Smooth Move

A former marketing ­professional finds a ­receptive market for a stylish
and focused ­waxing salon franchise

Photo: Kimberly Buckley, owner of Waxon Waxbar

WHEN KIMBERLY BUCKLEY was looking for the next step in her professional life, she decided to leave her career as a marketing and brand strategist behind and open a franchise business. Her industry of choice? Waxing.

With no previous experience in the esthetics field, Buckley opened Waxon Waxbar at the corner of Oxford Street and Wonderland Road last May. It may seem like a leap, but for Buckley the decision made perfect sense.

“I looked at the franchise from a business perspective,” the 34-year-old says. “I put myself in the client’s shoes. This is a place I would come to.”

Waxon Waxbar, founded in 2012 by Toronto’s Lexi Miles, offers convenient and efficient hair removal for women and men. That’s it. The single-service focus paired with the franchise’s contemporary-yet-cheerful esthetic quickly found its market. Today, there are 11 Waxon locations throughout the GTA, in addition to one in Halifax and London.

“I looked at the franchise from a business perspective. I put myself in the client’s shoes. This is a place I would come to”
—Kimberly Buckley

“Waxon was created to disrupt the spa model,” Buckley notes. “Traditional spas are full-service, with estheticians doing a variety of services. I love that Waxon takes one piece of that and focuses on doing it exceptionally well.”

While most spas promote well-being and relaxation, the Waxon model is all about getting expert service fast. Clients can book an appointment online or simply walk in, with the London location open at 9 a.m., seven days a week. Sunday morning is always busy, Buckley says.

Unlike the Toronto-area franchise locations that benefit from extensive walk-in traffic, Buckley’s success has been built on developing a loyal clientele. “We track everyone who comes in,” she explains. “We see about 70 per cent returning clients every week.”

Since January, sales have grown by 89 per cent. Buckley attributes part of the increase to shoppers from nearby Costco dropping in for a quick wax during the Christmas rush and becoming regulars in the new year. “I love our students. They make up about 20 per cent of our sales. But our primary client is the professional Londoner,” she says.

In addition to convenience and a competitive price point, Waxon’s service menu infuses some fun into what is often considered a necessary grooming evil. Clients can choose from an extensive list that includes everything from Brow Shaping to Le Propre Derriere. The women’s Braziliant outstrips them all in terms of popularity, Buckley says.

Almost 10 per cent of Buckley’s ­customers are men, and the salon offers a variety of full-body services for them too, including The Manzilian. “All of our estheticians do men’s ­services, but I have one in particular who does men below the belt,” says Buckley. “She has the right personality to put men at ease.”

Waxon uses a combination of all-natural hard and soft waxes ­developed and made in Canada, so there’s a wax for every skin type and service. It also sells its own line of sugar scrubs, loofah scrubs, lotions and oils designed to help clients stay smooth between services.

The franchise is currently ­expanding into laser hair removal, which Buckley hopes to introduce next year.
Since opening, Buckley’s all-woman team has grown to five estheticians and three sales associates. Roles are intentionally separated to allow everyone to focus on what they do best, she explains, and the franchise’s  commitment to offering a fun place to work and higher than average ­compensation reduces turnover in a notoriously fickle field.

Although it’s been challenging to balance family life with launching a business, Buckley has no regrets. “It’s been lovely getting to know our clients and to see people fall in love with the Waxon brand,” she says.  Nicole Laidler