Alex Bradberry, founder of The Sparkle BarHow to get a mentor for small business success
This episode is for all the entrepreneurs who have ever pondered “How do I find a mentor?” Alex Bradberry, founder of The Sparkle Bar, an all-inclusive makeup and beauty studio in Scottsdale, Ariz., shares how she has built her business through networking and mentorship. Alex’s practical advice can help you realize that finding a mentor can be as easy as asking.
Alex Bradberry didn’t have a place where she could get her makeup done for an event. Department beauty store counters didn’t have the empowering experience she was looking for and, on top of that, no single beauty brand will have all products in all skin tones. From there, her all-inclusive makeup and beauty studio, The Sparkle Bar, was born.
Like many entrepreneurs, Alex understands that success is a team sport and that if you want to go far, go together. That’s why she built her own team of mentors through networking and community-building events. Alex sat down with the Entrepreneur’s Studio’s host Chris Allen to share how she approaches networking and why “saying yes” can help you find opportunities and community. Below is an edited transcript of the conversation. In the episode, Alex will share how you can:
Chris Allen: Hey, well, Alex, great to have you. I will say that one of my favorite parts of your favorite place to live, I’m sure... You’re in Tempe, yeah?
Alex Bradberry: Correct.
Chris: One of my favorite parts about Scottsdale is the food and the atmosphere, so you’ve got a pretty great business down there.
Chris: Yeah? What’s the business?
Alex: The business is The Sparkle Bar. The Sparkle Bar is the ultimate destination when you want to feel like the best version of yourself. We are unique because we get to celebrate diversity and beauty, so every day clients come to see us before whatever is important and special to them. Whether it’s a job interview, they’re graduating college, a first date, just because. We’re there to remind you that you are perfect as you are and enhance those already beautiful features using makeup, which is our medium of choice.
Chris: That’s your medium of choice. I love that. Well, talk to me about why Scottsdale for you.
Alex: Scottsdale is a really cool town. Arizona is unique in that everything is very centrally located. Scottsdale is a point of interest. When people think of Arizona, Scottsdale definitely comes to mind. It’s beautiful. You certainly don’t think about or take into account walk-up traffic as part of your business plan, but it’s nice to be in a place where people are visiting, just because. So it was a really easy decision when it came to deciding where because it’s so close to everything.
Chris: That’s a pretty posh area, too.
Alex: It’s nice.
Chris: The Sparkle Bar fits nicely right in there.
Chris: Well, talk to me about, you’re a mom.
Alex: I am.
Chris: Tell me about your personal life and what brought you into being an entrepreneur.
Alex: I am a mom. I have two daughters. Entrepreneurship is in my blood, but it was really when my daughter was born that it was something that I knew I needed to pursue. It was really important to me to be able to tell my kids as they grew up that they could and should pursue anything that drives them, and I knew that I couldn’t tell my girls that if I wasn’t willing to do that myself, so when it came to opening this business and taking the steps to do that, it was really with my daughters being my north star and my why.
Chris: That’s awesome. I also have kids, and I know just how challenging it can be to say, “Oh man, I got to lead by example.” So, talk to me a little bit about how the dream was born and how was The Sparkle Bar born?
Alex: The Sparkle Bar was born in March 2014 on my patio when I was sitting outside thinking about needing to get my makeup done and not having a place where I could go do that, and then I thought back onto experiences that I had with makeup and them not being very pleasant. Before The Sparkle Bar, there really wasn’t a space where you could go and do that. Your options either included going to a mall or a department store where you were going to have to walk through a Nordstrom or a Neiman’s or a Saks, and sit on the floor where the person helping you might need to help other people as well, and it wasn’t that one-on-one experience. Plus, it’s very unusual for one single brand to have everything for every single person. It just didn’t exist, so rather than try to fit a square peg in a round hole, we created The Sparkle Bar, which is a place where people can come from all walks of life and know that they’re going to be served with a luxury quality makeup experience.
We pride ourselves on having a foundation, a shade for every skin tone, type, texture, age, ethnicity. It has been a labor of love to create an experience, something that I wanted to enjoy myself when it came to the motivation and the inspiration. It’s important as a parent to lead by example. Every day, through consistency and doing the difficult things, my girls definitely see the hard times, and there have certainly been many where things like payroll or just the stress that comes along with being a business owner, and I don’t hide any of that from them because I want them to see that even though there are lows, how you recover and your bounce back is the most important.
