St. Petersburg entrepreneur Amy Lai has used experience, determination and an innovative business model as the building blocks for success.
In July, Maison Glo, the membership-based skin care treatment spa Amy Lai founded with her sister Sara Lai, celebrated the third anniversary of its first location, which is along the well-traveled retail corridor of North Fourth Street in St. Petersburg.
The anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on the business’s ongoing success and look ahead to a bright future. Last November, Maison Glo brought its successful business model to the South Tampa market, opening a second location off Church Avenue near South Dale Mabry. Looking ahead, there’s a vision of future expansion and possibly taking the brand national.
Calm and inviting, with a trendy twist
It is all about curated aesthetics at Maison Glo. When you walk in, Taylor Swift music fills your ears and your eyes are drawn to the intricate blue wallpaper, the gold hardware and a smiling face greeting you.
The atmosphere is calm and inviting, with a trendy twist. The inspiration comes from the simplicity and consistency of European skin care products. “Maison” is house in French and “Glo” is what your skin will do after receiving your personalized facial.
The atmosphere at Maison Glo's two locations is calm and inviting, with a trendy twist.
What you won’t find is waterfall music, salt lamps or stuffy service rooms. Lai, the brand’s CEO, has crafted Maison Glo to have a unique vibe that sets it apart from other spas. With a less intimidating, more open concept, the experience is social and comfortable, regardless of your age, gender or skin care maintenance.
The process begins with lying down on a facial bed to prepare for relaxation and a glowing complexion. The ceiling mirror increases the transparency in the specific skin care plan so guests are able to follow along and bring these new techniques home with them. With Maison Glo’s service floor designed to be a social space, the experience is meant to feel less intimidating, deviating from the confined room often found at other skincare providers.
Lai’s successful business model focuses on accessibility, comfort, consistency and price transparency to separate Maison Glo from the competition. For many, frequenting day spas is difficult because of the rigid concept of pricing and the future costs to maintain an expensive regimen. But Maison Glo has cultivated loyal customers and brand advocates by making access to quality skincare affordable.
The business model revolves around a monthly subscription-based facial service that takes something many consider an expensive luxury expensive and allows it to become something routine. The $59 monthly subscription price includes a signature facial, discounts on retail products and enhancements, one facial to gift to a non-member, birthday surprises and exclusive access to member events and parties.
How things got GLO-ing
Lai was always the “It Girl” among her circle of friends, family and business connections for all things skin, health and beauty. Her career began at a medical spa when she was 18 years old. She quickly advanced to leadership and management roles.
Nearly 15 years ago, the med spa era began in large cities and branched off into smaller areas as the industry grew. Lai saw an opportunity to dive into the field early and turn her expertise into a future empire. As the skincare industry evolved, she adapted and planned on how to set her future brand ahead of the curve.
Medical spas and invasive treatments are expensive, while full-day spas are geared toward relaxation and not a consistent, daily skincare routine. Both serve a purpose, but there was still a void in the skincare market that she wanted to fill. Three years ago, Lai set out to build a business but first researched the options out there to achieve her goal. She turned to possible franchise options, but that path did not match her overarching vision. She compared different business models and beauty industry locations.
After a few trips to New York City and Washington D.C., she saw there was a demand for her skincare ideas, but no one was currently utilizing the subscription-based model. This was a way to tailor her specific business model to meet her goals of accessibility, affordability and consistency.
The key to making a successful brand is to live the brand. Lai keeps all marketing uniform and eye-catching to ensure Maison Glo feels like a big brand, yet maintains the personality and familiarity of a local business.
The future “GLO-s” bright
Lai’s future plans include a third Maison Glo location, but timing and location are still to be determined. Clients locally and nationally have asked what it takes to open a Maison Glo of their own. She has considered expanding even further to incorporate licensing options as a possibility.Maison Glo CEO Amy Lai
Lai wants to take Maison Glo as far as the business can go. Eventually, she wants to move away from daily operations to larger-scale management, focusing on marketing plans, the overall brand image and helping people open locations. Lai says he would love to have national Maison Glo locations, branching into college towns, more cities and anywhere else people need complete and concise skincare, which is basically everywhere.
As a natural entrepreneur, Lai has considered other business ventures and even toyed with opening her own aesthetician school. Many aesthetic schools will train students in their desired field, but once training is complete, graduates are left with little guidance on how to put their craft to work. Her concept puts equal focus on learning the craft and streamlining the program through a career-oriented educational plan that helps new aestheticians find their right career path. The unconventional approach would diversify her school through background training and assistance in building a small-step plan with achievable goals to set each student on the right career path.
Lai’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in any field is to take what you know and identify personal skill sets. Her boots-on-the-ground work in the skincare field contributed to her success. That approach creates an opportunity to study the market, find a gap and build a business or product to fill that gap in any type of market.
“If you don’t have the passion for the business, it will only feel like a job and never a career,” she says.
For more information, go to Maison Glo