mistreat me or are mean to me. People say, “You know what, just brush it off,” but I’m like, “No. They’re going to leave a bad review.” I take that personally.
Those bad reviews really hurt, don’t they?
Yeah. My friend, she was like, “You know what, you can’t have all five stars.” She said, “Having that one bad review gives realistic opinions of the spa, no one’s perfect.”, “It’s okay, you can have one bad review and 10 good ones. It’s not going to ruin your business.” It was hard to take things so personally and eventually, I had to start thinking like a businesswoman.
What is your master plan?
My five-year plan is that I want to be able to turn this location into a fulfillment center for my skincare products and then open up a bigger spa and have more rooms. I want a jacuzzi in my spa. I want a real oasis thing and I also want to open up a juice bar. I want two other businesses, turn this into a fulfillment center, open up a bigger spa, and open up a juice bar. I want to franchise my spa, but it’s hard for me to trust people. I feel like I always have to have my hand in everything. If I franchise, I would have to let someone take care of that building because I can’t be everywhere at the same time. I really would have to get to know someone, so I feel comfortable opening up a new location and let them run it. I’m going to be like, “What if they’re not doing this, right?” Even now, my mom, she’s in the back helping with products. I was supposed to be at home resting today. I’m here because I didn’t want to leave her by herself.
You probably have a ton of friends who are like, “Oh my gosh, you’re so successful, how’d you do it? Can I do it too?” What advice do you give your friends and others who want to be like you?
People always ask me how I’ve done it. I say, “Of course it’s not an overnight success. I started doing this back in 2016 when I was a hairstylist. You don’t just start with a full clientele making your goal every week.” I always tell people, “If you want to do it, be serious about it.” You can’t get down on yourself when you have a slow week. I always have to have a backup plan. If I have a slow week with my clients, I have to push more product or if my products are not selling how I want them to, I have to get on social media. If I don’t have enough clients, I have to walk people in. I call it “foot traffic”. I literally go to the mall; hand out cards; and talk to people. I always tell them, if they are serious about their business, they have to be “all in” and no half-steppin.
What separates your spa and your ideology from others?
I have tried to set myself apart because we don’t have spas that have jacuzzis in this area. A place where you can come in and have a full spa day. That is something I want to do to set myself apart and add a juice bar. Because even though it’s just skin, you have to heal yourself from the inside out. The juices help with the detoxing and certain fruits and vegetables are good for the skin. I want to incorporate all this within my spa and set us apart from other spas.
Tell me, who are your role models? Where do you get your inspiration?
I honestly don’t know. I feel like I’m just like this.
You just woke up like this?
Yeah, haha. Since I got into the beauty industry, I have had other, more successful estheticians who I look up to. As far as being business-driven, I feel like it’s just something inside me.
I’m sure your business major helped, no?
Yes. I’ll never forget, my last semester in school. I did have an entrepreneurship course and when I was doing the course, I thought, “Yeah, this seems cool.” My dad is an entrepreneur as well, so he always says, “It’s in our Woodard blood.” My dad is an entrepreneur and I’m an entrepreneur. My mom just started a side business with bounce houses and party rentals. I also have another sister and she has a hair salon. We always say it’s our Woodard blood.
You mentioned earlier that you are focused on meeting your goals on a week to week or a month to month basis. That’s something that I haven’t heard before. Are you setting targets each week as to what you want to hit? What do you base those targets on?
My target is to make sure the bills get paid. I want to make sure that I’m making a certain amount of money every day to have enough to cover my bills. I’m also seeing a profit from my business week by week. That’s why I have a target goal. If I make this amount of money every week, I know my bills are covered and I have extra money to put in my savings. My fiancee wants to buy a home. I have different money targets that I’m trying to reach every week, so I put that money here, put that money there. I have to make sure that I’m making a certain amount of money to do what I want to do.
How did you find out about PocketSuite and what has your experience been?
I found out about PocketSuite from my mentor in Dallas, Miss Sugar Suite. She’s a successful esthetician in Dallas and I had a one-on-one marketing meeting with her. She told me that she used PocketSuite and I’m like, “Oh, okay,” so she sent me a link and I signed up. I liked that I could add my team there and I’m also able to pay them from the app. That was cool. I could add how many services I want because I used to use another service. I can’t remember its name, but I could only set one deposit for every service with what I used before. I like PocketSuite, if I’m doing a more expensive service, I can set a higher deposit, or if I’m doing a less expensive service, I can set a lower deposit. I love how it’s easy to customize. Also, if I have a problem, I can text y’all and be like, “Hey, how can I do this?” And y’all text right back. PocketSuite also has demonstration videos to explain everything. I was just telling my big sister, the one who has a hair salon. She was looking for a booking site and I was showing her PocketSuite. I sent her the link, so hopefully, she signs up.
