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Be real. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions and struggles. Being a leader doesn’t mean you are always right and won’t make mistakes. When you do, own it! Surround yourself with people who genuinely share your dream. Develop a culture that like-minded people want to be a part of. And, much like being a good parent — take time for yourself to recharge, and you’ll be a better leader. When you’re happy, your team is happy, and that will trickle all the way down to your customers.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Debi Lane.

Debi Lane is the Founder and CEO of LunchboxWax, the fastest growing salon fully dedicated to waxing services.

Lane founded LunchboxWax in 2010 after spending five years running TRū, an ultra-chic multi-service day spa in Ketchum, Idaho. Recognizing a need in the personal care industry for a waxing-only service, Lane launched the first LunchboxWax salon in Boise, Idaho in 2010 and began franchising the business in 2013.

It was Lane’s personal life challenges and feeling like an outsider, that drove her to want to start a business that is inclusive, collaborative and empowering. Lane’s unique approach to business and goals to revolutionize the waxing industry through inclusiveness is what continues to help the brand expand and gain recognition as more than just a salon that offers elevated waxing services in under 30 minutes, but one that has a purpose.

With Lane at the helm, LunchboxWax continues to be a purpose-driven company that takes a culture-first approach and gives back to the community in ways such as creating a comfortable environment for its consumers, creating equal career opportunities and empowering young women to have a voice.

Under Lane’s direction, LunchboxWax, an already LGBTQ+ friendly business, expanded its efforts to become trans-embracing last year by eliminating male and female gender checkboxes.

LunchboxWax has since expanded to 45 locations throughout Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Utah. Lane remains active in the business as the Chief Executive Officer at LunchboxWax, overseeing the vetting process of more than 344 waxologists across the nation and continues to steer the development of LunchboxWax’s line of waxing products. LunchboxWax’s growing product line is sold through its salons throughout the U.S.

Lane is also an active member of the Female Founder Collective (FFC) — a network of businesses led by women, supporting women — co-founded by designer Rebecca Minkoff.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?

In 2011, we opened the first LunchboxWax salon in Downtown Boise, followed by another in a nearby community. When word of mouth spread, I knew we were onto something special. In 2012, we wanted to scale the business but lacked the capital, so we began franchising. We worked on the franchise system for about a year and a half, and in 2013, we sold our first franchise. We have continued to add franchisees each year, and we now have 45 LunchboxWax salons across the country.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

The programs that we are building for our waxologists at LunchboxWax are unique to us, and something that makes our company stand out from the crowd. Building a learning-based business which allows our waxologists a path to become financially independent, but also teach them how to be successful in business and empowered and proud, regardless of where they came from or the challenges they may have had to overcome — this is my greatest success.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are so excited for the upcoming launch of our new eyebrow product line, DEFINE, which will be available in salons nationwide this month. Making the leap from wax-only services to offering beauty products has always been part of our vision. Giving our guests a great set of brows is our signature at LunchboxWax. Now, whether it’s achieving fuller brows or the perfect arch, guests can do just that with our new DEFINE brow collection.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

I can’t recall anyone telling me I couldn’t do it, but even if they had, I still would have proven them wrong. Focusing on the noise would have been a distraction to my vision, which was to build a heart-driven business that specializes in the art of waxing. During a meditation retreat in 2012, the idea to franchise came to me — I still don’t know where the first thought came from, and I don’t question it. When I got out of the retreat, I immediately started researching. I was lit up — everything inside me said this was the right path. LunchboxWax was going to become a franchise. Some of my greatest ideas have come from silence.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong?

I choose not to listen to naysayers. My mission has always been very clear, that my business is not just a waxing business — it is so much more. After my experience at the meditation retreat, I started to believe that I could use my life experiences to help others. My meditation practice has sparked ideas like implementing a mindfulness module in our learning management system (LMS) at LunchboxWax. Giving the gift of mindfulness to all in our organization is something I am very passionate about.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My daughter Lily. She has taught me more about what is current and going on in the world around than I could ever imagine. This has helped me to understand every aspect of my business. This obviously evolves, but it has helped me gain respect and valuable insights. She has been my partner in crime through it all, and I am grateful for her love, support and the bond that we share.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resilience? Can you share the story with us?

My resilience comes from my past, not from naysayers. Growing up, I left home right around 15 years old, and quit school around this time. Although I got my GED eventually, I didn’t have any formal education after this time. I had a very challenging childhood and that continued through young-adulthood. In my mid-forties, I decided to make some very big changes in my life. I got sober and started my healing journey. This is exactly the same time I started to build LunchboxWax. I know this was put in front of me not only as a pathway for my own personal healing but as a way to give back.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

  1. Do your healing. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t leaned into the difficult chapters of my early life and made peace with my past. Meditation was a gift from the universe in my life, and since I’ve been sober, the world continues to shower me with opportunities and a lot of joy.
  2. Give back. My purpose in life is to give back to everyone who works for LunchboxWax, especially our waxologists. I want to empower them with the economic tools they need to feel confident and lead successful lives where they can control their future and fulfill their potential.
  3. Know your worth. Despite my early struggles and many difficult chapters in my life, I never doubted that I would do something great. Growing up, I barely knew what a five-star hotel was, but I knew I wanted to stay in them, as often as possible. So, at age 19, I started my first business, a travel agency, in part because I knew travel agents got free trips in really nice places. When you come from my background and have no real education or practical work experience you have to create your own opportunity. And that’s what I’ve done and continued to do in business.
  4. Don’t be a chameleon. Most of my life can be defined by whatever relationship I was in at the time. I was an expert at changing myself to fit into whatever the guy I was with wanted me to be. It was exhausting and fueled my destructive behavior for many years. There were some great men along the way, but who I was got lost. Once I realized who I was inside and embraced that, my success in business only grew.
  5. Learn what you don’t know. You don’t have to be an expert to start a business. I knew nothing about starting a franchise; I just knew I had to do it. When we went through our first capital raise recently, I didn’t know how to build a pitch deck or model our finances. I basically got an MBA on the job in less than a year. I’m smarter for it, and so is our business. What I learned gives me confidence and makes me a stronger leader for LunchboxWax.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

Be real. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions and struggles. Being a leader doesn’t mean you are always right and won’t make mistakes. When you do, own it! Surround yourself with people who genuinely share your dream. Develop a culture that like-minded people want to be a part of. And, much like being a good parent — take time for yourself to recharge, and you’ll be a better leader. When you’re happy, your team is happy, and that will trickle all the way down to your customers.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

If I could inspire a movement, it would be to encourage everyone to travel! I learn something about myself every time I travel — no matter where it is. I really take the time to experience whatever place I go to — even if it is to a place I have been to before. I go out of my way to experience what the locals are doing and eating.

Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Debi Lane of LunchboxWax was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.