Chris: That’s amazing. I think there’s a lot of lessons entrepreneurs learn. I think recovery and resilience is one of them. Tell me a story of something that you shared with your girls or something that is just a recovery story for you where you’re like, “Hey, I faced this challenge. I experienced this loss and here’s a recovery moment that I had."
Alex: Business is tricky. It’s hard, it’s challenging, and every day you have to make decisions where you don’t always know what the outcome is going to be, especially as a founder, when you’re blazing trails on your own. You don’t really have people all the time who you can look to and ask questions because you oftentimes are going someplace where no one else has gone before, so it really is trusting yourself. I think that through taking action and having faith, and my daughter seeing that, and moving the action behind it, not just talking about it, but doing it are the why and the reason we’ve been able to maintain.
Curate your professional network to find mentors
Chris: That’s awesome. Well, something that I’ve really appreciated about your story is really just your passion for mentorship and things like that. So did you have one or multiple mentors that right around The Sparkle Bar getting born, did you have conversations with a mentor then, or did you find one shortly after?
Alex: I think mentors have been super important throughout this entire journey, and I’ve had mentors in lots of different forms. Some have come through podcasts where I’m able to be a fly on the wall and listen to interesting conversations and be able to pick up on things that I can apply towards my business, and others have been through networking and meeting people at different events and seeing something in someone else that I aspire to be or aim for, and looking to those types of people to help support the growth, really curating the people around you, to ensure that you’re putting yourself in a position to win, being around other people who are thriving and working and are goal-oriented. I definitely had different mentors through school, different networks that I’m a part of, but I actively seek these people out so that I can maintain support.
Chris: That’s good. What is your definition of mentorship or what is a mentor? What’s your definition of a mentor?
Alex: For me, a mentor is somebody that I can seek guidance from. Some of that is personal, some of that is professional, and you have different mentors for different things, but I think anyone that can be a sound sounding board for you qualifies as somebody that could be a mentor.
Chris: That’s really good. I think I heard somebody say this once, that a mentor is somebody who always makes time for you. They’ve got the expertise, they’ve got the insights, they’ve got a certain thing, but them making time for you, I think, is really important. I had a very particular mentor and his name was Randy. He definitely taught me so much about not only building teams and building big machines, but marketing, too. I think that, that’s something that is really, really important. Who is somebody that had the weight of influence with you that invested in you, they made time for you? What were some of the experiences you had with that person?
Build community impact and mentorship into your own vision to ‘each one, teach one’
Alex: Well, shout out to Joanne. I’ve had a mentor through some networking groups that I belong to in Arizona and they’ve done... I don’t even know where to start because mentorship can look a lot of different ways, but not only there for advice but also to bring you into the room, to give you a seat at the table. It’s that sponsorship, too. I’ve been so fortunate. Joanne has been instrumental in my professional development and really helping to make those connections and to introduce me to people, and I think that’s the beauty of finding someone who is invested in you as well, who sees your potential, who can be there to support you when it does get difficult and to applaud you and to share in those wins with you as well, because it’s certainly not easy, but I’m super grateful that I’ve had people like that in my life who, have not only just been there to talk through, but also bring me into places and spaces.
Chris: The thing I like about the sponsorship is there’s somebody with influence with information, expertise and they take a risk on you. What’s a moment that somebody took a risk on you and invested in you? What was that? What did that investment look like? Was it time? Was it money? What was the investment on the sponsorship side that you’ve experienced?
Alex: Giving me a seat at the table, to be around the people who can help to impact the future trajectory of our business is one of those risks. Giving you access, because that is really what it boils down to, bringing you into their circle of influence is a game changer. It means that so many more doors can open for you, but they have to be willing and able to trust that you’re the type of individual that they can introduce you to their network.
Chris: Yeah, that’s really good. I like that seat at the table thing. Some of that, I wonder though, these are introductions that they’re making and they’re giving you access to their world. That’s what you experienced. Is this something that you’ve taken and said, “I want to do that for people.” And do you have somebody that you’re mentoring as well?
