It’s 9:30AM, your first haircut is scheduled for 9AM, and your client still hasn’t showed up. Then you get a text message saying they won’t be able to make it today because of an emergency situation that probably has to do with them oversleeping. What do you do?

For most Hair Stylists, it’s time to suck it up and get back to adding more “before and after” shots to your Instagram profile.

But for you, it means charging them a late cancellation fee and actually getting paid for the time and energy it took you to get to work this morning.

How do you do that? Just log into your StyleSeat account and charge the customer a cancellation fee.

If you’re a Hair Stylist or Salon owner, you’ve probably heard of StyleSeat from your friends or clients.

The platform is geared towards helping Hair Stylists and Salons manage their business.

The app helps stylists and salons manage their schedules with online booking, and of course, with charging late and cancellation fees.

In today’s article, we’ll reveal the history of StyleSeat, how it works for Hair Stylists and Salons, and highlight some unusual practices that you may not know about StyleSeat.

Styleseat Logo

STYLESEAT ORIGINS

StyleSeat was founded in 2011 in San Francisco, CA by Melody McCloskey.

StyleSeat has raised $40M to date, backed by “big name” investors like Ashton Kutcher and Uber co-founder, Garrett Camp.

The company has hired popular people such as Andrew Dempsey, previously the Director of Business Intelligence at Netflix.

They’ve also added two high profile executives to their team.

Travis Kalanick (the former CEO of Uber) and Melissa Kim from Minted joined their Board of Directors.

StyleSeat even acquired BeautyBooked in 2016 in order to expand their customer base and secure a partnership with Allure.

The company’s focus is to become “the OpenTable for beauty salons and independent hairstylists.”

CEO Melody McCloskey
StyleSeat Founder / CEO Melody McCloskey

CHALLENGES WITH SCALING

The female founder has talked openly about how she spent 2 years over-thinking before starting the business.

McCloskey had a hard time convincing investors of StyleSeat’s viability as they were primarily male and couldn’t relate to the female target market.

Most of the hair stylists working on the platform are women, and half are minorities. McCloskey said this turned lots of potential investors off.

Despite challenges, the startup has processed over $3B in payments so far.

Even with this massive expansion, there’s still lots of room for growth in the $445B Beauty industry.

For example, competitor Wahanda has raised $75M in the UK.

It seems the beauty industry is experiencing an infusion of technology unlike any we’ve ever seen.

Next we’ll cover how StyleSeat has attempted to be the go-to solution for both Hair Stylists and Salons.

Styleseat to You

A SOLUTION FOR HAIR STYLISTS AND SALONS

StyleSeat’s mission is to help all Hair Stylists and Salons in the same way OpenTable is helping restaurants get more customers.

The company has guaranteed new hairstylists that would join the platform 70% revenue growth in 15 months.

The company is also pursuing Salons, not just independent Hair Stylists.

In fact, StyleSeat has been toying with the idea of integrating with Booker, which would make it accessible to 90% of salons in the US.

In addition, they’ve launched a feature called To You, which lets customers book hair stylists to do their hair at their home or office.

The company will be taking a 10% cut on these appointments.

Because of these unique plays, StyleSeat came in at #5 on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2013.

Part of StyleSeat’s success has been offering an equity-based model to their employees, which has helped to galvanize the team and create a strong culture.

The CEO has proclaimed that they’ve walked away from a multi-billion dollar business model by not trying to fill their stylist’s schedules and charging customer acquisition fees. In otherwords by not focusing solely on becoming a marketplace.

The company also famously does not focus on marketing and instead acquires customers mostly through word of mouth.

The company is poised for meteoric growth, but it’s not without its challenges, as we will discuss next.

Style not without challenges

UNUSUAL TACTICS

Despite having over 1M reviews on the App Store with a 5 star rating, StyleSeat has some complaints when you look beneath the surface.

For example, the company has a 1.5 out of 5 star rating on the Better Business Bureau.

Most of the BBB reviews are from customers who were unhappy with their hair stylists, but several are from unhappy hair stylists and salons complaining about the lack of basic features such as Google Calendar sync.

Scraping the internet to collect data on Hair Stylists has also been a shadowy tactic employed aggressively by StyleSeat.

This questionable practice helped them to create profiles for Hair Stylists that haven’t joined the platform yet.

StyleSeat created temporary placeholders on these Hair Stylists’ profile pages, saying ‘This Provider Can’t Be Booked Here.’

In effect, StyleSeat hijacked leads from Hair Stylists and Salons who are not their clients without their knowledge or approval.

Tips for Hairstylists and Salons

TIPS FOR HAIR STYLISTS AND SALONS

It’s difficult to choose an app to manage your small business as a Hairdresser or Salon owner.

CHOOSE A PLATFORM, NOT A MARKETPLACE

Pro Tip: Be wary of depending on an app that is both a marketplace and a platform.

Marketplaces usually aren’t focused on the Pro.

In fact, they typically utilize the Pro’s SEO traffic for their own benefit, as shown in the example mentioned above.

This usually means the company is less focused on building tools to help Pros grow and more focused on getting traffic to their website to make more money.

CHOOSE AN APP THAT HELPS YOU GROW

Another drawback for Hair Stylists using StyleSeat is that everything must be done inside the platform.

There are no widgets to share with your community.

PocketSuite, on the other hand, has tools Pros can use anywhere.

From online booking to online leads to online chat, you can place these widgets on your website or your Facebook / Instagram to get online bookings from new and existing clients anywhere you market online.

NO NICKEL-AND-DIMING

Another benefit of PocketSuite is that you can add an unlimited amount of contacts, unlike StyleSeat.

StyleSeat nickel-and-dimes you by asking you to pay for this basic feature.

If you’re going to choose an app to manage your Hair Stylist business or Salon, go with one that focuses exclusively on their Pros.

You’ll have everything StyleSeat offers you, and more.

For example, with PocketSuite you’ll be able to:

  • Manage your schedule
  • Accept online bookings and credit card payments
  • Message your customers thru the app
  • Collect deposits
  • Charge cancellation fees
  • Manage your staff (if applicable)
  • Sell products
  • Manage your inventory
  • Get a dedicated business line
  • Unlimited business texting and calls
  • Automated marketing
  • Income and lead reports

And so much more…

It’s important to go with an app that gives you the freedom to grow your own business and supports you as much as possible to making the income that you deserve.

PocketSuite genuinely wants the best for your business.

We’ve even written an entire article specifically explaining How to Get your Hairdresser License.

Don’t settle for less, go with the best.

You want to partner with an app that cares about your business, not a self-centered marketplace that wants to own the relationship with your clients.

See how PocketSuite works for Hair Stylists and Salons.

Check out PocketSuite’s free plan to get started today.

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