Sunday 21st January 2018
By Michelle Hammond
Q1 - How did your childhood influence your work ethic and attitude towards business?
I worked from the age of 14 at a local American style restaurant called the Damn Yankee waitressing. I wanted to go skiing with school and my mum said if I wanted to go I had to pay half – so I got a job and basically worked right throughout school. I loved the independence having my own money gave me!
Q2 - What do you believe the principles of a successful business are today?
Passion, Honesty, Integrity, Accountability, Communication, Love & Respect! If you carry all these principles, you simply can’t go wrong!
Q3 - Looking back, what was your best business decision?
Daring to go for the CND Contract in 2007. It was a bold move on our behalf and theirs too – one that has paid off 100-fold – for both sides!
Q4 - Who has influenced you the most through your career?
My mum Gigi Rouse – her influence from the beginning on being a good person and always finding a solution to a problem in the most pro-active positive way. She gave me my founding principles.
Business wise that’s easy – Jim Nordstrom. Jim has been my mentor since 2007 although I have known him since 1988. Jim has pushed me into becoming the business woman I am today and has taught me so many things from the experiences he himself has gone through. Jim’s father Dr Stuart Nordstrom founded CND and Jim was CEO through to 2000. Jim is a legend, a man of honour and a man you can trust!
Q5 - What was your most difficult / worst business decision?
That’s another easy one (we just talked about this the other day). We signed an exclusive contract to distribute a brand that was doing incredibly well at the time through clever marketing statements. Before we had signed however, we were very confused as to how the product really worked and sent the info given to us to be tested by people we know and trust in the USA.
Sadly, (and I think we ultimately knew this in our guts) we were being fed marketing BS and the product did not work in the way we were being told (in fact it was an impossibility). By this time, we had signed the contract, but we couldn’t in all honestly market it in the way we were being told by the owner, because we knew it was false info and we refused to lie to our customers.
Within 6 weeks we said no more!! It was a very, VERY expensive lesson to learn but ultimately one I am glad we went through because we certainly would never sign anything ‘under pressure’ again, we sign only when we are ready and not before.
The most difficult thing in these situations is remaining professional and not resorting to finger pointing. We had so many customers wanting to understand our decision to drop the line only after a few short weeks, but that would have meant pointing directly at the owner of the brand and highlighting their true colours. Truth always wins out and it was a very good decision we made – even it was an expensive one – money isn’t our driving force – our customers are!
Q6 - What would you say was the single most advantageous character trait for success?
Honesty! Most decisions made with your business hat on are not personal or meant to be a slight on the person you are dealing with. Decisions should be made that benefit your customers or your company. So many choose to act like kids in a playground if decisions made don’t go their way! Being honest and upfront should explain your decision making and, even if there is disappointment – respect should be given for honesty!! I loathe and detest the mentality of underhandedness.
Q7 - What happens when you’re stressed or overwhelmed?
I talk to my husband – or Jim, but I really try never to get to that point! There is always a way forward and having the best team possible onside helps with that too! You just need to find that way – but there is ALWAYS a way!!
Q8 - How do you invest in your own wellbeing. How do you look after yourself?
Sam and I go to the gym twice a week for personal training in a ‘proper sweaty’ men’s gym!! We started in 2016 and it’s something we do together that is not work related. This year I may add some yoga or Pilates classes to my belt, time permitting! I attended them before but didn’t keep them up consistently – if I do them this year I will try and commit properly!
Q9 - If you could change one thing about the spa and wellness industry what would it be and why?
To invest more into staff education and particularly within the nail sector. I am always shocked when I listen to Managers and Directors talking about nail treatments and using such out of date terminology and backward thinking from 20+ years ago. Sadly, it makes them look clumsy at their job! If they’re managing these areas and can’t get it right, what hope is there for the girls working under them?
Q10 - Finally, what’s your favourite quote or the best advice you’ve ever been given?
If you can see it in your head – you can hold it in your hand!!!
One customer a day, one day at a time!
FLASH FACTS - FOR FUN SECTION
1. What’s your favourite book
French Relations by Fiona Walker – my copy is battered but OMG it makes me laugh!! There’s a character in it called Marcus and honestly – it’s my younger brother all over again – hilarious!