Alex: Oh, I think it’s super important. Each one, teach one, it takes a village. You have to reach down and pull up so that you can continue to build the ecosystem that is growth and opportunity, not just for me and myself, but for the other people who are going to come behind me. It’s important to make sure that community impact and mentorship is part of your own vision and growth as an entrepreneur because you will get so much more out of helping and to serve others than you realize, I think, in that moment.
Chris: Say that again? “Each one, teach one?”
Alex: Each one, teach one.
Chris: I love that. Something Randy used to say to me, he used to say, “Chris, you’re not learning if you’re not teaching,” and that was a thing for me that I really realized was as a mentorship that’s a receiving only relationship, it doesn’t complete the circle. It’s also a giving, and there are some giving back that you can do, upstream to your mentor, and there are some moments where man, people that I’ve mentored, they taught me something, and I know that I’ve done the same with people who’ve mentored me, but I like that, the each one, teach one. I like that a lot.
Alex: Oh, it’s super important to be continuously investing. The tide rises all ships, and that’s what I try to remind my team of, that when one of us wins, we all win because just like in the ocean, the high tide really does rise all ships.
Find a potential mentor by saying ‘yes’ to community and networking events
Chris: For people that are entrepreneurs or let’s just say, they’re aspiring leaders in some capacity as well. How can they find a mentor if they don’t have one?
Alex: I think that there are lots of ways that you can go about identifying people who might serve as a good mentor. Getting involved and plugging into your local community, I think is one of the best places to start. Investing in yourself and deciding that you’re going to take that leap of faith in action to actually step out and go to something, and just start to have conversations with people. I think it’s something that happens very organically, because it’s a synergy. It’s a mutual exchange because as a mentee, your mentor is going to commit to giving you time, and similarly you want to be around somebody that is going to also invest in you in the same way. I think by taking your time, but just one initial step at a time, is the best way to go about identifying the people who might fit that bill.
Chris: Oh, that’s good. What is somebody that you built a mentorship relationship with that was a complete stranger, and what did you say to start the conversation with them?
Alex: Joanne’s a great example of this. Part of building the business initially was identifying different audiences and groups who might fit the bill. She owned networking groups, so as The Sparkle Bar, I know that my target audience are people who have things to do and events to attend, whether that’s a luncheon, a gala, or headshots, that’s my target audience. I met her by attending an event, and it was there that I recognized that she was somebody who also knew lots of people who understood my business and saw something in us, and was interested. Through conversation with her, it just kind of organically happened where I asked, “Would you be willing to mentor me?” And she was just very open to it. I think that’s the biggest thing. People are scared to ask. Closed mouths never get fed. If you don’t ask, the answer is always “No.” I think that’s the biggest thing that I think people can take away, too, is just ask. The worst thing that can happen is no. And if that’s the worst thing that happens, we’re good.
Chris: That is amazing. I love that. Closed mouths never get fed. I love it. I think another thing that I thought was really interesting about you is this idea of saying, “yes,” especially when you get invitations. What is the key to that advice? It seems so simple, but what’s a story that you could tell that would give us, this is where I was and here’s what changed that when I started saying, “yes."
Alex: Sure. This happened to me two weeks ago. I was supposed to attend an event and I didn’t really want to go. It happens, as a business owner, sometimes you have long days and you don’t want to go do that extra thing, even though you need to, and it’s easy to say no, or decide to go home. As a business owner, you are the only one kicking your own butt, so if you don’t want to do something, you don’t have to. You have to choose to. In this particular situation, I felt like I didn’t want to go, and I knew it, but I also know when I feel those things that I have to do the opposite and force myself into the situation. A lot of times for me, and probably a lot for other people as well is, even though you don’t want to, you just have to. That’s it.
Chris: I love it.
Alex: Even when you don’t want to do something, you have to because your business depends on your ability and willingness to step out into uncomfortable places and spaces, so you just embrace those feelings.
Chris: Embrace the discomfort.
