Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Attacking my cuticles

I've been trying to schedule myself in for a manicure (everyone who works at Julep gets one free service per month), and already I am Julep's worst client. I cancel with no notice - and poor excuses. Amy says they will stop taking my appointments if I don't shape up. (And I'm sure Jeanne will start charging me for the cancellations).

So today, when Amy and Lisa had a fifteen minute break between services they pinned me down and attacked my cuticles. It wasn't pretty, but my hands were after they were done!

I only wish we had done this BEFORE our media interviews! This morning Karri and I were on Northwest Cable News (filmed last week). I meant to wake up to watch it, but my daughter had a particularly rough night last night AND I forgot to set my alarm.

This week we are working through some minor fix ups with the build-out and equipment. Mitch has been fabulous about responding quickly and working out all the issues. I'm not sure when I'm supposed to stop calling him. A friend of mine was still seeing his pediatrician at age 32 - he never outgrew her, and she never told him to stop coming. I think I'm going to be that way with Mitch and Kirk.

Day 3 of soft launch - Several guests had their first manicures (and "man"-i-cure) today!

Second day, second bridal shower, first lotion sale!

Friday, May 25, 2007

First guests, first bridal party, first credit card transaction, first gift card, first cash transaction, first day!

1) Here's our first bridal party! The bride was beautiful, and seemed happier and more relaxed after being pampered by Amy. Somehow we got all the light fixtures to the middle of the room, where we gathered the chairs facing each other. The light fixtures really move! And we're really moving them!
2) Here's Amy with the bride and a girlfriend. The bride is having fajitas at her wedding for over 200!

3) Our first cash transaction.

3) Jeanne and Katerina smiling through yet another system error. Like the one from earlier today, when all of our appointment booking confirmation e-mails were going out under the logo "Antoinette Day Spa" . . . Jeanne and Katerina (or Kate, her phone handle) are like eight people's worth of energy and work packed into one.

4) Here's everyone as we toasted our survival of Day 1 (and watched the youtube of the Rosie/Elizabeth catfight which we had entirely missed while in our little Julep bubble).

Things to celebrate today:
1) Most fun day of work ever for me.
2) I remembered to call my daughter's pediatrician about a question we've been meaning to ask and got some great advice. (I had forgotten the day before).
3) Our chairs were adjusted to the right height today, so they were actually useful!
4) Our products (lotions and scrubs) finally arrived, as did our cute brown aprons!
5) We had working ottomans (or ottowomen, as actually Paul Schulman describes them) because Amy's sweet husband Heath came and installed 9 lb weights in the back (procured by our awesome Wilcox project manager Mitch Hart), and cut us dowels to use to keep the footrest secure until the proper handles arrive tomorrow. At one point I overheard him saying that this was a teeny bit more involved than he had anticipated . . . to which someone replied, "That's the way our whole week has been!"
6) We had several walk-in appointments! And several phone calls from people who had seen the article in the Seattle Times. We were flat out starting in the afternoon. It was so exciting to welcome guests in. I was actually a little sad at the end of our immersion program that we couldn't just keep hanging out and having great conversations. But this is fun too!
7) Karri is already finding ways to improve our products to do a better job.
8) We were interviewed by Northwest Regional News today! Will air on Tuesday at 6am or 8am, we hear!

Julep in the Seattle Times!

The Seattle Times ran an article on us today!

Also, we finished up our Julep Immersion Program. I was thinking today how "Servant Leadership" is much easier to execute when you can pick the most amazing people to serve. I genuinely like each of the people on our "founding team." They are smart, insightful, wise, funny, and incredibly dedicated and passionate about their profession. It will be quite an effort making everything else about Julep worthy of them.

I remember when I worked at BCG, we talked about whether you'd want to be stuck in an airplane, car, and small shared cubicle with the candidate as an important part of the hiring decision. (For a while I had the privilege of sharing a small metal desk with John Legend (John Stephens at the time), but that's a different story for a different blog entry).

