Engle runs small business, has helped several others

Small Business Saturday has come and gone, but the small businesses themselves continue to buoy each other and the local economy throughout the year. Janna Engle has seen this not only as the owner of The WaX Pot in Sauk Centre but also as someone who has helped several other local beauty businesses find their stride in an environment that is ready to accept them.

“In the course of my almost 15 years, I’ve always been supported by this community,” Janna said. “With that support, I have maintained a constant or growth in business; in fact, at times, I’ve had to refer clients to others because my schedule was full.”

Janna grew up in Belgrade; her husband, Michael Engle, is a Sauk Centre native, and during the five years they lived in Illinois, Janna went to school for aesthetics and founded The WaX Pot there.

Janna traces the inspiration for her business back to when she was about 35 and had bad adult acne.

Although she did not have experience with aestheticians, she happened across the field when researching her condition and was attracted to the profession.

“When my daughter started kindergarten, I entered a 750-hour an esthetics program and, upon completion, was able to start my own business,” Janna said. “It was my adult acne that struck a chord; I also thought of teenagers and younger people who suffer with this and how awful it must be for them; it’s pretty damaging to your personal appearance and how you feel about yourself.”

The WaX Pot opened in 2008, right when there was a housing market crash; Janna was afraid nobody would want to spend their money, but her business remained viable for a year and a half in Illinois before the Engle family moved back to Sauk Centre, where Janna reopened her business in town and continued to find support from the community.

While running her own business, Janna has also had a hand in helping several other beauty-related Sauk Centre small businesses. She began with Wildflower Nail Spa, owned by her daughter-in-law, Malorie Engle; Janna offered some words of encouragement and a room inside The WaX Pot for Malorie to start up her nail business. Malorie has a cosmetology license and specializes exclusively in manicures and nail art.

Next, Janna was contacted by Erin Bjork, wondering about whether people would be interested in Botox and fillers; Janna assisted Erin with a space inside The WaX Pot for her business, Skintastic, LLC.

“Erin came in on evenings, weekends and her days off,” Janna said. “We all shared my old location by the laundromat.”

Two more women joined that location to begin their businesses. First was Gwen Seitz, a massage therapist and energy healer, who founded Gwendolin’s Integrated Healing and is currently located on Sinclair Lewis Avenue. The other was Mariah Schwartz, a licensed esthetician owner of LoveyLashes&Skin. Schwartz is still a neighbor to Janna as they partner for client services in their new location at 1062 Main Street South.

Janna also had a hand in helping Sam Eagan find a storefront for BeeYou, LLC. Sam is a licensed esthetician who shadowed Janna for several months prior to opening up her business, operating out of a former The WaX Pot location in the Professional Center on Main Street.

“It makes me feel good that there are other women businesses that launched based on my little nudge,” Janna said.

Having started her own business not long ago, Janna knows that one of the most difficult parts of starting a new business is believing you can do it and having enough faith that people will trust you, so she is glad to give the owners the boost in confidence they need.

“The other side of it is, how are you going to reach people and stand out in a crowd?” Janna said. “One of the biggest ways is with the relationships you already have. Recently, I was going through some old paperwork, and I came across a letter; when I first started my business, I wrote a letter to everybody I knew, acquaintance, friend or family.”

Additionally, being connected with so many similar businesses means they can support each other through referrals.

“I really believe in a holistic approach to someone’s health, whether it’s making yourself feel beautiful outside or inside, from holistic medications all the way up to plastic surgeries if somebody feels that’s something they need,” Janna said. “If they trust you already, they’re hoping you’ll give them sound advice.”

Considering how personal her line of work is, especially in a small-town community, Janna sees her work as building relationships.

“I have always recommended, if you’re going to offer waxing or facials or nails, you should experience that service by other professionals in your industry,” Janna said. “You’re going to learn something; you’re going to bring something back. They’re going to do something you really liked or maybe something you didn’t, so it’s a learning curve. You can get a massage from five people, and it’s going to be five different massages.”

As she supports and watches her fellow small businesses grow, Janna is learning from them as well.

“I always say to anybody, if you’re going to go do waxing or facials or nails, go get them done by other places,” Janna said. “You’re going to learn something; you’re going to bring something back. They’re going to do something you really liked or maybe something where you’re like, ‘I’ll never do that,’ so it’s a learning curve. You can get a massage from five people, and it’s going to be five different massages.”

Janna is also learning by continuing her education. This summer, she decided to go back to school for her Associates Degree in advanced aesthetics, which will be enable her to offer deeper skin services. The WaX Pot’s 15-year anniversary will be in May of 2023.

From Janna’s perspective, small businesses in small communities are important because people trust them. During the 2020 lockdowns, she saw some small businesses getting a boost because of that trust factor, with people feeling safe in dealing with people close to home. From there, the businesses were in a position to give that support right back to their neighbors.

“Small business is the cornerstone of the economy,” Janna said. “We put money back into our small town, our small town puts money back into us. It’s a very nice system I like to be part of. I feel good spending my money here at other small businesses.”