Chain vs. Franchise

Twenty seven stores in nine years! What’s so hard about that?
Let me start by saying, there is a huge and very distinct difference between a store that you own, (chain) and one that is owned and run by a franchisee (franchise).

Let’s take Lillians. In August of 2005, we started out with one store. In 2007, we had grown to a handful of licensee stores (still a chain). We all had the same name, sold the same product and followed the same corporate policies. We retained control 99% of the time to ensure our brand was replicated in a way that directly impacted the regions we represented. In March of 2008 we franchised.

Let’s break it down:

The advantages of company-owned operations:
With company-owned operations, you have complete control. That includes everything from product, price, location, leases, operations, AND most importantly..people.

The advantages of franchising:
Franchising is a growth vehicle that allows you to take your hot business model and dive into expansion at an accelerated pace with less operating expenses but also with much less control.

Debunking the myths of which road is most easily traveled…
First of all the word ‘easy’ should not be in any training manual for owning your own business and certainly should not be used in franchising. There is nothing easy about it. From the desk of a very successful franchisor, “you will be working in the weeds and spinning plates until you reach unit #50.” Ah, he was right! Come back and find out what has been the most difficult ingredient of franchising in the past nine years. And find out why that secret sauce can never be perfected…even if you are the #1 franchise in the world!

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I am totally 110% in love, over the top, hooked, all of me, body, mind and soul on yoga. I know what some of you are thinking. She likes sitting on a bamboo mat with her legs crossed, making some sort of a humming sound with her eyes closed. Actually – quite the opposite. In fact, that is exactly the image and impression I had of yoga before I opened the doors to the 105 degree yoga room at Core Power Yoga in Maple Grove, Minnesota. To think that was just one year ago this month is unreal. Who actually can say they “love to go work out?” I am now one of them. I take three yoga sculpt classes and three high impact core classes per week. I always take Friday’s off. I have learned so much about health and wellness over the past year and for anyone trying to find a ‘normal niche’ in their fitness plan, please try yoga!

This Friday I begin my Teacher Certification Training journey. YIKES! I am going through a rigorous five week training circuit to get certified in Yoga Sculpt through Core Power. I will soon find out what I signed up for and there is nothing better than to share my stories each week with you as my audience.

I remind myself of what Walt Disney once said…”If you can dream it, you can do it!”

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Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

You have probably gotten a good first impression that I love to tell stories.  Whether it be about Grandma Lillian or my experience in Fargo the other weekend at the Justin Timberlake concert, sharing stories brings people together.  I truly believe that connecting with an audience in an emotional way is a matter of how I life my life.  So how does one tell your story in a noisy social world?  It is best explained by Gary Vaynerchuk in his new best-seller called, ‘JAB, JAB, JAB, RIGHT HOOK!’

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook!If you are a manager, a marketer, a business owner or someone who loves to blog like me, this book is killer!  A huge applause to Gary who breaks it down and shows any of us how to strengthen our ‘jabs’ in marketing to work up to that ‘right hook’ which will make our consumers happy and ultimately will make us better competitors in the marketplace.

Communication is still key, but context (not content) matters MORE than EVER!!!

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My First Facial At 55

I want to take your through my recent ‘facial journey’.  Yes, I have never had a facial up until my daughter-in-law (Becky) started esthetician training and she needed a model.  That was three months ago – and now five facials later, I am hooked.  And not because I happen to get the service for free by being a model each week, but because I am living proof that we all NEED FACIALS.

First of all – “hello Minnesota ‘sock-it-to-me’ hard core winter winds and below zero temperatures!”  And guess what part of our bodies we seldom cover up??  Our faces!!  The facial was one that they use in New York City with seaweed and some great concoction that put me right to sleep!  It was beyond dreamy.  The second part of my facial that day was discussing a skin care regimen that was right for me at age 55 and for my skin type.  (yup, here we go…..a sales pitch to get me to cave and spend more money on product that just doesn’t work)  Becky introduced me to Rapidex, a marine exfoliator that helps you reveal younger, smoother, clearer and brighter skin!  It is great for people who travel a lot, have had past sun exposure and are biological aging.  (don’t we all fit into this category?)  The ingredients are based on Phyto-marine actives and natural fruit acids.  And for me, it practically diminished the look at any age spot or discoloration on the sides of my cheeks where the sun hits and my skin is really softer and brighter.  Hey, why would I sway you if Rapidex isn’t paying me to say all these positive things about their line?!  (Believe me, they aren’t!)

