Video Interview: How Beauty Professionals Find Their Space

• 21 May 2021

The Interview

Courtney Caldwell & Dr. Tye Caldwell of ShearShare talks to CEO, Chinwe Onyeagoro, about motivations and inspirations, Founder-Market fit and ShearShare’s vision for the future.
 

Hi, Courtney. Hey, Dr. Tye, how are you doing?

We’re doing very well.

Very good. Well, thank you so much for joining us in The Lounge. We’re going to jump right in because our community is so excited to hear from you. We want to start off with a personal question. You guys are an absolute power couple. And the community is going to learn more about what that really means, but I’m super curious to understand, how did you guys meet? Where did your love story begin?

Wow. We met in my actual salon and barbershop. Isn’t that crazy? We met in his salon more than 20 years ago.

No way!

Yeah. So talk about coming full circle.

Oh my gosh. That’s so awesome. And who knew you’d be building a beauty empire together. Before we hear about the goodness that is ShearShare, can you tell us about the world that existed before ShearShare? Tell us what it has been like for beauty professionals who do not have their own salon.

So first of all, Tye has been a licensed cosmetologist and licensed barber for 30 years. So this industry has been in our family for three decades. We’ve been salon and barbershop owners for about 26, 27 years. This is an industry that we feel we owe the world to. Before ShearShare, to find salon space to work out of, stylists would typically be working on commission. So for every haircut or for every hair color that I did, I may share with you a 65-35 split or 70-30 split and commission. Or if I chose to go the independent route, I would rent by booth rental. So I sign a long-term contract and then I’d end up paying you a weekly booth rental or a monthly booth rental. Those are really the only two options that we’ve had. And it’s been that way since 1916, when Madam C. J. Walker actually invented booth rental.

Let me ask you this. The commission split…are hair stylists market takers in that? Whatever the salon owner wants to make that split, that’s it? Or is there some negotiation?

Well, there is negotiation ability depending on the level of skill set that the artist has and also the level of experience. When I say experience, do they have management skills? Have they managed teams? Have they been able to put together a team? If they start a shop, maybe the owner is not an operator, but they’re looking for you to put together a team. So it’s all negotiable. But most of the time, the salon based on where it’s located, the type of salon it is, the level of services they provide, the level of tools and products that they serve to their clientele, most of the time, it’s pretty much a set commission base, but again, it depends upon the artist, industry, and artist’s experience.

Got it. Okay. All right. Drum roll. You guys are amazing spokespeople for ShearShare. You speak magically when you’re talking about the work that you do. We would love the community to get a feel for what the folks that are in the ShearShare community get when they are exposed to you for the first time. Dr. Tye, can you give us a 30 second pitch as if we were all hair salon owners and we all have our own shops? We have some extra seats. Can you tell us what we should be doing with ShearShare and why?

All salon owners, all salon managers, you have an opportunity of a lifetime to now fill your empty seats and monetize those seats on demand. All you have to do is list empty space on ShearShare. With that comes licensed professionals, all types in the industry, and people that want to do business with you. What are you making on your empty chair? Nothing. Fill that with a licensed professional on demand by the day through ShearShare. Now you can monetize those empty chairs that go dormant, that make no money by allowing a licensed professional to rent that space by the day.

Where do I signup?

Shearshare.com. It’s free to sign up. It’s free to join.

Awesome. Well, we know ShearShare is a two-sided marketplace. So you’re not only creating extra income for hair salon owners, but you’re also securing space for folks who don’t have their salon yet, but are working their way there. Please Courtney, can you pitch us as if we are stylists in search of seats?

Everyone on the call, we actually serve every licensed specialty within cosmetology. So if you are a hairstylist, if you are a barber, if you are a nail technician, if you’re a makeup artist, if you’re a braider, if you are a microblading artist, you can find professional, vetted, secure, safe space to work by the day on the ShearShare platform. We are in more than 800 cities and people actually call us Hairbnb, because we are helping to give you access to workspace where you need it, when you need it and for the price that you can afford. You get to go onto the ShearShare app. You choose all your filters, what day you want to work, how much money you want to spend, what types of amenities you prefer. And we’ll give you back a whole list of options and you get to book work space like you would book a hotel room. It’s that easy. This way you have no commission, no long term contracts. You work when you want, where you want.

