COCOBELLE OF THE MONTH: JIHAN THOMPSON

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Have you ever been on the road for either business or pleasure or moved to a new town and needed a hairstylist? The first thing you may stop and ask yourself, is who do I ask? Thanks to Swivel Beauty, they have created an amazing app that will help you find the right stylist for in minutes. They will take you from looking to booking!
Swivel Beauty is such an amazing concept, how did the brand get its start?

Thanks! So here’s the backstory of Swivel Beauty: I was an editor at a few top women’s lifestyle magazines for nearly 10 years. Most recently, I was at O, The Oprah Magazine for four years before leaving to start the company with my co-founder (and childhood friend!) Jennifer Lambert. I had the opportunity to always see the newest, latest, and greatest things in the women’s lifestyle space. However, when it came to beauty/tech, I often felt like the beauty needs of women of color were treated like an afterthought or overlooked completely. Jennifer and I had known the struggle of trying (and failing) to find a good hairstylist whenever we moved cities or just wanted to test our options. We couldn’t find a solution, so we decided to create our own.

How do you find the stylist?

We’re a completely curated platform – stylists cannot add themselves without prior vetting or recommendation. When we first launched, we reached out to more than 200 women in the NYC area to find out where they liked to get their hair done and used those recommendations as the basis for our stylist outreach. Now, we get inbound recommendations and requests every day so we’re continuing to grow our network and bring word-of-mouth stylist referrals online.

 
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How many cities do you cover?

We’re currently live in NYC and the DC area (including parts of Maryland and Virginia). We’ll be adding more cities very soon. If readers want Swivel in their area, they can fill out the “Add Your City” form on our site.

 
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How does the app actually work?

Our App can take a woman from looking to booking the right pro for her hair needs in just a few minutes. So that means she can enter her desired service, hair type (relaxed, transitioning, natural, etc), and city/neighborhood – then she’ll see a list of curated salons and stylists who can perform the look she wants on her hair texture. She can also check out a stylist’s Instagram portfolio directly in the app, read reviews, and book an appointment all in one place. It’s that simple!

How has your business model been received?

We’ve received great feedback over the last year! Our users love us because they’re glad there’s a platform finally addressing their hairstyling needs in an authentic way. No longer do they have to feel like they have to run women down on the street for recommendations, stick with a subpar stylist, or just put their hair in a messy bun because they can’t find someone good. We take the hassle out of looking and feeling your best.

Our app is also a great tool for stylists! They can market themselves directly to their target customer, it’s a seamless way for them to keep their chair filled and attract long-standing clients. We love being a resource for these entrepreneurs as they build their own brands.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting your own business?

Jennifer and I aren’t coders, so we had a steep learning curve when it came to developing the app. But we really immersed ourselves in the tech world, finding mentors, attending events, and asking a ton of questions to figure out how to get from idea to finished product.

How did you overcome that challenge?

A big thing for us is not being afraid to ask for help. We were really open about what we didn’t know. And once you’re willing to tell people about your dream and ask for help, the universe truly rises up to match your hustle. We were able to get connected with so many amazing developers that helped us bring our vision to life. Now we have a team that we work with as we continue to develop and iterate our product.

What advice do you have for women who want to start their own business?

JUST START. I know it’s cliché, but I think so many of us talk ourselves out of pursuing our goals even when we know we have a great idea. We spent too long just talking about Swivel—brainstorming, white-boarding, dreaming—and not enough time making meaningful progress. Once we began to build the product, pound the pavement to meet with stylists, and chat up prospective customers, the business truly took off! It’s so true – get out of planning mode as fast as you can and execute, even on something small. Just get started!

What are you most grateful for?

Our customers and stylists! As a startup, anyone who works with you is really taking a chance on you and your vision. We’ve had people believing in us from the very beginning, before we even had a finished product. We don’t take that for granted for a second. All the feedback, support, and guidance that comes from our community is so humbling and continues to push us to be greater.

What’s next for Swivel Beauty?

Big things! We have exciting plans for Swivel in 2018 – we’ll definitely be in more cities (we’re still solidifying which markets). We want to help as many women as possible have their best hair days every day.

What are the top three products in your Ultimate Beauty Arsenal- what can’t you live without?

Mizani Miracle Milk
Hair Rules Cleansing Cream
MoroccanOil Treatment

 

To keep up with Swivel Beauty, you can follow them on Instagram

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