Meet the Chicago Entrepreneur Behind The Beauty App, LISA

There’s a lot that goes into getting ready for an event. And by event, I mean there’s a lot that goes into getting ready for a week. Is your hair done? Did your gel manicure start to peel?

The more that I attend parties and grow in my marketing and blogging career, the more I realize that it takes makeup and maybe a straightener to get good photos – not just Snapchat filters. And most of all, putting on your best face and looking good not only presents a better image for you and your brand, it also makes you feel more confident.

One platform that is here to help is the LISA App, the first open marketplace mobile application that connects clients to artists in the beauty industry by allowing them to schedule high-quality personal services whenever and wherever they want them, at a price that suits their budget. I had heard of the LISA App from The Tape Play’s launch party and from Chicagogrammers first birthday party and then at the Chicago Yelp Drink and Learn event at Workspring. 

After meeting some of their stylists and having my own hair and makeup done by some of the beauticians through the LISA App, I reached out to the founder, Lisa Nation to learn what inspired her to start this beauty on demand business, the apps that help her streamline her business and some of her secrets to B2B (business to business) success.

How did you get the idea for your business?

It was my husband’s idea, he had that ah ha moment driving to work one day. I’ve been a licensed hairstylist for over 23 years but for the past 17 years I have worked independently due to the commission split salons take from each service provided. When he explained his early concept, I jumped in head first and started to build out the infrastructure from the Artist’s perspective.

How long did you sit on the idea before taking steps to make it a reality?

September 24th, 2014 was when we hashed out the primitive idea, three days later he quit his job and we were off to the races.  We raised our first $100,000 in 2 days with just the concept of LISA, although the app was nameless at the time.

What were some of the steps that you took to create your business? Did you survey people? Did you seek out investors? Did you start solo?

Neither us knew one bit how to build an app, but, we are both resourceful. We strategically put the right people together and started whiteboarding. Once we felt we were in a good spot we held an investor presentation for 60 potential investors. We raised 1mm within 24 hours.

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Lisa Nation, Founder of The Lisa App.

How did you attracts stylists and beauticians?

At LISA we believe that anyone who can use scissors, a brush, chemicals or nimble fingers and make someone look and feel good deserves to be coined an Artist.

How do you build a platform for a community that doesn’t even realize a disruption is needed?

You have to listen to the people who live it everyday, what are their struggles, what would they like to see changed. That’s why LISA is a company that was built by the Artists for the Artists.

Before we began development, we invited 30 Artists to a summer camp in Florida. For 5 days 30 strangers came together to tell us what they would need if an app were built for them. We listened! You cannot build something if the people who are going to use it do not believe in it.

Can you tell me more about your business and the services you offer?

LISA is the first ever, true, open marketplace in the beauty industry that connects consumers and Artists in real time. LISA’s #1 focus is the B2B marketplace. LISA helps over 100 corporations supply beauty and wellness perks to their hardworking employees. LISA has designed software to assist these corporations to make it user-friendly for not only the back office (HR, Benefit Directors) but also for the employees to easily book in office services via the app. As we continue to grow our B2B efforts we will slowly start to promote the B2C marketplace in order for the employees to bring these services home with them.

Where’s your favorite part of getting ready for an event – makeup/hair/nails?

That’s a tough question to answer, I spend so much time making other people look and feel good, I rarely take the time or enjoy getting myself ready. If I had to choose, it would be hair.

What’s the hardest part of owning your own business?

Accountability. No one cares more about your business than you.

How do you distinguish yourself from competitors?

The goal is not to be first and best, the goal is to be early and better. We studied all of our competition and simply did it better. We learned from their mistakes and created features that they did not have, ie; open-marketplace, B2B strategy and all around Artist functionality.

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Do you use any apps to manage your business? If so, what are your favorites?

MailChimp, I use it to view report. Grammarly. Email tracker pro (I’m always watching to see who has opened my emails), Trello; this is how our team shares updates and stay organized and Zapier, I get a notification every time a consumer requests an Artist for a service.

What, do you find, is the hardest part of starting a business?

Prioritizing. Staying with your mission. There is such a temptation to sway from your original concept. DON’T. It will cause you to lose focus.

How do you network as an entrepreneur? Do you use LinkedIn? Do you send emails? Do you go to events?

It’s all about networking. I have joined many groups that inspire me and help me grow as an entrepreneur. I go to and participate in as many events as I possibly can. (get some networking tips here)

Sometimes I’m so tired, I don’t want to go, but I know I have to because it takes only one person and a 3-minute conversation to open a new door for you and you never know who that may be.

Since we are heavily focused on B2B, I’m on LinkedIn more than I am on FB or Instagram. LinkedIn is a terrific resource to learn about companies and the people who work there. Most of my business is email. One thing I have learned through this process is though is to avoid emailing Monday’s and Friday’s.

Windy City Cosmo experienced this first hand and was part of the LISA app’s promo video with Tape Play. (see video below).

