By: Jennifer Durham, Chief Development Officer, Hand & Stone 

 Toya Evans and her daughters, Chanel Grant and Lauren Williamson, are some of Hand & Stone’s most impactful franchisees and are on the road to building a multi-generational legacy of business ownership centered on supporting healthy lifestyles. With their extraordinary performance, both within Hand & Stone and with other franchise businesses, they are a prime example of how to use family bonds to lay the foundation for successful business ventures.


When they first set out on their franchising endeavors, the three women came together with a common commitment to collaboration, mutual respect, and shared values. With Toya having grown up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, the family knew their mission was to enrich underserved communities and bring brands to those areas that prioritize health and wellbeing. Throughout the nearly 10 years since they opened their first franchise business, they have remained steadfast in holding themselves to that commitment.


After opening their first franchise in 2015, which was a quick service restaurant serving healthy smoothies, sandwiches and other quick bites, the trio decided they wanted to expand their portfolio further into the health and wellness space. This is where Hand & Stone comes in. What attracted them most to the brand was its proven business model, extensive franchisee support and training, and the innovative wellness services the brand offered. For those who may not be familiar, the Hand & Stone business model is membership-based, which was attractive to the women because it creates a recurring revenue stream that fuels scalability for expanded business operations. 


Opening a new business can, of course, be daunting, but Hand & Stone works to make it as easy of an experience as possible. Their highly experienced team of professionals provide extensive support and comprehensive training to prepare franchisees for spa ownership, from real estate selection and financing to the menu of services available for customers. Hand & Stone prides itself on pushing the envelope when it comes to innovation, which is something their franchise owners are often most captivated by. The brand has a suite of spa services like body contouring, NuFace, DiamondGlow, and more, that allow for franchise owners and their service providers to create tailored regimens for their customers. Such customizable experiences keep guests coming back for more.


It has been their dedication to making health and wellness services more accessible in their communities that has been a driving force behind the trio’s success. It is of the utmost importance to them and their family that they contribute positively to the people and communities around them. They don’t just do this through their business ventures but also by being active members of their community, getting to know their neighbors and what they hope for from existing and new businesses coming into the area. The women are members of many organizations and groups like the National Franchise Council and National Marketing Committee. They also often partner with local groups including schools and radio stations to serve those in need, helping to coordinate various fundraisers such as providing free massages for people in local churches and shelters and charitable initiatives to assist families who need support during the holiday season as well as adopting teenagers in need. Local organizations the trio has supported include Delta Research Foundation, Bowie Community Theatre, the National Council of Negro Women, and more. Additionally, amid pandemic-related shutdowns of businesses, they worked with the Business Recovery Program in Bowie, Maryland to host a roundtable session on how to pivot your business and thrive.  


Speaking of which, over the years, the women have developed a deep passion for educating others about business ownership and the benefits of franchising, particularly for women and minorities. When they first started the franchising process, they learned that out of the over 800,000 franchise owners worldwide, only 8% were African American, so they started wondering why African Americans weren’t taking advantage of all that franchising has to offer. What they found was there was a lack of education and fear around the investment level. Because of this, the mother-daughter trio created multiple courses promoting and educating business and franchise ownership for women and minorities with the mission of increasing the number of individuals going into business for themselves. Their online course (“So You Want to Buy a Franchise?”) dives into what is required to get into franchising and becoming a franchise owner, how to write a business plan, where to get financing, how to find the right franchise for you, and more. Lauren and Chanel also offer 15-minute consultations to advise on being in business and why franchising is a great business venture. In the first year alone, Toya and her daughters had a dozen people go through the course and refer people out to franchise brands. 


While they have plenty of advice to offer, from how to build a business with your family to how to get started in franchising, one big tip they have for those pursuing business ownership is: start before you’re ready. The timing may never be perfect, and you may not have all the resources you want available, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. At the start of their journey, the trio cobbled together resources and got creative. They applied for grants, leveraged credit cards and even used their homes as collateral. With any business venture, new or old, there are always going to be obstacles, but it’s all about pushing through and overcoming them. For the trio, once they opened their first location, everything else started to fall into place – lenders were coming to them with additional funding opportunities and their brands recognized their spirit and success and implemented additional resources to help them grow.


Toya, Chanel and Lauren are forces to be reckoned with and the epitome of spirited and committed franchise owners. Their passion for the brands they’re part of, and for franchising overall, make them a dynamic advocate for the industry and showcases how franchising creates a viable path to successful business ownership. They look forward to continuing to build a lasting legacy for their growing family – Chanel even welcomed a baby girl earlier this year (no doubt we have another franchise owner in our midst)! Hand & Stone is grateful to have them in their franchise network, and truly believes they represent what excellence looks in franchising.