BeautyLynk is a unique service–one that women of color have long waited for. In 2015, Rica Elysée created BeautyLynk for women tired of spending endless hours at the beauty salon. BeautyLynk is an on-location beauty-booking platform that delivers salon quality hair, makeup, and nail services in the comfort of your home, office, or hotel. BeautyLynk is available in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, and will expand to Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Elysée is also the founder of Boston Naturals, a multicultural platform for beauty, wellness and events.
Rica Elysée told TNJ.com her plans for BeautyLynk and beyond.
TNJ.com: What prompted you to start BeautyLynk?
Rica Elysée: Having run into and talked to the women in the Boston Naturals meetup group and through reflecting on my own salon-going experiences, I knew there was a way we could make that overall experience better, more comfortable and more convenient for Black women. The current salon experience is not the most ideal when you think about the time it takes to do some of the more popular styles that women get, such as braided extensions, sew-in weaves and natural hair styles that require more care, etc.
With BeautyLynk, we’re making these services more accessible and giving women more control over the entire process and their time. Prior to BeautyLynk, you’d hear horror stories about spending all day in the salon, because when you arrive you may not be seen immediately, a stylist might not have arrived yet, etc. When someone books their services with us, it’s much more straightforward in that they know exactly when service will start/end and they can count on VIP service since they are getting one-to-one care and attention without distractions and in a location of their choosing.
TNJ.com: How does BeautyLynk work?
Rica Elysée: The customer goes to BeautyLynk.com (later this year, they’ll be able to use our app) and she selects her city, a service or services from our beauty menu, selects her beauty professional (or allows us to choose for her) and then, of course, she selects the day/time for her appointment and includes her desired location. We take orders up to an hour in advance.
TNJ.com: Why did you think BeautyLynk would be a great business?
Rica Elysée: The current salon experience for Black women is less than ideal, with its excessive wait times, double booking, or the lack of stylists on hand who can handle our hair textures or skin tones. BeautyLynk eliminates all of those headaches and gives women more control over the entire process, by providing a total beauty experience for women of color by bringing the best, most experienced professionals to their doorstep to provide the personalized one-on-one VIP treatment they deserve.
TNJ.com: How did you fund the startup?
Rica Elysée: We are a client-funded business, meaning we are able to keep this thing going because we have women who are booking services through our platform! However, we are also actively meeting with investors and exploring other means of raising startup capital.
TNJ.com: What were some startup challenges?
Rica Elysée: The biggest challenge has been getting the necessary funding to effectively scale the business. Other challenges include the growing pains of building an all-star team from the ground up that will allow me to transition from working “in” the business to working more strategically “on” the business and our long term road map.
TNJ.com: How do you get clients?
Rica Elysée: BeautyLynk acquires its customers through word of mouth. There’s no greater gift than one of our clients recommending our beauty professionals to one of her friends or family members after receiving one of our VIP treatments. Aside from word of mouth, we are also looking to increase our community outreach via online marketing and print/digital advertising later this year.
TNJ.com: Please tell me more about Boston Naturals and why you launched it.
Rica Elysée: Boston Naturals is a meetup group that I started a few years ago to meet like-minded women on their journey to return natural. It developed into a digital brand with over 25,000 followers online that all are beauty obsessed with hair and makeup.
TNJ.com: You quit your job to pursue your dream, what was this process like?
Rica Elysée: I knew that in order to really give BeautyLynk a chance to grow and succeed, quitting my job was something that had to happen. But, admittedly, I struggled with that decision and was hesitating until my fiance shared how much he believed in the idea and in me to see it through. He’s the one who gave me that final vote of confidence I needed to say: “You know what? Let’s do this!”
TNJ.com: Biggest business lesson?
Rica Elysée: Great question. At this point, I’ve launched several different ventures, so one of the biggest lessons for me has been learning how to flesh out the difference between opinions and actionable advice. When you tell people you’re starting or already have a business, people will offer up a lot of their opinions about what you should or shouldn’t be doing and it’s really easy to get overwhelmed by all of that. So, I had to develop the skills that would allow me to take all of it in but to only extract the really potent, actionable and relevant advice for whatever business or venture I’m working on at the moment.
TNJ.com: Goals for 2016?
Rica Elysée: For BeautyLynk, we have an ambitious expansion plan and we hope to be in 5 cities providing on -demand beauty services by the end of this year! My personal goal is to continue planning my wedding to the love of my life.