A new website, StyleSeat.com, looks to serve the bulk of professionals in the salon industry (stylists, colorists, aestheticians) by providing them with a free platform to create online profiles for the world to peruse. The free exposure looks to help them build their business by offering online booking capability so viewers can immediately make an appointment with a featured stylist simply by clicking a mouse.
“Someone who is high-end can afford to have a gorgeous website and an amazing web presence. But 99% of the industry doesn’t have that. This gives everyone a platform,” said StyleSeat co-founder, Melody McCloskey, who launched the site in spring 2011. While Melody was looking to help out stylists, her journey started out a bit selfishly.
“I wanted a website that could find a stylist working late hours. There are great sites out there, like yelp.com, but that site discusses salons and I wanted stylist information. I wanted photos of their work. I wanted to be able to browse by cost. The more research I did I saw that this industry didn’t have these tools.”
To-date, StyleSeat has powered over $24 million in appointments for its salons, spas and professional participants and is available in 6,500 cities from all 50 states. San Francisco—where the company is based— is its largest market, in addition to Los Angeles, Chicago and Texas.
Melody, who formerly ran the Digital Distribution Department at Current TV, founded the site with Dan Levine, a former Vice President of Product at EMI Music. The site has received several rounds of funding to operate since its launch.
Most recently, StyleSeat received $775,000 in March from Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s A-Grade, Founders Fund, Sophia Bush, as well as current investors. This funding will allow the company to make several strategic moves in 2012, including growing the number of businesses it supports and letting clients book more types of services. StyleSeat’s previous angel round of $750,000 was provided by some of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious venture capital firms and investors, including Lowercase Capital, Softtech Venture Capital, 500 Startups, Dave Morin and Travis Kalanick.
While the site is currently very centered on how the stylist views himself, soon StyleSeat will have the ability to allow users to comment on how they view stylists, helping many to make more educated decisions in who they should book appointments with.
“At some point we’ll have a feature that will allow for an anonymous rating system. Now, StyleSeat uses a combination of editorial and automated factors to highlight our best stylists. Every salon and spa is reviewed by the StyleSeat team, which along with our community and their clients, allows the site to showcase the most popular and talented professionals for clients to find and book,” Melody said.
And, StyleSeat is beginning to partner with manufacturers.The site recently partnered with Joico, so if a client goes to joico.com, they can find a Joico stylist in their city. In exchange, there’s Joico branding on the StyleSeat site.
Additional brand partnerships are expected in the next several months.