Rachel Liverman – Founder & CEO of Glowbar
How do you build a destination known for affordable, incredible skincare products and facials? Listen as Rachel Liverman, Founder and CEO of Glowbar, shares her journey in building the Glowbar brand. This is a great episode filled with loads of lessons and wisdom! Listen now on #TheKaraGoldinShow
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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be, I want to just make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Kara Goldin show, though, join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I’m super, super excited to have my next wonderful, wonderful founder and CEO. As a guest. We have Rachel Liverman, who is the founder and CEO of glow bar and glow bar is just this incredible place that is an innovative Facial Studio, we’ll get into a little bit more about her business. But if you’re not familiar with it, I had visited glow bar in Tribeca. And she’s got a bunch of other locations too, but and that we’ll get into that as well. But we’re going to chat a bit more about why she started the business, just overall how the last few years have been going as well. And glow bar, as I mentioned, is all about facial treatments and aesthetically designed formulas that are really eliminating kind of the overwhelming treatment menus and expense that you might feel like you need when you were going to a spa. And I can tell you firsthand that when I went with my daughter, it was it was just this amazing, amazing, quick experience. That was totally, totally awesome. So Rachel comes from a long line of estheticians, which we’re going to chat a little bit more about that her grandmother actually founded the first esthetics school esthetician school, I guess in in the US, the Catherine Hinds Institute. Very, very cool. I want to hear more about that. And glow bar was launched in summer of 2019. And now I have to confirm this with Rachel but 12 locations. Is that correct? Or we’re working on
Rachel Liverman 2:39
time today? Five? Yeah, we’ll get to 12 Yeah,
Kara Goldin 2:43
eventually. 12. Very, very cool. So welcome, Rachel. Thanks for coming on.
Rachel Liverman 2:49
Thank you so much for having me. I’m so honored and so excited and I actually am feeling bad that I don’t have my hint water in front of me. I have my globe, our Nalgene. But I ran out because we were supposed to chat so long ago. And I usually have my hint water throughout the day. So I’m just honored to be here and excited. We’re
Kara Goldin 3:07
thrilled. And drinking water is just fine. So we’re we’re really thrilled that you’re you’re doing that and staying hydrated as well. So let’s go back to the beginning. Tell us a little bit more about how you got started. Did you always know that you were going to open up clo bar?
Rachel Liverman 3:26
Yeah. So yeah, in my heart of hearts, I always knew that I would open up glow bar and or have my own business. I had played around with a few entrepreneurial endeavors before starting glow bar as far back as opening when I was like five or six my own little wax salon as my mom would say she probably has those business cards then. And then I did. I opened a store on my colleges campus actually during undergrad. But yes, I’ve always known I wanted my own business and I always knew it would be in skincare because of my family’s legacy. As you mentioned, my grandmother Catherine Hein started the first accredited esthetics school in the country in the 70s. And so I come from a long line of entrepreneurs, but also people that were passionate about skincare. So it’s always felt right to me.
Kara Goldin 4:20
That’s awesome. And your mom is still working in that business. Right?
Rachel Liverman 4:23
Yeah, she still owns the company today. So I’m a third generation skincare entrepreneur, you could call me I suppose. So
Kara Goldin 4:31
take me sort of through your own kind of experience. So you spent some time there and and where did you go from from there from that experience?
Rachel Liverman 4:42
Yeah, so I did a small stint working for my family’s business after undergrad. And I started working for a at the time a small startup called Birchbox. I was one of their first employees. And I started there on the partnerships team So any product that was inside the box I was helping to source and so I was quite young in my career at the time. But it was such an amazing opportunity. I like to say it was like my MBA, I was learning how to work with all of the beauty brands in Manhattan and LA. And, and insulted them this concept of Birchbox. I was there through Series B, it was the most incredible experience ever, I built the strongest network, and went on to work for a few other beauty brands before starting low bar. But really, like you had mentioned, like, I knew I wanted my own business, I knew I wanted to reinvent skincare. And the main reason for that was I wasn’t taking care of my skincare. So someone who grew up in skincare. My grandmother, my mom always asked me, Are you getting facials? Like what’s going on over there? And I would always say no. And and I really started to ask myself, like, Why don’t I take care of my skin? I’m kind of like the cobblers son with no shoes. And yeah. And so, you know, I really determined what those pain points were for me, and said, Well, can I solve for these and create something that other consumers love and appreciate and adds value to their life. And so that’s how blue bar came to be.