Chris: There’s boundaries where you want to take care of yourself and all that kind of stuff, but at the end of the day, when entrepreneurs begin to retract, especially people running businesses, not just the entrepreneur that owns a business, but somebody who’s actually operating it as well, you have to be connected to the community, and you have to be connected to what I call your “entrepreneurial family.” There’s the mentors, the influencers in your life, the knowledge base of people, all these kinds of things. I like to call it maybe, coming from a place of yes, rather than coming from a place of no. If you get an invitation, your first thing to yourself is to say, “Yeah, I’m going to do it,” because you’ve got to find a way to stay connected.
Alex: Yes, and I think that the beautiful thing about just saying yes and attending is, no matter what, you’re going to get a different result, so something is going to come out of it. Whenever I feel myself getting stuck, I actually look for these moments and opportunities to go find something new so that I can just shake it up because I know that by default, creating a new environment or situation is going to drive a different result.
Stay curious and open to where you’ll find great mentors
Chris: That is awesome. I think a part of the DNA of an entrepreneur is somebody who can recognize an opportunity. What do you think are, instead of it just being gut, what are some of the signals that you pick up when you’re meeting somebody that you’re like, this could be something? What are some of the things that you kind of look for?
Alex: I’m a curious individual, so I think that curiosity’s super important to ask questions, but I think in general, humans have a lot of common ground, so just through being open to meeting new people and having a conversation, you can find commonalities, and especially in makeup. In our business, there’s going to be an opportunity for us to meet at some point, whether it’s through your family photos, when you’re graduating, or maybe it’s your executive headshot, but there’s going to be an opportunity for us to have a meeting at some point. I think in our business, it’s easy to find that common ground, but just being curious about people and being willing to learn and talk will open so many doors that you just didn’t even expect.
Chris: That’s awesome. I want to go back to the asking. What are some of the things that, let’s say, there are different networking groups, and there’s other places that you meet people, there are relationships that connect and things like that. What are some of the things that you would recommend because they’re saying, “Hey, would you mentor me?” What are some ways to build up to that conversation?
Alex: Of somebody wanting to be mentored?
Chris: Yeah, of somebody wanting to be mentored.
Alex: I think that being open to where you might meet this next person is important, but also look around the people that you know, who is running a business that you respect or who in your community is a leader that you think that you can impart some knowledge from or learn something from. I think mentors are all around us. Moms are great home managers. There’s lots of things, skills, and tools that you can pick up from different people. But in my case with Joanne, it was really important that I made the ask because I knew this was somebody who could help grow me as an individual and the business. I think if you’re looking for a mentor, somebody who has been where you’re going or who can help develop you or grow, you can grow with, are things that you want to look for because that’s the goal.
Chris: Yeah. That’s good. What’s one of your most memorable lessons that you received from mentorship or from Joanne or from a mentor?
Alex: I think one of the most important things that I’ve learned is that you never know who has the power to bless you in a room, and what I mean by that is, you just never know who’s watching and who at any given moment can make a call or can introduce you to somebody, so to always show up as your best self, because you just never know. There have been situations that occurred... In February, I’m sorry, we received the Golden Standard award from the Phoenix Suns where in the first quarter, the first timeout, we were brought out into the middle of the court and received an award. That whole thing happened as a result of somebody I met three years prior. I didn’t know that they were paying attention, following our journey, but it was because of the work that we did and how we continue to show up that they were able to create this moment for us, so just know that there’s always an opportunity out there and all you have to do is show up.
Chris: That’s amazing. To have that thing happen, you have to be creative. What got you to get that kind of award? Walk us through the story of the three-year journey where you met the person, and how it all threaded together? Because here’s the deal: You seem like a natural-born networker, and if you think about it, there’s not a lot of people like that. There’s not a lot of people that are like, “I know how to connect people with people,” and you seem to have that gift. How did that happen and what are some of the ideas that you could give to us that aren’t quite as adept at networking as you are? What are some of the creative things that happen in that experience and others that you would recommend that we give a shot?
Alex: I think that, yes, I am super creative and that’s part of the fun and what has kind of set us apart as a business. I think that’s important to think creatively about your business, too. In our business, people might think of only weddings and proms, but to think outside of that and to understand who else might need makeup. Charles Barkley wears makeup on TNT, so this is also a potential audience for us, so really just to think outside of what I see in front of me and the opportunities that might exist beyond that. The person that I met was from a group that I also belong to, and this is why the power of community is so important. She wouldn’t have known about me had I not been involved within the community at all. I think that a lot of the community impact work that we do and staying present and saying, “yes,” and attending events is what creates that visibility and those opportunities to organically happen.
