THE BLOG
03/21/2014 11:42 am ET Updated May 21, 2014

Women in Business: Q&A with Noemi Grupenmager, Founder of Uni K Wax

In 1993, Noemi Grupenmager envisioned a specialized hair removal center that offered waxing for both men and women, which would raise industry and marketplace standards. Noemi imagined something new -- a center solely dedicated to waxing, with a welcoming atmosphere that offered clean, quick and professional services at affordable prices. She founded Uni K Wax in 1993, making her mark as a pioneer in the category and the first to open such a center. She opened her first location in Miami Beach, FL using her own proprietary elastic wax, made of natural beeswax, essential oils and a special pine tree resin, which took three years of in-depth laboratory research to create.

Uni K Wax Centers are an established concept with a recognized name and appeal and growing customer base. Today, Uni K Wax. Centers are located throughout New York, Florida and California with plans to develop over 100 franchises and affiliates across the country by the end of 2015.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I grew up in a country with a very difficult economy and hyperinflation, which forced me to learn how to survive each day while also saving something for the future. I believe it was these circumstances that sparked my creativity.

I always had a strong business mind and was constantly on the lookout for new opportunities. I started my first company at the age of 15; it was an original concept that just developed organically from a necessity. It all started when my Business Administration Professor told us that the most important part of our upcoming exam was going to be what he said in class (besides the books of Samuelson, Newman, Etzionietc). I began recording the classes then going home to listen to the lessons and type them up. I would then take the transcripts to the print shop to make copies. By the third day of class, I was handing out the transcripts from the first two classes to the 200 students, free of charge. I informed them that if they wanted to receive transcripts in the future, there would be a cost.

By the end of that third class, I had received enough money to purchase a manual printing machine and by the fifth class I was able to trade the manual machine for an electric one. By the end of the year, I had grown from a one-man-operation to a business of three employees who took notes in three different classes. In two years time, my basic idea had transformed into a full-blown company and I was only 17 years old.

By 20 I was married with twin girls, but I continued working in the printing industry, upgrading to the latest technology. In 1990, I moved from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Miami with my daughters and now ex-husband.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position as the founder of Uni K Wax?

My previous company gave me over 25 years of experience and creative ideas.

As I previously stated, I am constantly thinking of innovative ideas and in the late 80's I started to conceptualize another new venture. My thought process was to create a center that specialized only in hair removal for very sensitive skin, which is now known as Uni K Wax Center.

At that time I would get waxed at a salon that also offered hair and nail services. A full leg wax service would take about three hours and would cost $180. Not only was I spending a lot of time and money, but the service was extremely painful and would leave an uncomfortable rash as I was allergic to the wax and have sensitive skin. I began researching other options and realized that there were currently no "better" ways on the market so I decided that I would create that "better way".

I set out to reinvent the industry and began with the concept of a waxing-only center. There were three main things that I wanted to incorporate into the center: an all natural wax (due to my sensitivity), fast waxing services and affordable pricing. In order to make this business possible, I needed to create a system of speedy waxing because at that time, there was typically only one wax done a day in a salon. I wanted the new waxing center to be able to service at least four waxer per hour.

I spent 3 years experimenting with different natural ingredients until I came up with the wax that Uni K Wax Centers use today. The wax I created is completely different than everything else that was on the market and still to this day, no one has still been able to come close to creating a wax similar to mine.

Once I had perfected a body wax, I started to think about the method of application and the areas of the body that hair can be removed from. I made a chart for women of every single part of the body, except the scalp, broke the body up into sections and created a body waxing chart and waxing menu for each area, from head to toe and everything in-between.

Also, in the 80's, Brazilian bathing suits were very popular and I realized that you needed a special waxing style to be able to wear the Brazilian bathing suits. I created the Brazilian Bikini Style of Waxing, which in some shape or form is now available from every waxer around the world. I also coined the word "waxer" rather than aesthetician, which everyone uses now. I also created the Brazilian Bikini Style wax with buttocks strip as well as the Full Bikini, which removes all hair down there.

I then created a waxing menu for men. Initially creating a full body wax menu for men and women was a strange concept for many people, but it didn't take long for my customers, both male and female, to open up to the idea of getting other areas of their bodies waxed.

I wanted to be able to apply wax in a quick and economical way so I created a technique that we now teach all new waxers during an intensive two week Uni K Wax University Course. The all natural elastic wax is applied using a special technique and we apply to several parts of the body at the same time. Our wax has been referred to as the "Ouchless Wax" because when it is removed it provides little if any discomfort at all. So with my technique, I was able to wax two full legs with toes and bikini in less than 30 minutes.

The final stage of my new business idea was to create a center that only specialized in body waxing. I did not want to have a hairdresser cutting hair then waxing client's legs behind a curtain in the back of the salon so I designed a center that specialized only in waxing. I also made sure that there were many hygiene procedures put in place, such as the wax is never reused, the wax is discarded in front of the customer, the room in sanitized after each customer, and so on. Even 23 years later, our centers still lead the industry for cleanliness and hygiene.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I have an extremely busy schedule between managing the corporate office and travelling to the numerous Uni K Wax Centers throughout the country. However, no matter how hectic things can be, I make sure to set aside some "me time" each day. For example, I do yoga daily, catch up with friends in the evenings and spend time with my grandchildren on the weekends. I sometimes even bring my grandchildren to work with me! Over the years I have learned that my professional and personal lives have to be in sync or you just miss out on too much. I also make sure that I eat the freshest and healthiest food available and drink a lot of water, without my health, I could not keep up with everything I do.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Uni K Wax?

There have been many highlights during my tenure at Uni K. One of the biggest highlights has been the opportunity to use my creativity to come up with innovations within the industry.

When I created all that is Uni K Wax, this was my biggest achievement, and seeing the business grow every step of the way, to me was a highlight. But I have not stopped there, this year alone, we introduced a new procedure that is not practiced in the industry and increases the waxing experience for customers. For customers that come in for any kind of bikini wax, we provide them with an individual wet wipe and after the wax is removed, we apply a personal cold pack to close the pores quickly reducing the ability for bacteria to enter the open pores and finally applying a calming cucumber gel. The customer will leave feeling refreshed and better than when they walked in. This kind of service is not available at any other waxing facility anywhere in the world. Over the years I have created many firsts with Uni K Wax and so many of these firsts have yet to be copied by anyone but this is what makes Uni K Wax the leader in the body waxing industry.

What advice can you offer individuals who are seeking a career in the beauty industry?

The beauty industry is essentially the retail industry, meaning that you have to be prepared to work retail hours, which can sometimes be extremely long. My best words of advice would be, if you focus on your customer, you will be rewarded for your great service and dedication.

What are your hopes for the future of Uni K Wax?

My vision for Uni K Wax in the future is for it to remain an innovative leader in the body waxing industry. Uni K Wax is growing rapidly across the US and we have many exciting new concepts we are working on, but above all, we will continue to strive to exceed our customer's expectations in all we do.