I not only enjoy the Julep team, I feel like I can be who I am around them. And creating spaces for women to be who they are is exactly why I started down this journey in the first place.

But just so that I'm truthful about this whole start-up experience, it hasn't all been roses this week. I broke one of the light fixtures by accident - and two women with tools from Flux came within the hour to fix it for us! Our nail polishes haven't arrived, our lotions have been held up awaiting FDA approval, and our vernisseur chairs are still WAY too high (but should be fixed tomorrow - thanks to the fast help of Steven at Keeney's!). Thank goodness Karri invited Dr. Amy, her chiropracter, to come in today to educate us about posture and protecting our bodies in this line of work. Dr. Amy was awesome. I was sitting three inches taller by the time she left.

But in other not great news: (or "least fav" news, as our vernisseurs say), our aprons were held up at customs (they are coming from Canada), and Jeanne and I have been embroiled in an epic battle with our technology - admittedly trying to do incredibly advanced things like print a document.

Thank goodness for Karri, Jeanne, Shari and Tom, each of whom I've leaned on far beyond the pale this week (Jeanne revved the engine of her VW Jetta last night as we were racing home far past our kids' bed times). Thank you guys. I know two things: 1) I couldn't have gotten this far without you 2) where I would have gotten wouldn't have been as good, and 3) it would have been no where near as fun as it's been. Oops that's three things. I should probably go to bed now.

Monday, May 21, 2007

First day of First Ever Immersion Program

This was the most exciting day of this journey so far (but I mentioned to the team that I suspect we'll be having a lot of these record breaking days!). It was amazing to see the people who are going to breathe life into Julep. And I'm excited that the space is worthy of them.
I learned a lot today - everyone seemed so engaged and perceptive and had smart things to say. Of course I can't remember much of it right now because I am deleriously tired.

In the afternoon, Jeanne and Karri led a great discussion about how we can deliver memorably outstanding customer service. Then Jeanne showed everyone how to look at their schedules and customer data online.

It was fun to see Jeanne, who I met first as a fellow mom, in her professional element. She rocks.

This is getting really, really good!

Sunday Night

Here's how we left Sunday night - all ready for our vernisseurs and estheticians to arrive the next day.
The space doubles as a very nice meeting center.
Here's Shari, picking up our lotion labels because she doesn't trust us to put them on properly. (A well founded fear, actually). Of course, to put them on at all, they would have to be here. And we're still waiting on 1) a working dishwasher, 2) a working ice maker, 3) our lotions 4) our chairs, 5) our nail polishes. But other than THAT we're great!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Day before Immersion Program

We're getting there! Not sure if you can tell in this picture, but we've unpacked what seems like thousands of boxes. And checked off at least half of Jeanne's to do lists. Jeanne biked to Julep today (she and her husband Rich are training for the Seattle to Portland ride). Then she and Dave spent the rest of the day trying to get our cash register drawer to open (successfully!) and getting the receipt printer to print (also successfully!). Now I've got to run back to the parlor to finish getting ready for tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Gang's Starting to Arrive!

Here we all are (Lisa, Amy, Anthony, Karri, Jeanne, and me), in our workout clothes, running to Storeables, the restaurant supply store, building furniture, breaking light bulbs, buying more light bulbs, and finding some time to grab lunch on our patio in between.
Everyone has just jumped right in there! It's fun to see how infectious the fun is. I mean, of course I'm having fun. This is what I've been working on late nights for what seems like forever. But I'm just so bowled over by how dedicated Karri and Jeanne are, keeping us on track. (Karri made a hiring call while she was waiting for the report to be written after being rear-ended!). And how Anthony, Amy and Lisa have just fanned out over Seattle, dropping off brochures, collecting beef jerky, and being hit on by smarmy salesguys.
As exciting as it was to see various pieces of the space design come together, that pales in comparison to how exciting it is to see the people come together. The space is definitely better now that we have such wonderful people in it.

