How Rica Elysee Launched The On-Demand Beauty Booking Service We All Need In Our Lives

BOSS UP

Have you ever been in need of beauty services and didn't want to have to travel to a salon? Or, have you wished you could find a beauty professional that matched your specific needs and unique styling preferences? Well, Rica Elyseé has a solution for you.


Her company BeautyLynk, an on-location, web-based mobile beauty booking platform, allows customers to receive salon-quality hair and makeup services in their home, office, hotel, or wherever they may be.

What makes BeautyLynk unique is that it collects data points that make appointments more efficient for beauty professionals and customers. Have locs? Only use vegan beauty products? Need someone who specializes in colored natural hair? Pregnant and on bed-rest but need your makeup done? BeautyLynk has you covered.

Courtesy of BeautyLynk

When booking for the first time, customers can note things such as salon visit frequency, skin complexion, hair type, scalp sensitivity, product preference, and can even indicate if they have any special needs or care requests. Customers are able to have a personalized mobile styling experience and work with someone who is prepared to cater to their needs. "The beauty journey and the beauty appointment are all built on these details," explains Rica. Using this data, BeautyLynk creates the perfect stylist-customer match. "We try to give [enough data] to the beauty professionals that will allow them to be successful."

The inspiration behind BeautyLynk came from a family friend with a physical disability who was in need of beauty services. "Independence is huge," notes Rica. "How could I [create something] so that they never needed anybody's help and could [receive] services themselves?" Thinking about the problem at hand and how to create a scalable solution fueled Rica. "Beauty and technology have created an opportunity for me to look through this lens of what it means to create change in the simplest form," she says.

Courtesy of BeautyLynk

Rica realized that she could bring confidence and empowerment to individuals looking to book beauty professionals, and could also support and grow small beauty businesses as well. BeautyLynk professionals receive 80% of revenue from each booking and can control when and what they do as well as their working environments. When Rica launched BeautyLynk in 2015, she only had 25 beauty professionals. Now, the platform has over 16,000, which has all been fueled by organic growth. The site evolved from Rica manually matching stylists with clients and then booking services on the backend. Now, matching is driven by an algorithm and fully automated. Rica calls BeautyLynk, a "really big salon with no walls," a virtual community for beauty professionals and customers looking to find their perfect match.

Rica will tell you in a heartbeat that while there are other booking services out there, even some run by women of color, she's not like any of them.

"I've learned that you can't compare yourself. Execution is always different."

However, she uses competing services as an opportunity to learn important lessons about what to do, what not to do and how to remain humble. Rica understands what it means to be Black, and more importantly, a Black female founder. "The intersection I represent is a wonderful one." As she puts it, "I don't look like the traditional Black woman in business."

Whether it's because of her mohawk or her tattoos, which she proudly rocks at meetings, she's not afraid to stand up for who she is and use her voice to articulate her vision.

Second, she knows that beauty technology hasn't always been inclusive of the Black female experience or perspective. "I've been open to what it means to be a Black woman in tech building something around hair and beauty," says Rica. "From education to regulation, the beauty industry has never been designed for women of color. We have this opportunity to be something bigger and deeper and be the best friend for the woman of color looking for beauty." Though Rica feels lucky to have "wonderful investors," she's always aware that "if you don't come with a certain background, it's very difficult to navigate the highway of fundraising."

Courtesy of BeautyLynk

Learning how to navigate the world of funding is an ever-going, but necessary, process for her. "I live in Boston where a lot of individuals don't know how to talk to me properly as a Black woman. I have to realize that sometimes I'm going to be the only one at the table and what it means to invite someone to the table," reveals Rica. She even admits, "Sometimes tokenism hurts, [but] I understand why it has to happen. I'm still developing and understanding that intersection on a deeper level."

For anyone looking to start their own entrepreneurial venture, Rica has some key advice. There are more obvious points such as "learn the difference between advice and opinions" and "you never know who's watching or listening so be prepared at all times." But, learning to say no and being able to listen seem to be the two that have really had an impact on her business.

"Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you have to do it... I had to get comfortable with using the word no and being confident [the opportunity] would come back." She wants other entrepreneurs to steer clear of the need to say yes and be everything for everyone and everything.

"Opportunities will come back if you focus on the need to take care of yourself. Without you, there is no opportunity. "

Cultivating the skill-set of listening is directly tied to BeautyLynk's success. "Listening has given me the key to understanding why data is important for the beauty professionals. I've been able to listen to their stories, dreams, and missions and how I can be part of that." Listening to the voice and needs of your company's target audience is key. Without happy beauty professionals willing to work, Rica would have no BeautyLynk.

Courtesy of BeautyLynk

Interestingly, Rica's biggest business challenges are rather personal. "The biggest conflict for myself is staying aligned to the vision and what I'm doing this for...MY why... Sometimes I want to give up and I think about all the people who decided they wanted to join in on the journey with me and i can't give up." BeautyLynk is more than just a service or a place where beauty and technology come to play. It's leveling the playing field for both beauty professional and beauty connoisseurs.

Like many of us, the everyday struggle to fight doubt and issues with self-worth is real. "Being able to get beyond that and keeping myself in check about that has been a journey. I'm always aware of my self-worth."

"I have to be cognizant of not taking in all of this 'hustle porn' online. Sometimes when I'm hustling too hard, I'm hurting my body and limiting [myself.] I always remember that I'm worthy. In order to be successful, you need to take steps towards your worth."

Rica has a lot cooking for the future of BeautyLynk. The brand recently rolled out a product recommendation flow for customers looking for new items. Skincare services will be available by the end of 2019. Then next, global accessibility is at the top of the list. With so many women of color existing outside of the United States, Rica wants "BeautyLynk to be about being able to provide access to beauty regardless of one of one's gender, race, culture, or capability. That's the big North Star."

For now, Rica plans to launch the Everyone Beauty campaign in September, where BeautyLynk will give away beauty appointments to 16- to 18-year-old girls in developing countries such as Senegal and South Africa. Rica wants to provide confidence to girls early and help them "feel glamorous and not like [beauty] is inaccessible to them because of money or anything else."

Courtesy of BeautyLynk

As our conversation ends, I realize Rica's fierce drive and passion to push the boundaries of of mixing beauty with technology is almost like a premonition on her life revealed. I remember a detail from the beginning of our conversation where when asked about her name, Rica tells me her full name is actually Modjossorica - a homage to (and mixture of) her mother, aunt, and grandmother's names.

"My mother always told me that I was never born to be normal, because she never named be to be normal." says Rica. "[This] same type of attitude has helped me to build my business."

Being "normal" isn't the precursor for impact and innovation. Everything Rica does for and because of BeautyLynk is meant to challenge the status quo.

To learn more about BeautyLynk and how you can book your next hair or makeup service appointment, visit www.beautylynk.com.

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