To celebrate the 113th International Women's Day, Zenoti hosted a panel with three women entrepreneurs who sit at the forefront of the beauty and wellness industry.  

As The W Nail Bar, and Foxy Box Laser and Wax Bar brands continue to thrive, their respective founders share their unique approaches to leadership, focusing on the theme of the year: Inclusion.

These women revolutionized their fields with an emphasis on female empowerment and inclusiveness. Many of their personal stories offer lessons on embracing and learning from failure and using it as an opportunity for innovation and creativity.

The panel:  

Kyla Dufresne, Founder of Foxy Box Laser and Wax Bar, started the brand 11 years ago from the dining room in her home. Fifteen locations later and counting, Dufresne has built a thriving franchise brand across Canada, with a vision that feeling foxy is not a luxury, but a basic human right.

Lauren Hunter and Manda Mason, co-owners of The W Nail Bar, are Ohio-born sisters who were driven by the desire to disrupt the nail industry in 2015. Focusing on providing a clean and safe environment for workers and customers, they have built a successful brand employing more than 200 women across 14 locations.

Inspire Inclusion panelists: (L-R) Kyla Dufresne, Founder of Foxy Box Laser and Wax Bar,  Manda Mason and Lauren Hunter, co-owners of The W Nail Bar

Building a brand with a strong ‘why’

While the origins of these founders’ journeys differed, they do share a strong ‘why’ behind the brands they wanted to build: To disrupt their industries, and create inclusive, ethical, and collaborative environments that empower women.

Sisters Lauren Hunter and Manda Mason initially understood the business world via their family's grocery store and discovered their passion for entrepreneurship early in life. After taking on different career paths for a decade, the bond of sisterhood and a shared dream of establishing a business led them together.

The pair were disturbed by the unspoken reality of unhygienic conditions and exploitation within the nail industry and saw an opportunity. Their salon – The W Nail Bar – was to be a clean, safe, and inclusive space that cared for workers' rights and clients' health.

Similarly, Kyla Dufresne saw an opportunity to disrupt the waxing industry after noticing the only options were either high-end salons or unappealing alternatives.  

Drawing on the entrepreneurial spirit ingrained in her by her parents (there’s a decidedly family theme here!), Dufresne put herself through school with tips earned while bartending. When opening her first Foxy Box Laser and Wax Bar, Dufresne opted for a franchise model to help inspire other women to realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

“I like to say that owning a business is like dog years: Every year equals seven years of what you gain in one.”
- Lauren Hunter, co-owner, The W Nail Bar

Sometimes, managing growth isn’t comfortable

With the stresses of business ownership and the demand for introspection, personal and professional growth isn’t always pleasant. But Hunter says that's actually a good thing: "Growing is not always comfortable and can be messy, but the fact remains: every day as an entrepreneur and business owner, you are growing."  

Reflecting on her early leadership journey – at age 19, she managed a multi-million-dollar Lululemon store – Hunter shares a key insight that shaped her growth trajectory. A team member challenged her, pointing out that she was failing to connect with her staff.

Through that tough feedback, Hunter realized growth goes beyond business objectives, into fostering connections, understanding your team, and showing vulnerability.  

This pivotal moment taught her a valuable leadership lesson: A leader who takes time to relate to their team on a human level and understand their needs, creates the trust required for shared growth and success.  

Lauren Hunter and Manda Mason, Co-owners, The W Nail Bar

Embracing failure and vulnerability

"Raise your hand if you like rollercoasters. If you didn't raise your hand, don't open a business."

That’s what Mason recently told business students during a discussion, perfectly summing up what life is like in the driver’s seat of a thriving brand.  

The experience of an entrepreneur is a mix of wins and setbacks. But it's the setbacks, Mason argues, that shape and mold us into who we are. She promotes her 'win, lose, learn, repeat' philosophy, emphasizing that failure can present the opportunity for immense growth.  

“Getting to the bottom means the only place left is to crawl your way back up,” she explains.  “That's when we become completely innovative, grow, and dig deep into places of ourselves that we otherwise wouldn’t.”

Even when faced with two failed partnerships, The W Nail Bar co-owners saw these failures as an essential part of their journey, focusing on their strengths rather than dwelling on disappointment.  

Similarly, Foxy Box founder Dufresne shares her experience with her first failed franchise. Rather than wallow in defeat, she stepped back, re-evaluated, and came back stronger than ever, resulting in exponential growth. “In those failures, you learn everything. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and talk about the failures is super important,” she explains.

“Wherever you are, whether it's working for a company or owning your own business, you will never do anything great when you're succeeding. When you're succeeding, you're comfortable.”
- Manda Mason, co-owner, The W Nail Bar

Finding your style: Being a cowboy and Chief Energy Officer

When discussing their leadership styles, all three women founders agreed: Leadership is less about domination and more about building a supportive, understanding, and empowering environment.

“I’m a big believer of finding the right people and putting them in the right seats,” says Dufresne, who helped one veteran team member change roles three times over the years to find where they could shine.  

This approach aligns with Dufresne’s ‘figure it out as we go’ leadership attitude.  “I'm a bit of a cowboy,” she explains, “and I think that every entrepreneur is.”  

Dufresne’s refreshing attitude extends to how she describes her own role. She sees her CEO role as ‘Chief Energy Officer’, emphasizing her strengths and bringing enthusiasm and positivity into her workplace.