The Weekend Before Our Immersion Program

Our lights are in and they're stunning. Bradley and his team at Flux did an amazing job. One of the women from Flux (Ali and Lara, I can't remember which one of you it was!) said that looking at them just made her smile, which is what we were going for (in addition to great, flexible task lighting). Also the shelves went in today - Kirk got them to fit perfectly. And they're beautiful! I can't wait for the rest of our Paul Schulman furniture to arrive (next Tuesday or Wednesday, we believe).
Also Shari (and her daughter Caroline) dropped off our shopping bag, chocolate wrapper, and lotion labels today. They are perfect - colorful, sophisticated, but warm and approachable. Now we've just got to get them affixed somehow.
Here are the "parties" we've got planned over this weekend:
- Put labels on our mint chocolates party (hosted by Karri's mom)
- Put together our manicure tables party (hosted by Anthony)
- Dull our new, oversharp implements party (hosted by Karri)
- Put together our technology party (hosted by Jeanne)
- Assemble our undercounter shelves party (hosted by Karri's Dave)
- Unpack all of our stuff party
- Trip to Home Depot party
And Jeanne's keeping us all on track with her giant post-it note lists on our walls.
Lots to do before Monday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Permanent Sign is Up!

Here's our permanent sign! Isn't it elegant? It will look even better when we remove the temporary sign so you can see our disc icon behind it.

Today was the first day we worked in our space - we camped out at the reception desk, where we now have high speed internet access, a phone, fax/printer, ice, an instahot, and a bathroom nearby. In short, pure heaven.

While we were building out our immersion program and figuring out logistics for the first few weeks, Amy and Anthony two of our first team of vernisseurs, were out and about dropping of invitations at local shops, buying curtains, bar stools, and stenciling the cloth for our lamps. I handed Anthony five bottles of glossy paint (thinking that was overkill), and expected to see him back in a couple of hours. Five hours later, he was still plugging away, and almost out of paint. What a way to welcome him aboard.

So it turned out to be just a tad more difficult than we had anticipated.

Which is the theme of the week. But I am SOOO excited to see the light fixtures go in tomorrow. I think they will be gorgeous. When you come in, dear reader, please appreciate the beautiful leaf motif on our light drums designed by Ron and executed by Anthony.

In other news, Ali wrote to me that
Paul actually screamed with excitement when he saw how amazing the guest chairs looked with the cushions in them. I can't wait to see all of this come together. It's even harder now that we're so close.

But mostly I'm excited to start working with the full team! It was great before, but today was even better with Anthony and Amy. And Mae (one of the most talented and experienced estheticians in Seattle) has been busy picking out waxing room furniture and building the waxing menu. Tomorrow, Lisa is dropping by to help out, and then next week we have everyone on board.

I can tell that this is just about to get really, really good.


And here's the SUPER high - my dear friends Ali and Renata, who inspired this whole journey, are coming to Seattle for our opening party! I am so excited. In my self-effacing twenties, I would have insisted that they stay at home. But now I know enough to just be grateful and excited to have such amazing girlfriends. This is what Julep is all about.

It does make the next two weeks even more festive and wedding like for me. Renata says that she and Ali are "Julep-maids".

(And Paul, of course I'm excited about you too!).

Highs and Lows

They said the highs would be higher, the lows would be lower. That turned out to be true (at least so far). But there are MORE of both of them too. I didn't anticipate how many of those higher highs and lower lows could be packed into just a single one day. And the cumulative effect of having a higher high followed by a lower low, followed by a higher high etc. etc. is giving me whiplash.

High: I went to the Shop/07 conference organized by Crave on Monday (Karri had found out about it and signed us up). I invited Shannon Borg from Seattle Magazine, Monica Soto Ouchi from Seattle Times, and Jasmine Moir from Daily Candy to visit Julep when we open. I hope they will come!

