Sharmadean Reid on building a beauty business from scratch
Sharmadean Reid is the founder of Beautystack, the London start-up that is a booking app for industry professionals.
Designed to close the loop between seeing a beauty treatment on Instagram and achieving one via a booking, Beautystack has enjoyed several rounds of fund-raising. Given that the beauty business is a $450 billion global industry, there should be no lack of potential customers.
Beautystack’s goal is to encourage gender equality by boosting the earnings of beauty professionals. So, we caught up with Reid for a chat about her story so far, and her professional and empowerment goals.
FashionNetwork.com: How did you get into beauty?
Sharmadean Reid: I got into beauty quite accidentally, by travelling the world, seeing all these cool crazy nail salons in Asia, and loving getting my nails done as part of the hip-hop culture that I was immersed in at the time. When I first moved to London, I started going to hip-hop gigs; absolutely loved it. A real part of the going-out experience was getting your nails done. However, I always wanted really creative nails, and they often wouldn't do the designs that I wanted. So one day, I was just like, 'I'm going to make my own nail salon.' And that was it. I never really thought about it as me getting into the beauty industry. I just thought, this is the thing I want to do, I'm really interested in basically getting my nail salon open so that my friends and I can hang out and get the nails done that we want.
FNW: What’s the key concept behind Beautystack?
SR: The key concept behind Beautystack was how we could create a social network that becomes a booking platform. So we have these very two disparate worlds: we have booking and transactions amongst women. There are transactions happening amongst women all the time, and then you have a social network where people are liking, sharing and commenting on images. 'Where can you do both things together?' -- that was the concept. As we've moved forward now with [Reid's community-led women's media platform] The Stack World, the concept still stands: how can I build an entire marketplace of women-to-women transactions, serving the passion economy, and helping them increase their earning potential by selling to our community?
FNW: What was the toughest thing about creating your own brand?
SR: I don't find the brand creation part tough at all. I'm always heavily inspired by the world around me. I usually take a starting point from art or the street or the city in which I live. I consume a wide variety of sources for films and music and books. I use all of this to draw inspiration from and then decide the brand. For me, the running thread between all my work has always been economic empowerment for women. So sometimes I use that as my cue. So it might be like an old banking design, or an old newspaper design. But I always think about how can I stand out and show our audience that we actually stand for something different and we're not focused on slogans, you know, feminism or motivational phrases, but will actually give them the tools and insights to get what they want.
FNW: What do you hope young entrepreneurs can learn from your experience?
SR: I hope that young entrepreneurs can learn from my experience that it doesn't feel like going to work. If every day you're working for the mission and the cause that you believe in with your whole heart. When you operate from purpose and intention, everything you do you know is for the greater good and it becomes bigger than you. And that, to me is the best motivator.
FNW: How has Brexit changed your working practices?
SR: Brexit has not changed my working practices.
FNW: What is Beautystack’s annual turnover?
SR: We do not share annual turnover. We're still a startup that's pre-revenue. Well, we only just started having revenue. So this would be our first year of being a revenue-generating startup.
FNW: Where do you want the brand to be in five years?
SR: In five years I would like The Stack World to be a global brand that is seen as the alumni for women who want to build a new global power network to make long term social, economic and political change.
FNW: Why did you decide to join the #ThoseWhoDare Vodafone event?
SR: I decided to join the #ThoseWhoDare Vodafone event because I think it's important to continue to share knowledge with the younger generations. And I think that only by helping more women see what's possible and having very visible faces in the community can we get more women into business.
Sharmadean Reid will be discussing the importance of attracting talent and keeping employees happy at Vodafone’s #ThoseWhoDare virtual conference on Friday 21st May 2021. As part of its ambition to support SMEs, the week-long event will feature keynotes from over 30 entrepreneurs. Register your attendance here.
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