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CityRow CEO finds inspiration in female founders


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Helaine Knapp

“I ate guinea pig in Peru, it’s the local delicacy. I’ll try anything once; I did one bite.” — Helaine Knapp, founder and CEO, CityRow

Who would play you in the biopic about your life?

Gal Gadot. She played Wonder Woman so, what else do I need to say? And she’s stunning. I’m partial to the strong female lead. She’s Israeli and she served two years in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces); she’s so badass.

What’s your favorite franchise brand that’s not your own?

My favorite brand, it’s new on the scene, is Skoah. It’s a facial spa franchise, they’re just expanding from Vancouver down into the U.S. I’m partial to a badass female founder, and Andrea (Scott) is definitely a trailblazer. And in the wellness space, skin care is really important to me.

Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?

I love following innovators in fitness. Beth Lewis—she was one of our early instructors—she’s a genius when it comes to learning about the body and she’s always sharing really interesting content that’s super useful. And I love following other female founders. Alli Webb of Drybar, for example, she’s awesome.  

What’s one trend you wish would die?

Us being on our phones all the time. We’ve got to find ways to not spend six to eight hours on our phones and just be more present. I think I try to limit screen time but I usually fail miserably. It’s something I want to do better at, just turning off my phone when I can.

What superhero power would you most like to have?

Definitely teleportation. I love traveling, being in new places, seeing friends.

What’s something you would seriously stockpile if you found out it wasn’t going to be sold anymore?

I do this, I have before. My face products. My skin care routine … my passion for taking care of my body extends beyond fitness. Hylunia, that’s my brand.

What are you freakishly bad at (or good at)?

I’m freakishly good at jigsaw puzzles. It’s scary. I just like them. We do them at family gatherings sometimes and some of us, ‘the puzzle team,’ we’ll stay up until 2 in the morning to finish. I embarked on my first 2,000-piece puzzle, it didn’t fit on my table, I had to get the leaves out and it still didn’t totally fit. It was of New York City; it took me weeks. I love Jiggy Puzzles, all their puzzles are of other female artists’ work. It’s one of the coolest companies. Also, I’m really bad at analogies, grammar in general, and I mess up sayings all the time. Like, ‘let’s flesh that out or flush that out.’ Or, ‘let’s hone in on that.’ I think it should be ‘home.’ My team doesn’t cut me any slack.

Laura Michaels

Editor Laura Michaels asks the tough questions—What superhero power would you most like to have? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?—to show a side of franchising execs you don’t normally see. To suggest an industry professional, email lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I love to watch the TV show ‘Survivor.’ I’m a really big fan and I’m proud of it. During corona, I’ve roped like five people into it. There’s 40 seasons now.

What’s your favorite travel destination?

One of the best trips I’ve been on that I can’t wait to do again is an African safari. I went in Tanzania. On my list is Japan, from a culinary perspective. And Bali, I’ve gotta get to Bali.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

I ate guinea pig in Peru, it’s the local delicacy. I’ll try anything once; I did one bite. I also think I ate pelican in Iceland. Well, I know I did, but I don’t like to think about it.

If you could be a member of any TV show family, which would it be?

I’d have to go with ‘Friends,’ for sure. That apartment in New York City, it’s amazing and totally unrealistic. I would definitely be a part of the Geller family, or a cousin of Rachel’s.

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