By Kelly Poe Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "Glow" continues to GROW! The on-demand beauty app helps you find the nearest makeup artist, hair stylist or spray tanning professional to come to your home and get you ready for your special occasion.
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
A house call for hair and makeup is just an app away with a Birmingham beauty-on-demand tech startup. By the end of the year, Glow will expand outside of Alabama for the first time.
Yazmin Cavale launched the Glow app in November. The app works similar to Uber or Lyft, but instead of GPS finding you the nearest cab, it finds uses GPS to find you the nearest makeup artist, hair stylist or spray tanning professional.
After you input the service you want and your location or home address, you browse available beauty professionals sorted by how close they are to you. You can check each professional, read user reviews, and browse photos of his or her work without leaving the app.
"They have a diverse choice of photos, where a woman can go on here and be like, 'Well I look like that girl, so she can probably do me.' That's the whole point, for a client to see somebody's work and never leave the app," Cavale said. "What's great about this is you might find your friend on here, and say, 'Oh my gosh, my friend used her!"
Then, you see the artists' availability, request an appointment -- as soon as a couple of hours before you need her, as far as several days in advance -- and the artist accepts or denies the request.
Cavale grew up in Boston before moving to Birmingham to be close to her mother 12 years ago. She's been in the beauty industry, primarily doing makeup, for about 17 years, working in places like New York City, Los Angeles and Miami.
The beauty industry is different in Birmingham, Cavale said. Those larger markets, beauty is a very commercial industry -- movie sets and models generate demand. But the average woman in the South is more likely to value getting dressed up in her real life, she said.
Looking good for weddings, charity balls, or date nights is valued differently here -- and that's what has made it the perfect place to launch her business, Cavale said. There are other apps that provide on-demand beauty services, but they're almost exclusively in those bigger cities.
Those companies are starting from top-down. Glow is starting from middle-up, said Cavale's husband, Jim Cavale.
Jim Cavale is himself an experienced entrepreneur, having opened Iron Tribe's second location before joining the company as President. After seven years he left the company this past September, but he still works out there and is working on a company of his own. He's helping Yazmin build her brand, but he's not involved in the day-to-day of Glow.
Next stop: Nashville. It's not too far from home, it's bigger than Birmingham, a far bigger tourist destination, and it's a top destination for bachelorette parties.
"It's such a great time right now because there's nothing like on-demand beauty in Nashville. There's definitely a need, because of the celebrities, the tourists, and the bachelorette parties that are going on over there," Yazmin Cavale said.
"With tech and launching things, time is crucial, and we need to get in there as fast as possible so we can be the first ones and make a huge impact."
Glow launched in November, but moved into the Innovation Depot in January when it was accepted into the incubator's Velocity Accelerator program, which takes in 10 startups and provides them with three months of mentoring, office space and $50,000 of seed money. Glow is currently raising money and seeking investors to staff up for the expansion.
The services range in price from $50 to $175, but the average booking is about $100. Group bookings -- weddings, for example, average about $1,000 for Glow. Group bookings are among the company's most valuable lead generators -- bridesmaids will often download the app themselves while getting their hair done.
Spray tanning is currently the most popular service offered through the app and Glow is exploring the option of adding a tanning subscription service. Glow's goal for the Birmingham market is 1,000 bookings a month and 12 group bookings a month, and the company is about 15 percent of the way there since launching in November.
"Most salons focus on cut and coloring and shampooing, all those services, while we focus on just getting you ready for that special night -- blowouts, dry styling, up-dos, and then makeup," Cavale said. "You could get one person to do all those things while in the comfort of your own home or office."