Kara Goldin 6:18
I talked to a number of people who are, you know, in college or just getting started. And they, you know, I frequently suggest to people that going and working for for an entrepreneur, you learn much more than you ever thought that you would you know, from from even the beginning and just supporting an entrepreneur supporting a product that you really believe in and accompany obviously, you mentioned Birchbox. But what do you think was the most surprising thing that you’ve learned and actually going and working at a startup?
Rachel Liverman 6:55
First of all, so much like exactly what you said, which is you, like you learn just every single day, like the most simple things like any small small things like how you write the best email to get in front of someone through a cold email. I remember Katya the founder, I asked her to forward me an email of hers. And I use that as a template for four years. Like truly so small things like that. But I think the biggest thing for me, as an entrepreneur, starting my own business, and making these big decisions that you have to make when you’re when you’re running something is really how to scale an organization and when to hire more people and to grow and at what pace, you should grow a company. Um, I really was able to watch Birchbox grow from 10 people to over 250 people. And you learn a lot during that good, bad, amazing, huge successes, and then also some of the challenges that you’re faced with there. And so, you know, what I take into low bar is I always talk to the team about, we have to always ensure at every stage of growth, that our foundation is really, really strong, and has no cracks in the foundation. And I always tell the team, I’m like we’re building a mansion, we’re building a castle, don’t get me wrong, we’re going to get there. But we have to start with a ranch house first, and then check to make sure that that foundation is really strong, then we can add an addition to the house. And then we have to go back and check that that foundation is strong. And I think, you know, unfortunately, or fortunately you learn from from mistakes that are made are not even they’re just learnings, right? There’s no such thing as a mistake. It’s just a learning and so and at working for startups, I just learned that if you scale your your team too fast your business too fast, you’re gonna have really solid cracks in the foundation. And they’re really hard to fix if you get too big too fast.
Kara Goldin 8:56
So you went from kind of growing up in a services business, I guess, right? Working, watching your grandmother watching your mom, you then went worked in the company, but then you went to work for more physical goods companies. So did you always know that you were going to sort of mix the two of those and sort of what was the point when you decided, Okay, I’m going to go do this.
Rachel Liverman 9:22
Yeah, so I’ve always loved tangible businesses. So Birchbox even though we were the first subscription model, and really a tech company, you know, if you think about the operation behind Birchbox, it was the algorithm to make sure that you care I got the best box suited for you and your beauty needs is really advanced. But it still had a box element and I could sit at my desk and say Okay, in this box, we’re gonna put this little sample or you know, it was still a very tangible product. And then they also had brick and mortar which I was a part of launching. So I’ve always just really liked tangible businesses. So it’s just I’ve always known that I wasn’t going to create a tech company or a SaaS company or something like that you couldn’t kind of see, I always wanted to touch and feel it. But furthermore, both of the kids, the CPG businesses, or product business, and a services business, they’re all driven by people, whether people want the product, or they want the service. And so I just, I love people. I love understanding the consumer, I love fixing something for the consumer to make their lives better and value to their lives. And so for glow bar, it’s all about people. I never say I’m a skincare business and the people business because my doors don’t open if there are people there, and we don’t make money if we don’t have customers. And so it’s always been just really fun for me to think about, like how can we create a service that people are obsessed with, and feel like adds a lot of value to their life, but also can be a product one day and you know, we are launching our own product line, and so we’re getting into that world, but I think first we had to establish trust with our customer first before saying okay, and now we’re going to be in your bathroom.
Kara Goldin 11:07
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Rachel Liverman 15:07
Well, and I would, I would assume you’re quite similar. You’ve got to be a little crazy or not afraid of risk, in a sense. I’ve always just, I’ve had this like deep constitution inside of me that everything will work out, especially when it comes to work, personal life, we can have another conversation about but you know, with work, I think it was just watching my mom and my grandmother, and even my dad’s an entrepreneur, like, just like always figure it out that I was like, well, if they can do it, or if you know, hundreds of people before me 1000s Have, then I can do it. And so once I had an idea that I felt like in my gut, like, in my core, like, I was like, this could work. I just kind of I don’t know what it was, I think maybe I blacked out for a year or something, and just risked it all and was like, Alright, we’re gonna do this. But I just, you know, what I always tell people as I just took it, baby step by baby step. And in hindsight, what I really did was, it just took a little action every day. And I kind of always said to myself, if I come to a block in the road, and it seems like this isn’t gonna work out, I can stop. And the worst case is, I apply for another job, right? I, you know, ask for help from my parents, like, I don’t know, that was always my worst case scenario. And I’m fortunate enough to have that trampoline to fall on if I need it. But I just always took little steps in with glue bar. And like other businesses, I tried to start everything always kept working out. And, you know, like, even, for example, glow bar as a brand name, I got a trademarked you know, like, the name glow bar, like, it was just amazing. And I was able to get the trademark in 50 countries. And so like little things like that, when those things start to work, it’s signal to me, okay, you’re onto something and keep moving the machine forward. And, and we just have until COVID, truly, we didn’t really come up against any real significant challenges.
