Guest Interview with Monique Salvador, Founder of Blushup, by Erica LaSala
Recently, our writer, Erica LaSala, spoke with Monique Salvador, the CEO & founder of Blushup, a newly launched online marketplace for discovering and booking beauty services in NYC. She’s a motivated and enthusiastic entrepreneur making her mark in the beauty industry, and she very kindly agreed to this interview with Erica.
Erica told us, “Monique seized an opportunity to start her own business at a young age, but she also let me in on the obstacles she faced not only as a young professional but as a young professional woman in the beauty industry. It’s still a bit difficult for me to reconcile that fact considering that beauty is an industry primarily “for” women.”
ELS: Explain what Blushup is or offers in one sentence.
MS: Blushup helps women discover and book makeup and skincare services in retail stores in their city.
ELS: Why should customers use Blushup’s service over, say, Glamsquad [the on-demand, at-home beauty service]?
MS: Blushup is a whole different concept from Glamsquad. Blushup is for women who like getting beauty services with top beauty retailers, whether it’s for a date, business meeting or any other event. They book online and go to the store location. We do not offer the same services as Glamsquad, who brings freelance artists to customers’ homes. There’s plenty of apps in the market doing that and we wanted to build something new for women. Glamsquad takes a bit more planning since you have to organize the location where the service will happen and you need to communicate the logistics with your artist beforehand. Blushup is a quicker service, perfect for the busy woman with little time to plan and get ready. You book in 3 easy steps from your mobile phone or desktop and stop by the store for your appointment.
Blushup customers also know what beauty products their artist will use since they get to pick the brands for their appointments. Glamsquad artists bring their own products and customers don’t know until the artist arrives which brands they will use. In general, I would recommend Glamsquad for big wedding events at remote locations. Blushup is more for an everyday, any type-of-event service.
ELS: What inspired you to start Blushup when you did? Do you think it’s a good time for female entrepreneurs in the beauty industry?
MS: I had worked with startups for a few years before starting Blushup and I’ve always admired entrepreneurs. I never thought I would be an entrepreneur, unless one day I had a really really great idea that I believed in 200%. That day came all of a sudden when I tried to book a makeup appointment in NYC in 2016 and I realized how frustrating the beauty retail booking experience was. I spent all day searching for beauty retailers, prices, reviews, and it was a hassle to reach these beauty counters by phone. I spoke to hundreds of women and beauty retailers and it was clear that there was a big demand to have an online marketplace for the $56B beauty retail market.
I think the overall market has realized that female entrepreneurs are underrepresented, which is a great moment for women starting off their businesses. Women in particular are helping other women, investing in other women and female focused investments are on the rise. Nevertheless, this whole movement has just begun and there’s still a lot of biases to be broken in order to raise the 2% of funding that went to females. It’s really hard to be an entrepreneur, it’s even harder for women to be entrepreneurs, but the beauty market is in the midst of a boom and now is the best time for female entrepreneurs to enter this market.
ELS: It’s hard out there for retail. Lord & Taylor, for example, will close its flagship store in NYC after the holidays. Do you see these closings as a challenge or a potential opportunity for Blushup in the future?
We are sad to lose Lord & Taylor from our platform, however WeWork has announced that it will create a new space for retail at that location. I believe this will be an even bigger opportunity for Blushup. For every store closure there are 4 opening in the beauty space. Last year there were 5,100 beauty retail store openings and due to up-and-coming beauty brands the projections are showing a strong growth in independent beauty store openings. Beauty pop-up stores are also on the rise and we plan to include them in our platform really soon.
Beauty is different from other retail categories because women can’t just buy makeup online. They need to try it on at the store especially for new product launches, therefore I don’t see store closures as a threat to the beauty market. If department stores close, beauty brands will have to open their own stores or search for new retailers to sell their products. This is all a big opportunity for Blushup.
ELS: Where do you want Blushup to be, say 3 to 5 years from now? What are your expansion plans?
MS: Our vision for Blushup is to give women all over the world quick and easy access to all beauty counters. Five years from now, we want the woman who’s traveling for a business meeting or a wedding from New York to Dubai to be able to log into our app and book her makeup appointment with her favorite beauty brand without a hassle. We want Blushup to give access to beauty services at airports, department stores, independent stores, small and big cities. In the short term we will be expanding to 300 new locations covering Long Island, Westchester, some parts of upstate NY and New Jersey.
ELS: If you could give one piece of advice to budding entrepreneurs out there, what would it be?
MS: Starting a company is really hard for all of us. There are so many pieces of the puzzle that need to be put together and it’s really important to build a close network of people who have gone through similar situations that you can be real with. It really helps to talk to other entrepreneurs, ask them how they overcome challenges, be honest with them and ask for help when you need it. Having a strong network of support is crucial especially if you are a solo founder.
If you are interested in discovering and booking beauty services in NYC (for free!) with the best makeup brands, visit the Blushup website. You can also follow them across social media on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, & Twitter.