Authority Magazine Female Founders: Alexis Pfropper of ästhetik spa On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Doug Noll

Prioritizing Self-Care for Longevity — For me I needed to recognize the importance of self-care. In the demanding spa industry, prioritizing well-being wasn’t easy, and started taking its toll. But through pacing myself, wellness practices, and professional and personal development, I was able to better contribute to both my personal fulfillment and professional longevity.

Asa part of our series about Women Founders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Alexis Pfropper.

Alexis Pfropper is a licensed esthetician and skilled permanent makeup artist based in Punta Gorda, Fla. After completing her formal training with the Beauty and Health Institute in 2019, she embarked on a mission to redefine the spa experience, launching ästhetik spa. With an extensive background in reflexology, as well as skincare and cosmetology, her spa offers a range of personalized treatments designed to uplift and inspire.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Iam a licensed esthetician and skilled permanent makeup artist based in Punta Gorda, Florida. With an early passion for skincare and beauty, I quickly developed a deep understanding of the transformative power of skincare.

I have been in love with skincare since I was young, and started learning as much as I could as soon as possible. After completing formal training with the Beauty and Health Institute in 2019, I made it my mission to redefine the spa experience and launched ästhetik spa. Since then, I have launched my own skincare line, ästhetik skincare and continue to expand my knowledge in skincare, spa therapies, and the science of pure skin™, attending advanced courses, and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and breakthroughs.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I have to say the way my business started is interesting, funny and a bit scary. I opened asthetik spa in Punta Gorda in March 2020 — just a few short weeks before the COVID mandate shut me down. It certainly wasn’t the ideal way to start my career! I feel fortunate to have had the support I did to keep things moving. I utilized Zoom for online skincare classes, focused on developing my online presence and invested even more time into developing the skincare formulas.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the funniest mistakes I made when I was first starting out as a founder was during a networking event. I was eager to make a good impression and had practiced my elevator pitch multiple times. However, when it came time to introduce myself to someone, I completely blanked and ended up stumbling over my words and mixing up important details about my business.

At the time, it felt like a mortifying experience, but looking back, I can now laugh about it. The lesson I learned from that moment was the importance of being adaptable and able to think on your feet. No matter how much you prepare, unexpected things can happen, and it’s essential to be able to roll with the punches and maintain a sense of humor.

Additionally, I learned the value of authenticity in networking and communication. Instead of trying to impress others with rehearsed lines, it’s more important to be genuine and authentic. People appreciate honesty and sincerity, and being able to laugh at yourself and your mistakes can actually help build stronger connections and relationships in the long run.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am grateful to everyone who has supported me on this journey, but I have to call out my mom, Jennifer. She is instrumental in keeping me and my businesses organized, and I couldn’t do it without her!

I also have to thank Megan and Anthony, my landlords at the spa, for helping me get my business going after the lockdown. They were kind enough to trade my rent for spa gift cards for their family and friends, which helped boost my clientele. I am so grateful to them for all their help and kindness.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

There are several factors that I think contribute to the lower percentage of women founders in funded companies. For some it may be that women-owned businesses often face challenges accessing funding compared to their male counterparts. Research has shown that women receive significantly less venture capital funding, which can hinder their ability to launch and grow their companies.

And unfortunately, unconscious bias and stereotypes about women’s capabilities as entrepreneurs may also play a role. Investors and decision-makers may hold implicit biases that lead them to perceive women as less competent or ambitious in the business world, impacting their willingness to invest in women-led ventures.

Good role models being presented is another issue dear to me. I firmly believe in good examples as inspiration. When there is a lack of role models and support networks for aspiring female founders, aspiring founders may face challenges in envisioning themselves in similar roles.

While we are seeing improvements, women often bear a disproportionate burden of caregiving responsibilities, which can impact their ability to dedicate time and resources to starting and growing a business. Balancing entrepreneurial pursuits with family obligations can be challenging and may deter some women from pursuing entrepreneurship.

