This is post is part of iluk’s Grow With Us series, where we unveil a little bit more about who we are as a company, the founders behind the scenes, what we are building, our values, and what we stand for. (see last week’s here) Salons & barbershops helped us build iluk and the app would not exist without their crucial feedback.
Building a hair and beauty startup as industry outsiders
When we first came up with the idea for iluk, we came at it purely from a client perspective. We wanted an app that would allow us to quickly find and book a last-minute appointment at a kick-ass salon. All salons would have to do is upload their availabilities into the iluk system which users could then book. Simple right?
Turns out, salons do not have the time or bandwidth to actively manage multiple calendars and booking platforms. Salon and barbershops are busy managing phone calls, cutting hair, advising clients, training staff, working with suppliers. They are busy running their business. If they were going to work with iluk, we had to make it as easy for them as possible.
Since those first weeks, it quickly became apparent that in order to build a product that fit the needs of salons and barbershops, we needed to work with them to build it. Not being from the industry ourselves, we spent the last few years learning about the hair and beauty industry. They key for us has been leaning on the salon partners who believed in our vision to help fill in knowledge gaps. In doing so, we have been able to shape and mould our product in such a way that it directly benefits the salons with whom we work.
This has been instrumental for iluk’s development, both in terms of product features, as well as our business model.
Industry insights continue to shape the product
Since our first conversations with various salons and barbershops, the iluk app has come a long way. Many insights that they have provided us have impacted product decisions and feature implementation. Some insights that we had to consider as industry outsiders:
- How salons price and schedule various levels of stylists
- How salons fill in their calendars (which SaaS and booking management software they use, do they accept Instagram DMs, walk-ins, phone calls)
- Salons’ ability to cater to various hair types (coily and curly hair for example)
- Ability for salons to apply special promotions for various services on specific days or hours of the week
- The importance salons place on limiting no-shows and last-minute cancellations
- Stylists require consultations or important data-points before booking in clients for many services (such as colouring and microblading)
Unsurprisingly, these are all insights that industry outsiders would never have thought of. Insights that were blind spots for us before beginning our iluk journey. However, by working closely with barbershops and salons in Montreal and Toronto, we have been able to transform these insights into very real product decisions and tweaks.
As we round out 2021 and as we approach a brand new year, we have some very exciting changes planned at iluk. While we aren’t able to divulge any specifics at this stage, we will be making some big product changes. This time we are prepared. We know that before building anything new, our salon partners are our biggest asset and best sounding board.
We have therefore spent the last few weeks consulting with our partners, showing them design mockups, explaining our product changes and getting their feedback and advise. After that, we relay their feedback back to our product designer and developer. They are working with us hand-in-hand to build iluk.
When people first meet myself and Karine, they usually ask whether we come from the hair and beauty industry. At first, we felt uncomfortable admitting that were weren’t. Now, we can proudly say that we have spent the last few years immersing ourselves into this exciting industry.
While we are far from being industry experts, we now feel confident in our knowledge. We believe that our newfound industry knowledge combined with our skills as entrepreneurs will carry us far. Whenever we have doubts, we now know we can turn to our invaluable community of salon and barbershop owners. Salons & barbershops helped us build iluk and the app would not exist without their crucial feedback!