Jax Wax: Waxing lyrical

Jax Wax founders, Geoff and Tina Copland, have taken their business literally from the kitchen sink to salon countertops. Tina Copland tells their story.

Q. When was Jax Wax founded, where, by whom and why?
Jax Wax was founded in October 2000 by my husband Geoff and I. We had spent a year working in the USA and decided that it was timely to begin our own business rather than work for others. We started from our home in the south eastern suburbs of Victoria. We used my kitchen to make our sample batches and used to have meetings with suppliers and customers around our dining table.

Q. What were the company’s short-term and long-term goals at the time it started? How many of these goals have been met so far?
Initially we were not involved in the beauty industry. Our first business was supplying wax to wineries. Our goals were to obtain what we considered to be a reasonable share of the market in which we operated. We achieved this and increased our market share substantially. This is still the same now – for each type of market in which we are involved we set ourselves a goal for what we would like to achieve. So far we have met our goals but there is always room for improvement.

Q. How has the industry changed from when you started until now?
Jax Wax is certainly the new player on the block. We have been in business for nine years now – in the beauty industry for some six years. In that time I think what I have noticed most is the number of professional products available to the public either through discount stores or online. This is a concern as many products should only be used by qualified personnel. As an example professional waxes can cause nasty burns if used by untrained operators. The move towards natural and organic product ranges is also increasing. We also are seeing much more direct selling to salons rather than via wholesalers.

Q. Does your company have a mission statement? If so, what is it?
This pretty much sums up our business ethic: “We will produce the best products and provide the best service to the industries we support. Quality of product and service is paramount. There is no second best at Jax Wax”.

Q. What is your business philosophy and approach?
Our business philosophy is centered on the ethical treatment of all people with whom it deals – be they suppliers, customers or staff. We appreciate that our suppliers should be paid a fair price for their goods and services and in turn we expect a fair price for the products that we sell. We also recognise that our customers and suppliers deserve to make suitable profit from what they sell to us and purchase from us. Our staff also needs to be generously rewarded for the effort that they put into making our business a success. Simply – treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

Q. How did you nurture and grow the company? Could you pinpoint an exact time when you were able to think: “this is is starting to pay off”?
A rule of thumb that we have is that it takes about five years of hard work before it becomes obvious that the effort is paying off. The first couple of years you tend to think to yourself: “I must be mad!” Around year three we could see that it was going to work and that we were not going to starve! We have been entirely self-funded since day one – in the early stages I worked part-time for other businesses to keep us afloat until we could afford for me to only work for our business. We roped in friends and family to help us and called in favours from everyone we knew. I contacted customers from past business relationships and asked them to support us. Our suppliers were very generous with their payment terms as well! We also thought twice about everything we purchased – did we really need it? As Geoff is mechanically gifted, most of the equipment we use has been designed and built by him, which has been of enormous benefit.

Q. What makes Jax Wax products stand out from other salon ranges?
From the beginning our main focus has been on supporting salons with professional salon-only products. We do not sell to the public or online. We believe that we should be supporting the industries that support us by manufacturing quality products that are easy to use and offer superior results. All of our products work first time, every time, have wonderful scents, are attractively packaged and have take-home products for salon operators to offer to their clients.

The most obvious difference that we have is in our beaded depilatory waxes. When we first started making depilatory waxes, they were (in the main) only available in foil take-away containers. It seemed obvious to me that something being used in the beauty trade should be aesthetically pleasing as well as easier to use. I believe that our beaded waxes fulfil that role. Our advertising is probably a little on the cheeky side as are the names of our products – all businesses need to be able to stand out from the crowd – especially if they are small and new.

When we started in this industry I naively thought that one hot wax and one strip wax should be enough! This was a bit foolish in hindsight. We now have around 20 waxes in our range as well as ancillary products to suit them. All of our products contain plant oils and extracts and are as natural as possible.

As we are not beauty therapists we work closely with people who are. We have technical expertise in wax manufacture and make sure that we thoroughly test our products with therapists who have years of experience. We also offer a no questions, money back guarantee and hold regular training days at our wholesaler’s premises where salon owners and staff can try the products and get training and help.

Q. What are the star products in your ranges and why?
Our number one product is our Adam & Eve Lust hot wax. Apart from its ease of use being in a beaded form, it performs extremely well in all conditions. It is used in salons Australia-wide and everywhere from Iceland to Japan. Adam & Eve Lust has been specifically formulated for Brazilian waxing and it removes all the hair – first time, every time. It remains flexible for a longer time so it removes easily. We have salons that tell us that their customers ask them if they are still using our wax. I take that as a great compliment. Although we have other hot waxes in our range I can say that we could live on Lust!

Q. Where do you position your product in the marketplace and why?
Our products are based at the higher, quality end of the market place. I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for in all aspects of life. You do not pay a Holden price and get a Rolls Royce. That said, we think that our waxes offer value for money – it costs around $4 to $5 for a Brazilian wax treatment using our number one product. As this is easier to use, causes less pain, removes all hair first time I would call this value for money – not expensive.

We prefer to offer products that we can fully back with training, sampling and assistance and to deal with customers who appreciate this.

Q. Do you have plans to further expand your market – within Australia and overseas?
In a word, yes! We currently export around 25 per cent of our turnover and are planning to increase this to around 50 per cent. We have relationships with wholesalers Australia-wide and export into Asia and Europe. Our intent is to increase our exports into Europe and also into North America. Our business has grown steadily each year since we have been in business – one year it increased by over 100 per cent which was a little difficult to manage – I prefer steady growth if possible!