Kara Goldin 16:57
So for those who are not familiar with globe bar, I gave it a little bit of an intro. But why don’t you explain it from the founders mouth? Exactly. What what is it? And what was your What was your dream and what was your mission and creating this?
Rachel Liverman 17:13
Yeah, so the dream was always to help people feel confident in their own skin. And that’s our mission. Today, it’s quite simple. We help people feel confident. It’s a feeling it’s not like a thing. And globe bar came from three main pain points that I experienced in this in the professional skincare space, which is time, money and trust. facials were really lengthy and time, so an hour and a half on average. They’re about $150 On average, if not more, and everyone does facials these days, you know, your nail salon does facials, and then you have, you know, these resorts and spas that also do facials, along with massages and hair and nails. And the customer didn’t really know who to trust and I was one of those customers before glow bar, I lived in Manhattan, the best city in the world, as some say. And I didn’t even know where to get official. And so glow bar solves for those. And that was my vision always. And so glow bar is a new skincare concept in New York and Connecticut. And we do 30 minute only highly effective custom professional facials. And the way we do that is we have taken out all the fluff of the traditional facial. So things we don’t do in a glove our treatment, our wash your face for you, we know you as a very like smart customer and consumer these days that’s highly knowledgeable in skincare knows how to wash your own face. So we have this beautiful wash bar you come you wash your own face for us. We also don’t We don’t do any massage. So it’s not our focus is on results, not like relaxing, like you know, spa experience necessarily. And then we we also don’t steam so we have other ways to get the skin prepared for safe and effective extractions. So those are some of the things we took out. And so today we have five Studios here in New York and Connecticut and we are expanding nationwide in the coming years.
Kara Goldin 19:14
It’s awesome. How have you made glow bar standout? And amongst you know, the spas? I mean, obviously making it simple, right and affordable. I think that and quality is definitely there. But how do you get the word out about low bar
Rachel Liverman 19:32
so lucky for us we’ve grown organically to date. And what I always say is our customer is our best marketing channel. So your face after our globe our treatment is what’s going to get the word out there. Specifically women like me and my friends especially you go to dinner brunch and the first thing someone asks is oh my god, your skin looks amazing. What are you doing different? And if that person has been to glow bar, that’s a really great way for me to reach five women at it. Dinner table that are highly engaged in how to get that, that, you know, effect. Um, we also have made globe are a beautiful place to come to. And it’s not the most beautiful, it wasn’t built just to be an Instagram moment. But it’s beautiful. It’s clean, it’s simple. Like you’ve said, there are these moments where the consumer really appreciates that we have, you know, custom wallpaper on the wall that is, you know, inspired by skin under a microscope. It’s really cool. It looks awesome. And it’s really, it’s really intentional. And so, you know, but at the end of the day, they can love our space, they can even love our team. But if their treatment isn’t amazing, they’re not going to tell anyone about it. And so what we put all of our effort into is the experience. So the hospitality element of when you walk into glow bar and making sure someone looks you in the eye and says, Hi, Carol, welcome to glow bar, and then how your experiences in the treatment room? Did your goals get accomplished with us? And if not, we need to do something about that. And so I think it’s just about experience, human beings want to be seen and heard. And so we make sure to do just that with every client that comes through our doors.
Kara Goldin 21:12
So true. So can you share a story and building glow bar where you felt like you faced a big challenge? Or that you just weren’t really sure how you were going to get through that time. But hopefully you did, and you learned a lot of things. I’d love to hear more from you.
