By Christine Rosal
As CEO of two franchise concepts – Kwik Kopy Printing Canada and Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa Canada – Harding is living her childhood dream.
Harding’s career in franchising began at Kwik Kopy Printing, the printing franchise her father brought to Canada from the U.S. in 1979. After graduating from University, Harding took a job at a franchised Kwik Kopy location and slowly worked her way up through the ranks. From there, she moved to the company’s corporate head office, helping master franchisors open Kwik Kopy locations in Australia, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Brazil, before taking over as CEO in 1996.
Already at the helm of one successful franchise concept, Harding and her brother Brett soon began to seek out a new and exciting concept they could introduce to the Canadian marketplace.
“My brother and I love massage but we could never find a Registered Massage Therapist when we needed one,” Harding explains. “We did our due diligence and took our time to find something that fit our interests, that we felt was a solid business model and that had strong growth potential in the Canadian marketplace.” Through their research, they discovered Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa.
Founded in 2004 in New Jersey, Hand & Stone offers affordably priced massages, facials and spa services seven days a week to fit customers’ busy schedules. Sold on the concept, Harding and her brother purchased the Master Licensee Rights for Canada and opened the first Hand & Stone location in Ontario in 2009. Since opening in Canada, Hand & Stone has expanded to over 17 locations, with new spas opening every month.
When she’s not busy running two thriving franchise systems, Harding, who lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters, enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, golfing and traveling. Maintaining work-life balance can be a challenge for the busy CEO.
“I’m not the best at this,” she admits. “The key is to surround yourself with excellent people who understand and are committed to what you’re doing. I’m fortunate to have an understanding husband and children and great staff who go the extra mile to help me.”
Going forward, Harding is looking forward to continuing to expand the Hand & Stone concept in Canada, as well as the company’s new charitable partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “It’s a great feeling when we can give back,” she says.
With her years of experience in the industry, it’s no surprise that Harding believes strongly in the franchise business model and the mutual benefits it affords to both the franchisor and franchisee. “It’s a much easier way to grow a brand nationally and provides a community in which you can share ideas and benefit from tried and proven systems,” says Harding. “Franchising has had a huge impact on my life.”
Adapted from the March/April issue of FranchiseCanada. Check out the March/April 2016 issue of FranchiseCanada, on newsstands now, or you can order your subscription by calling 1-800-665-4232 ext. 224.