Houston Treasure for 2008
Photo by: Alexander’s Fine Portrait Design
Francie Willis is the founder of the Urban Retreat Day Spa, Skin Care Center and Medi Spa empire. Her professional career track paralleled the female maturation process, beginning with the Wendy Ward Charm School, growing to the Miss Teenage America staff, and then developing a nationwide Business Etiquette Program for Women coaching management of Fortune 500 companies. For those not within reach of her personal touch, Francis authored and published various works on etiquette, charm and beauty for girls, teenagers and women.
Just four years after opening, Urban Retreat was named 1993 Spa of the Year by the two leading industry magazines and Francie received accolades from Allure, Better Homes & Gardens, Elle, Redbook, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Town & Country. Francie launched her Franché® Mineral Cosmetics and Franché® Chirally Correct Skin Care lines at the Henri Bendel department store in New York City, later adding product lines for men and for babies.
A Houston Business Journal “Top 50 Women Business Owner” since 1996, Francie has been a leader in community service for the past 23 years. Presently, she serves on the boards of three educational institutions, including the University of Houston. As chairperson of sixteen galas since 1986, she has helped raise more than $10 million for Houston charities. Recently, Francie chaired the Moores School of Music Gala, the Houston Grand Opera Ball, “Mediterranean Magic” benefiting the University of Houston and the Ann B. Norris Gala for the Sickle Cell Association.
Adding to numerous business and entrepreneurial achievement honors, her community service awards include the Citizens for Animal Protection “Lifetime Volunteer” Award, the Association of Fundraising Professionals “Volunteer of the Year” Award, the Houston Delta Gamma Foundation “Women of Vision” Award and the Cleveland Amory National Association “Humanitarian of the Year” Award.