Addressing these barriers requires a multifaceted approach that involves creating more equitable funding opportunities, challenging gender stereotypes, promoting diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship, and providing support for women entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey. By addressing these challenges head-on, we can empower more women to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions and contribute to a more diverse and vibrant business landscape.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

We can all actively challenge gender stereotypes and biases in our own attitudes and behaviors. And encouraging girls and women to pursue careers in entrepreneurship and supporting their ambitions can help break down barriers. I’ve had the opportunity to mentor several aspiring women entrepreneurs, provide guidance, and offer support networks. Sharing experiences and offering advice can help women navigate the challenges of starting and growing a business.

Individually we can all support women-owned businesses by intentionally choosing to invest in products and services offered by female founders. Patronizing women-owned businesses can help fuel their growth and success.

Society as a whole can work to promote women entrepreneurs by raising awareness about the challenges faced by women founders and the importance of gender diversity in entrepreneurship can help drive change. Education and advocacy efforts can help build support for policies and initiatives that promote gender equality in business. I think providing access to entrepreneurial education and resources for women and girls can help build their skills and confidence as entrepreneurs. This could include offering training programs and workshops even at the high school level so they can see options for their future.

Governments can implement policies and initiatives that support women entrepreneurs, such as providing access to funding, creating mentorship programs, and offering incentives for diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship.

More attention and solutions to address structural barriers that disproportionately impact women, such as childcare responsibilities, access to affordable healthcare, and access to capital could open more doors.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Founding a business allows women to take control of their own futures and pursue their passions on their own terms. It offers a sense of empowerment and independence that can be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. It even provides an opportunity to make a positive impact on the world. Whether it’s solving a problem, creating jobs in the community, or driving innovation in a particular industry, women founders have the power to effect meaningful change.

Entrepreneurship also offers flexibility and freedom that traditional employment may not provide. We can even design our businesses around our lifestyles, allowing for greater work-life balance and the ability to prioritize personal and family commitments. Overall, becoming a founder offers women a chance to pursue their passions, make a difference in the world, and achieve personal and professional fulfillment.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

Yes! This is something near and dear to me. Many think that founders are overnight successes. The reality is that building a successful business takes time, effort, and perseverance. Overnight success stories are rare, and most founders face numerous challenges and setbacks along the way. It’s important to recognize that success is often the result of hard work, resilience, and a willingness to learn from failures.

People often think entrepreneurship is a solo journey, and sometimes it is, but it’s good to note that a lot of successful founders understand the importance of building a strong support network. This includes surrounding themselves with mentors, advisors, and a talented team who can provide guidance, expertise, and support.

Sometimes I hear entrepreneurs must be fearless risk-takers. And while it does involve taking risks, successful founders are not necessarily fearless. Instead, they understand the importance of calculated risks and are willing to take calculated steps outside of their comfort zones. They mitigate risks by conducting thorough research, seeking advice, and being prepared to pivot if necessary. Which might sound like you have to work 24/7 to be successful- not true. While dedication and hard work are important traits of successful founders, it’s also essential to prioritize work-life balance and self-care. Burning out is counterproductive and can hinder long-term success. Successful founders know when to take breaks, delegate tasks, and prioritize their well-being.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

I think it does take a special person to be a founder of a business. Owning and running your own company takes so much hard work and dedication, and you have to be prepared to invest that time. You need to be passionate about what you’re doing, otherwise it will always feel like “work.” You also have to realize there is a balance and make sure you invest in yourself as well, otherwise you risk burnout. Overall, if you have the dedication and mindset to give to a business, you can be a success. If you are looking for a typical “9 to 5” job, founding a company may not be the right path for you.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Embracing Mistakes

At the start of my journey, a mistake was the equivalent to the end of the world. Understanding that making mistakes is not just acceptable but integral to my journey took time. As a business owner, mistakes are not pitfalls but steppingstones toward growth and mastery. Each misstep offered me invaluable lessons, providing insights into refining my techniques, my products, and enhancing my client’s experiences. Now, I work to analyze each experience in my life both professionally and personally, learn from it, and allow it to propel me toward continuous improvement. In the realm of skincare, where techniques and trends evolve, viewing mistakes as opportunities for refinement fosters a culture of innovation and expertise. If I continue to create and change, I can only improve.

