A few years ago I attended Esthetics school where I I loved performing facials and skin treatments but wasn’t too fond of waxing or hair removal. After completion of the program, I was very determined to stop working as a waitress and embark on a future career that I would really enjoy.
I went to school for Esthetics because I wanted a job that would be hands on, to meet and connect with new people, and establish strong relationships with clients. I wanted to avoid a traditional and seemingly mundane 9-5 gig. I went on several interviews at salons and spas, and most told me that they wanted an applicant with at least a year of experience. The classic catch-22, how do you get experience with no prior experience? Everyone wants experience!
I noticed that there were a bunch of European Wax Centers opening up in various areas so I sent them my resume. I heard back from one of the locations and they asked me to come for an interview. Being fairly young and an interview novice, I was quite anxious. The interview was lengthy, close to an hour, if not more. The owners of this particular location (it is a franchise) were a middle-aged couple and I had an interview with the husband. He asked me a string of questions, inquiring about favorite movies, actors, where I see myself in 5 years, am I a competitive, etc. Seemingly normal. I remember him asking me to write down a list of fives things that would describe myself really well, a personal summation of sorts. He got up and walked around while I wrote them down and then came back to go over them with me. He claimed the girls currently working for him were making outrageous money, some of whom had previously been in waitressing were now taking home $80,000.00 a year working at the center.
Initially, this was nothing short of delightful, $80,000.00 is a good amount of money to be making right out of school. The following day he called me and then had me go on an interview with his wife. She ended up being half an hour late to the interview, but at the time, I didn’t care. After this about a week later I got a phone call from the wife offering me the job. I took it and was happy to get started. The training consisted of watching a bunch of educational videos, learning a script which I had to go home and repeatedly practice after using an index card system. At the end of a first and long week, I was asked to do a Brazilian wax on someone to see if I passed my training. I also had to wax my boss, Brazilian included, which was nothing short of awkward. I had to bring in friends to practice waxing on because I needed a certain amount of experience. I passed everything and I was now a waxer on their bottom tier, as they have levels that you can move up based on how quickly you perform wax treatments.
European Wax Center prides itself on being spotless, speedy, and having a proprietary non-abrasive wax that is made in Paris exclusively for the company. They claim the wax only adheres to the hair and not to your skin. After working for them for a little while I realized this was fairly dishonest. I had a half hour to greet the client and complete a brazilian wax, an impossibility for coarse hair or first-timers. One of my first customers had extremely coarse hair so it was taking me a while to remove it all. Luckily I could take longer than a half hour because I did not have another appointment waiting to go in after her so I took my time. When I told my boss that I felt that in order to do a quality wax I really needed more than a half hour depending on the client, she told me to just tell them that it was their fault that all of their hair wasn’t coming out because they did not exfoliate properly before coming in, which is a great opportunity to sell them the “European wax center exfoliate”. I disagreed; while exfoliation prior to appointment is beneficial, she was certainly acting with dishonesty.
I understand the need to sell from a business perspective. But this place encouraged us (the staff) be quite pushy with its customers. They wanted us to follow their script from the time the client was greeted by us to the time that they checked out. This included me having to put a product into the client’s hand before check-out to facilitate sales. It is a simple up-sell tactic, with a degree of cross-selling involved as well. It’s clever to put product in hand as a customer is in front of a register, literally at the point of sale. Many clients felt compelled to purchase.
Another unfortunate downside to the gig? European Wax Center MADE us purchase their products, their body wash, their lotion, their exfoliate, etc. Management would check the computer to see the last time we purchased their products and if more than 2 or 3 months went by, scolding and pressure would ensue. They provided us with a discount but it was only 20%. Unfortunately, the product quality left a lot to be desired. The exfoliating product was $38.00 at the time, which is considerably overpriced compared to product value. It simply is not effective enough to consider purchasing. They also instructed us to tell clients that “products never expire”. My jar of exfoliate was sitting in my bathroom cabinet for about 7 months, half of it evaporated in that time. I had only used this jar once prior so their definitely should have been a lot more left. Their signature body scrub sold for about $16, and it worked as well as Dove products, typically available for purchase at 4-6 dollars. The single positive factor? They don’t test on animals or use animal product.
Another issue during the course of the job? Every Wednesday meetings were held for an hour. Meetings are good to go over new concepts, but really, one EVERY week with repetitive dialogue on a minimum-wage salary? They started me off with $8.00 an hour, and told me after a month it would move up to $9.00. Instead of 1 month it took about 3 months for them to be paying me $9.00. I figured, wow that’s basically nothing, especially considering that I live in New York. I was hopeful with tips I could make up the difference and they paid us commission. I later discovered the commission would only be 5% on all of the services we do, which really is like nothing after taxes, and 10% commission on the products that we sell. With a non-threatening nor pushy demeanor, it was difficult to push seemingly unwanted sales.
The owners told me and the other employees that we would receive medical benefits after three months. Needless to say after asking and asking for months that never happened. Benefits were the main reason I had accepted the position, besides for the fact that I didn’t need any prior experience. As far as tips went, there were some clients who tipped, but monthly service package sales led to many customers falsely believing gratuity was already included. We wore red, self-funded scrubs daily. After training they said they would provide us with 2 complimentary red pairs. In reality, each pair came to about $50.00 and we had to purchase them ourselves. Adding to frustration, we were not supposed to have any personal conversations with the clients, so the entire time waxing them in the room we are only supposed to be discussing their products and trying to sell them. I’m sorry but if a customer is getting a Brazilian wax they feel very vulnerable and open and will often bring up their personal life. I would like to be able to get to know my clients instead of being pushy with products and cold the entire time.
I was asked to come in during a snow storm despite the fact that all of my clients were either no-shows or had canceled, and I was informed I couldn’t have a second job in case THEY needed me to be on call or stay later. I still waitressed part-time, and I was making a lot more doing that than working here. On another occasion, my mom was coming in and called me to see if she could come later because she would be picking up my Grandmother to come with her to visit and get their eyebrows done. I had no other appointments after so I figured that would be fine if she came 15 minutes later. I told my boss in the front to change the time and she told me no because she had to “set an example” to the other customers for coming on time and their “lateness rule” also applied to my friends and family. Which I could understand IF I had customers waiting for me, but I didn’t and it was almost the end of my shift.
The Moral of the Story:
My time working here was fleeting, to say the least, because I could not tolerate the way that business operations and their consistent lack of transparency. I also think $16.00 for an eyebrow wax is outrageous, when competitors down the block will do a precise job for about 5 or 6 dollars. The only thing I like about this place is the attractive aesthetics and how clean it is kept, employees wear gloves and do not double dip their wax sticks. But all in all, that’s it for positives.
Need a wax? I would not recommend this place, or seeking employment here.