The 2008 great recession was a difficult time in the country’s economy. As the market crashed, many companies lost significant value, and many Americans lost their jobs. But for some motivated individuals, like Lari Jarvis, it was also an opportunity to start a whole new career. We’re proud to support business owners like Lari and are thrilled to share her extraordinary story.
Lari’s 16-year career at Wells Fargo came to a close in 2010, and she used the event as a springboard to launch her entrepreneurial journey and become her own boss. It took a tremendous amount of courage and hard work to do something totally different, but Lari wanted to be in control of her destiny.
She knew she wanted to do something that helped people feel their best. It turned out that one of her former colleagues from Wells Fargo, Nathan McFarland, had the answer she was searching for. The two decided to become Regional Developers and Franchise owners for a major health and wellness chain, Massage Envy.
Lari and Nathan landed one of the most coveted franchise locations—in the Hawaiian Islands! While it was a great opportunity, it would also take considerable investment. Opening a spa in the continental U.S. isn’t cheap, and opening one in Hawaii is almost double the price. While Lari and Nathan had some savings and also dipped into their retirement funds, they still had to take out a loan to get the business started.
To fund their first spa, Lari and Nathan went with an SBA loan, but they found the process slow and cumbersome. Despite having 16 years of experience as a district manager at Wells Fargo, she was still forced to “jump through hoops” to qualify for the SBA loan. And unlike a typical term loan, with SBA loans the money is not distributed all at once.
As Lari and Nathan worked with a contractor to build out their first spa, the SBA funds were slowly dispersed for the project. Despite fulfilling every requirement for the SBA loan, Lari never felt that she had true control over the funds. It was also difficult because the bank administering the SBA funds didn’t understand how the construction process in Hawaii worked—they would constantly ask Lari’s contractor for permits that didn’t even exist in Hawaii.
Eventually, they completed construction and opened their first Massage Envy spa in 2012. It was a hit—their new spa was the fastest growing Massage Envy location in the nation the following year. Lari and Nathan received an award from the Massage Envy corporate office and spent the next few years building out additional locations on the island of Oahu.
In late 2016, they were ready to begin building out their fourth location, on Maui—the first of their spas on a different island. Lari knew that they would need to take out a loan again but had no desire to go through the process of an SBA loan after her past experience, which was far from optimal. After a family member recommended LendingClub, she filled out an online application at the end of July 2017 and was instantly pre-approved for a loan. Lari only had to speak to her Client Advisor twice, and within a couple weeks she had the full loan amount deposited into her bank account. She was “overjoyed” with the LendingClub process and was thrilled with how easy and stress-free it was. We know business owners like Lari are incredibly busy and that time is their most valued resource. That’s why we try to make getting access to a loan as quick and pain-free as possible.
While Lari is grateful for her experience working at Wells Fargo, she feels much more fulfilled by being a business owner. She and her partner employ more than 165 people and serve more than 8,000 members at their spas. In the next five years, Lari and Nathan plan to continue to grow and expand to 8 – 9 locations in Hawaii. Their flourishing business will bring additional jobs to the community and will give them the opportunity to help even more customers feel their best. Not only that, Lari feels her decision to become an entrepreneur was the best thing she could have done for herself and her family.
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