Kathleen Jennings: Founder of BeautyNOW

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Houston-based founder, Kathleen Jennings, identified a gap in the marketplace for interactive beauty booking. Jennings created BeautyNow to offer consumers across the U.S. a way to book all their beauty needs from the convenience of one app. BeautyNow currently includes over 5,000 spas and salons across the U.S., with hundreds more on the waitlist to join. Jennings, a self-confessed beauty junkie, also writes the popular BeautyNow Blog (blog.bookbeautynow.com) to raise awareness of the app and to share honest opinions on beauty products and services.

How did you get into the beauty/tech industry?

I actually was a practicing lawyer for quite some time but beauty had always been my real passion. It’s something I had always loved reading about, and, of course, testing out. Learning the tech industry has taken some time-- it’s a lot of trial and error. I’m grateful to have been able to work with some great mobile developers, and have personally spent days and nights working to understand our software in order to create the best product possible. A beauty app is a lot less glamorous than one would think!

Tell us about Beauty Now. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?

I was pregnant and really was in dire need of a massage. I was chatting with my husband and number one supporter, James, about how there had to be an easier way to go about finding who had available appointments then calling around to various spas. The idea seemed so logical to me that I figured there had to be an ‘app’ out there like that.

What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to Beauty Now's success?

Recently John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of Paul Mitchell Products and Patron Tequila, signed on.

What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?

People are really beginning to take advantage of booking everything through apps; cars, food, beauty, fitness, etc. It’s fast and it’s easy. No one has time for phone tag! I’ve capitalized on this trend by taking the time to understand the needs of salon owners and customers, and in turn creating a system to adapt existing spa/salon POS and scheduling softwares (which are a bit behind on the tech side) for real-time booking and confirmation with customers booking through the BeautyNow app.

Life Motto?

If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Beauty Now's Motto?

Booking beauty should be easy – wherever your travels take you.

Your greatest success as founder/CEO of Beauty Now?

Launching the BeautyNow app in Beta in May 2014. We spent over 15 months in development and getting salons on board, and at one point we weren’t sure if the technology allowed for a third-party app to sync real-time with existing POS systems. No other company is integrated seamlessly like BeautyNow is, so just seeing the technology work accurately was a proud moment.

Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?

I’ve had some close calls on getting major contracts and other big opportunities. You just keep moving forward, know that everything works out for the best, and not to count your chickens before they’re hatched!

Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?

Be confident in your abilities and never give up. It’s about the hustle. If you really want to make something happen, you don’t take no for an answer.

Describe the ideal experience using Beauty Now.

It’s great to use while traveling. You can literally be in any state (ALL 50 work on the app) and can be in need of a beauty service. Of course, when traveling, it’s often hard to know where to get a blowout… let alone at the last minute. When you open the BeautyNow app, it simply searches all of the options that have availability during the time you’re looking for. Once you find the time/location nearest and best for your schedule, you can book with a few taps, no phone call confirmation necessary. That’s a game changer.

How do you motivate your employees?

Well, until recently it was mainly a one-woman show, hustling and bootstrapping to get salons and spas on board. It’s most definitely a labor of love when launching – but I motivate myself because I want to see the company to successfully continue to grow. If you are truly passionate about what you do, I think those around you are motivated by example.

One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?

Most definitely a large margarita and fresh queso and chips.

What literature is on your bed stand?

Love Assouline books – specifically American Beauty and Chanel. Both beautiful cover to cover.

Role model - business and personal?

As far as business, it would definitely be my partner John Paul DeJoria. He started Paul Mitchell with $700, while living in his car. His passion about the beauty industry and the people in it, his drive to succeed, and his devotion to charity work are very inspiring to me. Personally, my parents are my role models. They worked extremely hard to provide for my brother and me, and also put an emphasis on education and the arts.

Current passion?

Seeking out new beauty products. There is always a new one on the market to try out and review. It’s fun (and healthy!) to see the latest that’s out there to better your beauty.

Favorite travel destination?

New Zealand, where I went for my honeymoon.

What's next for Beauty Now?

Continuing to expand the salons and spas offered on the app. There are hundreds on the waitlist to join, and now we are working to onboard thousands of salons that carry Paul Mitchell Products. BeautyNow is scaling in a big way and expanding our offerings, but it will remain an easy, user-friendly way to book your last minute blowout or well-deserved massage.