For a long time, facials had a bit of an image problem: they were too closely associated with extravagance. Getting a facial usually involved going to the spa, and a day spent drinking champagne in a plush robe is kind of indulgent, appropriate as a Valentine’s Day gift but a bit too rich for ordinary life. People enjoyed the fresh-faced feeling, but prohibitive costs relegated facials to being a rare treat. Skin cells don’t care about any of that, though; they rejuvenate every 28 days, which means that a monthly facial can be part of an ideal skincare regimen. One day in 2013, as he listened to friends bemoan their lack of good skincare options, Adam Ross realized this and had a lightbulb moment: tons of people would love to get regular facials, if only they weren’t so expensive and time consuming. He saw a potentially huge untapped market.
Ross spent his childhood among kangaroos and koalas on his family’s vineyard in Australia’s Hunter Valley. He studied economics at Sydney University and got a job in banking at UBS. He eventually transferred to the States, got his MBA at Wharton, and moved to New York City. Over time, he realized that he was interested in working more closely with hands-on entrepreneurs than in closing the kinds of billion-dollar deals that make headlines. In 2010, he left banking and co-founded Tussock Group, an investment firm that helps launch and manage independent companies. Their first project was Soludos, a shoe company that specializes in a high-quality, affordable version of the classic espadrille. After this came hatestains.com, an indefatigable stain remover.
After his moment of beauty inspiration struck, he began to look into his next big project. He realized that a company could remove facials from the spa environment and dramatically lower prices. It’s the Warby Parker analogy: minimize unnecessary costs to give customers a trade-off in price without a trade-off in quality. In June 2015, he opened the first Heyday in Nomad. A typical facial at a spa goes for around $200, and a spa visit can kill a whole day. At Heyday, you can get facials for 30 minutes ($60), 50 minutes ($95), or 75 minutes ($135). In addition to facials, the shop offers a closely-curated selection of skincare products and experts who help advise customers on the regimen that’s right for them. The stores are open longer hours, so people with busy schedules can go to work and still find time to treat themselves. All of this is designed to encourage more frequent visits.
It’s a strategy that seems to be catching on. In the two years since opening its first location, Heyday has already expanded to Tribeca and the Upper East Side. Two more NYC locations are coming soon, and Ross is already thinking about how he can open Heydays across the country.
For the new episode of The Nitty-Gritty, we spoke with Adam Ross about how he spots potential investments, leaving the banking industry, and how growing up on his family’s winery helped prepare him to run a small business.