Low: The beautiful paprika colored ergonomic chairs we ordered came in the wrong height.

High: But Steven at Keeny's Office Supply, who has been so helpful (even bringing us a sample chair for our recruiting event) got on the problem immediately, and it will be fixed by next week.

Low: Our sign went in, and it was so far back (over our awning), that it was hard to read.

High: But then they moved it, and now it looks fabulous. Forgot to bring my camera with me, but I will today for our site visit and put up more pictures!

High: Jeanne is just rockin' and rollin' with setting up our POS and scheduling software, and now she's taken over buying all of the rest of our hardware and writing huge chunks of the operations manual. The operations side is really her groove. I never realized there were actually 15 steps between a guest walking in the door and starting her service - all of which happen in a matter of seconds. But Jeanne did. Everyday I find more reasons to feel so lucky to have her helping us to build Julep.

And that was just the morning.

Everyday brings unanticipated challenges, but it's also exciting and satisfying to solve them. There is so much to do between now and Monday, when we welcome our first Julep team to our immersion program. No matter how many lists I write, I can't quite figure out how it will all get done, which is where faith comes in. Lately I've been needing a lot of it, and I've been pleasantly surprised to find that I have larger reservoirs than I might have predicted.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Last week before "Julep Immersion Program"

We're in the final stretch! This past week, all the plumbing went in (including the faucet above our sink), the blackened steel covering went up around our fireplace, our vernisseur chairs arrived (pictured here in "paprika"), our bathroom was finished, and our appliances arrived.

This coming week we are busy:
- Preparing for our first ever "Julep Immersion Program" - a four day preparation and get to know each other session we'll be holding next Monday through Thursday. Topics include: Our Values & Guiding Principles, Servant-Leadership, Our Unique Products and Services, "Providing Memorably Outstanding Service," Ergonomics of Providing Nail Services, and our Triple Sanitation Policy.
- Buying last minute items: trash bins, undercounter shelving, wine glasses, toys for kids for Mommy Mondays, etc. etc.
- Installing lighting (including stenciling the lampshade cloth).
- Installing all of our appliances, and our flat-screen TV.
- Connecting all of our electronics.
- Sending out our VIP invites.
- Planning our Opening Party.
- Unpacking all of our products and implements.
- Getting our occupancy permit (knock on wood).
Among other things, which I should get to right now instead of just writing about them.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Almost done with construction

The first piece of Paul Schulman furniture arrived today (the sink cabinet) - and it's so beautiful! And I didn't realize until the lights went in that Tom had thought to shine a glow from above onto the water area. How about that. We're having our final walk-through tomorrow. There will be a few things (lighting, rest of furniture, etc.) that will bleed into the next week, but we're getting there!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Scorecard on progress - Last week of construction

We're days away from finishing our construction phase and having our final inspection (next Tuesday, actually) and then we'll be able to move in, unpack our furniture, office supplies, set up the dispensary, etc. to be ready to start our Julep Immesion Program for our new hires on May 21st. We're still on track for an official open to the public date of June 1st!

Amazing things this week:

- Already eight brave, creative, fabulous people have joined Team Julep! We're holding our breath on three outstanding offerees. (If you're reading this, come on you guys! You've got to come on board!). The team that has accepted so far is the best team of nail industry professionals I've ever come across anywhere in all of my research visits in New York, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, and, of course, Seattle. Each individual has phenomenal technical skills and is someone I look forward to spending time with (and hopefully our guests will too!).

- We've ordered almost all of the files, brushes, glasses, foot bath fizzies, etc. etc. that we need to equip our vernisseurs to be able to do their very best.

- Our fireplace arrived and is installed!

- Our signage should be going up on Friday.

- Our appointment booking and POS software solution is actually proving to be what it promised to be! Jeanne and I are pleasantly surprised.

- Jeanne just found a babysitter, which frees her up to build and document the rest of our operations procedures, set up our software, and walk all of us through these processes.

