Interview with Jessica Stellwagen
1. Hi, Tell us your name, what you do, and about your business. Please do mention the monthly revenue for our readers as well.
Jessica Stellwagen, my sister, Melissa Mickelson, and I co-founded Bodify a CoolSculpting ONLY boutique in Arizona. For as long as we can remember, we wanted to own a business together. It started with lemonade stands when we were 5 and 7! We had no clue it would eventually be a Fat-Freezing empire and 1000s of happier and more confident clients. As a child I was once told, “JJ (my nickname) it’s a good thing you work hard because you are pretty stupid.”
For some reason that comment left its mark and I knew without a doubt I’d play a big game, build a successful company, and prove that person wrong.
In October 2014, my sister and I tried to buy an existing medspa. The doctor politely declined but did mention, “girls there is enough fat to freeze for all of us to win. Go out there, start your own thing, and do well!” This was a remarkable thing for the doctor to say and it gave us the courage and excitement to do it!
Three months later, after raising $400,000 from an investor, friends, and family, Bodify was born.
In May of 2019 we opened our second location. Completely debt free and kicking butt. Our single location does about $200,000 a month (business is very seasonal, so some months is 300k and others it’s $100,000). With our second location we truly believe we will double revenue!
Our first two months after opening our 2nd location have proven this to be true, so we hopeful and intentional about keeping that trend going.
2. What’s your own background. Were you always proficient in this business, or did it just strike your mind one fine day?
We grew up in a home of entrepreneurs. Our parents each owned small businesses. Dinner conversations weren’t about, “I hate my boss, my job stinks, wish I got paid more!”
Rather they were centered around entrepreneurial thinking, how to make something out of nothing. How to build a team that respected you and worked hard for you, how to create a culture and an organization that people wanted to be part of on all levels, when to expand, when to offer new products, when to hire more people.
All this sank in thankfully. I truly believe it positioned us to be successful regardless of what paths we took later on. We still consult with our parents often, anytime we are thinking about a major or small but important change, we chat with our parents.
3. What went into designing the initial product? Can you take us through the actual process?
We are a service-based business that exclusively offers CoolSculpting to our clients. So although we didn’t design a product in the traditional sense, a lot went into the design of our space, our website, our marketing strategy, our story, our branding, our culture, and how we run our organization, treat our team, and care for our clients!
My sister and I have very different skills sets and one of the biggest reasons our partnership has thrived is we stay in our lanes. She focused heavily on the look, feel, and culture of Bodify. The client experience, our story, our marketing, and our brand were intentionally crafted. It’s absolutely stunning and people feel a palpable difference when they interact with us vs. any other CoolSculpting practice or any business for that matter out there.
For us the most important thing was to sit down and determine who we are, how we were going to be different, and what value propositions we’d offer to our prospects and clients. There are over 3500 CoolSculpting providers in the United States so if we wanted to win, we’d have to be a thought-leader, disrupt the status quo, and stand out from the rest.
A critical part of our brand is our story and our why. People want to feel connected and want to do business with people and organizations who do things right and for the right reasons. We wanted to be a company that sparks joy, uplifts people, and reminds them of how appreciated and valued they are. Although CoolSculpting is the business vehicle we elected, it’s our hearts and attitudes that drive our success.
4. Talk us through the process of launch of your business
There are so many components that you aren’t aware of or prepared for. Little things you never count on. It’s a fun, exhausting and exciting process.
- Before we opened we had to
- Pick a name
- Develop a website
- Find and hire a great marketing company
- Find and hire a medical director
- Find a space to lease
- Design the space
- Buy all the machines, furniture, supplies, phones, computers, etc.
- Hire staff
- Raise money (so we could market and get our name out there and generate business)
- Build a business plan with financials
- Develop our processes for marketing, reaching out to new leads, nurturing leads, converting leads, doing follow up appointments, handling online reviews.
- Get all the legal documents made
- Get bank accounts
- Pick credit card processing company
- Select phone systems, scheduling systems, a CRM, etc.
It wasn’t overwhelming because my sister and I did it together; we also believe in “do what you do best and delegate the rest.” So when we came to a line item that was outside of our understanding, we’d reach out to resources, get help, hire experts, whatever was needed to ensure we built our foundation correctly! Things just continued to line up and unfold, this is how we knew we were on the right track.
We just kept trusting the process and believing the right people, ideas, and resources would show up to help us tackle the next item on the list. And they did!
5. How is your repeat customer rate like? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?
CoolSculpting works exceptionally well. It gets rid of 20-25% of the fat in the area or areas you treat for good. Once the fat cells are gone they are gone for good. So unlike many businesses, products or services, we continually have to generate new leads in order to make money and thrive.
That said, there are people who decide they want a more dramatic reduction so they will do more than one round of CoolScultping on area that frustrates them. And sometimes people “dip their toe in” to ensure they like the results on one area before opting to invest money on other areas.