Chris: That’s amazing. Where do you find the time to do it?
Alex: Time is interesting, right? Time is something that even the richest man can’t buy back. It’s important that we respect it. I go into situations with a very specific goal in mind. This is about creating opportunities, not only for myself but for my team, supporting lives. I know that every time I don’t do something or take an action, that affects my team, so I do it because I know it’s necessary and required.
Stay true to your core values and be your own advocate
Chris: That’s amazing. Well, you talk about your team. Talk to us about how you’ve designed the business because if you think about it, you are making time to do this.
Chris: And you’ve designed your business so that you can go be the ambassador for your business, so talk to me about how you’ve designed your organization and then how you have created the space for you to go be the ambassador.
Alex: Yes. Our business is built on creating an experience for people. See, it’s more than makeup. Makeup is what we do, but we create an experience that is multi-sensory, and I think that’s what sets us apart for people. I’m able to come and do cool things like this because, at every single level, the team is equipped to do what they do really well. From the second a client places a call to our studio, they are well received. The sound they hear on the phone is pleasant because it’s really important that at every touch, our clients feel the “sparkle.”
Alex: I think as a business owner, it’s important that you have your core values in place so that your team understands what you believe, what you do, what you’re about, what you stand for, and the things that make you guys tick. At a foundational level, it’s been super critical that we make sure that every single person on our team understands that we do. Even hiring makeup artists it’s about so much more than just skill. Because what we do is at a soul level, where we see people, and we remind them that they’re perfect the way that they were created. We’re just here to use makeup to enhance that.
Chris: That’s awesome.
Alex: Really paying attention to the things beyond just what we’re looking for because we’re creating more than just makeup artists. It’s like Peter Drucker’s book, “The Effective Executive,” where he talks about building and what we see in front of us are more than just bricks. We see the cathedral. If you’re able to share that vision with your team and they can also see the cathedral that you’re building, it makes it very easy to grow in the same direction.
Chris: Core values-wise, how many do you have and what are they for Sparkle Bar?
Alex: Oh, now you’re going to put me on the spot.
Chris: I am.
Alex: We follow a lot of quotes, so for us, it’s really about creating an experience. Maya Angelou is someone that we turn to a lot. Her quote, “People might forget what you say. They might forget what you do, but they’ll never forget how you make them feel,” is like our north star because we’re all about creating an experience for people where they walk out feeling measurably better than when they came in. We’re really unique in that “it’s all good days for us.” Unlike people who might work in fields that can be not so awesome all the time. I have an artist who is a police dispatcher, so the Sparkle Bar is her fun job. Every time she gets a call over there, it’s somebody in distress. It’s not awesome. It’s scary.
Alex: For us, it’s getting to share in special moments, so it really does make it easy to create an environment that is really positive, fun, light, and enjoyable. Especially after the last several years, where it hasn’t been that. We really do get to add sparkle and brightness to people’s lives and leave them feeling better than what they came.
Chris: I love that. You have a team of people who are ready to receive customers. You have artists. What other people or technology, or what are some of the things that you use to design that experience?
Alex: You want to create a seamless experience for your clients, where everything, from the way that they book to how they call, is very simple, how they can get questions answered. We definitely have tools in place that help us to support that customer experience, everything from a CRM to obviously, payroll. I have operational people like HR in place and then have consultants just to make sure that I’m crossing all T’s and dotting all I’s before we do anything. But those different layers and fractional CFOs that come into place are definitely part of the journey that we’re on now, where we’re growing and looking at opportunities like franchising and what that might look like. At every stage, it’s learning something new, and I think that’s one thing that entrepreneurs need to get very comfortable with is being uncomfortable, especially as you... New levels, new devils. I’m in it now, lots of things that you don’t know and not being afraid to ask questions and be the newbie in the room.
Chris: That’s good, and being the newbie in the room, you had to, like I said, get an invitation. You had to do a lot to get there. Help me and us figure out what are some of the things you can do once you’re in the room? Do you know what I mean? You got the invitations, you’re there, you’re creating these relationships, you’re striking up conversations. What are some of the things that you can do to become your own advocate for your business and for yourself as an entrepreneur?
