Lady Boss: Local Business Rockstars Sit Down with NHWM

Lady Boss: Local Business Rockstars Sit Down with NHWM

NH Women talks with four women who have taken the leap and chosen to be their own bosses in challenging fields. 

Written by Crystal Ward Kent – Photos by Lindsay Leigh Photography

The Physician

Dr. Lisa Vuich, owner of Renew MediSpa in Windham, New Hampshire.

Renew MediSpa offers the latest technology in regenerative medicine and facial aesthetics. Dr. Vuich is considered a leader in the field, and speaks regularly at industry conventions.

Why: I initially had an internal medicine practice, but I always had an interest in aesthetics. I added aesthetic services in 2005. There was a tremendous response and I found myself providing more of these services. I finally decided to focus on this aspect. I found that I was getting more personal satisfaction from this kind of work. It’s both an art and a science, and I love the rapidly changing technology that keeps everything new and exciting. 

Rewards: This field is expanding and evolving at a tremendous rate. There are advances in tools, technology and research taking place every day.  The results are truly transforming. It’s energizing to be part of such a dynamic field and to be able to bring these developments to my patients. We also specialize in treating age-related conditions resulting from hormone loss in men and women, so there is a strong regenerative medicine component that keeps the “internal medicine” piece active in my mind as well. These days, providing aesthetic services is much more than Botox and dermal fillers.

Challenges: For me, one early challenge was learning how to delegate. There are a lot of support tasks involved—marketing, educating patients, administrative—and you have to have staff to do this work.  You also have to train these people to help you do these jobs well.  At the same time, you have to trust that you have good people and let them do their jobs.  I now have marketing consultants, which was not the case in the past. It’s better that I delegate these things so that my focus can be on clinical procedures and exploring new technology that might benefit my patients. 

It can also be challenging to make time for yourself, but that is so important. I make sure that I build that into my schedule. If I take a business trip, I may add on a couple days to sightsee or unwind. I also build in at least two weeks of vacation each year so my family and I can have that time. On a day-to-day basis, I now have enough staff so that I can take myself out of the schedule here and there, and get in some “me” time. 

Advice: When launching a new business, remember that effective marketing is very important. I could have grown faster if I had invested in marketing experts sooner, but I was trying to save money and thought I could do it all myself. That wasn’t true. If you want your business to succeed, people have to find you; they have to know what sets you apart and why they should choose you over your competition. It’s not about “selling,” it’s about helping people find you efficiently. We now have professional marketing assistance and the business has grown incredibly fast.  Investing in something that helps you grow is money well spent. Digital marketing is very important, but also highly complex. Being able to communicate what you do to potential and existing customers is not as easy as it sounds, especially in my field. I have found video very effective in helping them get a sense of who we are and what we do. Educating the consumer is always a win-win. 

The Auto Dealer

Amanda Grappone Osmer, owner of Grappone Automotive Group in Bow, New Hampshire.

Grappone Automotive Group has been providing exceptional service to car buyers and owners in the Manchester, New Hampshire, area for over 90 years. It is a popular destination for Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, and Toyota sales and service. Osmer is the fourth generation of her family to run the company. 

Why: I was born into the family business, and worked there starting in high school. However, I actually never saw myself making a career in the automotive field.  I tried other things, and moved around some, ultimately finding myself on the West Coast selling cars. My dad called to say he was considering retirement and wondered what my plans were. I decided that if I was going to sell cars, why not do it with my family? So I came home to work with my dad. The plan was that my brother and I would take over when he retired. My brother and I had similar views when it came to changes we wanted to make within the company. However, my brother got cancer and died before those these ideas were fully implemented. I was determined to see our vision realized. I should admit upfront that I’m not a gearhead; I like cars, but they are not an obsession. What I really love is serving people. 

Rewards: I like being able to take action when I see a need. If we see a nonprofit that could use some help, and we feel we can contribute, then we get involved. Since we are a privately-held operation, we have the freedom to do things that larger corporations cannot. Being involved in the community is an important part of my job and is actually written into our corporate mission statement. I also like that we can do business as we see fit. My brother and I wanted to completely change the car buying experience to make it easier, fairer and more pleasant for the buyer. We agreed to offer pre-negotiated pricing which means that our guests know upfront exactly how much the car costs—there are no games, no add-ons masking the real cost.  We’ve also changed the whole way we relate to the customer; I did a Ted Talk about how car dealers have to work to build a more honest reputation. At Grappone, we want to build life-long relationships with our guests, and we are already seeing multiple generations come here to shop. Our corporate mission is to treat people with integrity, kindness, and respect and those principles extend through every level of the organization.

Challenges:  You have to take care of your health and make time for yourself and your family. My husband is an amazing partner, but we had three kids in three years and are a busy family. For a few years, I tried to do it all, but it was overwhelming. There came a time several years ago when I was running too hard without clear priorities.  I was working constantly and at the end of the day, had nothing left for my family. I remember being very stressed by the logistics of trying to pump breast milk at work and answer the phone at the same time. I knew that enough was enough. After many years of learning and reflection, I now understand that I need to have compassion for myself and be mentally, physically and spiritually healthy so I can serve my family and my team at work.

Advice: Set goals and make a path to achieve them, but don’t try to take on too much at once—things will unravel and become frustrating. I encourage everyone to find a good mentor. (I didn’t have one until I was in my forties—it’s easier said than done!) My mentor encourages me and has my best interests at heart, but also holds me accountable. Last, stay healthy!

