The beauty start-up disrupter that’s taking on influencers
There’s two words that really trigger our attention when it comes to looking at articles for Husskie: ‘start-up’ and ‘influencers’. Which is exactly why we were instantly drawn to Beautifinda’s story – a new beauty solution launched earlier this year that is on the look-out for working with influencers.
Founded by husband and wife team Samantha and James McIntyre, Beautifinda works to bring consumers and beauty professionals together in a unique online marketplace. With consumers able to search and book a beauty professional that comes straight to them – it’s a win for the beauty professional and a win for the consumer.
With Samantha’s background as the CIO at L’Oréal and James the strategy manager at News Corp, this power couple know a thing or two about both the tech space and business. Here, we sat down with Samantha to find out everything there is to know about Beautifinda, plus discover how they’re looking to incorporate influencers into their business model.
You used to work in IT, now you’re in the beauty tech space – not the most usual of career progressions! Can you talk me through how you came to launch Beautifinda?
For me, my career has always been about ‘what’s the next step?’ – I never set out to be a CIO or have my own business. It was always just, ‘what’s the next thing?’. Beautifinda was my problem. I have crazy, curly hair. I wanted someone to do my hair and makeup for the races and I just couldn’t find someone to come to the house. It made me start to think about what’s out there. Working within the makeup industry, I saw a real gap between consumers and makeup artists.
I really liked the Airbnb model where everyone won – something that’s good for the service and good for the people getting the service. I think Airbnb do that really well. We also wanted to help small businesses and women in their small business – creating a company that helps people to work flexibly. And lastly, I wanted to solve my problem of not always being able to get to the salon due to having small children. That’s how it all evolved.
You left your role as CIO at L’Oréal to do this. What was it like making that decision?
For me, it was probably just the next logical career step. Beautifinda is something we’ve been working on for a couple of years; to be able to put more time to it and to have more opportunity to grow it is so exciting. Working at L’Oréal was probably also holding me back from being the real face of the business as well – so now I can be forward-facing.
When did you launch?
We have really grown it in stages. We launched originally with a directory business – we wanted to test out the market and see what happened, see whether it was something of interest to people. Then we built the system and the functionality in the backend as we went. We keep launching new stuff and it’s been very progressive. We’ve grown to now over 600 beauty professionals. Now we’ve got that side worked out, we’re working on growing the consumer side of the market as well and bringing those two [groups] together. We’re trying to let consumers know that there’s a different option – that you can get your makeup or your hair done at home in your own time.
Having your IT background, have you developed this all on your own?
I did do coding back in the day, but I got out of it quite some time ago. James actually built the majority of it and then we used some other people as we went. We’ve really taught ourselves and learnt along the way. I can jump on the site and change things now. I think it’s really important when you run a technology company to have a decent knowledge of it, I see that holding back so many people.
The good thing about James and I is that we bring different skills. James has very much got the sales, marketing, business development, commercial background and I’ve got the more product delivery, execution, IT side. We often talk about how we’re going to split things up so we’re not just working together all the time, holding hands!
So let’s get into the nitty gritty of the site. I’m a beauty professional – I want to get work through Beautifinda. How do I go about it?
You just click on ‘Beauty Professionals’ at www.beautifinda.com.au and it takes you through a series of forms. You fill out your details, put up your work, describe who you are and what you do, and punch in your prices (we don’t dictate this). We then confirm it and you’re on.
Do you vet them all?
We do, for sure. We look at the information and make sure it’s valid and relevant to the marketplace. We have a selection of quality – from people who might do more high-end stuff to people who are doing your everyday makeup. We are nationwide and have got a wide range of beauty professionals on the site.
How have you been telling beauty professionals about the site?
It’s all been organic. Because we’ve had that many signing on, they’ve all been seeing it and talking about it. We’ve got beauty professionals signing on with us every day.
I’m getting a bit of an Uber vibe from the business! Would you say there are similarities?
In terms of being able to call us and book someone – yes. The opportunity to grow your business and work when you want is also a bit like Uber. It’s about that flexible economy. I also like to think we’re a bit like Tinder – we’re match-making! We’re trying to match up beauty professionals with clients…
It’s really about allowing that makeup student, or that grad, to actually start growing their business. I think with Instagram and technology – it can be hard to be found. This is somewhere to go to be found. It allows beauty professionals to grow their portfolio, set their own price, and do all those things.
How many consumers are on the site?
We’re getting about 30k hits on the site each month, so we’re getting lots of traffic. We’ve got bookings on a daily basis. We’ve got lots of content on the site as well. We work with lots of bloggers and have got various articles around how to do your makeup, makeup tips, all those types of things. We wanted to make a place that encouraged both beauty professionals and consumers to come and collaborate.
What bloggers and/or influencers have you worked with?
We haven’t worked with that many influencers. The bloggers that we work with are really girls that are wanting to grow their beauty profession – so makeup artists and also girls that are wanting to start out in the industry. We’re really looking for influencers to work with us, probably those with around a 5K following that are wanting to grow their business. We want to help develop and partner with them and see how we can all grow together. It’s a little bit hard to find them, so we’re on the look-out!
What are you hoping to achieve with the site?
We’d like to get more beauty professionals, more consumers, and really create that go-to ‘place’ for your beauty needs, like a realestate.com for beauty. We’re also looking at potentially going global: New York, London. We’ve got big plans!
Have you been faced with much competition since launch?
I think it’s starting. There’s a couple of players in the Australian market and then there’s a few players overseas. For me, that says it’s a good idea – that there’s a demand and a desire for it. Competition is good.
Imagine five years’ time… what is the BIG plan?
I want to run a company, a company that focuses on women and helps women out. I think my career has been a bit of a slow burn, and this is the next step, the next opportunity. I feel like I’m in the right place – it feels really right. I spent a lot of time working at different companies and different corporations. This feels righter than anything else.
If you could just sum up the whole experience so far in a few sentences…
It’s about having a go. I didn’t want to sit on the couch and think ‘I should have done something’. I wanted to actually have a go and see if we could make it work and grow something. It started by solving my own problems. I’m really excited about the future.
Article written in partnership with Beautifinda.