Metro June 14, 2019

Waxing Poetic

Debi Lane builds more than a brand with Lunchbox Wax

Every morning, Debi Lane, the founder and CEO of Lunchbox Wax, finds her focus in meditation. She brings the same mindfulness and intention to her business, and with 43 waxing salons and counting, it’s paying dividends.

Lane’s path has been full of obstacles. She left home at 14, living on the streets of Salt Lake City. She used her self-described creativity for basic survival and started her first business to travel the world. By 29, she was burned out and enrolled in massage school. It was there she became interested in holistics and began a journey of healing that she continues to practice today.

In 1994, Lane relocated to Sun Valley, Idaho, where she found a job in a spa. After a stint as a recruiter in the dot-com industry, she returned to train as an esthetician. She then opened a tiny two-room spa in Ketchum and built a loyal following of high-powered guests and celebrities who vacationed in Sun Valley.

In 2008, the economic recession changed the nature of Lane’s bookings at the spa.

“When the housing crisis hit was really when I saw a big shift in the spa,” she says. “People weren’t doing the really expensive services. Even people that had money didn’t feel comfortable doing it. That went down and waxing got busier.”

At that point, Lane was known for waxing and had spent 17 years in Sun Valley. The speed technique she started to perfect was the result of 10 hours of waxing per day, with her appointments booked solid for months in advance. As her business grew, Lane began looking toward the horizon, searching for a new place where she could flourish outside the constraints of
a resort town.

Photo: Courtesy Lunchbox Wax

As Lane worked to open her first salon in Boise in 2010, she was also working on self-healing. This influenced the way she wanted her waxing salon to be built, from the internal culture to the external brand.

“I was doing a lot of work personally, and it showed up in how we were treating the people and the whole guest experience,” Lane

That authentic connection at Lunchbox Wax begins when guests walk into the salon. Lane has chosen every detail, from the size of the chairs in the lobby to the scent that permeates the space, to ensure a sense of inclusion and authenticity. She combined her speed waxing technique with a cheeky name and logo and a built-from-within culture to set Lunchbox Wax apart as a brand.

The success of the store grew by word of mouth, and soon after, a second location opened in Eagle. Lane went on a silent retreat in 2012, something she does annually to center her focus. During the eight-day experience, she managed to work through pieces of her past, and the larger purpose for her business revealed itself. She envisioned Lunchbox Wax growing into a company where hundreds of young women make a sizeable income, connect with their community in an authentic way, and feel empowered. She anticipated those waxologists, many of whom don’t have four-year degrees, going out into their communities and making a difference in the world.

“After that, I couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle,” Lane says. “I had absolutely no money to go and do this, but somewhere I read that if you want to grow a business without any money, franchising is the way to do it.”

Lane sold the first franchise in July 2013 and after some trial and error, Lane built a small group of franchisees with large territories. Now, she has 20 franchise entities who own more than 40 locations. Lunchbox Wax was also named a top 50 new franchise by Entrepreneur in 2018, and The Idaho Business Review selected Lane as a 2019 Woman of the Year.

Lane credits her success to the brilliant group of people she works with. Her leadership style is collaborative and intentionally curious. As for the future of Lunchbox Wax, Lane aims to open more than 200 salons by the end of 2019 and to take the company global, opening salons in Canada and London to start. Surely, she will do that with the same intention and culture-based focus with which she began. 

This article appears in the Summer 2019 Issue of Territory Magazine.