2022 Spirit of Franchising MVP Award


Last name: Toya L. Evans

Title: Co-owner

Company: Healthy Living Companies

Units: 2 Tropical Smoothie Cafes (1 in development), 2 Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa

Age: 58

Family: My daughters Lauren, 36 and Chanel, 31

Years in franchise: seven

Years in current position: seven

Toya Evans is Spirit of Franchising‘s 2022 MVP (Most Valuable Performer).

Selected for her extraordinary and enduring performance, growth and community giving, Evans co-owns, with her two daughters, Health Living Ventures, which operates multiple Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Hand & Stone Massage locations.

She founded her company 7 years ago with the goal of operating businesses focused on healthier lifestyles and giving back to her community. Evans says she faced many challenges, including accessing capital, building a team, and meeting people who didn’t believe a woman could do what she did. She was persistent and overcame many challenges to become a successful multi-unit franchisee.

Today, his company operates two Tropical Smoothie cafes, with another in development, and two Hand & Stone Massage & Facial Spa locations. And she’s on the lookout for additional brands that fit her healthy lifestyle business, as well as expand into non-traditional locations like military bases, airports and schools.


Formative influences/events: To see my two daughters become the business women they are today.

Major achievements: I’ve had many corporate accomplishments like reaching $1 million in sales and being named both Emerging Leader and Franchisee of the Year in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Franchise System. But my greatest accomplishments are my daughters Lauren and Chanel. They are incredible, strong and talented women. They’re not just my daughters, they’ve also been my business partners in Healthy Living Ventures for 7 years. I have seen their growth as individuals, women and businesswomen. I am proud and lucky to have them by my side and together build a lasting legacy for our family.

Next big goal: To build our portfolio and aggressively add to our healthy lifestyle brand while being mindful and thoughtful about the process. We started the franchise only 7 years ago. With four Tropical Smoothie Cafes plus one in development, and two Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spas, we are in strong growth mode. We want to make sure that any business we undertake aligns with our business focus on healthier lifestyles and allows us to give back to our community.

Hardest lesson learned: The word “tough” is relative to each person, but I truly believe that every day offers us the opportunity to learn many lessons, and that an individual’s response to a problem is what really matters, regardless of whether the problem is big or small. When I worked at Microsoft, we had a saying: “We reserve the right to wake up smarter tomorrow. This saying has always kept me focused. I insist on saying whenever a problem arises.

The best advice you’ve ever received: Never be too big for small jobs.

What is your business passion? Management, in particular, focused on our people, who are our most valuable assets. I enjoy helping our team members grow, develop and achieve their goals, both personally and professionally.


Business Philosophy: 1) Putting People First: We invest time and resources to help our most valuable assets grow, develop and achieve personal and career goals. 2) Play to Win: We never just fix things and are always looking for better ways to run our business and serve our customers. 3) Act with Integrity: We are honest and hold ourselves to a high moral compass. 4) Believe it’s possible: We work hard, focus, and believe we can do it. 5) Giving back: We like to give back to the communities we serve.

Management method or style: I try to find the right balance between being a servant and a trainer.

Biggest challenge: I had to face many challenges, including accessing capital, building a team, and meeting people who didn’t believe a woman could build what I’m building. However, I am persistent and never back down from any challenge or obstacle. In the end, with every setback, I learned to be patient, to be kind, and to treat others the way you want to be treated.

How far are you from operations? I am in daily contact with my leaders and try to stop regularly at each location to check on the team and guests. This business is my family’s legacy, so I stay close to all operations daily to make sure everything is running as smoothly as possible.

How to recruit and fire, train and retain? My daughter Lauren is leaving her job in technology sales to become our human resources manager and take care of hiring and benefits administration. We leverage brand web recruiting, post on our channels and source candidates on job boards. We try to operate like a big company and we do whatever it takes to find a great and sustainable team.


What have been the biggest impacts of Covid-19 on your business? As we all know, Covid has affected businesses immeasurably, and we’re beyond grateful that all of our businesses survived and that we didn’t have to close any of our locations. In addition to encountering friction with customers who did not want to follow local mask ordinances, we also saw an increase in operating expenses due to the purchase of PPE supplies. But it was a necessary step to make our team and our guests feel safe and protected. And, of course, there were and still are higher prices due to supply chain issues and labor shortages, which I don’t think will slow down anytime soon, but we let’s manage!


Why do you think you were awarded this prize? I would say it is our commitment to grow our business and serve our community, and also to encourage others to consider franchising as a career option. During Covid-19 we created an online course, “So You Want to Buy a Franchise” via our website. This is an overview of what it takes to open a franchise and helps people understand the general franchise business, what it takes to get started and what we wish we had known when we started . We were getting these questions on a rolling basis as people saw how well we were doing, so we decided to compile them all together and publish this course. We are proud to say that some of our “graduates” have even purchased a Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise themselves!

How did you raise the bar in your own business? My daughters and I have built a foundation for managing multiple units, identified and established relationships with more funding sources, and established benefits for our team.

What innovations have you created and used to build your business? Normally, when people say the word “innovations,” our minds immediately go to technology and new products. But my innovation is to think outside the box when I hear “No”. For example, I get creative when I need to find alternative funding sources or expand my business when a territory is exhausted.

What core values ​​do you think helped you win this award? Definitely perseverance and bringing our A game every day. My daughters and I never take no for an answer. And when we encounter obstacles, we face the problem head-on and find creative ways to get things done, even when it seems like it won’t happen. We like to say, “Jump and the net will appear.”

How important is community engagement to you and your business? That’s all ! Our community is the main reason we have been able to emerge strong from the pandemic. In addition to providing our community with healthy products, we have become an integral part of our community by hiring community members and giving back to local schools, APEs and community groups through fundraising efforts. and donations when possible. Getting involved in our community is in our DNA.

What leadership qualities are most important to you? I believe a leader must be able to lead by example, treat people the way you would want to be treated, and embed core business values ​​into our day-to-day interactions with our teams and customers.


Annual revenue: Just over $3 million.

2022 objectives: Grow revenue and EBITDA from our existing sites, find new development opportunities to expand our portfolio, and identify and hire leadership talent to strengthen our teams.

Growth meter: We measure growth in the usual way, including annual revenue, EBITDA and number of locations, but we also measure it by people. We invest in our employees and want to see them grow and progress within our company. We view employee retention and satisfaction as a measure of success beyond the numbers.

Visitor: Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? I would like to see portfolio growth with additional brands suitable for our healthy lifestyle business, and I would like to see our business expand into non-traditional locations such as military bases, airports and schools.

What are you doing to take care of your employees? Along with traditional benefits, including health insurance and 401(k), we also give shoutouts and recognition for service, host holiday parties for our team and crew members, and participate in field trips. leadership.

What kind of exit strategy do you have in place? I plan to retire in 4-5 years and have Lauren and Chanel take over and grow our business even further. After working in a high-pressure position in technology and product management, then starting Healthy Living Ventures with my daughters, I’m ready to help on the fringes.


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