Many people see entrepreneurship as a means for making money, working for themselves & doing what they love full-time. But for some, being in business can also be a way to do good in the world, give back to the community & provide a much needed service to others.
When you talk with Lara Olsha, the founder & owner of The Sweet Spot, it doesn’t take long to figure out which kind of businesswoman she is.
Small Steps Towards a Big Dream
Lara Olsha never set out to start a business.
She was working as a respiratory therapist. But when her mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, Lara saw volunteering at the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better program as a chance to do something positive for women struggling with the disease.
The requirements of that program led Lara to become a licensed esthetician. And during the course of that study, she read an article in a trade magazine about the world’s oldest hair removal technique, known as ‘sugaring’.
Sugaring is a safe, effective & hypoallergenic method for hair removal. The technique dates back as early as 1900 B.C. and was employed in Ancient Egypt and Persia. A natural compound of sugar, lemon & water is formed into a golden ball and applied to the skin. With a flick of the wrist, hair is removed gently with no chemicals, resins or solvents!
“Sugaring was not part of the curriculum when I was studying to become an esthetician. In fact, no one had heard of it.” Lara told me in our interview, “The fact that it was an ancient art form and there was no cross contamination really resonated with me.”
That article sparked a fascination which soon became a passion. Initially self-taught, she later became certified both as a practitioner and an instructor of the method.
In 2003, with little experience in business, Lara opened up Seattle’s first sugaring studio in the city’s Fremont neighborhood.
The trail that she blazed has led to what she describes as “an explosion of sugaring studios in the last few years in Seattle.” Lara adds, “A few of the local beauty schools have even added sugaring to their curriculum.”
Isn’t it strange how several small decisions can lead to a complete change in the direction of your life…and influence others?
Passion & Values Expressed Through Business
It’s no surprise that a business born from the desire to help her mother and others going through cancer treatments should continue to be driven by Lara’s values.
In addition to being a tireless advocate for the Look Good Feel Better program, Lara believes in supporting worthy causes around the globe from the International Rescue Committee to local battered women’s organizations to Gorilla Foundation (a cause she enthusiastically promotes).
“When you’ve found a measure of success,” she says, “it’s important to give back. I love being able to support causes I’m passionate about.”
She is also committed to doing right by her employees, offering full benefits (medical, dental & vision as well as retirement matching) for anyone working more than 30 hours per week. She shares that “one of the biggest rewards of being in business is creating an empowering environment for my employees.”
Most of all, Lara is passionate about delivering the very best in satisfaction & comfort to her customers. “Even back when we were the only game in town, we took our clients’ loyalty to heart,” she says about those early days. “We take care of our customers, and we take care of each other, too. It’s who we are and what we do.”
Advice for the Next Generation of Female Entrepreneurs
What lessons has Lara learned in over a decade of business? She says, “listen carefully and know it’s ok not to have all the answers.”
Lara understands what it means to Dream Big. Once she fell in love with this ancient practice, her dream grew from a single store into an outpouring of interest throughout the Pacific Northwest.
To any girl looking to pursue her dreams, Lara says, “Make a plan and go for it!! It’s often scary and challenging but it’s also one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself.”
Another key piece of advice for anyone looking to go into business for herself: “Learn to budget.”
Lara runs her business with integrity & professionalism, supporting other small businesses that do the same. I’m proud to say that The Sweet Spot has been retailing our HHB Natural Probiotic Deodorant for nearly a year now, and we couldn’t be happier with our relationship.
If you’re in the Seattle metropolitan area, make sure to head to 3507 Evanston Ave North in Fremont (near the Sunday Flea Market) and see everything that The Sweet Spot has to offer!