Scenes from the International Franchise Expo
Noemi Grupenmager purports to have created the closest bikini wax of all.
Argentina native Noemi Grupenmager has never liked body hair, with the exception of her head, eyebrows and eyelashes. But her quest to find the perfect waxing solution cost her not an arm but almost a leg, when it took two days and two times the fee for a spa to wax her daughter’s legs.
“They quoted $180 for legs and a bikini line,” the entrepreneur said, sitting on the couch in her booth at the International Franchise Expo in June. But she was stunned when she was presented a bill for double the amount originally quoted. It turned out that the cost was $180 a leg. Who would want just one leg waxed? she asked rhetorically. The final cost was six hours of her time and $360, plus tip.
It required three hours to wax one leg because the technician used small strips of cloth that were designed for the lip and brow area to pull the hair out by the root. After three hours, the technician was so tired she asked Grupenmager and her teenage daughter to come back the next day for the second leg. Fortunately, she was wearing pants and not a dress, Grupenmager said.
All the same, it was a painful experience all around.
The experience hardened Grupenmager’s resolve. She enlisted the help of a friend who was a chemical engineer to design a flexible wax that was gentle, effective and allowed the application of one strip from thigh to ankle. Another innovation was to move waxing from an afterthought in spas and beauty salons into its own space. Her first Uni K Wax center opened in 1993 in an art deco building’s third floor in Miami. The “K” was added to the name after she decided to franchise because a floor wax manufacturer already had the Uni Wax name.
There are 160 zones Grupenmager has identified that can be waxed on men and women. But her most notorious zone was the invention of the “Brazilian.”
Grupenmager observed women in Brazil wearing tiny bikini bottoms without the bare-all approach to grooming she advocated. When she introduced it in her salons, women were reluctant at first, she admitted. “In the beginning we worked around underwear,” she said, which didn’t always produce the best results. “It took years to convince people.” But as can be observed on beaches all over the world, the Brazilian-style of grooming is here to stay, or should we say, there to go.
Once she opened her third center, Grupenmager said she started writing everything down, which resulted in her franchise manuals. Miami franchisee litigation attorney Robert Zarco and iFranchise taught her franchising and helped launch her opportunity. She now has 38 units open.
Franchisees receive two weeks of training on her systems and proprietary methods, but not the formula for her wax. That’s the equivalent to KFC’s 11 herbs and spices and McDonald’s secret sauce.