Marilyn Monroe Spas CEO Lewis Talks International Franchising
“When I first went to India, I checked into the hotel and flipped on the TV and there was a story on Marilyn Monroe.”
It’s that kind of anecdotal evidence Jim Lewis said reinforced his belief that India was the right market for Marilyn Monroe Spas’ first international deal. Lewis, who joined Marilyn Monroe Spas as CEO in 2015 following a stint at Walmart and a 15-year run with Walt Disney Co., said the agreement with master franchisee La Vida Investment Holdings to bring the salon and spa concept to India took about 16 months to complete because “doing international deals, it’s a dance, you’ve got to get to know each other.”
“There was constant back-and-forth, revisiting every detail, thinking you have it done and then someone wants to change it,” he explained, noting La Vida was especially concerned with ensuring the Marilyn Monroe Spa offerings were adaptable to Indian culture.
I talked in more detail with Lewis and his counterpart at La Vida Investment Holdings, Jyotirmoy Bose, about their plans to capitalize on an American icon’s enduring association with glamour. You can check out that story in the August issue of Franchise Times, but here’s some advice Lewis gleaned from executing this first international franchise deal.
Patience is a virtue. “As Americans, we approach business very differently,” said Lewis in reference to a more direct, fast-paced and immediate results-oriented style. “I had to constantly remind myself to be patient.”
Spend time with your overseas counterpart. “I learned the importance of spending a lot of time together on the front end, even before the nitty-gritty negotiating,” he said. “You have to make sure you feel good about them, and trust them and have confidence in them.”
An Orlando, Florida-based franchise, Marilyn Monroe Spas was granted an exclusive licensing agreement in 2012 to use the Marilyn Monroe moniker from Authentic Brands Group, which owns the rights to the deceased actress’s estate. The brand was launched that same year.