Rapidex Marine ExfoliatorHere is what the box looks like.  (  It comes with 14 ampules.  You squeeze/pinch the top together to bust it apart and you take the soaked swab and run it over your face at night.  Do it a couple of times and throw the ampule away.  You can use these every two-three nights.  Repeat as necessary for a couple of months and see if you can find some of those age spots getting lighter and better yet….just disappearing.  My next entry will be to talk to you about ‘toners’.  I am going to take you through an entire skin series so please come back!

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Get Your Blonde Beautified!

I will be a forever blonde. I love that we try to have more fun and it is a color that seems to be fading away as our Norwegian and Swedish heritage changes and evolves. So how does one ‘stay’ blonde? That buttery sun-kissed blonde…..follow me into my hair laboratory. I say that – because I have tested just about every product on my head and finally, I found some good answers to staying blonde and keeping your hair happy and healthy. Let’s start from the inside out. Blondes are naturally drier because we have to keep lifting the color each month to have that ‘Carrie Underwood’ blonde. So start by using this great aromatic oil from Aveda called Beautifying Oil. That’s right. You massage it into your scalp at night after you shower, and give your head a good hard head massage. Then rub it in on the ends and throughout your hair shafts. (a very little goes a long way) I then take a hair pick like the one shown and comb through your hair. Lay a microfiber towel down on your pillow and say ‘goodnight’ to dry hair. Tomorrow morning when you wake up and wash your hair, you will feel like you just soaked your head all night in magic oil. Soft, subtle and beautiful!Aveda Beautifying Oil

This oil also can be used in the shower as a nice massage oil or put a few droppers into your lotion and use it on your feet and hands.  It helps seal in moisture and contains organic soybean oil, organic olive oil and safflower oil.  It actually has a clean lavender smell and also helps you sleep really well at night!

PERKS ALL THE WAY AROUND!  Come back and we will talk about the best shampoo and conditioner for blondes.   As promised, you will save money over time!!!

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The Need For A Rope

So my blizzard began again……because I truly say “yes” to too many things.  Between the demands of leading a national franchise, making family a top priority and trying to take care of my fitness and health, my life has fallen somewhere between full and a gusher!  I often consider myself an expert multi-tasker.  Is that something to be proud of?  Many times I am unaware that I am doing three things at once.  Many times I am told that others admire me for accomplishing so much in such little time.  Cramming as much as I possibly can into my day so that I can be over-scheduled, addicted to hurry, preoccupied, fatigued, stressed and starved for some time.   Am I really worthy of being called a role model?

And yet, not much changes.   My over-productivity becomes counter-productive and I am exhausted by the end of each day.  And of course any ‘free-time’ becomes filled with more demands in my already over-burdened life.  If I am not busy, I feel guilty.

It is like being addicted, not to drugs or alcohol, but to tasks and to ‘doing’.  Any sense of balance has been swallowed up by this blizzard of mine again.  And this does not even include the current storm that blew in around Thanksgiving when my husband lost his job and now we have lost our health insurance coverage.  Disoriented and confused.

So I have been offered a rope to keep me from getting more disoriented and confused.  It is a place that is centered and rooted.  I use it several times a day and just used it about two hours ago sitting at my desk.  I will explain more next time……

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My Patchouli

I want to talk about my addiction to Patchouli.  Yes, the hippie oil that now has become my signature fragrance.  I have been to NYC about 70 times.  It will always be my ‘home away from home.’  In my travels, I found this great little shack of gold called ‘Scentalate.’  It is a specialty boutique located in the heart of Mid Town Manahattan and is about big as a common bathroom.  That is what makes it so special.  It stacked floor to ceiling with great candles, incense, lotions, oils and soaps.  The shop keeper is Mo.  And I will never forget the first time I met Mo…he said to me…”you need to wear Lakshmi.”

