Saturday, April 28, 2007

End of Week 5 - Painting done, Flooring has arrived

Below 1: Tom and Mitch contemplate the state of the ceiling.
Below 2: Back wall with fireplace (to be encased in blackened steel) and palate of flooring material (in plastic shrink wrap).
ABOVE: Bill, our electrician. It's hard to get him to smile, but we've done it! (Not captured well here, of course).

LEFT: Here's the plumbing for our high temperature sanitizer (for footbaths, bowls, and anything too big to sterilize in our autoclave).

I am really going to miss Tom, Mitch, Kirk, and Bill when we're done with this buildout. My friend and graphic designer, Shari, confessed to me that she missed her bathroom remodelers a little once they had finally cleared out (leaving a gorgeous bathroom).

It's just another excuse to start looking for the next parlor location . . .

This week, I'm really excited that Karri has arranged to interview all of our vernisseur candidates in the Purple Room at the Silver Cloud Inn across the street from Julep all day next Monday and Tuesday.

Tonight she swung by to pick up the color template for our toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl pthalate free nail polish line. We've got over thirty great colors, which we're naming after some of our favorite style icons:
- Dark burgundy/black: The "Lindsay" (after my friend "Lindsay SMITH", of course)
- Soft, translucent pink: The "Reese" (after my friend "Reese SMITH", of course)
- Fire engine red: The "Marilyn" (after my friend "Marilyn SMITH", of course)
- Mauvy purple: The "Halle" (after my friend "Halle SMITH", of course)
- etc. etc.
But since I wanted soft pinks, dark reds, burgundies, bright corals, etc. in both warm and cool tones (so people of every skin tone, including darker skinned people like me, can have access to more options), the color choices were pretty tricky. Our sample sheet has:
- blue circles (colors Karri's clients liked)
- pink highlighter (top selling colors)
- red stars (hot runway colors this season)
- blue stars (cross referenced colors from MAC and Bobbi Brown, the color experts in cosmetics)
- red circles - my final recommendations
Now we'll have to incorporate Karri's final input and then our final final choices.

And hopefully our bottles are already silk screened and ready to fill with our color choices!

I also met with Kari (Moe Straley) and Jen (Porter) with Marketing Alchemist today to plot our marketing and PR strategy. It was so great working together with such smart, creative women about creative ways to get the word out. Even better (from my perspective, anyway!) that these plans will be implemented in the next few weeks, instead of months or years, as I've been used to in my work with larger companies. The immediacy of this work is addictive.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Penultimate Push

This week we are:

- Scheduling interviews for our vernisseur and esthetician positions (and finding a place to hold them!)
- Painting the walls and ceilings (with environmentally preferable paint)
- Setting up water and electricity (after multiple calls to the city and hours of waiting on hold)
- Making all our final implement/equipment purchases
- Returning the initial vernisseur baskets we chose (which don't fit into any normal sized locker) and buying new vernisseur baskets
- Finding lap blankets
- Reviewing our preliminary PR plan (pulled together by the creative and results-oriented Kari Moe Straley with Marketing Alchemist)
- Starting to configure our POS/scheduling software
- Launching our new website - thanks to Michael Hillard (check on Saturday!) - and please note that e-mails to me might bounce back or be lost in the netherworld between Friday night and Saturday morning
- Writing our "Julep Partner Resources Guide" to support our partners (employees) in achieving the most in their careers with us
- Finalizing our compensation structure
- Finalizing colors for our custom nail polish (Buddy if you're reading this, I hope we're still on track!)
- Setting up a credit card processing account with Bank of America Small Business
- Setting up payroll through Quickbooks Assisted Payroll
- Following up on conversations with prospective investors from the Early Stage Investment Forum last week

Among other things.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Here's where we stand this week. This is the check-in counter at the front of the store. I'm still happy every time I see the rounded edge.

And here's where our fabulous lotions will be displayed. We're going to have:

"Refresh" Citrus-Mint Moisturizer (with healing aloe vera)
"Nourish" Lavender-Vanilla Moisturizer (with softening shea butter)
"Quench" Pomegranate Moisturizer (with hydrating hemp seed oil). We'll going to display these according to size: "For my home" (8oz bottles on top shelf), "For my tote" (4oz bottles on middle shelf), and "For my purse" (2oz bottles on bottom shelf).

All these developments are exciting, but today I am tired beyond the reach of all legally available stimulants. Coffee, green tea, chocolate, sugar, all consumed in large quantities, in rapid succession, but to little avail.

Yesterday we had an amazing recruiting event – about twenty people throughout the course of the evening, and it was so humbling and thrilling to be in a room full of people who were considering joining Julep. Not to mention a huge relief. We’ve passed another milestone, and look at us! We’re still standing!

But just barely today. After getting home at 11 last night, I spent a couple of hours sending out urgent e-mails to everyone I work with to see if we could get everything done faster, since Mitch and Kirk (my contractors) now think we’ll finish construction a week early (go figure!). Then documents to print out to get ready for the Early Stage Investment Forum today, which went from 6:30am to 6:30pm. I really got my money’s worth out of the downtown flat fee parking lot.

I have to say, since I’ve never “closed the deal” with an investor at one of these functions (it usually takes several progressive conversations for us to get to know each other), the most fun part of these events for me is bonding with the other, particularly female, entrepreneurs. I loved meeting with the women who are building O Eco Textiles, and The Local Vine (wine bar concept).