The thing I love most about ShearShare is you’re reducing the barrier to entry for anyone who wants to follow their dream in the beauty business, right? There’s so many things that you have to do to get ready. There’s so much investment you have to make upfront before you can even start doing the thing you love. You’re fundamentally reducing that barrier to entry, which is just tremendous. 

That was important to us because we come from the industry. So when we decided to create ShearShare, it was really because we got tired of seeing our fellow salon and barbershop owners close their businesses because they were not able to keep people in there working nor able to cover their operational costs. Then as Tye serves on the professional beauty association, we sit on the advisory boards of beauty schools and barber colleges around the country, we’re hearing from the stylists that they only want to pay for the space that they use. They only want to pay for what resources they actually need to leverage at that point in time. So we’re sitting in the middle like, “Okay, this is our own problem to solve. We need to solve it.” We knew there were not going to be the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world thinking about our industry. We knew Bill Gates was not thinking about beauty and barbering the same way that we would.

Certainly not.

And so we said, “Darn it. We have to create this. We have to make sure that our industry can stick around and survive. That we’re leaving a legacy that will help to uplevel the beauty and barbering industry.”

Talk about Founder-Market fit.

Definitely.

So I know you have tons of success stories on ShearShare and growing. Can you tell us one success story of someone who started off on ShearShare and became successful? Tell us about their story.

Oh, we have so many different use cases, but two come to mind. There was a lady who was in the military. When she came back from serving our country, she said, “I decided to retire from the army and hair was always my first love. So I had no idea how I was going to insert back into the market being a civilian. I had already gone to school. I kept my license current. Knowing that I had no money, I was moving to a new part of town, and had no idea about the types of shops and salons that were around.” I said, “Oh my gosh.” She searched online and found ShearShare and said, “Oh my gosh, I can actually rent salon space to work out of by the day. So as I’m building up my business and building up my book of business again. I get to keep more of my hard earned money.” So that’s just one story.

Another story is a gal who was starting out from cosmetology school. She said, “You know what? I don’t want to be dependent, or I don’t need to be dependent on the salon owner or the barbershop owner to bring me clients. I’ve already done that while I was in school. My Instagram following is huge. I already have 15 clients. So I want to be able to manage my own business. I want to be able to control my own destiny and keep that in the palm of my hands. So I just need access to space, but I have no idea where I want to go. Do I want to be in the north part of town, the south part of town, the west part of town.” And so she used ShearShare.

Try before you buy. Love it.

Yep. Now she’s a celebrity stylist doing hair all over the world. 

Celebrity stylist, look at that. The use cases I believe are endless. You’re a traveling stylist. You want to do hair or makeup in Milan, well, there you go. If you’re just starting out of cosmetology school, there you go. You’re coming back from the military, need a re-entry strategy, there you go. I mean, there’s just so many use cases, just a powerful, powerful place to be. All right. I’m going to be a little bit of a fangirl here. Forgive me, Courtney. Dr. Tye, I have never, literally never, met anyone who has a doctorate, a PhD, in the field of cosmetology. I’ve never seen it.

So what motivated and inspired you? You also have a book that you’ve written that is helping folks who are in this industry to really think about how do you go big, how do you build this business, how do you get in. What motivated you to go that far in the field? Also, please tell us about the mentorship that you’re doing because I hear your name everywhere.  You’re on boards and in beauty schools. You’re going out and doing training.

Well, honestly, Chinwe, that’s a great question. When I first started in this industry, this was a love that I had since I was 11 years old. I never even dreamed that I would have accomplished all that I’ve accomplished. I owe it all to my parents who were very supportive. I give all credit to my God. Because I think a lot of times we don’t really understand our gifts. We don’t really understand how we’ve been exposed or how we’ve gone through life and how it really influenced us. So I’m the seventh of eight kids and we didn’t have the opportunity growing up to go to barbershops and salons. So I picked up a pair of clippers one day and decided that I was going to try cutting my brother’s and my hair and my nephew’s hair and it came out pretty good. Somehow I got a pair of clippers in my hand and never looked back.