Lakshmi Patchouli - "The Goddess of Wealth and Abundance"Huh what?  OK, I will try some.  What is it?  Lakshmi is a line of special scents that is created using natural and essential oils, locally sourced whenever possible.  And they never test anything on animals.  The roll-on oil blend that I wear provides a great alternative to the common alcohol and water based perfumes.  The cool thing is that a portion of all profits of Lakshmi goes to Charity.

There are a few different scents of Lakshmi and Mo recommended that I use the black labeled one that is called ‘The Goddess of Wealth and Abundance.’  It is created with a blend of musk, almond and patchouli.  Mo said it fit my personality.  That was eight years ago and I have never worn anything since.  I could sell this out of my car, with all the compliments I get from wearing it.  I want to give a big shout out to Mo at Scentalate and push all the hipsters reading this blog to go to his website and place an order.  This roll-on below will last you at least three months.  And the price is $28 bucks!

Go to

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Look What Landed At Lillians?!


Studio Scarves by Urban Halo - Only at Lillians!Today is about our new Studio Scarves that we just launched! We are the only boutique in the entire country that is carrying these right now in our stores. You can go to our website ( to find out more about them OR faster yet, go to our Facebook page and call us to take your pre-order. You can also go into any of our twenty seven Lillians locations and get your hands on one – but HURRY!!!

Urban Halo is like our family here in Minnesota. The husband/wife team started sewing these great printed headbands that really do work! I wear one six days a week when I go to my heated yoga practice. They seriously are the only headband that has worked to wick away the sweat and yet look trendy to and from the gym. I also wear them on weekends when I am out kicking around town. So now this fabulous smart business couple took it up a level and came out with Studio Scarves.

They are made from the same wicking fabric, stamped on both sides with a different pattern. The snaps allow you to wear it a hundred different ways! (well, at least 20) They retail for $44 and we will send you one! They are already sold out on the Urban Halo website and we – we – we are the only boutique in town that have them right now. GO!!!!!!

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Forever Blonde

I was born blonde. Real blonde. Both of my boys were born blonde and both of my grand-kids are blonde. So I love that we still can say we are a family of true blondes. But – there comes a time in your life that you also need to care for your hair as you do your skin. It changes, just like everything on your body when you grow gracefully – older. There is something to be said about investing in GREAT hair-care instead of throwing your dollars away and TRYING everything you read online and in those fashion journals and blogs. (Well, this blog you can believe in!) I don’t represent or get paid to write about certain hair care lines. (I should, but I don’t!) I just want you to stop wasting money on products that don’t work! They can be inexpensive and still be amazing. Come back often and find out about my favorites! If you are blonde, you will really love this section of my blog!

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Glimmersticks Liqui-Glide Eye Liner

I wanted to talk about another great make-up find that I recently tested! Finding the right eye-liner that works is like finding the right pair of jeans. You waste millions on the hunt. I finally found one that is super easy to apply, is creamy and stays on….TAH DAH! (Even in my 100 degree hot yoga work-outs!) Glimmersticks Liqui-Glide by Avon! I wear the Black Plum and I hardly have to reapply! So easy and so precise. The best part though is the price. $7.00 bucks! And they just ran a special last week and they were on sale for $4.00 bucks!

Avon Glimmersticks Liqui-Glide Eye LinerI also love that Reece Witherspoon is an Avon spokeswoman for this line and they do so much charity work for women that I love supporting the brand. To make this REALLY easy, you can click here. It will bring you right to the Glimmersticks Liqui-Glide eye liner.

The color choices and numbers are:
1. Black Plum 986-637 (the winner!)
2. Black 959-342
3. Brown 979-954

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