Glissed: The online start up that is making its way to the high street

Katie Gallagher

Louise Dunne, Glissed. Picture by Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic

Glissed, an online platform that works like beauty on demand are now conquering the retail beauty sector this season with their pop up shop in Penneys.

The online platform connects customers with mobile beauty experts and gives beauty professionals a suite of tools to manage and grow their business online. Glissed aims to help industry newcomers and beauty veterans to formalise their offering to the public.

Now, for three months only, they have collaborated with a major retail giant in the form of their new service, ‘PS… X Glissed’, a hair and makeup pop-up salon offering various services from up styles to winged eye-liner.

The pop-up, which launched in February, is exclusive to the Mary Street store in Dublin 1 where you can book in online or ring up the store to book a half hour makeover for under €20.

We spoke to Louise Dunne, CEO and founder of Glissed.com, who is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur and former beauty professional who has worked in the industry for over a decade.

“I was a makeup artist and I worked in MAC cosmetics for 10 years. I’m in the beauty industry 15 years actually,” she said speaking of her experience in beauty.

Describing how her idea formed to create an online platform for freelance beauty experts to utilise their reach she said, “I found it difficult to connect with customers because there were no markets here. Freelance beauty professionals use channels like Instagram and Facebook and none of these channels are trustworthy”.

The budding entrepreneur left her job in MAC to pursue her vision of Glissed but explained that it was only when she started it that she realised that it was the professionals who needed the service just as much as the customer.

“It was a platform with beauty on demand and we didn’t realise that it was the beauty professionals who needed to benefit more as well. They wanted to have profiles and have a suite of tools like receipts scanners and calendars and everything that a sole trader would need to help manage their own operations by themselves,” she explained.

The beauty boss said that she wanted professionals to feel empowered to be their own boss so she stuck with her initiative and began looking for help from tech accelerators in the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC).

While Louise’s pitch proved unsuccessful the first two times, she persevered and eventually got it on her third attempt as part of a female founders initiative. Not only did she go on to win investor day in NDRC, making it the first ever beauty technology to ever win, she also swept up the Bank of Ireland start-up award last year too. Since then, all the efforts have been put into starting a database and growing their network.

Louise said they have had around 500 beauty professionals apply to be on the site and currently have 300 on their books right now.

Speaking of their new venture in collaboration with the nation’s beloved Penneys stores, Louise said the store wanted to create experiences and as she had worked in retail for so long herself and felt very comfortable in such an environment, it made sense for this to be the next move for Glissed.

“We had the blend of professionals in hair and makeup, people who have worked in likes of Peter Marks, Toni and Guy, MAC Cosmetics and Charlotte Tilbury recently so everybody is an expert, really seasoned with a wealth of knowledge. So we were able to handpick the people to work in the pop up then,” she explained.

“Penneys are known for their amazing fashion and amazing prices and now they will be known for their amazing beauty as well because we have the experts in store providing a five-star service,” she said.

Looking ahead to future goals and beyond the pop-up excitement, the CEO said that they would hope to grow their freelance network in Manchester and London having attended trade shows across the pond.

Speaking of the ultimate goal in the future she said, “a big goal for us would be to crack the states and New York, so that’s kind of where the next networking will be after Manchester and London.”

However, building a business is never an easy task and while things are coming together for this successful start-up the founder expressed the difficulties she and other up and coming entrepreneurs face, especially if they don’t have market or tech experience.

“Growing a business online is no joke,” she said.

“I went to every technology convention that was on in Dublin city over the last three years, I got to know a lot of people in the technology and the startup community in Dublin,” she added while stating that it was really about making contacts.

The beauty boss admitted that while she had a lot to learn due to the fact she didn’t come from a technology background, having experience in the beauty industry proved more valuable and a bigger asset to her venture than she expected.

Louise emphasised the importance of doing market research stating that while you could have an idea that you feel is amazing, the numbers always speak for themselves.

“Ideas are great, but it’s all about execution,” she said.

Louise recommends the use of surveys to determine whether the idea is tangible and scalable but also to see if the target market would use the product. She stressed the importance of having an open mind and being willing to pivot or change your ideas to meet the market’s needs.

“It’s a really big learning journey and you are always learning. No matter how long you are in business, you are always learning,” she said.

As a final piece of advice to any future entrepreneurs, the CEO and founder of the buzzing business said that while the bridge from idea to business is a hard one to walk across, it’s absolutely doable.

Katie Gallagher

Image credit: Louise Dunne

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