America Back to Work Ep 10: Candice Bruder, Pure Sweat Studios

Why Companies Should Strive to Be Purpose-Driven

Building a purpose-driven company is all about being values-driven—and that can’t happen if your team isn’t aligned. When you prioritize hiring based on shared purpose and values in addition to credentials, you’ll build a team that works toward a common goal.

On this week’s episode of America Back to Work, Candace Bruder—Founder + CEO of Pure Sweat Studios—sits down with Arnette Heintze to discuss the role hiring plays in building a purpose-driven company.

They cover:

  • Using your brand values to inform your interviews
  • How to coach your team to train new hires
  • The importance of hiring slowly and firing quickly 
  • And more!

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About America Back to Work

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S2Verify is one of the leading, privately held, pre-employment background screening companies in the United States. 

Arnette Heintze is co-founder and chief strategy officer at S2Verify. Before establishing S2Verify, Arnette spent more than three decades working at the highest levels of federal, state, and local law enforcement. 

He served more than 20 years in the United States Secret Service as a special agent and senior executive where he planned, designed, and implemented security strategies to protect U.S. Presidents, world leaders, events of national significance, and our nation’s most sensitive assets, including financial infrastructure.  

After retiring from the Secret Service, Arnette focused on building the growth and performance of innovative start-ups and SMBs. In 2004, he established Hillard Heintze, a globally recognized strategic security risk management and investigations firm.

In 2009, along with Bill Whitford and Jim Zimbardi, Arnette established S2 Verify with an approach and methodology that delivers fast, accurate, compliant, and affordable background screening insights crucial to better managing insider risks, threats, and vulnerabilities.  

America Back to Work Podcast Transcript

Arnette Heintze

Welcome to America Back To Work, brought to you by S2Verify. I’m your host, Arnette Heintze.

Today, I am excited to be joined by Candice Bruder, a Nashville-based entrepreneur who founded the Pure Sweat Studios national franchise, an exclusive wellness destination for state-of-the-art, full-spectrum infrared sauna and float therapy. She is dedicated to spreading the word about the importance of overall health and well-being and building culture-first teams. 

This discussion is the perfect follow-up to last week’s episode about the importance of prioritizing mental health at work. 

Candice, tell us a little bit about Pure Sweat Studio and how you’re creating a sense of purpose for the employees in your business. And, what is your purpose, as a brand?

Candice Bruder

Well, hello and thanks for having me. Um, and great to be a part of this because hiring talent, developing purpose-driven brands, businesses, uh, retention, and all of that is really at the forefront of every business owner’s mind right now. Uh, and it does require a lot of thought and discussion, uh, about it. Uh, I founded Pure Sweat Studios, uh, about five and a half years ago. Um, my previous career was in PR actually. And when I moved to Nashville, uh, I recognized that there was just a need for, uh, wellness studios and Sauna was something that I’d always been really passionate about, and then learned about infrared sauna and how that takes everything to such an abundant, uh, health benefit level. Um, and just on an instinct and a really clear vision, I started something that I really wanted for myself. I’m a candidate and a client, uh, just like my many thousands of clients that we have across our studios.

Um, we offer in Fred Sauna, we offer floating. We also are gonna be offering cold plunge as well. Uh, but the heart of what we do and who we are and how we serve is that we are really a community focused space for health healing and connection within, uh, that is our mission statement. And I’m sure we’ll be talking about the importance of mission statements and brand values during our conversation today. Um, but we are growing, uh, nationally. We have about almost 20 studios within our portfolio, um, and six open studios right now. So congratulations. It’s a great time to be in the wellness industry, uh, and certainly Covid was a great catalyst to bringing, uh, wellbeing to the forefront of everyone’s minds and hearts.

Arnette Heintze

I think you’re right. I think Covid absolutely brought that to the forefront for us, and, and it’s, it’s great to hear the story and your success you’re having with it as you, as you build your enterprise. So one of the biggest challenges I bet in, in, not just for you, but any small business and that’s growing rapidly, is finding the right talent. So how do you, how do you make sure as you recruit and you’re looking for talent, how do you, you know, align your purpose to that initiative and make sure that, you know, you’re getting that talent that can align to your purpose?

