Hope is powerful, and to an entrepreneur, it can serve as a catalyst that is more inspiring than even the most poignant words of wisdom. Maui Whitening founder and CEO Nikki Swisher offers both to single mothers who envision opening their own business.
In her book, “The How To Start My Own Business Mini-Guide: An Inside Look At Starting A Business From Scratch And Standing Out In Any Industry,” Swisher shares tips, strategies and insight based on wise decisions and mistakes alike she has made over the course of starting and growing businesses. The root of her message emphasizes the hope of a better future that entrepreneurship can provide – especially for a single mom.
Swisher understands the challenges of single parenthood first-hand, and her personal experience was accompanied by another layer of difficulty.
A Dayton native who graduated from Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering and earned an education degree Wright State University, she spent five years as an elementary school teacher and became a stay-at-home mom after the birth of her children – Grace, who is now 13, and Tommy, who is 11.
Life can take a gut-wrenching descent like the steepest rollercoaster, and Swisher’s did when Grace was 3. That is when the little girl was diagnosed with leukemia and underwent intensive treatment. Her future was uncertain, and Swisher’s seemed further derailed when that same year she and her husband divorced.
Grace recovered from the disease, and her mother was confronted with the pressure of not only supporting two young children as a single mother, but doing so with a career that would offer financial stability and schedule flexibility. Some years earlier, Swisher taught 2nd grade during the day and worked as an independent real estate appraiser in the evening while her then husband was attending dental school. She had left her teaching job to become a stay-at-home mom when their first child, Grace, was born.
“Hope was a motivator, and so was fear, since I felt alone and wondering how I was going to provide a comfortable life for my children,” Swisher said. “Real estate appraisal and the human resources consulting were not fulfilling, so I embraced my entrepreneurial spirit and believed that I would have tremendous success as long as I found a niche, something I loved.”
Swisher discovered that she could apply her passion for teaching in an avenue outside of the traditional classroom. She is a natural at marketing – namely startup branding and digital marketing – so in 2008 she created NADMC Services, a company that specialized in helping small and large businesses grow and promote their concepts via website design, video production, social media management, search engine optimization and email marketing among other services.
Life was successful and stable again for Swisher and her children, but the single mom was not fully content. She still sought a personally fulfilling and financially rewarding endeavor that could be grown from infancy into a burgeoning concept. The ultimate idea was closer than she imagined.
Particular about her dental hygiene, Swisher sought multiple solutions to get brighter and whiter teeth. She visited her dentist for treatment and also tried several at-home whitening products, but she was unable to implement the offered “tray teeth whitening” due to sensitivity.
“I wanted a teeth whitening option that was immediate, affordable and non-sensitive for me,” Swisher explained. “This inspired me to incorporate my marketing background and entrepreneurial ambitions, and open a teeth whitening salon where patrons could get the results they desired immediately, with little to no sensitivity and at a cost-effective price.”
Swisher spent nine months of intensive research before debuting the first Maui Whitening salon. The information that she gathered reinforced her belief that an alternative was needed to teeth whitening from dental offices and at-home products from drug stores.
Maui Whitening (www.mauiwhitening.com) started with one Washington Township location in January 2014. It is now regarded as the fastest growing laser teeth whitening dealership-based company in the United States with 100-plus locations sold in the company’s first 18 months. Salons can be found in locations in 22 states, and those numbers are growing monthly. Maui Whitening is looking to expand into Greene County among other regions.
Maui Whitening is expanding by selling dealerships to entrepreneurs around the country. Swisher says she opted for the dealership model over franchising because the start-up costs are more affordable for people to start a business and it allows for more rapid growth and brand awareness. Maui Whitening offers dealers an exclusive territory. They are required to purchase the company’s products monthly, but they do not have to pay royalties, which minimizes operation costs.
Through the dealership model, Swisher is not only growing Maui Whitening and further cultivating her dream, but she is also providing hope for people who are searching for independence and financial stability. Several dealerships are owned by single moms. This fall, in addition to her mini-guide (which is available for free at www.startupschoolwithnikki.com), Swisher will launch a YouTube series aimed at educating and inspiring single moms who want to become entrepreneurs. Public speaking appearances and DVDs are slated for the next 12 months.
“With the right support, tips and tools, you can build a flourishing business, regardless of the industry. It’s just a matter of finding a niche, identifying a middle market to build a business in and believing in yourself,” said the 43-year-old Swisher, who resides with her daughter, Grace, and her son, Tommy, on their horse farm outside of Greene County in Waynesville, a small country village known for its antiques and equine residences.
“I have a deep and genuine interest in single moms who want to start their own business but might feel scared and uncertain because I was once that person, and I want them to show them that they can find independence and stability,” Swisher added. “There is undoubtedly hope for a rewarding future.”