Rachel Liverman 21:35
Yeah, I thought about this a lot. And I love that you asked people this question. Because I think it’s actually more important to talk about the challenges to help people learn, because I can sit here and tell you that everything’s been amazing. We grew organically, we have five locations in just two years. And I’m like, that’s a boring story that’s like, easy on to the next. And so I thought a lot about this. And I think the answer, that’s almost the easiest, which I was like, I don’t want to give her the obvious answer or the obvious story, but it is the most impactful and it’s something that has been challenging for two years now, which is COVID. Um, I know that might be the obvious want story. But when you start a business like I did, especially a brick and mortar retail business, it’s already a really challenging, you know, industry to begin, you know, you’re managing four walls, every business is hard, I always tell people that I’m like, it doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, you faced similar challenges, and it’s similar pressure and stress. But the four walls business is just inherently more challenging. And we opened in June 2019. And exactly nine months later, we were closed for COVID. And I was a new founder, right? I had never run a company before. And so and I’m also an empathetic, empathetic leader, like, that’s just how I am like, for good or for bad. On any given day, I just like care about my people a lot. And so on March 16, we shut down low bar for what we thought was two weeks. And the challenge that posed to a brick and mortar business like ours is that we couldn’t necessarily fully pivot to online. We are a services business, innately. That’s what we built. That’s what we knew what that’s what we built everything to do. And so, you know, the first challenge, there was just how we were going to make sure that our team of people that believed in the company just nine months before, really felt cared for, and that we did what was best to them. But unfortunately, to keep the business alive, we did have to lay off the team for a period of time. And that was a really like, hard first month managing COVID. But then the challenge, you know, thereafter was just how we were going to survive being closed for six months. And we couldn’t pivot to just doing online, you can’t do facials online. That’s why I say other people business, not a skincare business, because without people we can’t do what Glomar was built to do. And so we had to, you know, pivot in a small way to just doing skincare consultation. So what we decided to do was, say, we can’t be there with our hands on you. But we can have zoom meetings all day long, and talk to you about what skincare challenges you’re facing at home, what we can help with. And then we were shipping products. So I actually brought all of my retail product from Tribeca to my home. And I would have skincare consults all day during our six month closure, and basically prescribe people their skincare routine and ship it to them. And we were able to sustain our product revenue every single month doing that. And and it was just so amazing to see people support us in that respect and come to us for product knowing that that was in our primary business. You know, we’re not in an E commerce business necessarily. So, um, that was challenging, but I think like from the business standpoint, what was challenging was how we were going To create a clear path to be able to reopen, and how I was going to be able to afford being closed for six months, and what I what changes I needed to make to be able to basically like hoard our cash to help us throughout the closure. So not only were we doing like, you know, at home skin consultations to bring in some revenue, and but we really cut all spent. So really small things like we put on pause our, our, you know, I think it’s a $50 bill for our phones at Tribeca, like literally the phone that you call when you call Glomar. We called him and we were like to the Phone Guy, and like, I know, it’s just $50 a month or maybe 90 At the time, but I can’t, I have to hold my cash. And so we have to put like a break on it. So there was no phone system for six months ago, or if you called.
We put every, like a stop payment on everything we just had to and had to have really hard conversations. Our landlords, like, just anyone that we had partnerships with were affected by that. But we just had to really hold our cash and have those hard conversations and sad conversations, because those are people’s lives that are affected too. Um, and, and then we really sat back and we said, we actually have the most beautiful opportunity that most businesses that start don’t get the opportunity to have, which is we get to pause our operation, reset, reassess, and say what wasn’t working in those nine months, we were open, what really sucked? What did everyone complain about? What didn’t work as well as we thought it would. And we actually use it as an opportunity to build technology that we didn’t have beforehand, based on those nine months of learning, redo our entire operation. So even small things like how do we know that the space is cleaned every day, we didn’t have a process for that the first nine months, we put in a checklist process that’s on, you know, our piece of technology that we built. So now our studios just go in and they check off exactly, they did it. And that seems small. But to sum the business like mine, that was something that we like, you know, put we digitized and like really made it so that when we reopened, the team really could tell that we had thought a lot about what wasn’t working and improved upon it. And so I actually tell people that shutting down for COVID was one of the best things that could have ever happened to blow bar because we reassessed our entire operation. And so we did use that challenge, right of being closed. And that really scary, scary time. I mean, there were days where I was like in fetal position crying in my bed being like, my dream is going to be all gone. I’m into an opportunity to say how can we reopen better, and if we can survive this, we’re going to be good for the long haul. Because if you can get through six months of being closed, you can almost get through anything I would like to think. So you know, in addition to that, and the last thing I’ll say is we also lobbied so we didn’t just sit there on our, you know, on our like, and just sit and kind of mope, we were like, Okay, we need the government to know that we are a really strong business. And we have a lot of other businesses like ours that are suffering right now and not getting any attention. So we actually spearheaded lobbying with the government and Governor Cuomo to say, Hey, you’re giving guidance to restaurants, and you’re giving guidance to fitness, you know, all that all day long, but you haven’t mentioned salons and spas. And so we were able to lobby successfully. And we reopened in September of 2020. And it’s continued to be hard. So I’ve got many stories of why it’s still hard. We’ve been through COVID Delta Omicron, where we were hit pretty significantly in each. But we’ve learned more than anything, and also the resilience that myself and my team have built. Give us so much confidence in the future.