Less than amazing things this week:

- I just found out today that our sinks, which were supposed to arrive May 3rd, are now backordered until May 31. Of course, I wasn't informed about this change until I called to find out where they were. This is one of the pitfalls of ordering everything online. If we don't have a sink, we can't finish the plumbing work, we can't get our permit. You get the picture. So Tom and I took a trip to Home Depot and Lowes to find an off-the-shelf solution. We/he picked one, but I had to go to another Lowes to pick it up. By the time I got there, I started worrying that the one we picked was too shallow, and our vernisseurs may struggle with emptying footbath water in an efficient way. So I bought a deeper one - but it's made of frosted glass. Tom said something about the frosted glass sink in passing, but I can't remember whether he said, "That frosted glass one was nice," or "That frosted glass one was hideous." And it's now occurring to me that the lovely porcelain white one (which is becoming lovelier by the second in my mind) HAS A HOLE in the bottom of it, so it will drain, and the depth is probably fine. ARGHHH. I'm going to have to return the sink first thing tomorrow. I just wan something worthy of Paul's beautiful cabinets.

- Speaking of Paul, he just told me today that the guest chair pieces were cut all wrong by one of their sub-contractors. I don't know much about making furniture, but that doesn't sound good. Not good at all. He and Mike are now engaging in heroic measures to get us our furniture on time.

- My lighting designers are off for yet another trade show (okay, just the second, but in just two months! And in critical times for me!). Although they assure me that I'll have my fixtures by Monday. This is the piece I'm most nervous about, especially since I haven't seen a fixture yet! I hope I'm really wrong on this, in which case I'll be more than happy to sing of my error in faith from the roof tops.

- I accidentally put my home address as the delivery address for my dishwasher, and the neighbor who's been painting our house kindly let them in while I was out. But since we didn't cross paths, it wasn't until 2am the night before I was leaving for North Carolina last week that discovered a very large box in my laundry room. A box too large for me to move. Much too large to fit into my Subaru Forrester. Thank goodness for Mitch and Kirk, who found some lovely Wilcox guys to pick it up from my house and move it to where it should have gone.

It's so exciting to have everything so close, but so nerve-wracking to have so many things an unknowable distance up in the air. I'm finding I need to call upon a deeper reserve of faith than I thought I was capable of. That, and a fully charged cell phone.

Monday, May 7, 2007


I’ve been struggling with how much of my personal life to reveal here, on this blog (as I do in every interaction I have, actually).

Even in the rare instances when I’m able to premeditate the sharing (instead of just spewing forth), I still find myself erring on the side of over-revealing because I feel so strongly about being authentic and true to who I am, even/especially in my “work-self”. And who I am, across all my selves, is a slightly over-revealing person who hasn’t had much success to date with attempts at strict compartmentalization.

What I can’t compartmentalize this week is the sudden passing away of my husband’s beloved aunt Caroline McHardy Elliot. As I write this, I am on a plane flying back from being at her beautiful Quaker memorial service yesterday in Greensboro, North Carolina.

It doesn’t seem appropriate to try to tell you about who she was, for those of you who didn’t have the great privilge of knowing her (although I’m not sure how many of you out there fall into this category since I suspect that a huge part of the readership of this blog at this point comes from my in-laws in North Carolina). But I wanted to write about my heartache and grief – for myself, and for her loving and lovely family.

Aside from figuring out child care issues (my wonderful, job-sharing nannies offered before I even had to ask), it didn’t occur to me not to fly out to North Carolina to be with my husband, who had lost his aunt, and my mother-in-law, who had lost her little sister and best friend. And to be there for myself, to connect to the broader sadness that was felt so deeply by those who knew, and therefore adored, Caroline.

There are many times in my life when I’ve made the wrong decision about putting work priorities ahead of personal needs. I’m really glad, for myself, anyway, that I made the right decision this time.

In a sympathy note to another family member, Caroline once wrote that she hoped that the mourner would still find a way to “find enrichment, even through all the pain.”

