HOW AN AVERSION TO BODY HAIR BECAME A BOOMING BUSINESS
Fiona Hilario's lifelong disdain for body hair has served her well. She has successfully parlayed this aversion to superfluous follicles into Lay Bare, an ever-expanding chain of hair removal and waxing salons that operates 110 branches across the Philippines. Her next logical endeavor: opening locations in markets outside of the Philippines, starting with a bustling location in Los Angeles, California.
It all started back while Hilario was still attending De La Salle University when she discovered a hair removal salon near her home in Makati that specialized in a then little-known waxing method called sugaring. As the name suggests, sugaring uses a high-viscosity sugar-based mixture to remove hair. The main difference (and inarguably, the advantage) of sugaring over waxing is that the sugar only adheres to the hair follicle and not to live skin cells. Commonly used waxing substances, because they contain resins, stick to live skin cells, causing not only pain with removal, but can lift live skin. And sugaring lasts as long as conventional waxing -- around two weeks before new hairs grow -- because it removes hairs in the same way: from the root.
Lay Bare locations across the Philippines
Hilario immediately saw an opportunity to bring this all-natural and more comfortable hair removal technique to deserving women across the land. In June 2006, she, along with her equally entrepreneurial siblings Paolo and Monique, opened the very first Lay Bare location in the Palanan area of Makati, becoming the first to popularize sugaring and the first hair removal-only salon concept in the country. By January of 2008, they began to open franchised locations across the metro and in far away provinces. As a testament to how women (and men) have embraced Lay Bare and its kinder, gentler hair removal process, the company has now become the leading waxing-only salon chain in the Philippines with 110 locations and more than 800 employees. Thirty-five of these are directly company-owned while the rest are successful franchised locations. The company also now markets its own beauty products, including calming (anti-irritation) lotions and exfoliating creams.
Monique, Paolo and Fiona Hilario: sibling founders of Lay Bare
A 'Hairy Situation' Leads to More Growth
According to trade organizations, the worldwide market for hair removal is projected to grow at an annual clip of 9% each year -- ballooning from US$880M in 2017 into a US$1.35B industry by 2022. This means opportunities abound for those who are interested in venturing in this category. Indeed, a perfect storm has been brewing for quite some time. A continued desire by women to achieve smooth skin across their entire bodies beyond their legs and bikini areas have expanded to include the upper lip, arms and underarms. Meanwhile, as the taboos around hair removal for men have all but disappeared, waxing services have grown exponentially beyond a female-driven demand. 'Manscaping' has indeed added a big new chunk of business to waxing salons with men who are more open to waxing various parts of their bodies, including arms, backs shoulders, legs and 'nether regions'. This bodes well for service providers like Lay Bare, whose preferable sugar-based hair removal technique, takes away the pain factor normally associated with conventional strip-waxing.
Foray in the USA
Recent industry data from this year point to North America dominating the global hair removal industry's upward trend at an even faster 9.5% compound annual growth rate. Little wonder then that Hilario and her siblings' entrepreneurial acumen kicked into high gear once again, ahead of the curve, this time with eyes set to get a leg up on the U.S. market. Lay Bare in the Studio City area of Los Angeles, a quaint tree-lined neighborhood with residential streets and trendy dining just over the hill from the Hollywood bustle, marks the Hilario siblings' push into a market outside of its home turf. Opened in July of 2012, it enjoys a steady flow of mainstream clientele, a large portion of whom are coveted millennials.
"Our goal in the United States is to replicate the success of Lay Bare in the Philippines by offering a nice and comfortable waxing salon environment with efficient and friendly staff at pocketbook-friendly prices," added Hilario. "We strive to become a market leader in the U.S. through partnerships with other enterprising individuals who seek a profitable business franchise in an industry poised for continued growth."
If history were a measure of the Hilario siblings' acuity, resolve and success rate, Lay Bare is a business bound to prosper in the North American market and beyond.
For those interested to learn more about the hair removal industry and franchising opportunities with Lay Bare, you may contact Fiona Hilario.
Lay Bare (corporate office)
12444 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 103
Studio City, CA 91604