Candice Bruder

Yeah, great question. Um, what I’ve really come to learn and understand is that you have to have a very strong foundation and clarity about your purpose, about your brand values, and for all, for those to be very clearly articulated and included within everything that we do. Um, I’ve spent considerable amount of time, especially in the past year and a half or so, uh, really, uh, honing in on and developing very clear brand values. Uh, brand values are gonna show up in everything that you do with hiring, recruiting, um, retention reviews, compensation, um, and when you have very clearly articulated brand values, um, that really serves as a strong foundation even within the interview process, because you’ll start queuing in on certain words, phrases, terminologies, expressions, interests, curiosities that align with your brand values. And that always becomes a cue to me of like, oh, they are, you know, aligned with, with who we are and how we wanna serve.

So, um, within all of our operational materials, and I have, you know, 200 page document, you know, operations tactics, uh, that are very clear on who we are, uh, how we serve, uh, how we implement that purpose into the tactics of operations even. Um, so it’s always circling back to the team about what our purpose is and what our brand values are. Even as simple, something as simple as cleaning, there’s a lot of cleaning within our studios and within our services. Uh, and even cleaning, for example, I’ll always circle that back to one of our mantras, which is a clean environment is a calm environment. The way that we care for our services and our clients is, and, and our spaces is the way that we show love and care for our clients. Um, so there’s just always a focus on purpose, breadth and depth in everything that we do.

Arnette Heintze

Oh, fabulous. You know, and, and as you, as you look at, as your operations are expanding and you’re growing nationally, it’s not uncommon to have multiple generations that you’re, you’re searching for talent in. I know you’re probably, you know, there could be s you know, going back to the baby boomer generation, which is my generation, and then going forward. So do you find a difference in recruiting or is it pretty much the same message that you, you, you’re getting out there around purpose for, for these various generations?

Candice Bruder

Yeah, you know, I, there is a, there is a bit of a difference, and then you have to consider, um, just the context of what a day in the life is like working within a studio. So, uh, what I like about an older demographic is that there’s just gonna, there’s gonna be a maturity level there. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, we’re connecting with clients on a very deep level. They’re talking about anything from their personal life challenges, you know, we are a space for, for healing and for connection, um, to perhaps health challenges that they have. Uh, that I think a more mature, uh, team member is just gonna have that life experience and be able to relate to them in a meaningful, uh, way. Um, at the same time, uh, our studio is also physical <laugh>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, you need to have a lot of high energy and stamina, and I can’t change the, uh, d n a of what a day in a life is like within a studio.

And I think that’s something that I can never ignore is, which is, you know, do you have the energy and the stamina to be running, you know, a health spa every day, uh, which is very fast paced. So there’s really a combination, uh, of the two. But I find that with maybe a more mature demographic, having that deep connection with the clients is very meaningful versus with a younger demographic, they’re very drawn to being a part of a community. Um, they like the social community aspect of it. Um, being able to market and network and grassroots marketing and social media and things like that is gonna be very, uh, appealing to them and to be a voice at the table in ways that they can help grow the business in that way.

Arnette Heintze

Yeah. Do you have a tip or two that you could offer on, uh, questions you might ask a candidate during the interview process about, you know, how they, uh, you know, it should be the candidate’s responsibility to do a little research on their own? How do you find out if they truly understand the company’s purpose?

Candice Bruder

You know, I’ve found that it doesn’t need to necessarily be an apples to apples, um, mm-hmm. <affirmative> scenario in order for somebody to be a qualified candidate, first of all, there are not really that many infr, sauna and float studios around, so I’m not gonna find a lot of people that have had actual apples to apples experience. But for us, and because one of our strongest purpose and brand values is being very focused on the client and our community, the first question I’m gonna be curious about is, one, what is their customer service experience? And two, are they people, people <laugh>?

I once had a, uh, a person that I was interviewing and she said to me, I’ve never, you know, met a stranger I didn’t know. You know, great. That’s a cue to me that this is a person who loves people. Are you outgoing? Do you, are you, do you like striking up conversations? Are you curious? Are you an active listener? I have found that, um, people who are a little more reserved and shy, even despite, they may have great previous work experience, but that personality, uh, is really what’s going to open the doors and the opportunity for connecting, which is where that purpose really, uh, is, is inspired by. So, um, I really wanna see, I’m looking at their personality, their customer service. Do they love people? I always say to, uh, the team and, and to candidates. I am just lit up spiritually by being of service to our clients in our community. I love to help somebody and to shepherd them through their wellness journey. And I’m, I’m looking for a flicker in their eyes. Yeah. But that, that they could have experience, uh, in restaurants, restaurants have tons of customer service experience working at a vet office, you know, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the fitness or the wellness industry.

