Shannon Mouser is one of the owners of Viva Day Spa located in Austin, Texas. Her and her two partners opened the first Viva Day Spa in 2005 on West 35th Street with eight employees. Today Viva Day Spa offers both traditional spa services and medical spa services in three location around Austin.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
Shannon Mouser, one of our owners, is a massage therapist. She recognized a real industry need for a spa experience that begins with the nurturing employees receive, so they can in turn deliver first class care to spa guests. We call it “caring from the inside out.” Shannon pitched the opportunity to her best friends, sisters Laurie and Maya Aroch, and Viva Day Spa opened nine months later.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Viva Day Spa was profitable less than a year after we opened in 2005.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
We definitely encountered setbacks, but were always confident Viva would be successful. We opened a second bigger, more expensive location in May of 2008 — just four months before the recession began. It was terrifying, but we knew we needed to stay the course with our expansion plans. Viva actually grew 35% during The Great Recession.
How did you get your first customer?
Our first customer, Steve, was Shannon’s longtime massage client. He bought a $500 gift certificate the first day we opened the spa.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Our seasonal and signature spa packages, which are specially priced bundles of our most popular spa treatments, are extremely popular promotions — especially for gift certificate buyers. A large percentage of those gift certificate recipients are net new clients for Viva.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Deciding on a game plan for Viva over the next 3-5 years. The market demand for upscale spa experiences and med spa services is booming. We’ve been working through strategic scenarios of how to best evolve our business and remain at the forefront of the industry.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Viva Day Spa consistently delivers a high-touch, high-quality spa experience for our clients. Our staff is fully committed to our customized, client-focused approach to services, which we call The Viva Method. We also nurture our employees and spaces to ensure that every experiential touch point is first rate.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
We’re incredibly proud of Viva Day Spa’s positive impact on so many lives in Austin over the past 13 years — from our 130 talented employees to Viva’s tens of thousands of clients to the Austin community to which we actively give back. It is a really special feeling to be voted Best Places to Work in Central Texas by our employees and Best Spa in Austin by our clients year-over-year.
What specific challenges to you face as a female owned business?
We are in one of the few women dominated industries where being female owners/leaders is an advantage. On a rare occasion we’ll run into an issue, but find that those types of hiccups have more to do with owning a business than our gender.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
We see Viva continuing to grow and evolve as a business and a brand.
What is your best tip to women starting out in business today?
Surround yourself with smart people in the industry and learn as you go. Hard work and grit are the true keys to success.
What business books have inspired you?
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, Outliers by Malcomb Gladwell, The Ten Day MBA by Steven Silibiger, Body & Soul by Anita Roddick
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
We made significant capital expenditures to invest in equipment for our med spa line of business. Not only has it broaden our service offerings for our clients, it has also generated significant net new revenue. The purchases have already more than paid for themselves.