Alex Tomchenko launched Glambook — an online platform for independent beauty experts. The company partnered with over 10k beauty professionals from more than 38 countries. Customers can find the best deals in their city by filtering price, service reviews, and location. At the same time, beauticians and hairdressers can get new clients without paying high commissions to salons.
Please tell us about yourself and your team.
My name is Alex Tomchenko and I am the founder of Glambook. I have a software engineering background and over 13 years of experience in marketing and product development. Together with my business partner who has strong expertise in the beauty industry, we launched the platform. I had my own advertising, digital marketing, SMM and SEO agency Idealpromo that I founded in 2008. During my 12+ years on the agency side, I spearheaded over 300 projects for our clients spanning a few international markets. We started Glambook because of our extended expertise launching online projects and community building from scratch, and getting over 1 million active users on digital platforms. Our team is multinational, based in Germany and the UK.
What services do you offer?
Glambook is an online platform for self-employed beauty professionals and their clients. First of all, it is designed to help independent beauticians and hairdressers to start their businesses. It works both for beginners and specialists who have an established customer base since they optimise some costs and enhance all the communications. According to our research, beauticians can save up to 60% of the time thanks to Glambook since they use a CRM system to save all the customer data in one place. They avoid switching between messengers, and using different platforms, such as Google Calendar, to make appointments.
We support independent beauty specialists and help them to create their brand and build up their audience. Glambook’s users get the freedom to keep the customer base unlike it happens at beauty salons. When beauticians and hairdressers leave the salon, they lose their customers. The platform has been designed to enable beauty professionals to choose the place where they can provide their services — at home, at the client’s place, in some kind of coworking space, or in a salon. One of the main features of Glambook is the option to increase customer loyalty and retention with the help of our promotional tools. It is a SaaS platform for beauticians, which provides comprehensive tools to generate leads, send automatic notifications, manage their schedule, payments, and build up a portfolio.
And what are the benefits for clients?
End customers get a marketplace with the best deals from local beauty experts. They can filter specialists by location, price, and service reviews, and make the appointment online. The difference from other platforms is that when you book an appointment, you cannot check each hairdresser’s portfolio to understand whether he suits you or not. On Glambook users can pick the right specialist in a very transparent way.
How did you grow your business during the pandemic?
We faced restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic. All the non-essential businesses, including beauty salons, were closed, and the online promotion had negative feedback. Beauty industry specialists couldn’t understand how to attract new audiences and provide their services. So we stopped the advertising since it could contribute to a negative attitude towards the brand. But during the lockdowns, our project continued to grow organically. Professionals from the beauty industry had to find a way to earn money and provide services as freelancers, in this way they looked for different sources — from social media groups to mobile apps. In some months we had a very dynamic growth, up to 250% from the previous period.
What were your achievements in 2021?
First of all, we’ve relocated to London and started our business development on the UK market. Second, we’ve partnered with over 10 thousand independent professionals from at least 38 countries, including the UK, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany. Besides, we raised an investment round of half a million euros.
Glambook will be launching coworking spaces in the near future. How are they going to work?
Beauty specialists face a variety of challenges, starting with the place to provide the service. The global gig economy which empowers self-employed and independent specialists from different industries is growing fast. Customers want to save time and get the product delivered directly to them, so they order food and groceries to their homes. The same happens to the beauty industry. The mobile services start to gain momentum, clients don’t want to visit beauty salons, instead, they prefer to save time on the road and get a haircut at home. On the other hand, not every beautician has the opportunity to provide services at home. When specialists rent their own space or work in a beauty salon it leads to big payments and commissions. Consequently, specialised coworking spaces for beauticians are a convenient option in terms of price, quality, and ecological approach.
We aim to develop transparent pricing policies when beauty professionals pay a subscription or just for the actual hours at the coworking space. This allows them to choose the best personal schedule and an opportunity to provide services in the most convenient place — at home or in the coworking space. Besides, beauticians access a great environment for networking and receive professional training. With additional internal certifications, they can provide better services and rank higher on Glambook’s platform.
What do you mean by ecological approach?
It is the overall working environment and emphasis on eco-friendly materials. One of the main modern trends is related to sustainable development and a healthy atmosphere in the workplace.
How online tools are changing the overall beauty industry? Do they impact the quality of the services?
The online business is booming in any market, besides it is structuring the industries. Let’s say you can book a hotel via Booking.com or TripAdvisor, and order food from any restaurant on UberEats. However, the beauty industry is very disintegrated with different hairdressers, barbers, beauticians available on multiple places and platforms. We want to become a one-stop-shop for all the members of this community creating a transparent environment and providing efficient tools for business development. This way, customers can approach Glambook for any beauty services and choose the best offer available in their location. They pay less money compared to a salon and can see the portfolio of each beautician. Thanks to the real feedback from customers the quality of the services improves. The best specialists will rank higher and the ones who provide poor services will need to increase the quality of their work to grow the customer base.
What are the main insights on the UK market for you?
The UK has a developed beauty industry compared to other European countries, such as Germany. They spend more on beauty services including barbershops and hairdressers. Of course, in Spain and Portugal, the demand for this kind of service is even higher and people spend their last money to visit the barbershops.
In the UK we could find great support for startups, with organisations such as London & Partners and many professional associations. We’ve discovered a great networking environment with plenty of opportunities to grow our company.
What are the main trends of the global beauty industry in 2022?
On a global scale, both in Europe and the US, we can see a shift towards the gig economy. Millennials are looking for flexibility, they want to choose the time, location, and manner of their work. The freelance format is booming in many industries including health and beauty. Bloggers and influencers are showing that people can create a successful business around their brand. More beauty professionals will become self-employed and build their own brand identity.
People nowadays understand the importance of health and wellbeing, therefore cosmetology and spa services will flourish. The pandemic generated deferred demand for beauty services like it has happened with tourism. And finally, younger generations are accepting the need for beauty services and gaining purchasing power, therefore the industry will keep growing and become more flexible for everyone.