Phenix introduces the Salon Suite concept in Sweden | International franchise
Sweden’s cultural philosophy of “jantelagen,” which eschews obvious self-promotion, is part of why Randa Shebly-Cobb says she’ll take a “build it and they’ll come” approach to bringing Phenix Salon Suites to the Nordic country.
“We Swedes are definitely logical, level-headed people,” Shebly-Cobb said of why she’ll choose to demonstrate the practical business benefits of the salon suite concept that rents space for beauty professionals. settle down. Instead of fanfare, what will resonate with stylists and beauticians, she continued, is affordability – “start-up costs are huge otherwise” and “real estate in Stockholm is twice as expensive, if not more” than most big cities – plus business management tools and the “premium feel” of Phenix.
“Stylists are artists, but not necessarily always with business experience,” she said, adding that the same model that helped Phenix expand to more than 300 locations in the United States will prove successful in Sweden. And Shebly-Cobb, which signed a development agreement to open eight Phenix sites in Sweden, knows both markets.
Born in the northeast African country of Eritrea, Shebly-Cobb moved to Sweden as a child and spent most of her life there before stopping in London to attend university and three years in Spain where she developed her direct sales company. She and her husband moved to the United States about six years ago, first to New York, where she “got into music publishing,” then to Atlanta, where she decided she wanted grow with a franchise.
“I knew my stay in the United States would be limited and not permanent,” she said of her desire to find a business she could eventually build in Europe as well. The living room suite model, and Phenix in particular, do the trick.
“By the very nature of an international businesswoman, I always think ahead and will this business be able to grow with me,” she continued, noting the advantage of the owner model. semi-absent from Phenix. She was also drawn to the story of founder Gina Rivera, who started her career as a hairstylist by renting a chair.
“Gina herself was a small business owner and a minority,” said Shebly-Cobb, who added that she was looking for “something positive, something that creates opportunity for others.”
Shebly-Cobb opened its first Phenix location in Atlanta in February 2021, the only one in the system, she said, to launch 100% rented and with a waiting list of 20, and is already working on a second unit in part of a three-pack deal. The opportunity to expand the brand into Sweden came sooner than expected after calls with Phenix CEO Brian Kelley and Lesley Hawks, Director of Global Development.
With its UK expansion already underway – the brand has an agreement with a multi-concept operator to bring 75 units to the UK and Republic of Ireland – Phenix is starting to push international growth and sees Sweden as a next ideal market.
The country, Kelley noted, “has some of the most beautiful people in the world…and they really care about their health, their well-being and their beauty.” The number of salons is “off the charts,” meaning there’s a large population of stylists potentially looking to strike out on their own, he continued, and affluent consumers abound.
“The landscape is ripe for this,” Kelley said.
Shebly-Cobb will start in Stockholm, developing a handful of its eight sites there and in the capital’s suburbs, as well as in Gothenburg and Malmö. His sister, Sabrin Shebly, a dentist living in Stockholm, will help run the business and, Shebly-Cobb noted, will leverage his connections in the medical field to attract tenants interested in offering cosmetic injection services to the face. Last year, Sweden introduced new regulations that only allow licensed medical professionals, such as dentists, doctors and nurses, to administer injections such as dermal fillers and Botox.
“I know the language, I know the people, I grew up there,” Shebly-Cobb said of her other benefits. Fun fact: Swedish is one of the four languages she speaks. The others are Tigrinya, “my mother tongue from Eritrea”, she said, as well as English and Spanish. Oh, and she has “passing skills” in four or five more. “I’m a linguistics enthusiast,” she says.
For Kelley, Shebly-Cobb is also a Phenix Salon Suites enthusiast, a factor that makes her the perfect franchisee to introduce her to a new country. “She knows our brand and can talk about the concept. She lives it and breathes it,” he said.
While the living room suite model isn’t widespread outside of the U.S., “the demand is,” Kelley said, and Phenix identifies markets that embrace entrepreneurship and have an existing base of professionals. of beauty. Tracking the popularity of Rivera’s professional product lines “By Gina” and “Colours by Gina” is another strategy.
“It can go a lot faster than we can on the franchise side,” Kelley said of the drive to introduce the products to more international markets. Colors by Gina has a distribution agreement for Europe and they are also close to an agreement to put products in duty-free shops around the world, he said.
“So this is the pilot and the franchises will follow.”