She also recommends hiring, and surrounding yourself with, people who are smarter than you are, and helping people along the way.

“I love to go to conferences and franchise conventions, and source out people who have multiple locations and are bigger than me,” the Foxy Box CEO and founder explains. “I make a point to get their phone number and make them my mentor. Then I pass my knowledge on to people who want to franchise.”

“I see people's strengths. I put them in that position, and I let them fly. Then as they fail or figure it out, we're giving them feedback.”  
- Kyla Dufresne, Founder, Foxy Box Laser and Wax Bar
Kyla Dufresne, Founder, Foxy Box Laser and Wax Bar

Leading with empathy 

Hunter encourages leaders not to forget that team members aren’t just employees. They are individuals with unique life experiences and challenges that may spill over into their work lives.

Hunter and Mason, who employ more than 200 women at The W Nail Bar, view their leadership through this empathetic lens. “We always say to be a ‘servant leader,’” says Hunter. “Be a listener and approach every situation with wonderment and curiosity.”

She recommends that the next time someone is late for work, don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, ask yourself why they might be late. Could they have childcare issues or car trouble?

“Take a step back, ask questions, and engage in heartfelt conversations.” 

Celebrating your wins, sharing your goals

Do you celebrate your wins? According to Dufresne, you should. 

“Our goal is to have 150 profitable locations in the next six years,” the Foxy Box CEO says. “If I waited until then to celebrate, I mean, that'll be a boring ride.” 

Dufresne advocates framing all accolades, speaking your dreams into existence, and celebrating every win loudly and proudly. 

The W Nail Bar co-owner Hunter stresses that speaking about goals is important for anyone in business, no matter their position. She encourages women especially to speak up and use their voice. 

“Whether it's sharing what your goals are, what type of compensation you want, where you see yourself going... speak up. If you don't, who's going to do it for you?” she shares. 

“I think women shy away from talking about celebrating their wins, and it's so important because words become reality. When you've got dreams or ideas, talk about them. When something happens, celebrate that.”
 - Kyla Dufresne, Founder, Foxy Box Laser and Wax Bar

Being adaptable: Becoming the cannibal 

In business, adapting to situations and surroundings is a necessity, not an option. For Foxy Box founder Dufresne, adaptability is about staying ahead of the curve and being bold enough to disrupt your own business before someone else does.

A few years ago, Foxy Box decided to create a gender-neutral brand and business. They removed specific gender references from their marketing and promotional materials to evolve with the changing times. The decision is a testament to how business leaders need to adapt their enterprises to ongoing social and consumer trends. 

To keep abreast of evolving industry trends, Dufresne also introduced laser hair removal services into the Foxy Box business model. This decision was spurred by insightful advice from a mentor: “If there's something cannibalizing your business, become the cannibal so that it doesn't take away from your business." 

Dufresne knew laser hair removal could potentially disrupt the waxing industry and adapted it into her business model as a preventive measure – a great example for any business leader. 

“There are 8 billion people in the world with so many different talents. It's about finding where people's strengths lie and then monopolizing on them. Even a fish looks like an idiot if you ask it to climb a tree.” - Manda Mason, co-owner, The W Nail Bar 

As today’s consumers manage everything from their mobile phones, and expect a digital experience, being adaptable also means embracing technology – a move both brands have made by partnering with Zenoti

“We’re always thinking about how we can adapt our processes with technology while keeping that human connection with customers that’s so critical,” says Dufresne. “Having a forward-thinking software partner that consistently brings out new features to meet our needs is really important.” 

Prioritizing wellbeing and self-care 

As leaders who have built their brands from the ground up, Hunter, Mason, and Dufresne are no strangers to burnout. That’s exactly why they strongly advocate for ‘microdosing wellness’ - the concept of taking short breaks to find balance. 

Hunter suggests finding something you can realistically do every day, whether it’s a walk outside, five minutes of squats, or cooking a meal with a loved one.

Dufresne encourages treating self-care time as important as a business meeting. She suggests blocking out a yoga class or meditation time within your schedule and treating it like a work commitment. 

As a new mother to a three-month old son, Dufresne also emphasizes the importance of asking for help when you need it. “Recognize when you need help and reach out – you'll be surprised at who shows up for you,” she shares. “If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else around you.” 


These three women entrepreneurs shared their journeys, stories, and invaluable advice in celebration of International Women’s Day. Within the theme of inclusion, they aim to aspire other entrepreneurs and business owners to become driving forces in the industry. 

Whether it’s embracing and learning from failures, leading with empathy, or being willing to disrupt their own businesses, these women’s insights serve as valuable lessons for any leader aiming to build a successful, inclusive brand. 

Want more inspiration from female pioneers making waves in business? 

Read how women entrepreneurs can transform the beauty and wellness industry

Cheryl Cole
Senior Content Specialist
Cheryl uses her background in journalism to help brands bring their unique stories to life. She is passionate about content strategy with experience leading both print and digital publications.
Cheryl Cole
Senior Content Specialist
Cheryl uses her background in journalism to help brands bring their unique stories to life. She is passionate about content strategy with experience leading both print and digital publications.

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Cullie Poseria
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Fitness
Coming from a healthcare family, growing up as a competitive athlete, and being trained as a filmmaker, and MBA, Cullie brings diverse experience to her storytelling and digital business-to-business product marketing. Her writing focuses on sharing trends and insights from her experience in software, entertainment, wellness, and fitness.

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