Women Owned Business on the go GLAM™ / Alist Nation
We are doing a highlight series on Women Owned Businesses
Each issue will highlight women owned businesses. We will give you an exclusive interview with each of these inspiriting women and help you connect with their businesses. It’s time to put our money where our mouths are and support local businesses that are owned and run by women.
Alist Nation May 2021
Interview: Joy M. Hutton, Founder, on the go GLAM™
Tell us a little about yourself and your childhood.
I grew up in Chicago, went to college in Maine, and have been living in Houston for almost 10 years. My parents, who are still together were very adamant about my sister and I having the very best education. My father planted the seed at a very young age for me being an entrepreneur. He told me when I was 4 years old that I wasn’t meant to work for “the man.” That has resonated with me my entire life and I have carried that with me in the workplace and always thought I was the boss even though I wasn’t. ButI realized that I could not be put in a box and needed to be challenged and wanted to help people on a larger scale which is why I chose the entrepreneurial route.
When did you decide you wanted to start your own company?
on the go GLAM is actually my second business. I started my first business, Joy of Consulting, a management consulting firm, 5 years ago. But on the go GLAM was not planned. In 2016, I was on a trip to L.A. and was attending an event at 7 o’ clock in the morning and wanted my makeupdone but everything was closed. I thought wouldn’t it be great if there were an app where I could book someone to come to my hotel? And that’s how on the go GLAM was born.
After you made the decisions, what steps did you take?
At the time of coming up with the idea for on the go GLAM, I was working at a co-working space in Houston and was surrounded by a lot of tech startups. I talked to a few people who had developed apps to see if this was something that could be done. I also looked at my competitors in the space to see what they were doing, but I wanted my platform to be better. After coming up with a name and having a logo designed, I started developing the app in 2017 with a team of developers in India. Unfortunately, I had to put the process on hold because I went through a tumultuous 2-year divorce. In 2019, I picked up where I left off and decided that the version of the app that I spent so much money on was no longer what I wanted and I started from scratch. I decided to focus on building a web platform instead because it was less expensive and I could get a lot of customer feedback so that I would know what features to include in the app when I decided to build another version. I filed my LLC and begin building brand awareness through social media, pop ups, and media. In March 2020 we were scheduled to be one of the exclusive brands in the VIP Artist Lounge at SXSW where we would have provided hair and makeup services to the artists performing at the music festival. The pandemic happened and we were not able to move forward with this opportunity. We were also forced to forego launching other services due to being a non-essential business. However, once things opened up, we were able to launch in 2020 and have experienced exponential growth.
What were the hardest hurdles?
One of the most difficult hurdles was being a non-technical founder and building a tech-enabled platform. However, I sourced mentors and other people to help me navigate the tech space. Also, having not being able to raise capital as an early-stage startup was difficult because I have used my own funds to operate and grow my business.
What advise do you wish someone would have given you?
As a perfectionist, I wanted everything to be perfect before I launched. I wasn’t told until later that it’s okay to start with an initial product and then evolve from there and I stressed myself out with trying to make sure everything was “perfect.” I quickly learned that if I lived in that headspace, I would never launch and so I finally delivered. I worked on the web platform and decided to launch the app later.
Was there a specific moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do?
I had done some research to see if there were other beauty on demand apps/platforms and at the time there were only a few –I figured this was definitely a market I could capture. But my mission became bigger than just providing hair, makeup, and nail services to consumers. I wanted to develop a strong workforce in the beauty industry. A lot of beauty professionals do not learn the necessary skills to be entrepreneurs and freelancers and this is something I wanted to provide while retaining high quality talent.
How did you fund this project? My business is primarily bootstrapped and I crowdfunded on iFundWomen and raised 6K
Did you have a mentor? Absolutely. Mentors have been critical to my success.
At any point did you want to give up?
Of course! Being an entrepreneur is hard! There are times I felt I wasn’t cut out for this life, I was tired of spending money, I was comparing myself to my competitors who had been in the space longer than me.
What made you keep going?
What kept me going was returning to my why –the bigger mission I have which is to develop a strong workforce in the beauty industry. I also like to finish what I started and refused to succumb to all of the no’s I’ve received. On top of that, I lost my sister, my only sibling last year and
How long did it take to become profitable?
We are a debt-free business with low overhead costs, so our business was profitable within the first few months.
What was the best thing you did to grow your business?
I invested in someone to help with press and social media so that we could build brand awareness. In a year we have been featured in several publications which has helped us increase our customer base.
Do you feel it was more difficult because you are a women?
Yes, and a woman of color. When you go into a room of men, and talk about beauty, they completely zone out until you make it more relatable to them. However, during the pandemic we pivoted to offering services to men and now I can incorporate them into the conversation.
Do you think social media is important?
Yes. Someone once told me that if you’re not marketing your business, then you don’t have a business. Social media is an amazing medium to market your business for free –take advantage of it.
Was there any life lessons you learned along the way?
Do not let anyone put you in a box. People will always have an opinion about what you should and should not be doing. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you.
What is the happiest memory from this journey?
Overcoming fear and rejection to do what I love and living in my purpose.
Please tell us if COVID-19 has affected your business?
If so, do you have a plan in place to try and get back on track? Yes, we had to shut down as a non-essential business, but when we were allowed to operate, we emerged and have seen month over month growth due to the demand for in home beauty services.
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IG: @joy_m_h, @otgglam, @officialbeautyish