Alex: That’s a great question. How you show up to these spaces and places and events is really important. It sounds vain, but especially what we sell, I make sure that I present the most polished finish and that I feel confident stepping into rooms because that energy speaks for you before you do, oftentimes. Not being afraid to look people in the eyes and have a conversation and interject or to create a space for yourself. It’s uncomfortable, but that’s what you have to do as an entrepreneur to grow your business. You have to be willing to get out there and advocate and tell people what you’re doing, and share with them what you have going on. Otherwise, you’re not going to survive. If the goal is to create a sustainable business that thrives and grows, you need to get out there and talk to people.
Chris: Yeah, that’s really good. I think something that’s really good is, as entrepreneurs, there’s your voice, and you can only be as loud as the relationships that you have, but one of the things I think is really important is this idea of others promoting you. If you’re promoting yourself in a way that seems credible because you don’t want to come across as, “it’s all about me.” If you can do other things for those people and they know what you’re doing, they can end up being advocates for you, and it’s based on the relationship that you have. What are some of the ways that you stay away from, how do you maintain the balance in a conversation or in a relationship where you’re not just telling people what you’re doing, but you’re receiving from them and listening, and how do you maintain the balance of talking about you versus talking about them or what they’re interested in?
Alex: I think in situations where it is about networking, I always lead the conversation with curiosity about the other individual because them telling their story is going to open doors for me to ask questions and see how we might make a connection there. I like asking a lot of questions, learning about somebody’s background, how they got started, things that they enjoy, and how they found themselves in this business, and through those kinds of questions, I’ll be able to connect dots, and I think that for other entrepreneurs, being curious about learning about people is a really simple way for you just to start talking to people and having conversation in a relevant room. You’re all there for the same thing.
See opportunity in all things
Chris: This may come across as negative, but I do think it’s important to talk about challenges and setbacks. What was maybe your hardest lesson? What’s the story? What’s the hardest lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Alex: The hardest lesson that I’ve learned as an entrepreneur. There have been a lot of hard lessons that I’ve learned as an entrepreneur and some have brought me to my knees. I started with a business partner and that relationship changed, and that’s when I realized and understood that when you’re building the business, it’s important to have things set up at a foundational level. Some of those mistakes can be very costly. Sometimes your learning comes at a huge expense where you have things like lawyer fees involved or whatever the case may be, but I also believe that everything that I’ve gone through to this point has prepared me and equipped me for where I’m going. While some of those lessons have been really hard to learn and really painful and really long and unexpected, they have equipped me to be a much stronger and better leader.
I’ll share a story with you. My partner and I separated at the end of 2019, and then 2020 hit. Had I not gone through that at the end of 2019, I would not have been as equipped or prepared to handle what was coming in 2020, which made that feel like peanuts in comparison to what we were facing. But it equipped me on an emotional level to prepare my team and navigate them through another storm. I’m super proud and grateful for those experiences, as challenging as they’ve been.
I’m somebody who looks at, and I think this is a really important mindset to have as an entrepreneur, to be able to see the opportunity in all things. Yes, it’s hard, but what am I supposed to take away from this situation and to take that and apply it and use it. Yes, there are always lessons to be learned, and challenges and the ebbs and flows, the peaks and the valleys, but those have all helped to build me into the person that I am today, the leader that I am today, set our business up for what’s coming in the future and even being in this seat and in this moment. I’m grateful for all of it.
Chris: I love it. I think something that’s really important with mentorship is listening and I’m really curious. What feedback have you ever received that made you make the biggest change in your business? What was some feedback that you got? It could be from customers, it could be from something, but what’s the feedback that changed your business the most, and how’d you get the feedback, and then what’d you do about it?
Alex: The biggest feedback that I received, this happened recently, was personal, in how I was managing things. That was a hard thing to hear, but it was important because as a business owner, you have to take the emotion out of it, take yourself out of it, and put what’s best for the business at the forefront. While it’s never awesome to hear that you’re not awesome at all things, it’s important to know because the goal is for everyone to be successful. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We’re playing a long game, so for me, when I hear any feedback, whether that’s a client who has a comment about something or didn’t have the best experience, which doesn’t happen at all, we have a very high net promoter score, which we’re very proud of.