2. What’s your favourite film of all time
The Full Monty – it might be a Yorkshire thing; it might be that it was made on a shoelace; it might be that they all had a riot making it, but god it’s brilliant – I just LOVE everything about it!!!
3. If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?
My dream dinner party would be: Billy Connelly (because he’d have us in hysterics), Lee McQueen (for fashion talk), John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg (to listen to them dissect their epic 1980 Wimbledon final – the best match ever played), Meryl Streep (because she is epic in every way), Brad Pitt (need you ask), Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (to discuss their future ideas on the UK), Madonna (for music and dirt), Cindy Crawford (because she’s the most beautiful original ‘super’ ever), Carly Simon (because she is a legend)
… finally my paternal grandmother (apparently I am a lot like her but she died before I was born) – it would be lovely to meet her!
4. You get taken to your favourite place to be, where are you taken?
Sarasota Florida. My maternal grandparents retired there when my Grampy was early 40’s. I’ve been going since I was 6 months old. I lived there from 18 thru 21 and it’s like a 2nd home to me! I love it, the weather, the smells, the Gulf of Mexico, that sugary white sand, the fat pelicans and the palms… I just LOVE IT.
5. Your perfect dinner is?
Any Sunday Roast!!!
6. Your go to drink is?
Grey Goose Vodka, Fever Tree Tonic and plenty of fresh lime!
7. Your favourite sweet treat is?
Fry’s Turkish Delight!!! (I know right???) 😊
8. What’s your favourite essential oil / scent?
Coco by Chanel. I’ve worn it since I was 15 when I begged my mum to get me some and she died when she saw the price; she told me we would have to share it… but it went into my bedroom. I’ve worn it ever since. Years later I sat next to a scientist at a dinner party who told me it was my scent and that I shouldn’t wear anything else!
9. You go for a treatment - what do you have and why?
A pedicure. I love a great pedicure and a fabulous foot massage – but to be honest I love most beauty treatments where massage is involved!
10.What’s your favourite flower?
I’m an avid orchid grower and love those, but my favourite flowers have to be peonies – they’re just beautiful!
11.You want to sleep deeply, what do you do?
Lay still and go through in my head everyone and everything I am thankful and grateful for in my life.
12.You want to energise fast, what do you do?
Go to the gym and have an hour with Jamie!
13.The theme tune to your life is?
Don’t Always Look at the Rain by Howard Jones and (I know I’m sorry but one more…) When we Dance – Sting!!!!
14.What makes you laugh to your belly?
The US Office program First Aid Fail – it has to be the most hilarious thing I have ever seen, and it simply never fails to make me cry with laughter!! Pure Brilliance!
15.What’s your favourite season?
Probably spring, giving us hope for a hot Summer. Love the idea of more ‘outdoor living’ here in the UK. I actually love all seasons with the promise of different fashions. It’s cool to put suits back on in winter and floaty things for summer…
16. What’s your favourite colour?
Yellow always!! Happy, sunny, bright – the colour of me!!
17. Your favourite time of day is?
Evening – cooking dinner for the family and chilling at home!
18. If you could have been anyone or anything else, what / who would you be?
Seriously I am happy and feel privileged to be me!! I am not the jealous type and have never wished to be anyone else or to do anything other than what I am doing now. [Ok maybe when I was 15 I wanted to be Cindy Crawford for a second 😊] but I am content with being me!
19. What’s your current TV guilty secret?
Oh lord – KUWTK – I can’t help myself!!!
20. Magic dust - you can learn one new skill instantly, what is it?
To be able to speak, write and understand EVERY language in the universe – can you IMAGINE how epic that would be????
Samantha Sweet has grown up and championed the nail industry since her teens. Having proudly represented (and loved) CND for almost 30 years, Sweet Squared was firmly founded with all the values taught to her through the Nordstrom CND Family. She has gone on to become an industry authority within the professional beauty sector across nails, waxing, tanning and hair. As the MarComms Director Samantha truly is the voice of Sweet Squared; meet her and you’ll witness her passionate ‘Love & Respect’ culture come to life!
Follow Sweet Squared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @SweetSquared / @servethepro
Follow Samantha on Twitter: @SamanthaSweet