How to Create a Beauty Empire with Kristen Wood, CEO and Creator of The Ten Spot

Originally from Winnipeg, Kristen Wood graduated with a “somewhat useless “Philosophy degree from University of Western. She got her start working at VICE in New York (and “moonlighting at the then celeb hot spot/night club Suite 16”). Next, she moved to Montreal to pursue a degree in graphic design and was hired post-graduation by Segal Communications in Toronto, where she worked as a graphic designer on accounts like Axe, Dreamworks, and Virgin Mobile. But Wood had always wanted to start her own company, and at age 24, she founded The Ten Spot Inc. and The Ten Spot Franchising Inc., a line of beauty bars, and  GET NAILED – The Ten Spot’s in house brand of lacquers, lotions and potions. She now lives in Hamilton with her husband and commutes to The Ten Spot’s Liberty Village offices.

SDTC: As a young entrepreneur, how do you make sure your business stands out? 

Kristen Wood: The Ten Spot has always felt like an extension of me, especially in the beginning, since I was just making it up out of thin air. I am a big proponent of being authentic, so I just tried to make decisions that were true to myself and what I was about, so at least I could feel that, if things didn’t work, I gave it my all and that I wouldn’t have that Damn it! I knew I should have done it this way instead feeling.

I picked colours and did a logo that I loved—not necessarily one that  I thought would ‘sell the brand’ (originally the shades were orange and a mint green). I designed [the shop] with materials that I thought looked cool at the time (concrete mani bars and stainless steel pedi stations). Then I had The Ten Spot talk, as I would, meaning I’d say off the cuff or random things in newsletters, or I’d give things cheeky names like the ‘Have a Threesome’ special (bring in two friends for a pedicure and The Ten Spot will give each of you a free Quickie Manicure). All of those things seemed to work and got us some great attention right off the bat. A lot of what was original has stayed but has also evolved because my taste has evolved, but my personality is still ingrained in the brand.

 SDTC: What is one of the greatest milestones in Ten Spot’s history? 

KW: Signing the deal on our first franchise agreement was a major milestone for us. It was amazing and totally frightening all at the same time. We just wouldn’t be where we are without those first franchise partners taking a risk and going through the learning curves with us. Our franchise partners are really what’s been behind The Ten Spot going from a local favourite to a brand with 13 locations now and more under construction (soon we will be a national brand with spots out in BC!) Woohoo!

SDTC: What’s your favourite thing about your job? 

KW: I love that every day is different. I’m not a very structured person by nature and I found the 9 to 5 world really difficult.  It’s actually amazing to me that I’ve been able to earn a living making things up as I go along and getting to do things on my terms. With a few exceptions of course. There are still lots of things I have to do that I don’t enjoy, like reading legal documents or leases—but at least I can do them with a glass of wine in hand!

SDTC: Who are some of your beauty icons? 

KW: I actually don’t have any. The Ten Spot, although called a Beauty Bar, isn’t about emulating celebrity beauty. It’s more about just doing stuff that makes you feel good and confident. I know after I get my nails done, my legs waxed and my mustache removed I feel a bit different, a bit more confident. I find women who are killing it at what they do and have a lot of style while doing it very inspiring and even iconic.  I think our Queen West manager Amber kills it with her dark glasses, dark hair and bright red lips and our Esthetics/Education Manager, Leslie, is the queen of amazing accessories and pairing them with cute dresses. Our CFO Laura has an edgier vibe and nothing could be cooler than a beautiful blonde pointing out numbers with a funky two-toned manicure.

SDTC: What’s been the greatest challenge for you in building your business? How did you overcome it? 

KW: Oh gosh, I’ve had so many challenges, not sure where to start. There are a lot of things that have kept me up at night, made me too anxious to eat or just plain brought me to tears. It’s hard not to feel small or not smart or savvy enough, especially when you have people that rely on you to make their living or have placed so much trust in you. I just remind myself that I’m only one person and I’m going to make mistakes and all I can do is try to be a good person, admit when I’m wrong, don’t do anything evil and keep working and strive to be better, always.

SDTC: What advice would you give to young women who are hoping to make it in your industry? 

KW: Join our 10Spot crew of amazing female entrepreneurs! We are taking over the world! Or at least the beauty bar world!

SDTC: Where do you turn for motivation and inspiration? 

KW: Music. It seems a little ridiculous, but when I want to get pumped up I will turn to some of my fave late ’80s / early ’90s hot jams. There is nothing that a little Dr. Dre Chronic 2001 album can’t do for me.

SDTC: Who is your dream client? Why? 

KW: One who gives us feedback. We need it. It’s really the only way to truly know if we are hitting the mark or if things need to be changed. A lot of our internal policies and procedures were born out of guest feedback forms. Each time someone fills out a feedback form (which gets emailed after their appointments) it gets sent to the location owner, manager, education manager, our COO and myself. We all know what goes on at each and every shop! We love the good forms and we need the bad ones, too!

SDTC: Where’s the best place in Toronto to show off a pedicure? 

KW: As I said earlier, I really believe that, while it’s nice to show off your freshly painted nails on a date or for a night out with girlfriends, it’s all about how it makes you feel. There is nothing better than a fresh mani or pedi!

SDTC: What’s your favourite Ten Spot treatment? 

I oscillate between our famous Brazilly and our Bumkini—both awesome, but the Bumkini is a little less hair removal and so I opt’ for that depending on if I don’t feel like going for the full monty.



  1. Jennifer Freitas
    July 31, 2014

    Kristen is so lovely and a true inspiration for all female entrepreneurs!

  2. Sasha
    August 10, 2014

    Love the story, hate the fact that every wax I’ve had ended up with more hairs torn than waxed, every gel manicure has peeled, and although they apologize nicely and offer to fix the gel I’d rather go to the multitude of places that do it well and clean for less than half the cost… And those never ever peel.

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