We feel most businesses work hard to gain a client and then totally forget about them. Huge mistake! We work exceptionally hard to not only generate leads, educate and nurture them, and convert them into paying clients, but also we have systems and processes to ensure they are happy, get great results, know they are valued by us, that we are appreciative of their business, and that we are with them on their body transformation journey and continue to stay in touch long after they are done.
We spend about $30,000 a month on marketing so if our systems weren’t dialed down and we didn’t have a highly effective process to ensure we get in touch with leads, book consults, and sell CoolSculpting, we’d be bleeding and wasting money.
We have exceptional tracking so we can make good decisions. Too many people fly by the seat of their pants and fail to pay attention to their numbers. Numbers always tell a story!
6. What is the current situation. How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?
In 2019 we are kicking butt. Revenue is up about 30% and we’ve pulled back on some costs as well that have allowed us to have an even stronger profitability. Often people get very caught up in top-line revenue. We’ve always cared equally as much about what stays in the business after all expenses and taxes are paid.
Our second location has been a wonderful addition to our business and we are excited about the opportunity to expand more. We have an incredible team and are looking to find more people like them so we can open more locations in the valley and continue to serve our community and build a great reputation. Our hope is to have another location in the next 12-18 months.
7. As a woman founder, do you see this as only financially uplifting? Or otherwise too? If yes, then how?
I’ve talked to so many women who feel the chips were stacked against them, and it is a “man’s world” and they had to fight harder or do more to get the same level of respect or income as their male counterparts. We have been very fortunate, before Bodify, my sister nor I felt this. We have always been supported, uplifted and cheered on. We love being boss babes yet we feel we have the same responsibilities, highs and lows any entrepreneur or business owner would experience.
Growing up we had serious and frequent financial conversations at the dinner table. Those conversations sank in and really shaped how fiscally responsible we are. My parents didn’t like debt, didn’t believe in spending more than you make, or putting things on credit cards. So my entire life I’ve lived like that. The numbers with Bodify are of course bigger, but I have the same philosophy.
Every so often I do reflect and just say “damn we are making millions of dollars and look what we’ve built, I’m so proud!”
I surround myself with others who are successful, man or woman, it’s all very uplifting and exciting and fun.
8. What tools or services did you use?
We were very clear we didn’t have the skill sets nor the desire to do everything on our own. We hired a website company, a marketing company, a PR company, an accounting and tax company, and a business coach among other things. We wanted to work with experts, we wanted to have access to those who were successfully offering a service/product we needed. I don’t want to know tax code, I don’t care about learning how to build FaceBook ads. I want to know enough to know that I’m hiring the right company and that’s it. Of course we put metrics in place and communicate often to ensure they are doing right by us and our investment in these items make sense. We want to focus on our core competency and leave other aspects of the business to experts.
We use KEAP as our CRM and I will NEVER build a business without a CRM. It’s critical to capturing leads, educating leads, moving them through the funnel, converting them, staying top of mind, and staying connected for a lifetime so if and when they want CoolSculpting they know Bodify is the only choice for them.
9. What are your key challenges today. How are you planning to tackle those?
The biggest challenge we will have as we grow and expand is people. People are the MOST essential component of our success. We have an amazing team, they are kind, driven, hard-working, treat our clients like gold and have a great respect for one another. Continuing to find people who want to serve our clients how we do and are a cultural fit will be the biggest challenge. We know it’s possible, it just takes patience, training, and time.
10. Which are some resources, books, articles or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers
We are both obsessed with NPR’s “How I Built This” with Guy Raz. We love the Dave Ramsey Podcast as well. Ali Webb’s “Raising the Bar” and Hilary Kerr “Second Life”, and “Skim from the Couch.”
They have been invaluable to us, give us guidance, inspire us, make us laugh, keep us motivated and above all remind us we are not alone in our struggles and successes.
I am also part of EO Arizona and this has also been a tremendous gift and I learn a great deal by chatting with and interacting with other entrepreneurs regardless of the industry they are in. There is always a golden nugget- you just have to listen for it and be willing to actually “hear” it.
11. Many a times, women feel that businesses are for only for men. What’s your take?
This has never been our experience, perhaps we are fortunate or an anomaly, but we have been supported, uplifted, encouraged, and guided by both men and women every step of the way. We coach 100s of other med spas that offer CoolSculpting, these practices are often owned by men, yet they embrace our model and listen to our insights and strategies and implement them in their own practices. I’m grateful we haven’t run into anything other than support and love.
12. Any candid/back office/team bonding/self office pictures you’d like to share ( these are typically sprinkled between the post in order to make it nice, visual and relatable.
13. Other Details:
a) links to your social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin)
b) No. of founders with you on this project.
2- Melissa Mickelson and Jessica Stellwagen, sisters:)