The U.S. Small Business Administration South Florida District’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne is an integral business resource for inspiring women entrepreneurs and helping women-owned small businesses grow and create jobs. Just ask Jeanne Whitman, owner of Melbourne’s “Achieve Beautiful Skin”.
Whitman, who opened “Achieve Beautiful Skin” just a few years ago, is one of many south Florida, woman-owned businesses who credit greater success through programs offered at WBC. Her success is why this year’s theme for Women History Month, “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment,” is representative of women-owned small business success in south Florida.
“I always had a dream of opening my own beauty spa,” said Jeanne. “My sister Carol was a beauty queen and I was a cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins cheerleader for three years. I wanted to help other women develop and keep a positive self-image.”
Whitman was a stay-at-home mom and raised two children. Active in charity events and volunteering, she has sponsored the “Decorate Your Bra” for the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer awareness campaign for the past four years. After donating more than 1800 hours of volunteer time, she won Broward County School District Volunteer of the Year honors. Small business ownership was a destined calling.
“Ironically, I launched my business on April Fools Day two years ago. I had a vision to provide an affordable, professional skin care treatment for my customers,” recalled Jeanne. “Comparing the Brevard County market, I thought I could deliver a service with greater value but also combine it with personalized service and comfort.”
With professional certifications as a certified medical aesthetician, laser specialist and electrologist, Whitman opened her medical spa business. She offered her clients a full-range of skin treatments including laser treatments, SmartPeel medical microdermabrasion, Dermawave ultrasonic skin rejuvenation, chemical peels, facial massages and much more.
“I did pretty well my first year. I had a steady-stream of customers because of word-of-mouth recommendations. I think my clients loved their experience here and I tried to make my customers see me as their personal ‘image consultant’.”
Though business started off well, Whitman wasn’t satisfied and sought other ways to grow.
“I learned about the WBC at FIT and went there to seek some advice. I found a business mentor through the IGNITE mentoring program and learned to see my business from a different perspective. My eyes were opened to challenges I hadn’t seen and IGNITE helped me come up with a plan.”
According to Whitman, her goals were to increase her visibility in the community and attract new clients. She also was looking to generate larger revenues by making sure her services were priced correctly, enhancing her personal management style and refining a business marketing plan.
“I started my business with some challenges. My business had no storefront, no doctor on site, and no laser for treatments because I lacked capital. I also needed to do a better job networking to build a customer base and new business partnerships.”
Because of what she learned through WBC’s IGNITE mentoring program, she relocated “Achieve Beautiful Skin” to new more accessible location in a doctor’s office. After conducting a cost comparison, she adjusted prices to remain competitive and eliminated some of her discount offers. She also added new service packages, and improved her managerial skills. Because of the improvements, Achieve Beautiful Skin was nominated as the WBC 2013 Business Champion of the Year Award, Emerging Business category in its second year.
“Because of the assistance I received at WBC and through the IGNITE mentoring program, I’m feeling more confident than ever. I have a 7-year growth plan with an exit strategy if I should ever decide to do something else. “
But for now “Achieve Beautiful Skin” is growing and reflects the vision that Whitman imagined long before she went into business.
Jeanne Whitman is a great example of a how a woman can turn passion for helping other women into a successful business, with a little extra help from her local WBC at FIT.