How She Got There: Sue Thirlwall, CEO and President of MiniLuxe

Posted Jan 7 2013 - 12:00pm

Name:  Sue Thirlwall
Age: Happy and wiser
Job Title: CEO and President of MiniLuxe                                                               
College/Major: University of Southern California/ Business Administration (Undergraduate); MBA from Harvard                                                                           
Website: www.MiniLuxe.com
Twitter Handle: @SThirlwall

What does your current job entail?
Sue Thirlwall:
At this stage, I wear a lot of hats but none more fun and enjoyable than determining how we can evolve and become better each day as we perfect our foundation to scale with quality.

Is there such a thing as a typical day?
ST:
I have some typical elements of my day, but I also have tremendous variety and challenges that I enjoy!  My favorite part is being in our stores, speaking with our awesome MiniLuxe brand ambassadors and clients!  It’s also fabulous to always have beautiful manicures, pedicures, eyebrows and other wonderful treatments at MiniLuxe!

What is the best part of your job? 
ST:
I truly mean it when I say that there is nothing I would rather be doing than helping MiniLuxe and all of our fabulous brand ambassadors become better and better! We are on a mission to transform an industry that desperately needs transforming. Twelve years into the 21st century, it is shocking that the industry is still under-regulated and underperforming from a hygienic, cleanliness and wellness perspective!

Without a doubt, MiniLuxe is the coolest place to get pampered. What are some things that you and your team consider when developing the brand? 
ST:
We are so proud to be the coolest place to get pampered too! Combining ultra-hygienic, high quality and affordable “miniluxuries” is essential to our brand. We were also thrilled to recently be recognized by Boston Public Health’s “Safe Salon” and “Green Salon” project.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it? 
ST:
My first entry-level job began as a paid internship for the Chicago Tribune in between my junior and senior year of college.  I was thrilled to learn about the newspaper business while in the advertising department! I was even more thrilled to double my income with commission as I learned I was really good at sales (basically, educating and informing).  It was a tremendous experience!  I got the role through USC.

What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now? 
ST:
No matter what industry, love what you do and have true passion to make a difference!

Are there any things about a CEO’s typical day at work that would surprise our readers? If so, what? 
ST:
Don’t be afraid to do all tasks, when needed, in your stores! The clients don’t care who helps them and the team will appreciate it too!

Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better? 
ST:
There are so many people who changed my life professionally, so it’s hard to narrow it to just one! If forced to pick one from each school I attended, Dr. David McConaughy from USC and Dr. Linda Hill from HBS are brilliant, inspiring and changed my life forever! 

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?   
ST:
Knowledge is shared power!

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it? 
ST:
Learn from others and ask lots of questions!  It’s a learned skill for many of us who excelled at school and didn’t need to learn the fine art of “networking” or probing to learn a lot from others.

As the CEO of MiniLuxe, where do you see the company in ten years?
ST:
There is no limit to what we can achieve on a national and global level! It’s an exciting time as we prepare for rapid growth!

What do you look for when considering hiring someone? 
ST:
Integrity and character are essential to trust and respect!  As Southwest Airlines made famous, “Hire for attitude, train for skill!” We can teach the right people MiniLuxe, but they have to have integrity, character and the right attitude to succeed! 

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations? 
ST: 
Pursue your passion with your heart, soul and brain – it’s a powerful combination when you are there for all the right reasons!

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