Disruption is part of our business culture. The world’s largest ride-sharing company owns no cars. The world’s largest accommodation service owns no property. And the world's largest social network produces no content.
The most disruptive businesses are those with an interface; a means of connecting the consumer with the good they desire. So is the case of beGlammed, the first on-demand app that connects hair and makeup artists with the consumer.
Launched in May 2014 it is now the leading on-demand beauty app. It seems simple enough. Combine two billion dollar businesses-- beauty and the on-demand platform-- and watch it spread like wildfire. On the surface, it is.
It was an idea so compelling, or a “no-brainer” as VP of Marketing and Business Development Alexandra Amodio says, that it made her rethink the aphorism “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
“I know,” she says, “It’s important not to delay until you have a ‘perfect product’ that can come to market, but at the same time, you need to have perfect branding and perfect service, because that’s how your customers will remember you.”
The app didn’t exist when the business first launched. In the beginning, for the first two months people would call and book. “We were a technology company and we had this amazing idea at the cross-section of technology and beauty and we didn't have the app yet." BeGlammed now offers services in 20 U.S. cities and one international city.
“I looked back at records the other day, and I was the first appointment.”
She was also the first employee and has been with the company before they had investors, which, she says has been a “wild ride.”
In January 2014 she met the Maile Pacheco, the founder, shortly after the idea had been hatched. Pacheco got her start in sales, as a makeup artists for MAC on the floor, but pivoted her way to the corporate side of the business, eventually pioneering her own way and creating a role as the facilitator between MAC’s celebrity clients and the brand sponsorship.
After staying with the MAC for almost a decade, Pacheco had built so many amazing connections within the beauty industry that her own business was a natural next step. She was operating out of Vegas at the time so that’s where beGlammed launched. The next two markets were Dallas and Los Angeles.
“I remember three years ago, I was going to makeup counters to get my makeup done for events and every time I would buy three products, and I thought— like so many— that was the only way an ‘average’ person could afford to be done up before an event.”
She was spending more money on products than she would on the beGlammed service— which now comes offered in tiers.
This is one of the major shifts the company has made. In the beginning there was only one pricing option, but now beGlammed offers three pricing options to fit any budget. “We’re making a luxury service affordable for all, no matter your budget, and we’re the only brand doing this. That’s become a big part of our marketing strategy that I didn't foresee in the beginning. You can get a blowout for forty dollars. Or you can get your makeup done by a celebrity makeup artist."
Instagram has also been very influential in their business. “We get so many clients who see Gigi Hadid’s makeup from the Met Ball and say, ‘I want that.’” It’s a direction she sees the interface moving.
Creating shoppable looks and creating affiliate partnerships is likewise something she’s passionate about and has performed very well in the fashion space. BeGlammed wants to create the ability for consumers to see a beauty look they love in the afternoon, ‘purchase it’ and have it applied by a professional in their home, office, or hotel that same night. “From a selling standpoint,” Amodio says, “there’s no better opportunity to sell a product than when you’re getting your makeup done. You have a 90-minute one-on-one very organic interface between the consumer and the makeup artist whom you trust.”
Potentially that means beGlammed product or a bigger partnership with larger beauty brands.
“There are a lot of opportunities within beauty,” she says, while acknowledging that the speed of the on-demand market means there is pressure to keep up with Uber and Airbnb, both of which have “tons of resources and are moving really quickly.”
“You want to keep up and have the ‘Uber-puppies,’ but we always need to keep in mind what our MVP is, why we started, and make sure we are never losing sight of that.”
"We always need to keep in mind what our MVP is, why we started, and make sure we are never losing sight of that.”
For now beGlammed is focussed on becoming the beauty authority in the space, as well as continually growing their influence. Says Amodio, “This could mean we spend more energy promoting the artists within our senior tiers, growing our editorial presence— in a way that brands like Who What Wear and Into the Gloss have done a fantastic job at— and delving much more heavily into the beauty tutorial and vlogging space.”
The need to “keep up” is one of the reasons why after ten years in the startup work she’s learning to code. She started with Codeacademy, now receives coding-related news from Hacker News, and is part of the GitHub community. “The very first computer science class I took was an online CS50X course from Harvard, which was intro to computer science and programming. It’s incredibly empowering to have an idea for the interface and be able to have a conversation with developers. It also gives you a deeper understanding of how feasible something is and how much it will cost.”
It’s incredibly empowering to have an idea for the interface and be able to have a conversation with developers.
She quotes the late Steve Jobs in the Lost Interview with Steve Jobs, who said, “I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”
Thinking she is. When you believe in the service you’re offering, and know that what you’re putting to market a service people will love, “it’s almost too easy,” says Amodio. But what separates the idea people from the success stories, is “cohesive branding, product development, and customer service. Having a completely integrated approach will always be the most important part of any puzzle.”
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