There is a lot of money to be made in the beauty industry: according to data from IBISWorld, the Australian hairdressing and beauty services industry is forecasted to generate $5 billion in revenue this year. It has seen growth of 2.2 percent annually, this spurred by greater demand for services thanks to income growth and the emergence of new markets.
Looking to tap into this space is Sydney entrepreneur Fabiola Gomez, founder of Luxit. Like international apps StyleBee and The Glam App, Luxit is a web platform and app allowing customers to book appointments with beauty professionals in advance or on demand – this function through the app only – with the professionals able to visit a client’s home, hotel, or office.
The idea for the app come from Gomez’s time working in both the corporate and fashion worlds: before founding Luxit earlier this year, Gomez had run her own law firm, worked with designer Camilla Franks, and started Asyana, a company manufacturing tanning products, giving her contacts in a number of spaces that needed one another.
“I was getting a lot of friends and family calling me saying, ‘do you have a spray tanner that can come and spray me or do you know of a hairdresser that can come and do my hair?’ I became the go-to person where everyone was pretty much saying, ‘well, Fabbie knows somebody,’” Gomez explained.
“I was doing it out of love because I’m very much a yes person and I love making people happy, so I was sort of going out of my way to connect the professional with the client, and then realised, there’s got to be something more to this. At that time I wasn’t actually getting anything out of it other than making people happy but that’s when I thought, there’s a commercial side to it too.”
For customers, the app works by simply having them sign up and choose what kind of service they need, where, and when, with the professional then sent to their door at the requested time. When booking, the user is able to see what times are available and the fixed prices of each service, with payment then handled through the app.
For the professionals, the service allows them to display their availabilities and accept or decline jobs. Luxit vets all applications before bringing professionals on board, checking their qualifications, conducting a police check, and ensuring they have their own insurance, and takes a fee of 20 percent on each booking.
There are over 100 professionals on board so far, servicing Sydney’s Eastern suburbs. So far Gomez said the split between on-demand and advance bookings was around 50/50, with customers coming back after the first time more comfortable with a shorter lead time before an appointment.
The number of bookings, meanwhile, is changing from week to week; Gomez is gearing up for a busy few months as high school formal season rolls around, for example, with the fact that groups of girls often get ready together leading to large bookings. Already, however, Gomez said Luxit is seeing growth in after-hours home bookings and is anticipating significant growth in the hotel space following the launch of a partnership with the Pullman Hotel group, which has the hotels offer guests services within their rooms.
“They approached us, so that was really sort of a positive thing for me to know, okay, there is a need that I am satisfying. As I said at the beginning, it’s yeah sure, everyone’s in it to make a dollar, but for me it’s more than that, how can we make life easier for people, and obviously they’ve welcomed that,” Gomez explained.
Luxit is looking to sign similar partnerships with both other hotels and corporates to easily get Luxit professionals into offices.
Despite the fact that all this sees beauty professionals work outside the salon, Gomez said she sees Luxit as an add-on to the salon experience rather than a replacement – in a sense, Luxit may be getting someone who would never have the time to actually go to a salon to book a service, adding more to the industry rather than taking a slice of an existing sector.
“I love the salon experience and I think it’s very important to highlight that salons are amazing because mums can escape the crazy family and go there and have their own time, or the corporate person can leave the office and have their own personal time, but I really wanted to just fill in the gaps of after hours of trading times,” Gomez said.
“From a professional point of view for the professional hairdressers and makeup artists and so on, Luxit allows them to have a platform that, if they choose to have extra work, they can turn on the app and accept a job.”
Gomez has largely self-funded the development of Luxit, bringing on a private investor to provide support, and is now looking to raise further investment. She plans to actively roll Luxit out across the rest of Sydney over the coming months – though the startup does already accept bookings outside the Eastern suburbs – and into Melbourne in time for Spring Racing.
As she goes, Gomez said she is enjoying every minute of her startup journey.
“I’m so grateful that I’ve got the legal background behind me and time in the corporate world because I understand that world very well, and then I’ve got the creative fashion and beauty side, the sellling things where it’s all about making the dollar and selling the product, so I think it’s all just coming together. It’s nice little bit of a colourful fruit salad, but it works.”
Image: Fabiola Gomez. Source: Supplied.