I would also encourage young women to seek careers in the automotive field. Currently, there are very few women dealers, but the climate is changing and we are seeing more women working their way up. There are great opportunities not just in sales, but also in finance, marketing, parts and service. We have had female service techs and they are great. It’s a dynamic industry and we need strong, confident, compassionate women to be part of it!

The Veterinarian

Dr. Lee Garrod, owner of Veterinary Emergency, Critical Care & Referral Center in Newington, New Hampshire, Southern New Hampshire Veterinary Referral Hospital in Manchester, and several others. 

These hospitals provide urgent care to animals in need of emergency services, as well as critical care such as cancer treatment, and specialized procedures such as ultrasounds, endoscopies, and biopsies. The emergency centers are also open 24-hours so that patients can be treated when time is of the essence. 

Why: I have always wanted to help animals; I truly never considered another career.  I’ve enjoyed being a hands-on vet, and still am—I do special procedures such as biopsies, endoscopies, and ultrasounds, and consult on cardiac issues a few days each week. However, I also think it is important that quality veterinary facilities for specialized services are available where needed. I bought my first practice, a general veterinary practice, back in 1997, then gradually acquired the others as opportunities arose. I never had a real plan to do so—things just worked out. 

Rewards: I do have a lot on my plate, but I’ve become good at delegating. The reward is that I can really schedule my life the way I want. I can work as much as I want, and also plan time for the things that I enjoy, such as dressage. I’ve also found that this arrangement actually has allowed me to learn more and thus provide better services to my patients. This past year, I took a rehab course and became certified. It showed me how important rehab is for animals and that the number of qualified facilities is low. We will now be creating a certified rehab space to fill this need. If I had not had a flexible schedule that allowed me to explore other interests, I would never have made the move to offer such an important service.

Challenges: I can honestly say that I don’t feel overly stressed by my work. I love being an ER vet—it is exciting, energizing, challenging. I love the fact that my business is independent, so I have the freedom to help patients if they need financial assistance, as critical and cancer care can be expensive. Even in those sad moments, I’m glad to be there because I’ve been there before and I understand. 

Probably my biggest challenge is that I’m a fixer. I want my employees to be happy; I want us to offer a good work environment, a good atmosphere. We cannot compete with some of the larger corporations on pay, but being a great place to work, especially in a field that can be stressful and cause burn-out, is really important. If I hear of anyone being unhappy or any issues, I want to jump right in and make it better.  But sometimes I have to accept that everything can’t be fixed or be perfect and you can only do the best you can. 

Advice: If you are going to run a business, make sure that there is structure. Make sure that there is an operations handbook, an employee handbook—that you have everything in writing. Treat employees well, and treat everyone the same. 

If you are going into self-employed veterinary care, I strongly recommend developing some specialties; these might be learning procedures such as endoscopy, ultrasound or acupuncture—things you saws a little of in vet school, but didn’t learn. Or, maybe you specialize in exotics or birds; these are areas where there is still a gap in services. Learning new things will also keep you interested, as well as make you more marketable.

Whatever career you choose, invest in yourself and keep going. You’ll make it! 

The Entrepreneur

Jessica Principe, owner and founder of All Girl Shave Club

Principe created All Girls Shave Club, which is based out of Merrimack, New Hampshire, to fill a unique product need. The Club provides fun, feminine and unique shaving products to women via a monthly subscription service. 

Why: Being an entrepreneur is in my blood; I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I always knew I would start my own business one day. I just wasn’t sure what form it was going to take. Then, in 2016, I got the idea while shaving my legs. I had borrowed one of my husband’s razors. He belonged to a razor subscription service where he got nice, fresh, sharp razors delivered regularly. I thought, “Why shouldn’t women have their own special shaving products?” I did my research, and by the end of 2016 I launched All Girl Shave Club.  It was hard work, but the Club has taken off. I was clearly filling a need that no one else had thought to tap into.

Rewards: I love the flexibility of being my own boss. I can work around my family’s schedule, so I’m there for them. I love being able to be home when my two children come home from school. My family is very important to me, and this business has given me the means to work, yet have time for them. I also find that running my own company gives me a creative outlet and challenges me in a good way. I love what I do, and find great satisfaction in sourcing products and running the company.

Challenges: For all of the benefits, running a business is a huge challenge. You have a lot of responsibilities and problems to solve, especially initially. When I started, I was used to having the resources of a big corporation available. If you had a computer problem, you just called the IT department. When you are on your own, you have to figure things out for yourself.  Every issue that comes up, you have to find a solution. I put in a LOT of hours that first year. I was still working full time, managing my home, and then putting every free moment toward launching the business. However, it was worth it. Now, the business is going well and I can enjoy more time with my family. 

Advice: Give yourself permission to be a beginner. You don’t have to know everything to get started. It’s okay to learn as you go. I changed my mind a number of times about exactly what direction my business was going to take as I went through the process. You also need trust yourself—some of the things I wound up doing went against what others recommended, but I felt that they were the right move, and they were, for me.  I also always look for ways to grow and expand the business. For example, I’ll be launching some new products for 2019, such as new creams and lotions. I’m always looking for ways to innovate and help All Girl Shave Club reach its potential! 

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