Doing It For Themselves

Doing It For Themselves

Ryan Hicks meets three dynamic women who are making their marks in franchising

One of the founding fathers of franchising was – ironically – a woman. She created modern retail franchising as we know it. This was 50 years before Ray Croc popularized the golden arches. And the business she built wasn’t a quick serve restaurant.

Her name was Martha Matilda Harper. She expanded the “Harper Hair Parlor” empire by giving low income women entrepreneurs an opportunity to open hair parlors under her brand. Harper provided training systems and quality control mechanisms that helped women achieve their American dream.

Martha not only achieved the American dream, but she helped pioneer the business model that would go on to help millions do the same.

What follows is a lighthearted glimpse into the personal lives of three modern day women in franchising. Each is a pioneer in their industry, driven to elevate the lives of others, while ushering in a new brand of female entrepreneurship and leadership that Martha would be quite proud of.

Gina “GiGi” Butler, Founder of Gigi’s Cupcakes

Favorite ‘life hack’? Never give up! This may seem simple, but so many times I was told that my ideas weren’t going to work or my dreams were silly. Stay the course and follow your heart.

Quote to live by? “Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself” – George Bernard Shaw

How do you maintain work/life balance? I’m a good multi-tasker and I make lists for everything.

Favorite productivity hack? Stay organized! With every day and week being totally different, I have to put each and every to-do item on a list. It keeps me accountable and on top of all my tasks.

What does a ‘week in the life’ look like? Every day is different! I am often at the Nashville store frosting cupcakes, being interviewed on podcasts, creating new cupcake recipes, working on my upcoming book, attending grand openings, or appearing on cooking shows.

What is your business philosophy? Do what you say you’re going to do and follow through. Don’t oversell yourself. Being understated is better at times. Always be willing to learn something new and know that you can’t be everything to everyone. But you can be YOU!

Your audacious goal? I would like to have a cooking show one day and travel the world feeding people and spreading love one meal at a time.


Shannon Wilburn, CEO & Co-Founder of Just Between Friends

Quote to live by? “Failure is not final, it’s only feedback.” 

Favorite productivity hack? Just one? I have several! I keep a spiral notebook with me at all times. When I think of a to do, whether it’s work or family or church related, I write down the task. When the task is completed, I mark through it in the notebook. When the entire page of task is complete, I fold the page in half. I’ve tried keeping a list in my phone but I have some weird obsession with needing to mark through something when I’m done, and see that it’s accomplished!

Favorite way to bring “culture” to life in your organization? We have an award called Community Impact Award and highlight the good works in video so that we can celebrate together.

What is your business philosophy? I want to operate with honesty, integrity and transparency. I feel like the only reason we are in business is because individuals see JBF as a way to meet some goal for their family. My job is to help franchisees be successful and to help them meet their goals in business ownership.

Your audacious goal? World domination! Okay…not really. If I’m only allowed to give one, I would have to say that I would love to have a Just Between Friends operating at, at least a $300,000 Average Unit Volume in every available territory. We currently have over 150 franchises and our research says that there is a lot more potential here domestically. Think of all the families that would be benefitting! It makes me excited! 


Shane Evans, Founder & President of Massage Heights

How do you maintain work/life balance? I schedule time on my calendar for “me” time to think, to read, to just catch up. I also pre-schedule time for some sort of exercise (when I am being really good!). I find that without scheduling my own time on my calendar, it easily gets filled with meetings. This forces me to slow down a bit and reflect, jot down thoughts, etc.

How do you relieve stress? I love massage therapy and massage related services. An hour and a half at Massage Heights getting a deep tissue massage or three hours in a spa getting the works and using all of the amenities is time well spent for me.  Quite honestly, if I could get a massage every day I absolutely would. My travel schedule does not allow for that, but one day, I absolutely will!

Quote to live by? “Follow through on promises, big or small” –  my dad.

Favorite productivity hack? I have an Intelligent Change Productivity Planner that I use each week to document the top five most important tasks of the week as well as secondary tasks. At the end of the week I document wins, tasks that were not completed and what I learned.

I love this book so much that I’ve given one to each of my executive team members, a peer group and have even sent them off to some of the managers at our retail locations.

Favorite way to bring culture to life in your organization? Certainly celebrating small wins with excursions out of the office or delivering surprise ice cream and all of the toppings for sundaes is always fun and appreciated.

I love doing those things, however I believe the best way to bring culture into an organization is by emulating the values and behaviors that are the foundation of the organization, and then recognizing and calling out others that do the same.

What is your business philosophy? Its simple. Do unto others as you would have done to you.  Our purpose at Massage Heights is to elevate the lives of others. Simply put, take care of people the way you would want to be taken care of in every situation. Do what is good and noble. #ElevateTheEveryday

Your audacious goal? Every person we touch leaves better than when they arrived therefore it is our company goal is to elevate 32 million lives. We believe that the ability to touch that many people will make the world a better place! 

Global Franchise Meets.

An inspirational new web video series where we meet the business leaders and influencers in International Franchising.

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