Kara Goldin 28:52
Definitely. So and you were mentioning before we actually started recording that on a cron has really been the toughest for you guys. How so?
Rachel Liverman 29:01
Yeah, it was, you know, previously, it was mainly the customers that were hit hardest and they would stop coming in. What made it even more challenging is that just everyone in New York got hit? Yeah. And so it wasn’t just customers. It was also my staff and how were we catching it and there was so much we’ve all learned even just from OMA cron, it was kind of a different strand. And you know, there’s a five day instead of a 10 day quarantine and you know, incubation was a little bit different than what the symptoms were a little bit different. And do you have a cold or do you have omachron And it just added a lot of complexity and I think like Kara The other thing was, I don’t know about you but here in New York, the tail end of summer, through the fall, we really went back to normal like masks were like even being used as much and we all kind of went back to living our lives. And October we had the best month that we’ve had today. It for blower and so when omachron hit during Thanksgiving I think we all just work. It was like a shock to the system and to the operation. And so it just hit a lot harder. And we definitely saw the most cancellations add on holiday add on cold weather, it just was a really tough month to get through. But I’m, I’m really excited to see what this spring does for all of us in business.
Kara Goldin 30:19
Yeah, I feel like especially even with events, I think more and more events are starting, I was talking to a friend of mine who runs a big event company in New York City. And she said, April is like, you know, people are really looking at moving forward and trying to get as soon as the weather starts getting a little bit warmer. So hopefully, we’ll get rid of this variant and there won’t be any additional variants coming for sure for you know, everybody’s businesses, and hopefully, we’ll be able to keep moving forward. So well, I love your story. And I love that you shared all the challenging times. And I mean, definitely staying in touch with the consumer. And from the beginning, but also through their journey, too, I think is is so key in any business. And clearly you’re in the services business, that, you know, you’ve shown that that is just really, really key. And I love to that you have also shared that, you know, there’s times that you just can’t even prepare for that you just have to still show up and and be an empathetic leader, and try and figure things out. And I think that those end up being the best leaders, the most successful leaders today. And so clearly, you have definitely shown that. So thank you so much for sharing all with us for sure. And tell us tell all the listeners a little bit more about how they can find you how they can find glow bar. Where are your locations? Exactly. You’ve got five right now.
Rachel Liverman 31:59
Yeah, so we’re in New York City in Tribeca and upper Eastside in Williamsburg, Roslyn, New York, and Long Island and Westport, Connecticut. Awesome. We’ll be opening more in the tri state area this year. And next, so we’re very excited. And you can find glow bar on Instagram at glow bar JLo WB AR and on our website, get glow bar. And you can also say hi to me at Rachel Easter. I love hearing from anyone in every
Kara Goldin 32:27
very, very cool. Well thank you so much, Rachel. And your story, as I said is just an amazing entrepreneurial journey and definitely so much to to learn from from you. I’m really excited to watch you grow in the future for sure. So thank you, everybody for listening to this episode. And definitely please subscribe to the Kara Goldin show. We have amazing guests like Rachel who come on and share their story. And please be sure to give this episode five stars. It really does make a difference in the algorithm. And definitely find me on all social channels at Kara Goldin. And don’t forget if you haven’t read my book of my entrepreneurial journey, it’s called undaunted. And I get to talk about the growing of hint and so many other pieces along the way. We are here at the Kara Goldin show every Monday and Wednesday. Thank you everybody for listening and have a great rest of the week. And thanks again Rachel and goodbye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book calm and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening
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43: Brian Mazza – From Creating The Ainsworth Restaurant and Bar to Becoming the Founder of High Performance Lifestyle Training
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