Arnette Heintze

That’s great. You know, maintaining a healthy company culture is critical. I think all business owners and leaders, you know, are constantly aware that, you know, culture is, is critical. How do you maintain a good, healthy culture? Do you have any tips or, uh, how do you check the status of your organization? Things that you do that kind of help our audience understand these might be some tips to adopt?

Candice Bruder

Well, you know, I, that’s a great question because I had to really, honestly and humbly ask myself, you know, we focus so much on the client care and the wellbeing of our clients. How am I also fostering that wellbeing and mirroring that for our team as well? Um, kind of going back to your original question or your previous question, something I also always wanna ask is, what is their why? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what is their why for wanting to be a part of a wellness industry? Do they have a compelling story to share? Are they on their own wellness journey as well? Um, maybe they have an autoimmune disease, maybe they’ve battled with mold toxicity, for example, and they’ve chosen to take very proactive holistic approaches to their health and to their recovery. Um, so really understanding what their why is, and I’m also very clear in asking them what are their goals?

There’s, within a business, there are so many different facets to it, whether it’s operations or it’s marketing or it’s events or social media. And, uh, we’re expressing and tapping into our community and our purpose within all of those different channels. And I’ll ask them, you know, what interests you? We are a young, progressive, nimble company. All ideas are welcome to the table. You know, what are certain areas that you want to grow in that we can help focus you in on? And then also, we’re gonna be asking and listening and learning. How can we help support their wellness practice? How can they use our studio as a resource, uh, to enhance a wellness practice? And in our studios, we have so many different people that come through our doors from wellness, practitioners, educators, influencers, you name it. There’s so many, um, opportunities for them to tap into that.

Arnette Heintze

Yeah. When it comes to motivating employees with your purpose-driven, um, concept, uh, in, in your company, do you believe that smaller, uh, or early stage companies have an advantage over to something maybe larger in nature? D is, is that an advantage in, in small business today?

Candice Bruder

Yes and no. Uh, yes, from the sense that when I said we’re, we’re young, we’re progressive, we’re growing all ideas, welcome to the table, you are a voice at the table. And I think that that really resonates with, with candidates and especially, well, anybody really doesn’t matter what age you are. Um, at the same time, uh, it also means that maybe these certain like programs, policies and structures haven’t been indoctrinated and in place for decades. And so things can be quick moving, you know, or can shift a bit. And so there’s always that balance of wanting to have stability and structure while being, uh, nimble enough to incorporate new ways that can streamline processes or make, uh, an environment more rewarding. Um, we always, uh, have, you know, 30, 60, 90 day reviews. We have team meetings. It’s really important to have that one-on-one time. Um, and despite as strong as your brand values, your purpose, your mission may be if you don’t have somebody on the team who’s really a touchpoint for the team and is coaching and instructing along the way, then really things just kind of fall from the wayside. So you have to look at things very holistically. Um, something else that I think is important to share too, that I’ve really learned along the way as also being a young entrepreneur myself, is the difference between being an instructor and a coach.

I learned that, uh, about myself and, and, and, and always humbly assessing what are ways that I can improve myself? How can I be a better leader? I noticed that I was a great instructor. <laugh>, do this, do it that way. This is how we do it. This is how we present. Versus a coach is going to include the team within the training process. We do a lot more role playing now instead of memorization. It’s more interactive. Uh, and I’ve found that that is a really powerful way, uh, to engage a team, uh, within a training process to really better understand the cultures that they feel that they’re a part of the ideas and the solutions, and not just memorizing something.

Arnette Heintze

Yeah. You know, I, I, I think for all small businesses, there’s this dilemma of do you hire somebody on an hourly basis, or do you hire ’em as a salaried employee? What’s your perspective on that? And any particular advantages or disadvantages to the, the way you approach that?

