2013 Enterprising Women: Lina Heath
President, EvelineCharles Salons|Spas|Beauty MD
As Eveline Charles’ niece, Lina Heath joined EvelineCharles Salons|Spas\Beauty MD in 1995 working as a spa manager. Over the years, she led many departments, including product development, marketing and operations. Today, as president and an owner partner, Heath is responsible for conceptualizing the company vision and implementing corporate strategies to meet revenue, productivity and profitability goals for the company’s nine salons and spas and two academies.
From where does your entrepreneurial drive originate?
I have been very fortunate to have worked for Eveline now for 18 years. I have learned from her tremendously in her style of leadership, her ability to negotiate, her intuition on the beauty industry, and her expanding vision.
As you grew your company/brand, what “ah-ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
It was eye-opening experience to witness how Eveline launched the first private line when the company was a one-location business. It was fascinating to see how the product line set the company apart from the competition. This decision also led to signature services. This was the beginning of the EvelineCharles brand.
I have done extensive research about product development, and have led the process from concept to completion of the current product lines. EvelineCharles now has a portfolio of professional and retail product lines including hair care, hair color, skin care, cosmetics, nail care, linens and sundries. Our chemists are sourced from around the world to produce the highest level of performance products.
A tipping point for the company was when we expanded to two locations. Eveline’s husband, Barry Charles, took a leave of absence to introduce systems to the company to ensure consistency between locations. When the baton was passed, I created systems that would ensure consistency in the guest experience and in our employee management processes. When we had these in place, it allowed us to open several more locations without compromising the brand.
As you shaped your company, what have been some of the biggest stumbling blocks?
Through our expansion, it has been difficult to know exactly what we needed in a location manager. We now have clarity on our four management pillars: They are no-compromise qualities that are necessary in our potential candidates. We have categorized our job postings and interview questions around these pillars: Brand (passion for beauty industry), Business (driven by performance in sales and profits), Judgment (autonomy in ensuring guest satisfaction), and Leadership (ability to lead a team to meet financial and brand goals).
We were able to open several locations over a period of 10 years, we were lucky to have expanded when the economy was strong, but when the economy dropped we really felt the weight of our overexpansion.
How would you describe your management style? What do you think makes you a good leader, and in what areas would you to improve?
I really believe in people. My style of leadership is to take the time to teach individuals on how to be successful in their positions, and keep them accountable throughout at each stage. This will ensure that the person being led is successful at the end of the process. I have a good balance of passion, persistence and patience.
How do you set goals for yourself? For example, do you prefer more small, accomplishable goals or fewer large goals? How do you hold yourself accountable?
I have a very long event horizon—I set long-term goals and have the drive to keep moving forward. Having a clear vision of where you want to be makes decision-making much easier, and ensures that time and efforts are maximized.
Throughout your professional history, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned after making a mistake?
We made the assumption that our Alberta business model would be as successful in the British Columbia market. The guest demographics are really quite different, the economy is not as strong and we underestimated the strength of our brand recognition. Although our company has expanded wide with many locations, we are now refocusing on the Alberta market. We have tremendous opportunity to grow deep and increase sales and profitability of our business platform. When our locations are fully optimized, we may expand to more locations at a more secure pace with a market-specific strategy.
From whom or what do you draw your strength, courage, vision?
I draw vision and courage from Eveline to push the limits of success. I feel fortunate to have had my parents as life mentors—they have instilled self-confidence and patience in me. My father is patient, wise and believes that there is good in everyone. My mother is kind, generous, and takes pride in doing things well.
As you grew your company, what, if anything, has held you back?
Earlier in my career, I was judged by my age because I grew to a senior position at a young age. I used think to myself , “If they don’t think I can do this, than they don’t know me.” Now that I have been with the company for many years, this is no longer a factor.
What is the number-one quality you look for when hiring employees, and how do you evaluate if they possess that trait?
I look for an “I can” attitude. So many people set personal limits—they are defeated without even trying. If someone has a positive attitude, wants to learn, and is committed to doing what it takes to be successful, I know they will be a good fit for our company.
In the interview process I like to ask the candidate about their greatest personal or professional accomplishment. This tells me how far they reach and how committed they are to achieving their goals. When people say, “I can’t because…” this is a red flag that this person will be limiting themselves, and therefore holding the company back.
What’s the best thing an employee/colleague ever said about you?
I have been recognized by the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and the World Presidents Organization (WPO) as the youngest female president inaugurated in the Alberta Chapter of YPO.
If you were training another woman to take over your job, what’s the most important advice you would offer her?
One of my greatest responsibilities is to preserve the heritage of EvelineCharles. I have had the privilege of working closely with Eveline for many years, but the next generation of employees may not have this opportunity. My role is to capture and institutionalize her values and beliefs so that our company vision is executed, our identity is maintained and our brand is expanded.
If you were to look at scrapbook of your professional career, what would be your favorite page? Which page would you like to remove?
My favorite page is the one I am on now, precisely in the middle of my career. I am proud to have been part of the heritage of our company for half my career, and feel more ambitious than ever as I contemplate the second half. I would not remove a page—each page has gotten me one page closer to where I am today.
If someone were to write a book about your life, what would be an appropriate title?
Think Big, Grow Big … One Person at a Time
If you weren’t in the beauty industry, what would you be doing?
A home design and décor distribution business.
What are you working on now? What’s your next professional step?
Eveline has invested many years in preparing me to be her successor, now I have to start this process with my successor and my senior management team. We currently have nine salons and spas and two schools—my goal is to triple the company sales in the next ten years. I know I am capable of building on the foundation we have today and can prove that I can take the company to the next level.
We are building our technical cutting program, as well as our EvelineCharles Business Principles to educate students and service providers on how to be successful in the industry. The next evolution of our business model is professional distribution of our products to the beauty industry and to beauty schools.
How would you like to spend your retirement?
In my retirement I see myself living in a warmer climate surrounded by nature’s beauty. Family is very important to me, and I hope to create a life for them that is rich in experiences and give them the opportunity to pursue their dreams. My husband and I met on a holiday and we would love to continue to travel to new places together