Q. Do you monitor client feedback? If so, how?
We send feedback forms to the various segments of industries we support and ask for comments on what we are doing and how we could improve. In the main, the response we get is positive and even if we get some negatives it is a good tool to see how and where we can improve. I am always available for customers to talk to and we have the philosophy that no customer query is unimportant.

Q. How many people are on your staff and what roles do they fulfil?
We have seven staff and we all multi-task as we are quite lean. When the company started it was just Geoff and I so there is not a task in the place that we cannot perform. These days I have much less time available to spend on the factory floor but some part of my day is always spent there looking at what we are doing and talking with our staff. We encourage our staff to make suggestions and we all are involved in product development and testing. There is generally some poor member of staff who is the next to have their legs waxed with a new formula. Everything we sell is produced in-house as we prefer to control all aspects of our business. The staff are able to answer phones, send out samples, drive a forklift, make a batch, pack it and send out the finished goods. We are very fortunate to have a dedicated and interested team of employees who are always willing to go the extra mile for us.

Q. By what criteria do you choose your staff?
The wax industry is very small so it is virtually impossible to get staff with experience in our field. We therefore have to spend a reasonable amount of time in employee training. Our most important consideration as a small team is that we can all get on and communicate with each other. Some of our employees have come to us by referrals from other employees or via people we know. Probably our biggest consideration is trustworthiness, much of what we produce is commercially sensitive as we also contract manufacture products for other companies.

Q. How important to you are retail sales of your product within salons? Why?
All salons need to retail. We manufacture a range of products designed to be sold at the end of a treatment. As with all our products, none of these are available other than through professional wholesalers.

As more treatments become available off the shelf it becomes harder to keep clients – a salon needs to have a point of difference and needs to keep that customer away from a discount store. If the retail products that a salon sells work well, look and smell wonderful and add to the overall experience then that customer is more likely to return to buy again. Retail products take less time to sell than providing a treatment, generally with generous margins, and all salon staff should make it a priority to have their customer walk away with a product or two.

Q. What training, benefits and ongoing support do you offer a salon or spa that takes on the range?
We offer free samples of any of our products for salons to try before they decide to purchase our products. We have posters, T-shirts etc to help with client awareness. Our website has an area dedicated to salons that use our products – this is available so that members of the public are able to find their closest Jax Wax Adam & Eve salon.

We hold regular training days and nights at our wholesaler’s premises – these are available to look at on our website. As well as general training in product use including hints and best practices, we also offer specific courses such as Brazilian waxing and advanced eyebrow shaping as an example. All our courses are structured so that here is enough time for a hands-on approach as well as questions and answers. Many of these courses are at no charge to the participants whilst some are at a low cost.

Q. What motivates you professionally and personally each day?
I love my job. It gives me huge personal satisfaction to know that what I do for a living I have created myself with the help of my husband. I also enjoy working with my husband and consider myself fortunate that I get to spend so much time with him.

Creating new products, marketing campaigns and the challenges of running a manufacturing business are all wonderful motivators.

I am a firm believer that you get out of life what you put in – and also that the harder you work the luckier you get.

Last year we were nominated for a Telstra Business Award (pictured) and we were one of six finalists. I was tremendously proud of what we as a company had achieved and I think that it reflected well on our whole staff and how we all work and achieve together.

Q. What are the keys to surviving – and being successful – in this industry?
Hard work! Trying to keep one step ahead of the competition and also thinking of the next opportunity and new trend. Never rest on your laurels. Always be aware of what can go wrong – in our case, what would happen if hairy bodies became fashionable? Always have a contingency plan.

Q. What trends are emerging in the waxing sector of the industry? How does Jax Wax keep abreast of, and adapt to, trends?
We are seeing a growing number of home-based salons and also mobile beauty services as well as more products for non-professional use.

As we have a number of alliances with overseas companies, we tend to look at what is happening elsewhere in the world as it will certainly follow here. We have seen a move towards cartridges for strip wax which we have been manufacturing for a number of years now – mainly due to our export markets.

We decided some time ago that we could not just rely on wax alone for the beauty industry and we have a growing number of non-wax products to complement our wax range.

Q. What are your plans for the future of your company?
We intend to continue to grow our company within this industry as well as in the other markets that we service both locally and offshore. We expect to double our business within the next five years. We will also increase our training workshops in each state. There are plans to add other products, currently undergoing testing, to our range.

Q. What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the beauty industry in the coming decade? How might your business meet these challenges?
One of the biggest challenges that we can see is the rise of professional products available to the general public. We believe that this undermines all the hard work put in by salon operators. If a member of the public can buy the same products that a professional uses, there is less incentive to visit a beauty salon, as it is cheaper for them to do it at home themselves. That said, it is difficult to get the same results at home and many home users will be disappointed with their purchases. There needs to be more focus on a beauty treatment as a necessity rather than a luxury – surely we are all worth a little extra pampering!! The home market is a problem that all salons and consequently, all suppliers in the industry will face. We need to offer products that outperform what a home treatment can offer. We need to keep training and product knowledge available from which salon owners will benefit.

The lack of adequately trained operators (the beauty industry is not alone in this) is a growing challenge for all salons in years to come. This is one of the reasons that we offer training and product knowledge workshops – both to new operators and also to those businesses that want to polish their skills or add a new service to their salon.

We can also see that there will be greater competition from cheaper sources such as Asia; and in the waxing field, low cost IPL and laser machines, of which some may not meet standards. I believe that we will also see more council and health regulations – not all of which will help business.

As always, we will meet challenges by providing quality products, superior service and salon support with our innovative products and approach to doing business.

As we are nearly finishing our first decade in business we look forward to the challenges of the next.

For further information, contact Jax Wax (03) 5943 2422 or visit www.jaxwax.com.au.

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