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This high street staple is set to disappear: Glamazon founder

The New Investors video series brought to you by Yahoo Finance reveals the secrets of the most successful entrepreneurs and business people in Australia today. This is the fifth episode of the season.

Lauren Silvers can see what the future is and wants to take us there.

“I think our living rooms will be the new salon clinic,” she told Yahoo Finance’s New Investors show.

“Salons will be something that I’ll tell my grandkids were the places that we got our hair done.”

The Bondi-raised entrepreneur is the co-founder of Glamazon, an app that connects customers to hair and beauty professionals who come directly into the home.

She could see with UberX and online fashion stores that “the middle man” is disappearing – and traditional beauty salons are shutting down for the same reason.

“They’re closing down globally like in major cities on Fifth Avenue in New York, because the people who work in them – the creatives, the individual beauty professionals – they don’t necessarily want to work underneath someone else’s name for $23 an hour, or in America for $8 dollars an hour,” she told Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Sarah O’Carroll.

“They want their own creative identity.”

And 20,000 users agree, including celebrities like Kate Hudson and Victoria Beckham, who have an even bigger appreciation of getting treatment without stepping their foot out of their hotel room.

“Two-thirds of our customers are active repeat users, which means every three months, they’ll make another booking.”

Will salons go the way of video hire shops? Source: Getty Images/Yahoo Finance

Dumping the entire business model

But Silvers didn’t have the same crystal ball in 2014 when she started Glamazon. The app – believe it or not – started as a booking service for salons.

The 29-year-old says adapting and changing is a crucial part of running a successful business – and after a couple of years she could see the writing on the wall for the original salon-booking system.

“It got to the point where we’d been around for long enough that the customers were booking on Glamazon to the same salons,” she said.

“The salons were going: ‘Is this really a Glamazon customer anymore? Is it ours? … Clearly it’s the experience that they love here. We don’t think that we should get 20 percent taken off of the fee every time.'”

Courageously, Silvers decided to dump her entire business model and move onto connecting freelancer stylists to potential customers.

“I merged the salon business with my competitor Glam Crew… focusing on the individual beauty professional,” she said.

“I didn’t want to start from scratch, but I knew that that was the business model that I wanted.”

Overnight the Glamazon system purged the salons and on-boarded freelancers.

“So now the Glamazon app allows you to book and pay instantly for vetted beauty professionals around the country,” said Silvers.

“We auditioned all of them. They have to be graded as either a Glam Grad, Glam Life or Glam Lux and the price will change. Let’s cater to all kinds of price points and customer segments… Once they’re graded [and] they’re on the platform, you can instantly book and pay for them. If you love them, you can rebook them with one button.”

The lows, the highs and the lows again

While Silvers now has a co-founder these days (Glam Crew’s Lisa Maree) to lean on, for many years solo entrepreneurship was a lonely road.

“You have no one to share the highs with, but worse – no one to experience the lows with,” she said to the live studio audience of 30 people who came to watch the New Investors show.

“I remember… I’d had a big cry and I was on my bedroom floor at my parents’ house and I was Snapchatting to my close friends… I was like, ‘I haven’t showered in two days.’… The lows feel so low because the world is on your shoulders that you have all [the] responsibility.”

As Silvers spoke to Yahoo Finance, the business was at an exciting time as it had just launched its new charging model – going from taking a 20 percent commission to a flat monthly subscription from the beauty professionals.

The move would pump up revenue ten-fold for Glamazon and offer the freelancers predictability and stability in their fees.

But only a few days before, devastating self-doubt racked the entrepreneur – triggering what she described as “a breakdown”.

“We had every stylist say ‘yes’ to this new membership and then I called one and she said, ‘I don’t want you to change it’. And I just had this moment of doubt…”

Startup founders are already used to risking it all, so despite the dark times Silvers would always back herself.

“Yeah, you have doubts all the time, but I’d rather risk it.”

“I’ll probably have a breakdown tomorrow and it’s not as great and glossy and glamorous as it looks on the outside. But for me it definitely fills me.”

The New Investors video series brought to you by Yahoo Finance reveals the secrets of the most successful entrepreneurs and business people in Australia today. This is the fifth episode of the season.