I hope that we’ll all help each other to find our way to the enrichment that must lie at the other side of the rage and bewilderment. In the days ahead, I also hope to find my own small ways to honor Caroline, in my thoughts, actions, and especially in the way I love.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Flooring is in

Our flooring is in, and it looks great! (Likely to look a little better after we clean off the dust too!)
"Guts" of everything (electrical panel, plumbing, shelf supports, etc. behind service area sink) is also in place.
As I left our third to last walk through today, Kirk and Mitch were going to pick up the fireplace insert to install. After that, they're calling the metal smith to measure the fireplace to put blackened sheet metal around it. It's amazing to me the level of care that is going into details like the 1/8 inch gap between the fireplace and the metal. I would have just eyeballed it.
Like I tried to for our lotion containers. Shari and I had a freak out moment this week when I realized that the amber bottles I initially gave her as samples were not the same size as the ones I ordered in the end (found them for half the price). So for a whole two hours I thought that the beautiful labels she designed wouldn't fit, which would mean that we would have to start again on finding a label size, which would mean that we might open without our Julep retail products.
How many different sizes could there be for tall 8 oz amber bullet bottles? Apparently at least two. . .
After our walk through, I met with Michael to learn how to manage the content on our new website: http://www.myjulep.com/. It's beautiful and highly versatile and functional! And I can change out pages all by myself. Actually, working on this blog was great practice for that.
The rest of the afternoon was devoted to talking with references for our amazing candidates. Here's some of what I learned (all different people):
"She's so grounded and wise, I always think she's decades older than she is!"
"She's dedicated and genuinely kind. Most of the others aren't very nice to the front reception. But XX really made us feel like part of the team."
"YY is so detail oriented. Her manicures just last and last. If I opened a salon, she'd be the first person I'd hire."
"She's got so much going on, but she just projects a blanket of calm of wherever she goes."
"She's just a really good person, in addition to being a good worker, you know?"
Karri and I are getting ready to invite people to join us by the end of this week. I just hope that we've been able to communicate how truly differently we're doing things.
I was talking to Shari about this tonight, and she suggested sharing The Servant Leader book I gave her and Karri several months ago with the broader team, once we get them assembled (this is one of the most important books I've ever read). I'd always meant to do this - I have six copies of it and it's the first thing I gave Karri when I was trying to share a little bit of who I was with her.
But somehow it's easy to lose track of these important priorities when you're ordering bags (arrived this week!), reviewing labels, and trying to get a phone line installed (still have my fingers crossed).
We have an amazing location, space design, logo, products, services, online scheduling system, website, tools, and even shopping bags. Now that we have this strong base, I think that the success of Julep really depends on how successful we are at living Servant Leadership.

Interviewing amazing, inspiring people

Karri and I had quite a hectic last two days interviewing 16 candidates back to back in the basement of the friendly Silver Cloud Inn (across the street from Julep).

Not fancy, but the best we could do given that our space is still under construction.
Meeting our interview candidates was such an incredible experience. It's one thing to say that you're looking for passionate people to join the team, but it's another to come face to face with what passion means in this field.

I was particularly surprised at how many people said that the spa pedicure was their favorite service to perform. As a client, I have always been very self-conscious about pedicures. It seems like such a large ask, in many ways. Especially if you have callused feet like mine.

And the word that came up most frequently was "connect." In answer to the question, "what moment in your career are you most proud of?" we heard amazing stories of everyday heroics from the thoughtfulness of anticipating the anxiety of a long-standing client about to throw a large party for her husband, to providing complimentary pedicure services to lift the spirits of cancer patients.

Time and time again, our interview candidates talked about how rewarding it was for them to create a great experience, and to make some difference to their client.

I really learned so much from the past two days. And I am so amazingly proud of just our applicant and offeree pool. If at least some of these incredible people join us, I think we will have the very best nail therapy destination in the country.