I tried not to be insulted as many investors referred to Julep as a “low tech company” throughout the day. I never thought of myself as particularly “low tech” until now. If it means I’m not burning through millions of dollars of cash in the quest for the holy grail of the “software as a service” subscription-based business model, then I’ll take the label.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Week 4 of Construction

We're almost halfway through construction!

Things I'm happy about today:

1) We're starting to get some great resumes! Getting great people is my number one concern right now, so this is a HUGE relief.

2) We've got a lot of RSVPs to our recruiting event this Wednesday. A part of me was worried that we might have ordered a tad too much food for just me and Karri, even though we are both hearty enjoyers of food. . .

3) When I mention Julep to random strangers (as I'm apt to do), several have mentioned that they remember seeing the sign and noticing that it looked different than the average nail salon. (HOORAY!)

4) We've been developing some really amazing lotions that I'm very excited about. This is the first time I've noticed a huge difference in efficacy. These are products that both Karri and I are passionate about and would recommend to everyone.

5) Karri found a great solution for providing individual paraffin treatments that does not require us to use a pot of hot paraffin (messy, and questionable sanitation since each pot of wax is used for up to 20 different guests - this procedure is now banned in Oregon, we understand).

Things I'm sad about today:

1) My lighting fixture estimate apparently did not include the cost of having the mounting plates welded to my ceiling. That's an additional $1000 of cost I wasn't anticipating. How could an estimate that includes installation NOT include the cost of installing the piece that the fixture needs to be attached to? And how long does it take to weld a metal square to another piece of metal anyway??!! ARGHH.

2) It was raining IN the parlor today. Indoors. It's not supposed to do that.

3) My nail polish partner ran $2500 through on my credit card two weeks ago (to silk screen our bottles), but hasn't returned my phone calls since then. I've left messages last Thursday, Friday, and today. On Friday I called his cell, and someone picked up and hung up on me. Three times.

4) I just realized today that I somehow authorized the building of sink fixtures that are only 2 feet off the ground. Somehow, in all the flurry of paper, I read 25 inches and thought that this would be waist high. I've learned that reading 25 inches beside a drawing on a piece of paper is very different from standing in front of 25 inches marked against plumbing being put into the wall. We're now going to have to raise the fixture somehow, maybe by putting a pedastal beneath it (or some other great idea either Paul or Tom will come up with). Or hire really short people. Totally my fault in not reading drawings carefully.

The best thing about this journey is the fun of working with amazing, insightful, and talented people. The worst thing about this journey is needing to rely on sometimes uncommunicative, busy, far away people, many of whom I've never met face to face.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Jane and Karri in Hard Hats

Here we are on our weekly Wednesday walkthroughs (me on the right, and Karri, our Director of Education and Lead Vernisseur on the left). It's hard to look cool in a hard hat (unless you're our superintendent, Kirk, who wears his backwards).

This walkthrough was less intensive than the one last week, where we walked through with Bill, our electrician, identifying where every plug in the parlor should go. I've always taken electrical outlets for granted (except at coffee shops and airports that don't have enough for those of us with laptops).

I'm happy to proceed on many of these decisions (how high up should we put the light fixtures in the bathroom?) based on recommendations from knowledgable experts ("Bill, how high up do you usually put light fixtures in bathrooms?"). At Starbucks, there used to be a motto, "Everything matters." Howard Behar talks about how they debated whether the Starbucks logo should go on disposal napkins for hours on end.

While I admire and share the passion, I'm also wary of becoming a retail bridezilla. I'm trying to keep everything in perspective, which is easier on some days than others.

This week, my kids are sick (and waking up at all hours), I'm worried about recruiting enough great people, and getting ready for our Early Stage Investment Forum presentation next week.

So I just don't have enough bandwidth to give more than two seconds of thought to where the exit sign should be located. Kirk (our superintendent onsite from Wilcox) seems to have it under control. That is the great luxury of having a terrific team of people I can trust.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Banner is up

Seeing the Julep sign up was one of the most exciting moments of this journey so far. Random passers by will now know about Julep. People who don't even know me, or Karri, Jeanne, Shari, Tom, Ron, Mitch, Paul, Mike, Mike, Jill, Joe or Kirk.

Shari learned a lot more about vinyl signage through this process than she ever wanted to. And when she saw the picture on the teeny tiny screen of my camera, she immediately detected evidence of deviations from her specific directions. It reminded me of how Julia Roberts once said in a magazine that she had huge flaws in her face, but she wasn't going to describe them because her career would be over if others saw her the way she saw herself. So I'm not going to tell you what Shari saw. You can just admire our Oscar winning sign.

Monday, April 2, 2007

What it takes to move a duct (again)

The build out of a 1380 square foot retail space is more intricate than I ever imagined.

It seems like every time we put something up (the electrical panel, or the HVAC unit), we realize that something else has to move or disappear (the door to the back office, the second air duct, respectively).

And something like relocating an airduct is more complicated and takes more phone calls to arrange than I had ever imagined.

When the HVAC installer told Kirk, the superintendent, that the HVAC unit would interfere with the proposed path of the duct, Kirk called my project manager, Mitch, who called my architect Tom, who called me with a proposed solution.

Then I called the landlord, Pete, and his property manager, Connie, to let them know what we wanted to do. Of course, I called both Tom and Mitch back after that to let them know I had left messages describing the situation for Pete and Connie.

The size of this phone tree is comparable to the sophisticated communications systems required to get dates to a high school dance.

But we're now entering Week 2 of construction. At the end of this week, we should be 1/4 of the way done.