As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Apfel Glass, working mom and founder of GLOSSLAB, a membership-based manicure studio.
Rachel Apfel Glass founded GLOSSLAB in 2018 with a mission to modernize the nail salon experience with its hygiene-first, membership-focused concept. After graduating from Columbia Business School, Rachel spent 10 years in finance fundraising for hedge funds.
As a businesswoman (and a mom!), she was always in search of the perfect efficient manicure but found herself constantly frustrated with the lack of consistency in service and cleanliness standards. Recognizing that countless women desired the same thing, Rachel surrounded herself with a team of experts to create, operate, and scale GLOSSLAB.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I worked in hedge fund fundraising for 10 years and was always in search of a quick, clean manicure because of my busy lifestyle. I always felt like manicures were errands; a very joyless and inefficient experience. I talked about recreating the nail space for years. After having my second daughter and ultimately leaving the world of finance, I decided to make it happen. I started Glosslab to create a true “brand” in the manicure space, to provide others with the opportunity to get a quick, seamless manicure.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Every week I would go to get a manicure, I would look for the “least gross” place. I knew something had to change! That’s why I founded Glosslab on five key pillars including: Hygiene, Efficiency, Innovation, Expertise and Empowerment.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
I believe that if you look good, you feel good and you do good — both personally and professionally. At Glosslab, it’s not just about a manicure, it’s about empowerment. We are looking to empower women and men to run the day!
What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?
We have created a Glosslab community through our membership. Our members and employees are our Glosslab family. We have also gone above and beyond to roll out the utmost safety precautions due to COVID-19. We have always been totally water free — Hygiene is GLOSSLAB’s guarantee, with strict measures in place long before COVID-19 guidelines were developed. Upon re-opening following the COVID-19 lockdown, we have implemented additional health and safety measures, including installing a ventilation system to properly circulate air. We also feature technology-enhanced services (online booking, cashless payment, contactless check-in and check-out) and performance-based products at the forefront of beauty and nail trends including best-in-class long-lasting polish, gel, and non-toxic polishes.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Yes — it has taken me a long time to learn this, but you can truly create your own happiness. I am running this business and living this crazy entrepreneur life of working 100 hours a week so that I don’t have to work 40 hours a week. This makes me truly happy and fulfilled.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I thought about giving up all the time — everyone in my life told me I was crazy to leave the finance world to take this leap and I would often believe them myself. It has been my inner passion to pursue this journey that has kept me going and really doing work on myself along the way.
So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?
I think doubt is a constant but it’s something that as an entrepreneur, I work on all the time. You have to love what you are doing to find success and continued drive. I also learned that you need to be able to roll with the punches and pivot when things get bad. When COVID-19 hit, I needed a way to pay the bills and pay my employees while we were closed, so that’s when I developed a product line which includes: a gel eraser kit, a mani rescue kit and a nail tool kit. Being able to pivot in this way was integral in helping us through that hard time.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service based business?
- Create your own happiness
- Connect with your customers + employees often
- Be your own customer
- Practice gratitude
- Continue to do this over and over
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find me on Instagram: @glosslabnails and @rachaglass.