Entrepreneur of the Week: How Rica Elysee Launched Uber-Style Beauty Service for Women of Color

Great businesses thrive by solving everyday problems for consumers. So when Rica Elysee realized that many women were frustrated with long wait times at the hair salon, she created BeautyLynk, an on-location beauty-booking platform delivering salon quality hair, makeup, and nail services in the comfort of your home, office or hotel.

“The current salon experience for us 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,” Elysee says. “BeautyLynk eliminates all of those headaches and gives women more control over the entire process. Ultimately, it comes down to this: would you rather get your hair braided in the comfort of your own home or spend half the day at a salon?”

[Related: This Little Box Has Ambitious Black Women Dreaming Big]

Launched in 2015, BeautyLynk currently operates in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, and will expand to Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York City this spring.

Below, Elysee, who is also the founder of Boston Naturals, a multicultural platform for all things beauty, wellness, and events, talks the connection between beauty and technology and how she launched the venture:

BlackEnterprise.com: Tell us about the defining moment when you decided to start your business?

Coming up with the idea was one thing, but the defining moment to really give this a shot was when my fiance encouraged me and assured me that he would help me reach my dreams. With his support, I felt that the only thing standing in my way was myself. And then I just went for it.

How did you know you had a viable business idea?

When people began using our platform and returning as customers. Our retention rate is currently over 60%, so that was a big moment that let us know that we were definitely on to something.

What was your biggest challenge in business? How did you overcome it?

We’re bootstrapping the business. Aside from ensuring that all of our customers receive stellar service so that they return and recommend BeautyLynk to a friend, I am entering the business into a lot of different pitch competitions so that we can get on the radar of potential investors or partners. We recently placed second in the TechCrunch TCMeetup pitch off and I’m hoping to do many more events like that.

Do you have any non-negotiable rules in business?

If it will kill my business, I will not do it.

What are the daily habits that have helped you succeed?

  • Blocking out my hours with the tasks that I need to get done.
  • Having my vacation reply on all day that informs folks that I am not available.
  • Scheduling calls and meetings once a week.
  • Listening to one hour of audio books on Audible a day so that I am always learning.
  • Scheduling out replies to e-mails at night and sending them in the morning.