Sharmadean Reid MBE, the founder of London’s globally-renowned salon WAH Nails, has sports graphic rainbows of red, yellow and blue on her fingertips.
Her Soho-based business has 480,000 Instagram followers. It has had celebrity fans like tennis champion Serena Williams, Suicide Squad’s Margot Robbie and Brit Award-winner Jorja Smith. And it regularly partners with global brands like Marc Jacobs, Nike and British Airways.
Now Reid is building her second business, Beautystack—a kind of Instagram for beauty geeks.
This lets professionals show off their work on personalized social pages, while customers book treatments by clicking images they like.
“WAH is cool, and I did not want to defile its coolness by using old-school software,” says Reid of her shiny new tech startup.
“There is no social-visual booking system right now in the world. Nothing else exists.”
Doing what Instagram can’t
It might sound bold, but European investors have already backed Reid’s photo-first beauty platform to the tune of nearly $1 million.
VC firm LocalGlobe today announced its first investment in the beauty space—an industry worth $445 billion annually—while other angels involved in the round include Mark Sebba (former CEO at Net-A-Porter Group), David Rowan (founding UK editor-in-chief of WIRED) and Julien Codorniou (VP and global head of Workplace by Facebook).
Reid says that she’s succeeded in winning investors cash because WAH has given her unique insights into the unmet problems in the beauty market.
“Today everyone looks on Instagram or Pinterest and screenshots pictures of the treatments they want,” Reid says of customers who struggle to find and book beauticians they trust.
“They have to take that picture, find someone to do it, and hope it works out for the best.”
At the same time, even some of the best independent beauticians lack smart booking systems to manage their hundreds of customers, often relying on WhatsApp or DM messages to talk to clients, Reid says.
Beautystack not only solves these problems but allows beauticians to swerve umbrella marketplaces and on-demand beauty apps to build their own portfolio and business.
“Beauty professionals want to work under their own brand,” notes Reid.
The future of beauty?
Reid’s initial Web-based beta is already being tested by 100 carefully-selected professionals who’ve built their own Squarespace-style pages.
Now she’s set on using her recent funding to develop a fully-fledged mobile app (this is due to launch this summer in London and L.A.).
An impressive 700 professionals are already on Beautystacks waiting list, including specialists like Chanice Sienna (founder of Bam Brows) and Lord Gavin McLeod-Valentine (the facialist who counts celebrities like Susan Sarandon among his clients), says Reid.
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Reid plans to keep access to Beautystack free, taking only a small (as yet unconfirmed) transaction fee on sales, with subscription services for extra accounting, invoicing and business tools.
“Everyone keeps talking about influencers, but the next wave of influencers in beauty will come from highly influential beauty professionals,” says Reed.