But even that, just going through school and cutting my friends, cutting teachers and their kids haircuts on Saturday mornings when I could’ve slept in. I was waking up at 6:00 in the morning preparing to get ready for my day at around 12, 13 years old, and then deciding, “Okay. Well, I don’t know what I really want to do.” But I went to school and decided, Hey, you know what? I really want to be a businessman. I really want to do something well. I want to chart my own destiny and course.” I went back to that first love and went to school and focused. 

It’s just like the Bible says everything started from a mustard seed. That being said, I went to school and got my first license, dual licensed cosmetology and barbering. I could have gotten those licenses and then worked at a shop. But instead, I started learning how to put together teams. I started learning how to manage people. I started learning how to sell products. That right there encouraged me to want to do more. I built a clientele. Then I started my own shop and that just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to do more. I wanted to understand how to work with partnerships and banking and business and life insurance. How was I going to establish myself as a licensed entrepreneur in this field where people deem us inessential or people deem us like flunkies?

What can I do to up-level myself to teach this next generation how to be successful? So after I did that, I was like, “Well, you know what? I’m starting to educate kids in school. I’m starting to speak and mentor people on practicalities.” Then one day I was just teaching just based on bullet notes and points. Courtney was like, “Why don’t you write a book?” I said, “Well, I do have these notes that I teach kids because they don’t know how to become successful. They’re asking me the same questions over and over again.” I’m building up all this content. I’m charting the course for them.

Then, I decided to write a book. I didn’t know what to name it. So the name of my book is called Mentor by Failure. Why is it Mentor by Failure? Because so many times when you’re walking through life, you’re going to fail. So many people are afraid to fail because they think, “Well, I didn’t do it right, so I’m not going to finish.” Well, failure is meant to be a starting point. It’s meant to be like a child. You fall, you get back up, you keep going. So you have to learn how to pivot through failure. So I said, “Why can’t it be … I was mentored by my failures.” I thought that was a good thing. It was five steps on how to become successful in the beauty and style industry.

I was a part of the community boards, on the chambers of commerce, on small community boards, on advisory boards of beauty schools and barber colleges. I was like, “Man.” The opportunity came where I was invited to speak. It was a school in … I want to say in Virginia and Miracle University. I talked to the lady, she was like, “We have an opportunity for you to get your doctorate degree in cosmetology and barbering.”

Usually you’ll see celebrity stylists have doctorate degrees.

That’s insane. 

Tye would never say that he’s a celebrity barber but-

I know you … Courtney fills in the blanks for sure. She’s not going to let it be missed.

I’ve always treated all my clientele like celebrities. So I don’t say I’m a celebrity barber. I’m the people’s barber. I feel like I really want to get to know people. That’s my strong suit. I think you’ve got to be sociable. I think you’ve got to be transparent. I think you’ve got to be vulnerable. To be a really conducive, productive relationship. But I really enjoyed that process. Getting my doctorate. It was a very big honor. Courtney also got an honorary degree from the school because of what we’re doing together. I went to be a speaker with Les Brown. So I’m one of the platinum speakers. He wrote the foreword for my book. So I got a chance to talk to one of my mentors and leaders, Dr. Conway Edwards, who was a pastor of One Community Church in Plano.

I’ve been around great people, great mentors, great people who have put a lot in me. So having that level of education doesn’t make me better. It just makes me a person that really wants to educate and give back to the next generation. I mentor on all levels, from the very first beginnings of going into school, out of school and into business, I mentor on how to get to the next stages. I have charted this course for almost 30 years. So you can imagine going to school, coming out of school, trying to get that first client, getting that level of clientele, being successful as a independent beauty professional barber professional, then thinking about starting a business, then what else can you do? Speaking on stage, going through the process of learning how to speak in front of people, learning how to motivate people. So there’s really no level of mentoring I don’t do.

