TresseNoire Is Using Data To Become A Leading Beauty Platform: On Mogul Watch

Ebony Grimsley-Vaz
Written by Ebony Grimsley-Vaz
TresseNoire founders, Regina Gwynn (left) and Octavia Pickett-Blakely. Photo provided

I want it and I want it now.

Thanks to technology, American consumers are leaning in more each year to products and services that come to them at the touch of a button.

The on-demand economy grew by 58 percent in 2017, according to the annual National Technology Readiness Survey conducted by Rockbridge Associates.

We can easily see how Amazon and Uber have changed the way we meet our needs. The beauty industry is embracing the on-demand economy and finding ways to take advantage of technology to increase profits.


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Lack of diversity in tech and a desire to help women of color inspired the founders of TresseNoire to enter the on-demand economy.

We figured if we are using FreshDirect to have groceries come to us and Uber to have a car come to drive us, why can’t we push a button and have a stylist come to us?

Regina Gwynn, co-founder of TresseNoire

TresseNoire is an at-home beauty service-booking app for women of color launched by friends and co-founders Regina Gwynn and Octavia Pickett-Blakely.

The time it takes to travel to a beauty salon and then wait for a beauty service are deterrents for many people. With the click of a few buttons or words on a screen, TresseNoire users can arrange to have experts visit their homes and style their hair.

Black women spend $1.1 billion annually on beauty products and services including around $473 million on haircare. There are continuous reports on how stressed women are these days and the struggle to do self-care. Having stylists coming to your home sounds like a viable business model.

(In five years) I see TresseNoire as one of the leading beauty platforms for women of color. We’ll get there not only through our services but also through the data we’ve collected over the years.

Regina Gwynn, co-founder of TresseNoire

Gwynn and Pickett-Blakely launched TresseNoire in 2014 in the Philadelphia area. Today they’re in U.S. cities on the east and west coasts.

Moguldom spoke with Regina Gwynn about why they started TresseNoire, how they’re scaling the business with a remote team and what it’s like working with Arlan Hamilton, a venture capitalist who opens doors for underrepresented founders.

Moguldom: Why did you start TresseNoire?

Regina Gwynn: TresseNoire came from a need. I worked in corporate America my entire career and have always had a pretty hectic calendar. It got to the point where I would go to my hairstylist on a Saturday for a 9 o’clock appointment. I would get there only to see five other women also have 9 o’clock appointments with my stylist. It became so frustrating to go to a salon and have to sit there literally all day on my precious Saturday when I had so many things to do. One day my co-founder and I were on vacation trying to figure out what we were going to do next with our lives. We started thinking about hair care and beauty and the emergence of technology and how we could leverage it to support our everyday needs and lifestyle. We figured if we are using FreshDirect to have groceries come to us and Uber to have a car come to drive us, why can’t we push a button and have a stylist come to us? And that essentially was the start of TresseNoire.

Would a Black woman allow a random Black woman into her home to get her hair done? When we find those clients who are just so time-starved and need the convenience, they’re willing to pay for it.

Regina Gwynn, co-founder of TresseNoire

Moguldom: For the average person like me who does not have a fancy bowl or chair in my home like they do in the salons, what can I expect when a stylist from TresseNoire comes to my house?

Regina Gwynn: The way it works is you book your appointment through our app or online. You give us the date, time, location and the kind of style you’d like. We even allow you to text a picture of your hair inspiration. We’re more than happy to do style consultations by phone to make sure we bring the right tools and products with us when we knock on your door. Also, we just focus on the styling itself. All of our clients are expected to have their hair washed and detangled before we arrive. We don’t actually wash hair. Every now and again if the client asks for it, then we’re more than happy to provide. However, in terms of service integrity, we don’t want to have someone bent over the kitchen sink. It’s not the full experience we like to provide. But if a client wants it, we’re here to support. We have a network of stylists across the country that are all licensed. We have stylists in the New York-New Jersey area, Washington D.C., Dallas and Los Angeles to name a few. They’re all focused on healthy hair care systems. We’re here to make the path to pretty easier for women of color.

Moguldom: What has been a memorable challenge in launching or scaling your business?

Regina Gwynn: The biggest challenge is definitely growing your user base. There are so many different ways to connect with customers whether it’s online or through events or through PR and marketing. Trying to find the best channel to target this type of customer has definitely been a memorable challenge. Our customers are very heavily engaged on social media. They look to influencers and to each other for information. It was a challenge to find out how we can insert ourselves into the conversation while positioning TresseNoire as a trusted authority on healthy hair care. I feel good about our customers knowing they can trust we will send an amazing stylist to their home that they’ve never physically seen in person but has seen their work online. That was one of the hypotheses we had when we started. Would a Black woman allow a random Black woman into her home to get her hair done? When we find those clients who are just so time-starved and need the convenience, they’re willing to pay for it. We are always thinking about tackling this question in different ways.

It’s important to not just hire people who think like you. If you’re the visionary, you need people to execute the vision. You need people with different skill sets to build a balanced team so their skills complement each other.

Regina Gwynn, co-founder of TresseNoire

Moguldom: How do you build and manage a remote team, making sure it works with all of you being located in separate places?

Regina Gwynn: Technology. We use Google Hangouts, conference calls, and other technology tools to manage our communications. We’ve had our entire team remote since our launch. My event manager is in L.A., our dev team is overseas. I have interns everywhere. My marketing person is in North Carolina. We definitely rely on technology to get things done as a team. Your team is more important than anything. That is definitely something that we had to learn the hard way. When people work well together, it’s always awesome. But it’s also very important to hire for the job and not to the people that you like. I may like you but if you can’t do the job well, then it doesn’t benefit either one of us. Your team is the people that really are going to ride for you. Getting someone that really believes in the mission and vision of the company is worth its weight in gold because you cannot do it all by yourself. Also, it’s important to not just hire people who think like you. If you’re the visionary, you need people to execute the vision. You need an operator or an analyst. You need people with different skill sets to build a balanced team so their skills complement each other. It’s something we’re still working on.

Being a part of the Backstage Capital portfolio has been amazing. Arlan Hamilton is truly a trailblazer. She is killing it in terms of providing access and opening doors for tech founders of color that have never been open before. She busts the door down and we are coming right on through after her.

Regina Gwynn, co-founder of TresseNoire

Moguldom: What are some of your notable wins?

Regina Gwynn: I think some notable wins have been some of the press we’ve received. We are always humbled and excited when someone recognizes the work. We have participated in cool accelerators and business programs. We were in the Google for Entrepreneurs and the Black Founders Exchange back in 2016 that opened up so many doors for us. Being a part of the Backstage Capital portfolio has also been amazing. Arlan Hamilton is truly a trailblazer. She is killing it in terms of providing access and opening doors for tech founders of color that have never been open before. She busts the door down and we are coming right on through after her. I also think learning from our clients is a win. Being able to dig into why they are using us and finding new opportunities for new products we can offer to them.

Moguldom: How much did you raise with Backstage Capital?

Regina Gwynn: It was a pre-seed round. I’m a big fan of keeping our financials private because we also have private investors. They don’t necessarily like to be named.

Moguldom: Where do you see TresseNoire in five years?

Regina Gwynn: I love that question. I see it as one of the leading beauty platforms for women of color. We’ll get there not only through our services but also through the data we’ve collected over the years to provide a much easier way of living your best life. To have a great hair day every day is our goal. We want to make it easy for everyone whether you do it yourself or go to a salon, you’re young or old, newly natural or you’re a natural hair vet. We will have insight into how we can make your hair care better. That is our goal.