I take that so that we can help to improve. I appreciate the feedback that clients give and anything anyone wants to share with me, listening is super important. Oftentimes, when people do complain, or there is a negative review, what they want to do is be able to vent. So creating that space where people feel free to do that is important, just so that they can feel heard and listened to, which we absolutely do because I want to make sure that your experience is what we aim to create it to be, but it’s all good. It’s all to help to make things better. I always thank people also, for that advice and feedback because if the goal is to help me be better, then I’m appreciative of that.
Chris: With the net promoter score, you got to have some sort of technology that can help you gather that feedback, right? What’s your routine? Is it after every single visit or is it something that you ask over time or to people who have visited multiple times? What’s your routine around getting that scale of one to 10, getting your detractors and your promoters?
Alex: That’s right. We have tools, automations in place. At the end of a visit, a client receives their receipt, and then we request feedback and ask them to share their experience with us, and we’ve tracked that from the beginning. I actually love that we have that kind of capability because sometimes tools can be expensive, and when you’re first starting out, you’re not sure where to invest your money or what you need next. Do I need this full-blown CRM? Do I need to get the enterprise system? Do I need the premium package? Because those subscription services can be expensive. However, having relevant data back to the beginning has proved to be very beneficial for us because it has allowed us to track for the last seven years that we have an average net promoter score of 93.
Chris: That’s amazing. I think a theme that I’ve really enjoyed with you is this idea of making the most of what’s in front of you or growing where you’re planted.
Alex: A hundred percent.
Chris: And recognizing just how to leverage the relationships you have, the situations that you’re in, the feedback that you’re receiving, and all that kind of stuff. I think that’s a really powerful message for people.
Alex: You have to be resourceful and scrappy as an entrepreneur, and especially when you’re starting out, things cost a lot of money, and you have to figure out how to do things like branding and marketing and advertising. So really looking around you to who else is in your circle, what other businesses might align with yours, and who else is in a similar demographic that you can partner with are the things that will not only help you to grow your community but also collaborate.
Chris: I love it. I have rapid-fire questions for you now. Are you ready?
Alex: Okay, let’s go.
Chris: All right. Do you think that there’s a market for makeup for men who value their manliness?
Alex: A hundred percent. Just because you wear makeup does not mean you’re any less of a man. Every single person that you see on TV has makeup because the worst thing that you can see is shine. They have a funny joke that you can edit that in post, but editing things in post is very expensive, so makeup is... Everyone should get down with makeup.
Chris: I love it. Are you saying that I’m shiny? I’m just kidding. How long have you been in Arizona and have you ever experienced scorpions?
Alex: Ah. I’ve seen a scorpion. I’ve seen a scorpion, but it was caught, so I’ve never seen one in the wild. That’s a myth that we only have tumbleweeds and scorpions. There are a lot of cactus and the plural for that is cacti. I have lived in Arizona most recently since 2011. I’m originally from California or raised in California, moved to the east coast for a couple of years, and then I was like, that snow was cute the first time, but I need to go back to the heat.
Chris: Oh, that’s good. Well, who’s the most influential person in your life?
Alex: Ah. I’m really grateful. I have a lot of really influential people, but my daughters are really my “why.” They are the reason I do what I do. I want to create the best life and experience for all of us and to show them that anything is possible. So me doing things and pursuing my dreams is me giving them permission to go and pursue the same.
Chris: That’s awesome. What is your most valuable daily ritual?
Alex: I’m somebody who prays.
Chris: That’s awesome.
Alex: It’s really important to me to take the time, to make sure that I am connected, so prayer, the Bible, very important to me.
Chris: That’s great, so your faith. That’s awesome. What is the best investment that you’ve made in your business in 2022?
Alex: I think that the best investment that I’ve made in my business is in myself. I think it’s really important as a founder to always be growing, to put yourself in those situations, so whether that’s a mastermind or attending a conference or just continuing to grow and develop yourself will really impact your team and how you serve them as well. I think that that has been the biggest investment that I’ve made this year.