I just want to make sure that I’m giving my very best, very best on a very macro level to the community that I’m serving and to the people that really want this knowledge and wisdom. Because at the end of the day, I have an extensive amount of it. I love what I do. I’m passionate about what I do. Anyone that knows me, it doesn’t matter how well or how powerful you are in social media. If you don’t have the content, if you don’t have the wherewithal, if you don’t know how to push people in the experience, it’s really nothing to give to people. I really want people to know that I love this industry and I mentor all levels.

Well, it’s interesting because you represent the trifecta, right? You’re the practitioner. You’ve got the celebrity influence and then you’ve got the academic educational component. So you probably have the largest tool kit there is in terms of being able to pull forward success for folks who are on the move, motivated and passionate. That’s tremendous. I love this concept of being mentored through failure. If you look at the most successful folks in the world, they have a long line of failures. A graveyard full of failures and they just kept getting back up.

There’s so much beauty in failure, because in order to learn how something works you learn that through school. That’s why you go to school. So many clients go to the schools and it is all practice for cosmetology students. But I learned that when I was in school. I was a student teacher. I was teaching the students how to get past their scary moments, their fears, and how to work with people that are not their same skin color. If you’re a black female, if you’re a black male, don’t just focus on your culture, focus on other cultures. Get over the fear of trying to not mess up and mess up because you can fix things. So that’s the beauty of failure.

That’s awesome. The beauty of failure, love it. Pun intended. So Courtney, I started this conversation by saying PocketSuite’s so excited about the partnership with ShearShare. We’re doing it! I just want you to share in your own words, what will it mean for the PocketSuite community now that ShearShare and PocketSuite have united fronts and are out here supporting the beauty business from end to end?

We are just as excited, Chinwe, to partner with you guys. We feel that you share the same energy and the same spirit for making sure that our industry is protected on all fronts and technology really does eat the world. However, when it comes to such a strong service industry, it seems like software took a long time to get to beauty. So we’re happy to be partnering with you guys. But the PocketSuite community can download the ShearShare app for free. It’s available both on iOS and on Android. You can sign up today to be a free host. We will prioritize your application if you are a salon owner, barbershop owner, or spa owner who has an empty station or an empty suite, we will put you to the top of the list. We will help you price your location because we have so much data now over the last three years to help you price attractively. Again, we will set and prioritize you. You will also receive a lower commission rate so that when you get your first booking, we’re helping to put even more money into your pocket.

Nice. This is just the beginning. ShearShare is providing daily insurance for folks who are beauty stylists. They are providing resources up the wazoo. So if you’re on their platform and you’re in the beauty space, you are going to have everything you need to be successful.

That’s so important. The biggest insurance provider in the world, guys, Lloyd’s of London. They actually insure like J. Lo’s butt. They insure the big soccer players. 

Well, if they insure J. Lo’s butt, then we’re all in, right?

They got to be good, right? They actually are the ones who provided Airbnb their $1 million per Airbnb host policy. So special for the ShearShare community and the PocketSuite community. If you are a host on ShearShare, you don’t have to worry about what if something goes wrong with the stylist who’s visiting for the day? What happens when that guest artist trips and falls? You don’t have to worry about that. With our partnership with Lloyd’s of London, our ShearShare and PocketSuite community gets free insurance coverage. So up to a million dollars for every ShearShare stay. So every guest artist who comes in your door is covered.

In addition to that, if you sit on the independent side and you’re the aesthetician, the microblading artist, the hairstylist, the barber, we are providing daily liability insurance for you. So for five bucks a day, hear me again, guys, for only $5 a day, you get access to professional liability insurance for that day. It’s exclusive to ShearShare. Not even L’Oreal has been able to touch this and that’s how much they believe in what we’re doing and our community. It’s the first of its kind. It’s never happened before. So take advantage of that. You are your biggest asset. Your business is your biggest asset. Your business of one is your biggest asset. So we want to make sure that we protect you and your customers.

