Ruth Wolinsky is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician. She opened Able Body Spa in Scotch Plains, New Jersey four years ago after working in the industry for nearly two decades. With years of experience, including four as a business owner, Ruth has some advice for entrepreneurs.
Owning your own business is the American Dream. Pursuing a passion, taking a risk, being your own boss is all part of the adventure. Salon and spa owners are no exception. They experience the rewards and challenges of business ownership — from hiring employees to keeping staff educated on the latest techniques, to securing spa and salon financing.
Firsthand Advice for Entrepreneurs
“I had worked in many spas and wanted to offer an experience, the human element of why people go to spas,” Ruth explains. “I wanted to offer an opportunity where they could feel the healing aspect of the spa, to make people feel better while doing what I love and seeing people walk away happy.”
Starting a spa on her own gave Ruth a unique opportunity to customize the services that she wanted to offer.
“A franchise would be cookie cutter. We stand out because we offer what works for customers, not just what’s on the menu,” she explains.
Able Body Spa offers a wide range of services, including haircuts, coloring, perms, manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing services, Swedish and Deep Tissue massages, and even pre-natal massage therapy for pregnant women.
In an interview, Ruth offers the following advice for entrepreneurs wanting to enter the spa business…and beyond.
Ruth says that the biggest challenges of spa/salon ownership are: finding the right location, securing spa/salon financing, and staffing. The spa owner says that once the business is up and running, finding the right employees becomes the key issue.
“Finding people with similar training and work ethic is the biggest challenge,” she says. “There are a lot of talented people, but you have to have a combination: being responsible, being personable and showing up on time are all part of it.
“I like seasoned people. If they are flexible and willing to change, it’ll work,” Ruth explains. “In our business, we need to constantly change and learn and evolve. Flexibility is key.”
Securing startup capital is an important step for any new business. Unlike many entrepreneurs, Ruth was able to self-fund the spa.
“I took a risk that this would be something that would pay off,” Ruth said. “I did, and it has been successful. I didn’t want to owe a lot of money. I started later in life. I was in the industry 18 years, so I had a good foundation on what to do and how it would work.”
Those who are not in the position to open a spa using their own finances then have to secure startup capital from another source. SBA Loans are a popular way to obtain funding, and for those who need smaller amounts of money, the agency has a micro-lending program that often helps women and minority business owners get started.
Additionally, the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) is there for women entrepreneurs like Ruth by offering programs that include business training and counseling at SBA district offices. The agency also oversees dedicated Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) located across the country.
Other Advice for Entrepreneurs
“My biggest piece of advice is to know your demographics,” Ruth advises. “Do your homework; it’s just as important as location. Know what services they are looking for and how much they are willing to pay.”
“The other thing is to always stay new and fresh. Update your offerings; otherwise people get bored.”
“My biggest reward is learning about clients on a personal level – birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions,” Ruth says. “I had a woman come in for her 98th birthday and had never had a massage before. We took pictures. It was a wonderful experience for her.”
Able Body Spa and Salon
405 Park Ave.,
Scotch Plains, NJ 07076