Hakika DuBose Wise is an entrepreneur on a path to building a franchise empire with her unique business model. She is the founder and CEO of the Kika Stretch Studio franchise, a wellness-based business spreading fitness through a very specific niche — stretching.
The wellness sector is reportedly one of the most lucrative in the world. According to a Global Wellness report, the industry is worth $4.2 trillion. Wise, the creator of the assisted stretch studio concept, was recently labeled the youngest female franchisor in the U.S. According to her, she founded her firm out of the desire to take care of her then small son.
“I wanted to create an opportunity that was flexible so I could be a part of his life,” she told Medium. “I was going to go back to school to receive a masters or certify to teach a form of bodywork.”
Wise trained as a dancer and danced and acted professionally for at least four years. She said she was obsessed with the spine and how it works. She was then an undergrad at Montclair State University. Wise later developed her own method of stretching, called The Kika Method, where trained stretch coaches “follow standardized stretch routines while exerting force on clients to move their limbs into a new position,” xoNECOLE explained. Wise said she used her last $500 to start the assisted stretch studio concept. She rented a room for $300 and spent $200 on marketing.
According to her, she used guerrilla marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. She said the strategy worked. “I printed out brochures from Staples. I bought a $25 ball and mat. That’s all I needed. People started calling from other areas. My first location was in Montclair, NJ. I started opening up other locations but I quickly realized I didn’t want to be responsible for [everything] by myself. That’s when I started thinking about franchising. It’s not a model that many entrepreneurs consider,” she told xoNECOLE.
Today, her studio has 12 locations nationwide and also has a focus on inclusion. Eleven of her 12 locations are owned by minorities, according to Earn Your Leisure, turning it into a franchise. Her business locations include Georgia, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, California, and North Carolina.
In a post on Instagram, Wise said franchising her business has allowed her to grow her brand while spending time with her family. Also, it has allowed her to personally select the business professionals who own her franchise locations.
The journey has not been smooth sailing for the wellness entrepreneur. When the pandemic struck, all her 13 locations were closed during the first three months. However, she managed to overcome the challenge by innovating.
“I realized the world stopped during this time. So there was an opportunity to expand at a lower cost and people were willing to negotiate now more than ever,” Wise told The Daily Record. “Once I started to focus on the ability to help people during this time it got better for me. We help people feel better. That’s why we are still able to thrive in business but it’s still scary because you don’t what’s going to happen tomorrow.”