You mentioned Miss Sugar Suite, Tiara Calhoun-Smith. When we talked to her, she mentioned how supportive her family was. She works with her family and her husband, who is an ex-NFL player, is highly supportive. It sounds like your family is involved in your business too. Some people say family and business don’t mix, but you must disagree with that.
I feel like it works on the support side. Like my sisters, they come in sometimes and help me work the front desk. I feel like you need the right family member who wants to help. If you have someone who just wants to come in and play around or are not serious about your business, then I feel like that’s when it doesn’t work. But, if you have a family member who comes in and wants to see you win, that wants your business to run as successfully as you do, it works out.
As you think about 2021, what do you hope is different? What are you hoping for in 2021?
I’m hoping we don’t get shut down as we did. We were shut down from, I believe, March to May. I hope everyone takes COVID precautions seriously to keep down the COVID cases. I hope we get a hold of this whole COVID thing to keep our business from shutting down again.
Would you recommend people get into making products? Even though there is an investment, liability, etc.?
I would definitely recommend it. As you said, liability is a big thing. If people do get into it, make sure you have insurance and make sure you’re covered. So if there is an issue, they’re protected, and clients can’t sue them. I would highly recommend it, but make sure they’re taking all the necessary precautions.
Make sure they follow all FDA guidelines about what it is supposed to be on the label and make sure they’re careful and safe. When making the product, you want to make sure that you have your gloves on. Make sure everything is sanitary and your product won’t go bad on a client.
What products do you make? I mean, what have you developed?
I have a cleanser. I have a toner. I also have different masks. I can show y’all!
(Ashley walks around her spa, showing her products)
That’s my mom! These are the products I have. We have masks and then we have facial oil. We have soap bars and hair oils, body scrubs, body wash, toner. We have cleansers.
Do you make all of these?
Yes, all of it. There are the moisturizers and the serums. This is just like a little warehouse.
Do you make it, package it, finish it, everything here at your location?
Wow, that’s impressive! When is there a tipping point where it makes sense to make something new because the existing products just don’t work?
Most of my clients are African American, so I saw a gap I needed to make something for African American skin. In skincare, we have a scale from one to five. Darker skin is on the higher end, certain ingredients are too strong for darker skin, or certain ingredients are not good for our skin. There is a whole list of them that are not good for darker skin. That’s where I saw the gap and where I went from research to making products. My products are good for all skin types, but I mainly focus on better products and ingredients for darker skin.
It sounds like you’re from a whole family of achievers. Here is your chance to give a plug to the other businesses within your family. You said your father’s an entrepreneur. What’s his business?
His business is called Woodard Enterprise and he handles metal. He gets demolition jobs and he goes to places and tears down the buildings. He can tear down a building, take those parts, and sell them somewhere else, or use them to rebuild something else.
What does your mother do?
My mom does the bounce house rentals. Her business is called Grand Kids and Company. She has bounce house rentals. She has a snow cone machine, a cotton candy machine, and tables and chairs that she rents out. It’s her side hustle because she’s a Medical Assistant at Cook’s Children. That’s her full-time job. She’s been at Cook’s for like 30 years, so she just got into doing the party rentals as her side hustle.
Who are your mentors? Who are the people you look up to? Like if I say, certain athletes, musicians, or actors, writers, these are the kind of people I would like to run with, and I see myself trying to emulate. Who are those people in your life?
Tiara Calhoun-Smith, she’s a good mentor to me. There’s not really any celebrities. I always tell people that it might sound cocky, but I always tell people that I don’t see anything different when I see myself and see celebrities. We all started at one point and I guess I’ll say, “normal.” If you really put in that work and you just keep that drive, you can be in the position that they’re in. I don’t have a celebrity role model because I don’t see myself any different from them.
I always feel like I can get there if I keep pushing and keep doing what I’m doing. Confidence plays a huge part in it because if you don’t believe in yourself, who will believe in you?