PocketSuite community, what I know is Dr. Tye and Courtney are literally criss-crossing the globe negotiating deals on behalf of the beauty business, on behalf of beauty professionals. They’re trying to figure out how to restructure traditional pricing models to make sense for beauty professionals at every stage of development. So when you’re on the ShearShare platform, they are fighting for you.  Keep that in mind as you make the transition. 

Here’s an insane coincidence. Both PocketSuite and ShearShare are part of what we call the Oracle mafia. So for anybody that doesn’t know who Oracle is, Oracle was the first business management software company. They invented business management software. A gentleman by the name of Larry Ellison, he’s a billionaire several times over, invented modern business management software. I think the US government was his first client. Well, ShearShare comes from that world. Courtney used to run digital marketing on, what, five continents for Larry Ellison and his team. So she knows firsthand the power of business management software to really turbocharge and transform a business. That’s part of the reason why she’s saying this type of software, this powerful software is late to the game in beauty. So we’re down, but we’re not out. We are accelerating the path back, forward, and up.

Courtney, as you look up and out and think about ShearShare, what is the world going to be like when ShearShare fully realizes its vision? Talk to me about what the experience of being a beauty professional is going to be when ShearShare is at full scale.

Well, for one, we constantly listen to the industry that has fed our family for so many years, right? That’s so important to us. All the bumps and bruises that we’ve had in experiencing failure in this industry, we want to take all of those experiences and lower the bar for people who choose beauty and barbering as the industry that they want to use to feed their families. If you’re passionate about being a hairstylist, a barber, a makeup artist, aesthetician, etc. we want to provide every B2B tool. So all the tools that you’re going to need to be successful from behind the chair, we want to be able to provide those to you on a pay as you go model.

Why would you need to purchase professional liability insurance for an entire year when you’re only working three to four days a week? Why would you need to sign a long-term contract somewhere when you have clients in Dallas and Austin and Houston and San Antonio? We want to be able to give you access to the tools that we already know you’re going to need to be successful, but you pay for the resources that you use. In doing that, we’re helping you keep or make more of your hard earned money and we’re helping you accelerate something called economic mobility, where you get to choose how much money you make. You get to set the rules. You get to choose how successful you want to become, but it all starts with giving you access to those tools. We started with the very beginning of the stylist lifecycle, no matter what pair of clippers you pick up, no matter what type of chemical peel you like to use as an aesthetician, you have to have professional space to work. So we have lowered the bar and made sure that we can at least leave our legacy and give that back to you.

So everybody, everywhere, if you’re getting into the beauty industry, ShearShare has to be your first step in moving towards that future. Ok, we’re going to do a lightning round. Because I’m such a fan girl of this power couple here, we want to know more about you, what you love, where we can find you next. I’m going to ask you a series of questions and you can share lightning fast responses. 

What are you currently watching on Netflix or wherever you stream?

We’re currently watching Ready to Love. Yeah, on OWN.

 What was the most recent book that you read?

Oh, What Happy People Know. So good.

I’m adding it to my reading list. What’s your go-to vacation spot?

Tokyo.

Share your guilty pleasure.

My vegan Butterfinger bar.

Ooh, that seems healthy. Not so guilty.

But it’s guilty. I’ll have to share the recipe with you Chinwe. I promise you, you won’t look at a regular Butterfinger bar again the same.

What are your words to live by?

Leave people, places, and things better off than you found them.

Well done. Finally, where should we be looking for you next?

Yes. So make sure you follow us as @ShearShare on Instagram. We’re ShearShare on all social media channels. You’re going to hear some big news coming out of the ShearShare community here in the next about 60 days. We have a new version two of the platform coming out. It’s going to provide you more tools, including a virtual beauty supply store, the ability to get your products into retail. Again, if we’re not helping you make more money every day or save more money every day, we have not done our job.

Really enjoyed talking to you both. I hope you enjoy your time in Nashville. Let’s keep going and growing.

Yes. We love PocketSuite. Bye-bye everyone.

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