StyleSeat helps you snag impossible beauty appointments–even after hours–while also boosting … [+]
You may not have heard of StyleSeat, but it is quietly transforming America’s salons. It has already powered over $6.5 billion in revenue for beauty professionals and secured a loyal following of the country’s leading hair, makeup and nail stylists. Now the company is setting its sights on its newest target: you.
“Beauty professionals are artists who don’t always have the time to think about running their business or maximizing revenue,” said StyleSeat founder and CEO Melody McCloskey. “We handle these tasks for the most talented stylists in the country, and we’ve brought them together onto one platform. Our next big opportunity is to transform how clients find these incredible professionals.”
Since its founding in 2011, StyleSeat has powered 150 million beauty appointments in 16,000 cities across the US. Stylists love the platform because it grows their revenue by automating tasks like appointment reminders and payments while dramatically increasing revenue; most beauty professionals double their revenue after their first year on the platform. 75 percent of these beauty professionals are women, and 50 percent of them are people of color.
McCloskey, who has raised $40 million from top-tier investors like Ashton Kutcher, Jeremy Liew, Jason Calcanis, Travis Kalanick, and Sophia Bush, shared what’s next for the company. “If you think about it, booking at a hair salon hasn’t changed in 50 years. We can order a car to our house and buy groceries from our phone, but 92% of appointments in the US are booked via text message and phone tag. StyleSeat is completely re-imagining the salon booking and payment process. There’s so much opportunity for improvement. It feels like we’re building the first app in the app store,” explained McCloskey.
To help consumers find the best stylist for them, StyleSeat starts with client reviews. It’s the equivalent of reading Yelp or TripAdvisor before going on a trip. They’ve also rolled out a referral program, a loyalty program and gift cards to drive additional high-quality customers to beauty professionals. For the more indecisive among us or those people with specific needs relating to travel or a special event, StyleSeat even offers a complimentary white glove concierge program to help customers find exactly what they’re looking for.
The company also recently launched a feature called Smart Pricing. If a customer wants to come in before a salon opens or after hours, they can request an appointment and offer to pay more. Similarly, if a customer wants to see an in-demand stylist but doesn’t want to pay top dollar, they can book an appointment during a low-demand period and save money. Stylists who have limited time slots maximize revenue, and clients have a higher chance of getting the time they want.
Additionally, StyleSeat offers notifications to consumers when appointments open up last minute so they don’t have to wait months to see an in-demand stylist. This way beauty professionals maximize the value of each appointment and minimize time staring at an empty chair. Consumers gain increased access to even the most hard-to-book stylists while getting to choose whether to prioritize time or convenience. Smart pricing requires sophisticated engineering work, which led McCloskey to explain her team size and infrastructure. “About half the 75-person company works in engineering, and many of those teams are distributed. In other words, they work remotely from their homes across the United States. “Distributed teams are the new best practice for leading startups because they enable you to hire the most passionate, mission-oriented and talented team members wherever they live, from San Francisco to Cleveland to Florida,” explained McCloskey who added that “it takes a lot of structure, planning and communication to make distributed workforces work.”
For example, the company livestreams meetings into key team gathering spaces so remote employees feel as though they are working in an open office at the San Francisco headquarters, plus all employees convene in person for a week of annual planning so they can collaborate and build relationships that carry them through the year.
McCloskey finds that these to things are what keeps her motivated after all these years. “Two things. First, I’m so passionate about supporting these amazingly talented artists. For too long they’ve been ignored by tech; I’m honored to support them. Second, there’s nothing better as a consumer than finding a beauty professional who makes you feel like your best self. We’re all about helping consumers feel inspired and practice self-care,” said McCloskey. “We’ve created a business model that works for everyone: We only win when our beauty professionals and consumers win. Knowing we’re making a positive difference in their lives drives me every day to work harder and smarter on their behalf.”