Norm-busting is the norm in the digital age, so when Courtney and Dr. Tye Caldwell identified a norm in the beauty industry, they came up with an innovative plan to bust it. They created ShearShare, an app that pairs licensed cosmetologists and barbers with brick-and-mortar salons and barbershops.
The idea came to them after Tye, a master barber and salon owner of 26 years, expanded his location in Dallas. The norm is to hire full-time stylists or rent space long-term to independent stylists, but when some “solopreneurs” asked about day leases, Tye gave it a try. The manual booking went so well that Tye and Courtney, who has a background in tech marketing, decided to go big by automating it.
ShearShare soared in popularity to the point that the Caldwells have 11 full-time and three part-time employees who work remotely.
Digital tools are a key part of the business. Appointments are arranged thanks to the Firebase platform. Google Maps directs users to the physical locations of participating salons. Most of ShearShare’s users discover the app through Google AdWords or organic searches online. And Google Analytics helps the team create a better experience for customers.
Other valuable tools include: Stripe for processing payments; Gmail, Hangouts, Slack and Zoom for communications; G Suite for team planning and collaboration; and Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube for marketing and networking. To educate the market and enhance their reputation as thought leaders in the beauty industry, the Caldwells host Webinars and create infographics and instructional videos.
All of these tools have enabled a global expansion of ShearShare — success that satisfies the Caldwells because their technology is keeping bricks-and-mortar businesses open. “Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy,” Courtney said.
She fears for the future of such entrepreneurs if the federal government takes action that hinders the ability of small businesses to use powerful digital tools created by big tech companies.
“Congress is pretty far removed from the day-to-day challenges of the average business owner, so they don’t see what small businesses encounter every day,” Courtney said. “ShearShare operates in one of the oldest industries, but our technology is leading a major innovation in the space. Before making any decisions, I implore politicians to listen to small businesses that are truly driving our economy forward.”