Taking pride in one’s appearance – much like taking pride in one’s business – can be immensely empowering. Entrepreneur Melody McCloskey wants to bring those feelings of pride and confidence to thousands. And through StyleSeat, she is succeeding in doing so.
StyleSeat is an online interface and smartphone app that allows hair salons and customers to connect.
“Clients have control of what they want. They can find someone who specializes in, for example, curly hair, in a certain price range,” she says. “I want to empower you to be able to find the best stylist.”
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The lack of control over one’s beauty appointments — doubly frustrating considering the costs — is something McCloskey has personally experienced.
“A couple of years ago, I had gotten a cut and color from three different salons over the course of one year, and I wasn’t happy with any of them,” she says, adding that those experiences cost over $1,000 in all. “Then I got a service that I loved, and the difference in how I felt … I loved it, I was confident. It was this huge boost.”
Her aim is to “empower stylists who are artists and love what they do, but maybe aren’t as passionate about growing the business side” by creating a service that handles scheduling in an efficient and reliable manner. But while coming up with a plan was easy, convincing venture capitalists to come on board was not — even though McCloskey had been working in the tech industry for several years before founding the company in 2011.
“Especially four years ago, there were very few women in Silicon Valley, and pitching to investors who don’t understand the beauty industry was tough,” she recalls. “They don’t believe it’s a big industry. They don’t believe that finding good stylists was a pain point for women. Now it seems obvious, but I got the door slammed in my face for a long time.”
Ultimately, McCloskey and co-founder/CTO Dan Levine wound up bootstrapping the funds to get StyleSeat off the ground for the first year and a half of its existence. As she phrases it, “after all of those doors, I figured, let’s get traction and prove that this is a huge business opportunity.”
The investment paid off. Their success ultimately led to $14 million more in investments from the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Chris Sacca and Lightspeed Venture Capital.
“We negated the misunderstanding of the industry with the success of the business,” she says. “We fought for funding. And now, we’re in the best possible position. I’m very proud.”
StyleSeat presently assists over 200,000 businesses with scheduling clients, and McCloskey says the app has helped grow each business’ revenue by about 68 percent within the first year of use. Going forward, the company plans to interact not just with the salons, but the salons’ customers as well.
McCloskey says: “StyleSeat is about empowerment – for stylists and customers alike.”
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“I’ve built a business that supports many female entrepreneurs and small business owners to be more successful.”