Mastering Social Media Marketing:

Recognize the paramount importance of mastering social media marketing in the beauty and skincare industry. Understanding how to effectively market yourself on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok is akin to unlocking a powerful avenue for connecting with your audience. Learn to curate visually appealing content that showcases your expertise, spa ambiance, and the transformative results of your services. Engage with your audience authentically, sharing skincare tips, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and client success stories. Utilizing social media strategically not only broadens your reach but also establishes a genuine connection with potential clients. Embrace the art of storytelling through captivating visuals and compelling captions, positioning yourself not just as an esthetician but as a trusted skincare expert. In the digital age, the ability to navigate and leverage social media effectively is a cornerstone for building a thriving and visible esthetician practice.

Confidence is key

This is something one of my mentors actually highlighted to me years ago, but I didn’t fully understand it until I really got to work. There are going to be times where you may be intimidated to work on, speak to or educate a client as an esthetician based on their background, occupation, or financial/social status. As a trained professional, it’s so important to embrace the confidence that comes with your expertise. Don’t let intimidation hold you back from working on certain individuals. I need to remember that my extensive training equips me to handle diverse skin types and concerns. This was not the easiest to lean into in the beginning but eventually, I was able to approach each client with assurance in my skills, knowing that my knowledge and experience position me as a capable esthetician. So, if I can pass any wisdom along, it would be to be open to the unique challenges each client brings and let your confidence shine through as you navigate the intricacies of skincare. Trust in your ability to provide exceptional service and address the specific needs of each person who walks through your spa doors. Your confidence not only elevates your practice but also instills trust and assurance in your clients, fostering a positive and empowering experience for both you and those you serve.

Prioritizing Self-Care for Longevity

For me I needed to recognize the importance of self-care. In the demanding spa industry, prioritizing well-being wasn’t easy, and started taking its toll. But through pacing myself, wellness practices, and professional and personal development, I was able to better contribute to both my personal fulfillment and professional longevity.

The Importance of Humility

I think it’s so important to recognize the role of humility in the journey. Whether interacting with clients, collaborating with peers, or navigating challenges, humility fosters a positive and receptive environment. Embracing a humble attitude opens doors to continuous learning and establishes genuine connections, vital for personal and professional growth. Cultivating humility is not a sign of weakness but a powerful tool that enhances relationships and fuels success in the world of esthetics, spa ownership, and skincare entrepreneurship. It’s something that I must continuously remind myself of.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

My goal is to help other’s boost their self-confidence and help them feel healthy and happy in their skin. I hope that through my skincare ventures, I am brightening the days of my clients, one at a time. I want to continue innovating with my skincare products, so people have access to clean, affordable skincare that really works.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would love to start a “Holistic Wellness Integration” to emphasize how physical, mental and emotional wellbeing are all interconnected. By promoting practices that harmonize skincare with nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and mental health support, the movement aims to empower individuals to cultivate a balanced and resilient lifestyle.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

One individual with whom I would be honored to have a private breakfast or lunch is Taylor Swift. Not only is she an immensely talented artist and performer, but she has also demonstrated exceptional business acumen and resilience throughout her career. Taylor Swift’s journey from a young country music sensation to a global superstar is a testament to her unwavering dedication, creativity, and strategic vision.

As a successful entrepreneur, Taylor Swift has leveraged her platform and influence to advocate for artists’ rights and fair compensation in the music industry. Her decision to re-record her earlier albums to regain control of her masters showcases her commitment to artistic integrity and ownership. Additionally, Swift’s entrepreneurial ventures, such as her record label, Taylor Swift Productions, and partnerships with brands like Apple Music and Coca-Cola, highlight her savvy business instincts and ability to diversify her revenue streams.

Beyond her musical achievements, Taylor Swift has demonstrated leadership and resilience in navigating challenges and setbacks. Her willingness to speak out issues like including gender equality underscores her commitment to using her platform for positive change. Her ability to adapt and innovate in an ever-evolving industry reflects her forward-thinking mindset and determination to stay ahead of the curve.

As a role model for women and aspiring entrepreneurs, Taylor Swift embodies the qualities of perseverance, creativity, and authenticity. Her ability to overcome obstacles and remain true to herself serves as an inspiration to individuals striving to pursue their passions and achieve success on their own terms. A private meeting with Taylor Swift would provide an invaluable opportunity to gain insights into her approach to business, creativity, and leadership, while also expressing gratitude for her impactful contributions to so many people’s lives.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!



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