One warm September day in 2010, Jessica Frampton saw a sweater that she liked at a vintage shop in Leslieville. She turned to a girl next to her for a second vote, “Does this sweater look good on me?”
It turns out the girl was French, and partial to sweaters. Florence Gaven had just moved to Toronto from Paris, and was in need of new friends.
The two went out on a girl date and hit it off immediately. As they were almost done their coffee, Gaven asked Frampton if she could recommend a waxing place. She was long overdue.
Frampton racked her brain but had to concede that she had been waxing for a decade now, but was never really happy with any of them.
Gaven decided to hold out until her next visit back to France, which was for Christmas. One of French women’s many beauty secrets was Bodyminutes, a chain waxing parlour that offer cheap and cheerful waxing service.
As Frampton and Gaven were catching up after the holidays, they realized that there was an untapped market for a fun and affordable specialized waxing service.
“We knew it was coming to Toronto and we wanted to be the first to bring it,” Frampton said.
Neither of them had any business background — Frampton was an event planner and Gaven had been in the film industry for the past five years. When the first started, neither of them knew the first thing about running a business. “I didn’t even know how to balance a budget!”
Undeterred, they begin their market research and learned that their discontent towards the waxing experience was a wider sentiment among women.
Another surprising find: there was a great community of men getting their waxing done. The transaction was largely a clandestine affair, but Frampton and Gaven wanted to bring this into the open.
“We want guys to feel just as welcome here,” Frampton said.
True to this spirit, the aesthetic of Fuzz shies away from the overtly feminine decor of other beauty salons. In muted purples and greys, the menu is a 50/50 split down of gender equality (their customers are 85 per cent women and 15 per cent men)
The first place they went for help was the government. There was Enterprise Toronto, a City of Toronto’s Economic Development unit serving as a go to place for entrepreneurs, which was great for figuring out the first steps, but there were no grants for young entrepreneurs in the beauty industry.
Because no bank wanted to touch a new venture by two female entrepreneurs with no prior business experience (“What? Wax bar? Do I get a wax and a drink with that?”), Gaven and Frampton self-funded the project. They had no marketing budget. But the urban class knows a good thing when they see it, and Fuzz Wax Bar has been creating its own natural buzz since opening in February 9th.
Their membership structure means that you get a monthly reminder and money is auto deducted from your bank account.
What Frampton and Gaven would like to see is a culture that celebrates waxing, of women having a healthier relationship with their body hair.
“We get people who come in whispering, It’s been a while, or Sorry I haven’t done anything. There is no need to whisper about it. We know this is something women get done.”
May Jeong is Toronto Standard’s business editor. Follow her on Twitter @mayjeong.