August 20, 2014

Small Business

Second-stage business success stories

How five Florida businesses grew despite a slow economy.

Mike Vogel | 1/31/2012

A Fast-Growing Franchise

European Wax Center
Hallandale
2010 Revenue: $5.8 million (up from $193,274 in 2007)
Employees: 46

Of all the services people might be expected to forgo in tough economic times, spending money to get body hair removed from their underarms, chests and crotches would likely be at the top of the list. Despite the recession, European Wax Center, a chain of franchised salons dedicated to removing unwanted body hair, has kept on growing. Starting with a single salon in 2004, EWC has mushroomed to 161 stores throughout the U.S. — including three corporate-owned stores in Florida and a corporate-owned store on Long Island, New York — with 139 in development. One of the fastest-growing franchise chains in the country, EWC plans to expand to Canada this year.

The origins of EWC go back to the hair salon of Nelson Coba, a hairdresser in Aventura who turned his business — which included then-unprofitable waxing services — over to his two sons in 1993. The sons found a better-quality wax developed in Paris that adhered only to hair, not to skin, and could be applied at lower temperatures than other formulas. They also repriced the services, which they believed were underpriced, and refined the salon's environment, insisting on no sticky wax buildup on the floors and on-time performance. The first EWC opened in Fort Lauderdale in 2004. Free initial visits attracted a slew of new customers — and a membership program called the Unlimited Wax Pass, which allows customers to buy an unrestricted number of visits for a year, helped the Cobas to be profitable within the first month.

The popularity of waxing hasn't waned despite the recession, they say. David Coba says that's because waxing has evolved beyond being just a momentary fashion trend. "It's not a luxury. It's almost a necessity. It's part of everybody's daily hygiene routine — either you shave or you wax, even through economic hardship."

David, Jessica & Josh Coba
From left: David (CEO), Jessica (CEO/director of franchising/education), Josh Coba (COO) [Photo: Eileen Escarda]

Tags: Florida Small Business

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick -

Balloon sculpture at Museum of Fine Arts will blow you away
Balloon sculpture at Museum of Fine Arts will blow you away

If you've ever been impressed by a balloon animal, prepare to be blown away by a new art exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg made up entirely of balloons.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Should the Feds stop sending so much surplus military weapons and armored trucks to local police?

  • Yes, enough already
  • No, every force should be prepared for the worst

See Results

Ballot Box
Subscribe