For millennial women on the move, few things are more frustrating than trying to find a proper stylist in unfamiliar territory. Even if you do manage to find one, who’s to say their availability will match up with yours?
What if there were an easier way?
What if you could find the best stylists in the area and have their services available in the comfort of your own home? One Charlotte-based startup is making that happen.
Macie Mata, founder and CEO of MAZE Services, and co-founder, Samonica Ngo, are working to create a more accessible beauty industry for hardworking millennials. Mata’s financial advising experience with Wells Fargo and Ngo’s salon stylist experience combine to bring an app to market that will disrupt the industry as we know it.
And it won’t just benefit the customer.
Salons dictate the earning potential of their employees by assigning set hours and enforcing rigid schedules, negatively impacting stylists’ client loads and earnings overall. To illustrate this, salon stylists earned an average of $24,850 in 2017 despite increases in overall industry profits. With MAZE’s platform, stylists will have the freedom to work when they want and reach their true earning potential.
Entrepreneurs Leading Entrepreneurs
Beginning with a focus on consumer convenience in January 2018, Mata and Ngo quickly realized that their product could solve two problems at once.
“We started interviewing stylists and we realized we were solving a much bigger problem,” said Mata. “Stylists don’t have control over their schedules and income. So we built out [an app] providing stylists with all of the tools they need to run an efficient business and earn more money.”
The app features everything stylists need to operate independently, including a scheduling platform, direct messaging, sales analytics, payment processing, and a dual rating system. Ratings allow customers to quickly identify the highest-rated certified cosmetologists in the area. Likewise, stylists and technicians can rate their customers so they can be more selective with their clients.
After making a selection, customers can make in-home appointments with their desired stylist. This eliminates rigid salon schedules and allows busy clients the flexibility and convenience to get the salon experience they desire.
“Our mission is to truly provide our clients quality service and convenience while giving our stylists the power over their income and schedules that they deserve,” said Mata.
Delivering on the Demand
The startup began pilot testing of a web-based version of their app on February 18, 2019, but the waiting list for the iOS and Android mobile app reaches over 1,300 people.
Mata explained the strategy behind choosing Charlotte as the epicenter for MAZE Services’ product launch: Over 50 people relocate to the Queen City every day, meaning more people in the area left without a trusted stylist. This transplant culture provides MAZE with the perfect audience for their service.
MAZE has already secured participation from six of Charlotte’s top stylists. Stylists undergo a rigorous recruiting process, involving in-person interviews, background checks, license verification, and detailed pictures of completed services. They may also be asked to perform a test service on one of the MAZE team members in order to become registered in their portfolio.
Growing for Good
MAZE began its first seed round after its one-year anniversary in January 2019 and is seeking to raise $350,000 at a $3 million valuation. Up until this point, the startup has been largely self-funded.
“After our pilot program runs for two months, we plan on releasing the mobile app and expanding to Durham, Greensboro, and Raleigh, North Carolina by 2020,” said Mata.
Mata has every confidence in her team’s ability to reach these goals. The 1,300-strong waitlist is a direct result of aggressive social media marketing efforts by the MAZE media team. But building awareness isn’t their main goal.
“We want people to see that we’re more than just a company,” says Mata. “Right now, we’re preparing to partner with different community service organizations to do things like free haircuts for the homeless and donating to Locks of Love. We want to be involved with the community.”
With an ever-growing waitlist and eager participation from the region’s top stylists, it seems the community welcomes that involvement with open arms.
The web-based pilot is currently available for use and will be adapted into an iOS and Android mobile app by summer 2019. As Mata and her team look to the future, she offers the following advice to fellow entrepreneurs looking to grow:
“Surround yourself with people who are doing the things you want to scale your business to,” she says. “When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re busy; make sure the time you give others is worth the spend!”
MAZE is taking the Queen City by storm, and they aren’t the only ones bringing big changes to the area.
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