Chris: That’s awesome. I have met a lot of people who have said mastermind on that question. Do you have a mastermind that you’re attending now?
Alex: I’m not currently in one, but I did one at the end of last year, and it was my first time making an investment like that into a group, which for me was also like a, sometimes you do things just to do it. I think as an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to take big risks and take big swings, so me saying yes to that last year and investing money into something that I’d never done before because really it’s accountability. So I’m like, “Do I need to spend money on this?” In doing that, it also gave me access to people and conversations, and containers that I wouldn’t have had before. So it definitely was an expanding experience, and I would encourage people to look for lots of expanding experiences.
Chris: That’s good. What’s the worst money you’ve ever spent.
Alex: There’s lots of bad money that... Something that I did, was actually just at the printer the other day, and it reminded me of this that happened. You think of economy of scale and that when you buy in bulk, it’s a less price per unit, so I can remember this one time we printed flyers for something, and I printed 10,000 of them because it was way cheaper to do it that way, and we still, seven years later have some of these flyers, so it didn’t save me money. It was not a great investment. I probably could have done with way less and have not needed to cart this many papers for the last seven years, but those are just some of the silly things that happen and where money can get wasted.
Chris: Got to love that. As a marketer, I’m familiar with wasting paper. Super sorry to all the trees.
Chris: Who’s another entrepreneur or another business that’s inspired you recently?
Alex: Oh gosh. I’m inspired by a lot. But one that I saw yesterday that was really cool for me... There’s a few that I really like. On the heritage legacy side, Supreme is a brand that I really like, and the reason I like them, it’s like a skate brand, is because they get to play with a lot of other brands. Kip is another brand that I really like because similarly, they can partner with Disney or Coca-Cola. There’s a lot of synergy there in audience and demographic. I’m always attracted to different types of businesses that are able to play outside the lines.
Alex: I look at us like a media company more than just a service provider because while people come to The Sparkle Bar for makeup, they get much more than that because at the same time, you’re also going to hear a cool playlist. You’re going to be introduced to your next new favorite fragrance. You’re going to learn about this pressed green juice. I’m always looking for ways that I can incorporate those kinds of connections among my favorites, so the kinds of businesses that I really like are the same kinds that can do that as well.
Chris: Oh, that’s awesome. Well, if you could write one thing on a billboard to inspire mompreneurs, what would it be? What would be the one thing you’d put on a billboard?
Alex: Grace. It sounds cheesy, but I’m a mom, and you can beat yourself up sometimes thinking that you are not doing enough or you’re spending too much time here or there. But the reality is, is that you are doing the very best that you can, and to give yourself grace and accept the help. You don’t have to do it alone. It does take a village, so give yourself the grace and don’t be so hard on yourself because I have to remind myself as well, and that’s something that... Because women don’t always want to ask for help. So I think it’s important that if you are a mom that is building a business that you give yourself grace because you deserve it.
Chris: Yeah, it’s good. It’s like mom guilt. I talk to lots of moms, and it’s like, the guilt that they feel either being at work or building a business or something, and feeling like they’re making their kids almost pay a price for the time away is really hard to deal with.
Alex: Well, and I like to remind my girl, and I tell my daughters, I know my girls. They were kind of bummed that I was leaving today, yes, but I remind them that what mommy is doing is building and that this is exciting and they get it. I think that being able to have that conversation with them and incorporate them into what you’re doing helps them feel a part of the process, and I think they’re going to be better for it.
Chris: And they’re cheering for you.
Alex: A hundred percent.
Chris: It’s super good. Well, Alex, it was a great conversation. I appreciate you coming to the studio. I’d say the last part is for you. What’s next for you?
Alex: Thank you. Oh, I’m super excited about what’s next. It’s all paved with sparkly line pavement. In addition to future franchising opportunities in different markets, which we’re super excited about, we’re building the next level of our brand. You can expect to see product. The Super Bowl is coming to Arizona next year, so we’re excited to be able to participate in that to some degree. You’ll have to stay tuned to learn more, but just the future and the possibilities, which are endless.
Chris: That’s awesome. Awesome. It’s great to meet you.
Alex: Likewise. Thank you for having me.
Chris: Good spending time. Absolutely.