A great team
Gary Heavin’s story is a classic tale of the American dream. A brilliant young entrepreneur, he made his first million in his early twenties, then lost everything in a financial and personal catastrophe. By 50, he was a billionaire. He rebuilt his life by sheer force of talent and commitment and with the creation of Curves, the women’s fitness franchise, he went on to become a world-renowned business icon. Gary has the rare distinction of being named “best entrepreneur in the United States” by Ernst and Young, and he has achieved a level of success, with all the material benefits that flow from it, that most can only dream of.
What makes Gary unusual is that he has dedicated his entire adult life to helping women live better. Reflecting on the story of Curves, he gives a very personal explanation of this unique dedication. “I was teaching a fitness class for women and realized I was constantly scanning the room, looking for my mother. She died when I was 13 from a combination of ailments that I now know were all preventable.
In helping women become healthier, I was really trying to save my mom.” Shortly after this realization, Gary founded Curves. His aim: to provide a safe place for women who felt excluded by the macho culture of traditional fitness centers. “The habit of exercise changes — and saves —lives,” Gary explains. “It’s the key to losing weight, getting healthy and restoring natural beauty. Curves removed the barriers to these benefits for our sisters, wives, daughters, mothers and grandmothers.”
Curves was the fastest growing franchise anywhere in the world, and it holds that record to this day. The way it grew offers a clue to Gary’s excitement about his latest venture, Bellia. Traditionally, franchises are aggressively marketed with expensive advertising and professional sales teams. Curves grew almost entirely through word of mouth. Women were so excited by the benefits they received as customers, many of them wanted to launch a Curves in their own local community. Gary insisted on keeping the cost of the franchise low — well below its potential price. Gary describes himself as “an opportunity creator” and this was an important motive behind Curves: another clue to the new Bellia venture. The net result was spectacular. While McDonalds and Subway took about 25 years to reach 5,000 franchises, Curves achieved this target in just 5 years. The company eventually had 10,000 local Curves centers in 92 countries.
From Gary’s point of view, the biggest reason for Curves’ success was the purpose that drove the venture. That purpose can be captured in one word: “Service.” Inspired by his Christian faith, Gary describes himself as a person with “a servant’s heart.” He points out that the role of a leader is to serve those he or she leads, not to be served by them. Just as important, he’s discovered that when you come from a place of service, you attract others with the same orientation. That’s what he experienced with Curves and the franchisees he recruited. It’s what he anticipates in the new and different enterprise called Bellia.
Antonio Barrera became not only an inseparable collaborator of Gary with whom he developed in 15 countries and more than 500 franchises for Curves but he considers him as his son.
Toño as his friends call him, started out as a businessman in his native Mexico, repairing antiques. But with his intelligence and courage, after soon he began to manufacture and export his furniture line.
Then he started in the world of direct sales, taking under his command the French brand of SPAs and skin treatments called Guinot which together with Curves have given him invaluable experience to build a solid business.
He is passionate about languages which is why he speaks in addition to Spanish as his mother tongue, English, French, Portuguese and Japanese.
Currently this vital entrepreneur is the CEO of Bellia a function that fulfills the great purpose of opening a world of possibilities for women and their families to build a better life with the dignity and power that their work gives them.
Gonzalo Artiach is considered Gary’s Spanish son and Antonio chose him as his brother.
The three have forged much of their successes together but Happy as Gonzalo has been called since he was a child is distinguished by his ability to attract inspire and build loyal teams.
Behind his bubbly personality there is a business mind that is dedicated to capitalizing on human relationships and is capable of creating highly resilient systems.
His business skills were inherited as his family’s name and job have made his surname the most famous cookie brand in Spain and his maternal family (Louit) is not far behind, since they have had a chocolate and vinegars for over 200 years.
Liz Saldaña has a degree in Communication Sciences after which she obtained different AMIB certifications as a financial advisor at the Banking and Securities School.
For this reason, she worked for several years advising and protecting the assets of her clients in banking institutions such as HSBC, Santander and credit institutions such as American Express.
There, she discovered that clothing, jewelry, and grooming not only empower, but also inspire confidence and that is why she became an admirer and passionate about fashion.
Later she did a diploma course in Brand Positioning and Management, in addition to managing the Curves Clubs in Puebla, Mexico and being the PR of Guinot Mexico. With a charming personality, great taste and care in every detail, Liz has been in charge of the selection and curation of the Bellia jewels, as well as achieving the luxurious experience that a package of our brand usually provides to our clientele.
Elena Ruiz has a degree in Audiovisual Communication with a MBA in Television Business.
She has built a successful career as an Image Consultant and as a Personal Shopper in her own company: @citylifestyle, in addition to her career coordinating both private events and large productions, including concerts and fashion shows. For six years, she has participated in Creativity Zentrum, an organization that encourage creative disciplines and supports talents to empower their businesses. She is also an official Lego Serious Play trainer, in addition to being responsible for the disruptive activities of a jewelry brand creating gamification, shopping experience, selfie stations, wheel of fortune and similar activities.
Elena is one of the founders of Bellia, a company in which she has revealed her knowledge of fashion, especially in the jewelry sector, to improve the user experience and provoke a huge desire for our jewelry.