Rica Elysee, Founder and CEO of in-home salon service app, BeautyLynk, created a network of natural hair beauty professionals which grew into the business she leads today. Focusing on the beauty professionals as their #1 client, BeautyLynk has grown to a community of over 14,000.
What inspired you to start your business? What pain were you solving? How did you get motivated to take the first step? Two years ago, a disabled member of my family needed assistance doing their hair. Naturally, I looked to help by calling professional stylists off a list I created for my Natural Hair Meetup Group. The stylist arrived and my family member’s self-esteem was back to 100%. It was not until two weeks later when I got a call from the stylist did I realize more connections and access was needed.
What sacrifices have you had to make to become a successful entrepreneur? As an entrepreneur, you make several sacrifices…a steady paycheck, time with your family, and even material things. My biggest sacrifice building my business the first two years was giving up my painting hobby to do more work and save more money. I’m looking forward to revisiting my creativity.
What motivates you and how do you stay motivated? The stories that come out of the community of beauty professionals my team has helped build over the last two years. Learning why someone went into beauty, the everyday struggles they have, and their dreams inspire me, the team, and our product.
The stories that come out of the community of beauty professionals my team has helped build over the last two years are what keep me motivated.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently? If I could start over again I would spend more time learning about the technical side and learn to code more than simple CSS.
How has your business changed your life or the lives of others? My business touches lives every day by making people feel beautiful which is a great reward for the pros and my team.
Have you ever been treated differently because you’re a female? How did you deal with that discrimination? I have been treated differently because I am a Black woman. It is something that is pretty significant to me as I have a double consciousness of how bad discrimination can get from unconscious biases in terms of race to sexual harassment as a woman. It was hard at first to ignore, but now I use it as my power to move forward and be a role model to others.
I have been treated differently because I am a Black woman….It was hard at first to ignore, but now I use it as my power to move forward and be a role model to others.
BeautyLynk needs to get two different users on board in order for the service to work: stylists and clients. How do you market to each segment to ensure you have the capacity to make it all work? As you have grown your user base, what has been your biggest struggle to scale and what has been your greatest success? We have had to learn how to scale digitally on both sides. From the pro perspective we know we can grow constantly by building community and education. However, the customer side has been challenging because of the capital it requires to scale. In a world where it can get loud online, we are challenging ourselves to get creative with marketing methods.
Besides continued expansion into new markets, what is new for BeautyLynk? Any big ideas up your sleeve? BeautyLynk is always innovating as a team. My extensive vision for the company has a few curve balls coming in 2018. I think the most fun we are having is in the male grooming space.
BeautyLynk believes its #1 customers are stylists and beauty professionals rather than the clients paying for the services. Traditionally, most companies would view their customers as the individuals paying the big bucks for the services. Why have you taken a different stance and how has this belief helped your company grow and be successful? We believe that treating the professional well will lead to more quality services and experiences. It has led to our community of pros to grow from 25 to 250 to 14,000.
Rica Elysee is Founder and Chief Executive Officer at BeautyLynk (www.beautylynk.com), an on location beauty service that brings style and convenience to your doorstep with a few clicks.
Prior to launching BeautyLynk, Rica founded the Boston Naturals group, which has grown to include more than 1,200 members on the ground and 25,000 online and was Editorial Director for Amour Creole Magazine.
She felt compelled to create the Boston Naturals community when she noticed that there was a lack of spaces and opportunities for women of color in the Boston area with natural hair to come together and learn more about and bond through their unique hair and beauty needs.
It was in this same spirit and void that she noticed the lack of salons that employed experienced stylists who specialized in multi-textured hair. However, through her work with Boston Naturals, she knew that they existed and wanted to create a business that could connect these professionals with this underserved community of beauty enthusiasts.