In 2003, Mary Wilson was attending the University of Florida (go Gators!) for a veterinary medicine degree. The big plan was to become a vet “until physics started,” when Mary realized that it wasn’t all cute puppy snuggles. Nonetheless, this academic discovery prompted Mary to switch her major. The new plan? Go into the insurance business.
Come to find out, that wasn’t really Mary’s vibe either.
As Mary continued to explore what she wanted to do after college, she was having to find a way to pay for her classes. She became a licensed nail tech, working part-time jobs as she earned that degree.
While she did end up completing her degrees (one in business, one in sociology) in 2004, she actually ended up sticking with the industry she joined as a way to pay for school. She had worked for a couple of spas in the Gainesville area, but Mary just knew that she could take her skills and make something great.
“I felt like I could do better.”
Launching her business during her last year of school may sound crazy, but Mary is a firm believer in doing what you need to do. She already had her nail tech license, but she added esthetician school to her schedule as she finished up both degrees at UF.
“We can do a lot more than we think.”
This devotion to her trade paid off. When Mary graduated, Spa Royale was already a fully functioning business.
Mary’s origin story is a great example of entrepreneurial passion, but it’s the obstacles she’s faced along the way that really showcases her ability to adapt and keep her business afloat. As a business that often sees customers’ disposal income, the 2008 recession hit hard. When money is tight, a trip to the salon may not be the first priority. Mary recognized this and quickly decided to downsize her building. She also worked multiple side jobs for the sake of keeping Spa Royale alive.
And it worked.
When 2020 happened, Mary had already seen how difficult economic downfall could be on small businesses. But she had never experienced being told to shut down. This came as a shock.
“I had to make a choice. I’m either gonna get down, cry, be upset, wallow in desperation, or I’m going to get creative and look at this as a challenge — I’m going to embrace it. I’m going down the path of least resistance…That was my motto for 2020. The path of least resistance.”
Sticking to her motto, Mary saw growth amidst a year that threw curveballs on a daily basis. She adapted, she sent self-care boxes to clients, and she did what she needed to in order for Spa Royale to continue to serve their clientele.
Throughout these different challenges, Mary learned how big of an impact her business has had on the Gainesville area.
“Less than five of my wellness membership clients canceled. They kept supporting us through the shutdown.”