Debi Lane 

The LunchboxWax founder on speed waxing, her company's presence in Hollywood during Oscar season and that 'cheeky' name

Debi Lane

Gretchen Lemay

Debi Lane

To say that Debi Lane is a successful entrepreneur is a significant understatement. Her unconventional rise to prosperity is as interesting as LunchboxWax, the wildly popular speed-waxing salon that she started in Boise in 2010.

"My backstory? That's a pretty big story," she said.

Indeed, her fierce independent streak has made her CEO of one of the fastest-growing personal service companies in the nation.

"When I was young, I wanted to see the world," Lane recalled. "I soon figured out that if you owned your own travel agency, you usually flew for free."

So, her first stop was certification from a school of international travel and tourism. She worked for an agency for about six months, primarily to learn the business, and soon thereafter ran her own travel company, which specialized in brokering frequent flier miles. For a while, she worked in the hotel industry, requiring her to regularly travel back and forth between Tokyo and her home in Salt Lake City.

Then, during a brief sabbatical, Lane's interest in personal health and meditation led her on an unexpected professional detour. She trained as a masseuse and worked at a Ketchum day spa. The business aspect of the spa industry fascinated her, and she dove into the operations and accounting side of the business. Lane became licensed as an aesthetician and opened her own day spa in the Sun Valley area. Ultimately, that path took Lane and her particular brand of "speed waxing" to Boise, to open a business branded with what she calls the "cheeky" name "LunchboxWax."

We have to start with the story behind your company's name.

I love branding and was just playing around with different names. I like things that are smart, not too obvious and perhaps have more than one meaning. That's when I came up with Lunchbox. It can go a number of different ways. Some people might think it's a reference to a body part. Some people think it's about going to get a treatment on your lunch hour. We spent about a year talking with our clients and everyone was like, "Oh my gosh. It's a home run. Love it." It's cheeky. It's smart.

I think a good many of us remember when LunchboxWax and your eye-catching company logo first appeared in downtown Boise.

Do you remember when we were above Goldy's on Main Street? That's where we started. Every day, I would see people stop, stare at the sign, and a few seconds later, it was, "Oh, I get it." That's exactly what I wanted.

Did the growth of LunchboxWax continue organically from there?

It's so natural when I look back on it. Now, we're in 43 salons in almost as many months.

That's an impressive growth rate for any type of business.

As we speak, we're opening in Cottonwood Heights, Utah; and San Ramon, California.

Where are some of the other franchises?

In the east, we're in Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and North Carolina. Plus, we're in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and, of course, in Idaho. In California, we've got seven locations in the Bay Area and three locations in Southern California.

Was this type of growth part of your initial plan?

Actually, no. It was important to build the company with a culture and purpose. Only then did we turn it into a franchise.

Have many of these franchisees come to you?

They did. When we first started, we didn't advertise through franchise magazines. Most potential franchisees learned about us because we advertised in airline magazines. Through all my years of traveling, I had an instinct that we could draw a lot more attention through airline magazines. We've never done anything on the traditional route.

Speaking of the unexpected, let's talk a bit about your upcoming presence in Hollywood for events leading up to this year's Oscars.

A few years ago, LunchboxWax had a presence at the Sundance Film Festival, and we gained a lot of attention. Well, about three months ago, we received a call about the possibility of us participating in some of the activities surrounding this year's Academy Awards. In the day or two leading up to the Oscars, there are so-called "gifting lounges," which attract some of the nominees, presenters and other stars. Our brand is funny, it's cheeky, it's smart, and the exclusivity of something like this was really intriguing to us. So, it's a perfect fit for us.

Is it fair to assume that a portion of your customers are men?

We are primarily women, for sure, but yes, a growing number of our guests are men. And that number grows every day. People are just wanting to be hair-free now, and men are definitely on that bandwagon.

I certainly know what waxing is, but could you paint me a word picture of "speed waxing?"

A lot of other companies use what is called "hard wax." They wait for these big, thick strips to dry and rip it off. We use soft wax, take shorter strips and take it off very quickly.

And that, I'm assuming, is where someone gets the idea of having this done on their lunch hour.

Exactly. Our services are an average of 20 minutes.

In terms of growth and innovation, is LunchboxWax where you want it to be?

I'm always looking to the horizon. It's just who I am.

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