Candice Bruder

Yeah, we have, we have a combination of the two. I have to have salary on there, um, for me, yeah. Salary signifies commit a, a real commitment. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we are a business that is open seven days a week, 12 hours a day, um, shorter hours on the weekends, but we’re, we’re open all the time. I always say we’re like a, we’re like a grocery store. We never close <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and so I really have to have just salaried, reliable, dedicated team, um, hourly, you know, obviously makes a lot of sense too. And there can be flexibility, uh, within that. Um, but with hourly, you know, that, that, that comes with challenges as well. You know, a lot of times with hourly employees who are a step, you know, we can be a stepping stone or a transition, you know, hopefully we are always, uh, a stepping stone that’s leading them to what their greater goal or career is. Uh, but with salary, of course, it’s really more of a career proposition. And with hourly, I think just the reality is, is that you hope to just have a very strong work culture. You hope to have strong retention, um, but there’s gonna be a, a lifespan to that. Yeah. And that is the nature of the business, and it’s better for me to just accept that than try to change what it inherently is.

Arnette Heintze

Yeah. Yeah. You know, I know Pure Sweat is going through a pretty significant growth phase right now. What recommendations do you have for others, whether they’re business owners or HR professionals for seeking talent in a growth phase? Any, any, uh, learnings, any experience you’ve got that might help our audience?

Candice Bruder

Well, I think it’s really a little bit more specific to the nature of my industry and things that I’ve learned along the way, and then certain qualities that I have found that are just non-negotiable. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, when I said things like, they’ve gotta be a people person. Like, I’ve learned that the more kind of quiet, shy, reserved, like, it’s just never gonna translate within a studio environment. Um, I’ve picked up along the way. You know, sometimes it’s almost more helpful to know about what are the don’ts, <laugh> versus the dos mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, also within the wellness industry, I will say some red flags that I’ve encountered is people can be super attracted to a purpose-driven healing, uh, industry, but sometimes it can attract wounded birds, <laugh>. Yeah. And, uh, you know, you want to be attracting people that are hiring people that have already begun their wellness journey versus that are looking to you to help solve a problem that they’re just starting to address.

Um, flexibility is really key. When you are a seven day a bus, you know, seven day business, uh, job, um, you really have to have flexibility. So if somebody’s already coming to us with, well, I can only work these times or these days, or whatnot, like, I just know that it’s not gonna work. And I feel like one of the best advice that I ever received, which was higher, slowly fire quickly. Yeah. Um, and I’ve experienced what happens when you make desperate higher moves. Uh, it ends up in the long term just requiring more time, more money, more heartache, or more stress and more pressure on the team. Um, I would rather be jumping in and picking up shifts and supporting than for making, um, a hiring decision that really didn’t, uh, serve our needs or align with our purpose and our values. So, yeah. Um, but I always say it really begins with clearly articulating your purpose, your values, and every touchpoint that there is with the team member from the recruiting, the job posting to the training materials. It has to be in everything that you do.

Arnette Heintze

Yeah. Well, that’s great. You know, um, I, I have a question that I ask every guest here, and I’d like to close our conversation out today with this question. If our company has to verify were to conduct a background screening check on you, would there be any surprising discoveries?

Candice Bruder

Okay. I, I did do some acting when I was in my early twenties. Maybe that would come out. I don’t know. But yeah, anything that would be a, a red flag or alarm, like good god, no. Yeah.

Arnette Heintze

Well tell our audience where they can learn more about Pure Suite Studios and how to follow you and, and generally the best place for them to learn about what you’re offering and, and how they might, uh, look for those, uh, uh, offerings.

Speaker 2 (22:26):

Our website is pure sweat We have just an abundance of information about who we are as a company, about our growth, about franchise opportunities as well. Um, and I just wanna say, you know, for any entrepreneur or who is having a lot of growth, I think you always have to come back to your purpose and your why within that process as well. And my purpose and my why was that I could, I was so excited that I could share in a platform so that others could build health, healing, and connection within their own communities. And that is the purpose of the franchise company.

Arnette Heintze

Thank you so much for sharing all of your amazing thoughts and tips. And I think everyone listening is probably ready to find a local infrared sauna studio to add to their health regimen! 

For the listening or viewing audience, please tune in next week for another important HR-related topic:  Using technology as a major transformational driver, and how this affects hiring. I will be joined by Josh Millet, the founder and CEO of Criteria—a talent success company dedicated to helping organizations make evidence-based talent decisions.

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