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The Cycles of Beauty

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Remember that 30 Rock episode where Liz Lemon’s boyfriend, Dennis, reminded her that “technology is cyclical?” While bringing back Motorola’s is obviously a terrifying prospect, there’s definitely “cycles” in beauty and fashion. Consider that weird 60s revival we had in the early 2000s or the 90s influences that are starting to trickle in now. To some degree, we all ride the waves of fashion and beauty trends.

Even plastic surgery isn’t immune. As this article in New Beauty points out, we’re in the midst of something of a sea change in the field. As celebrities and the general public gradually become more open about having plastic surgery, the aesthetic trends guiding surgeons around the world are changing, too. A new emphasis on creating natural-looking results via improving proportions and embracing the individual is here, and it’s making a lot of people reconsider their long-held opinions about plastic surgery.

Let’s start with the matter of efficiency. Plastic surgery is no longer associated with long recovery periods, hyper-bandaged heads, and tight, unnatural contours. Aesthetics are big business, and new techniques and technologies are emerging quickly to meet the demands of savvy consumers. More refined surgical techniques reduce the need for a long recovery time. According to the website of Northbrook, IL plastic surgeon Dr. Mark Sisco, breast augmentation patients can count on being back in the office after only a few days.

Closeup of a smiling model wearing a large ring. Most focus is on hand.

 

Injectable fillers are another good example of the rise in efficiency. In the past, patients who had injectable treatments could count on results that lasted for a few months or so. But just this year, the FDA approved a new filler from Allergan (maker of BOTOX® and JUVÉDERM®) with results that are purported to last up to 18 months. We’re always looking for ways to do things better, faster, and with less effort, and beauty is certainly no exception.

The “look” is different too, which is most exciting to me. Today, we can look back on the trend of overly made-up, uniform faces — the models in the Addicted to Love music video are probably the best example of this trend — and laugh from a distance. Today the emphasis is on the individual, celebrating diversity in ethnicity, gender, and identity at every turn. In the makeup world, the focus is on fun and experimentation, while plastic surgeons report a demand for “natural-looking” teardrop-shaped breast implants in conservative sizes.

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This all makes me wonder who’s guiding these changes -is it us or them? Do marketers, developers, and researchers answer our call, or do we build our tastes based on what’s given to us? I want to hear what you think about this topic, and I want to know what you think the next beauty trend will be. Will there be a backlash to our present worship of natural individuality? Or have we turned a completely new corner, never to return to our old ways?

This post was written by health and beauty author, Emmy Owens.

 

 

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How White Should Your Teeth Be?

Oh, my goodness her teeth are so white!

I wonder this every time I look at a contestant on The Bachelor.

Whether your teeth are crooked or not white enough, there are always ways to fix a beauty insecurity and ways to go overboard making ourselves beautiful.

Your mouth is so important and smiling is so important.

In honor of smiling more and feeling more confident, I’ve talked with Dr. Timothy Chase, Cosmetic Dentist and Practicing Partner at SmilesNY, to learn about the safe ways to a healthier, whiter smile.

 

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Dr. Timothy Chase teaches you how to safely get a whiter smile. Photo Credit: Dr. Timothy Chase

The good news is that bleaching your teeth is safe. Colgate approves of this message and so does Dr. Chase.

“Whitening is very safe, and I agree with Colgate if it’s done properly there are no risks,” said Dr. Chase.

It’s safe to whiten your teeth and anyone can whiten their teeth.

Dr. Chase recommends cleaning your teeth and making a dentist appoint to make sure you don’t have cavities and that you do have healthy gums. Taking proper care of your teeth will help you be healthier and have whiter teeth.

But you want to make sure you aren’t whitening your teeth to mask health issues. Health comes before beauty with teeth whitening.

There are a few options to teeth whitening, which include:

  • teeth whitening strips
  • teeth whitening toothpaste
  • home remedies
  • professional teeth whitening services

Dentist Recommended At-Home Teeth Whitening:

There are a few formulas that naturally whiten teeth according to Everday Roots, like  a baking soda and lemon juice paste.

Oil pulling has also become recently popular, an act of swishing coconut oil in your mouth for twenty minutes and spitting it out.

“If you’re opting for an at-home kit, I recommend Crest White Strips,” said Dr. Chase, “Using peroxide, which is contained in the kits…is the only proven way to really whiten your teeth.”

When you are using kits keep in mind three signs of over whitening:

  1. Sensitive teeth, especially to cold
  2. Inflamed or bleeding gums
  3. Teeth that look blue or see through along the edge

In the past, I have tried oil pulling and felt that my teeth were healthier, not necessarily whiter.

My teeth become noticeably whiter when I use Crest whitening mouthwash twice a day and combine it with Crest 3D whitening toothpaste.

I will be trying a popular European teeth whitening product, Black is White whitening toothpaste. Stay tuned for the update on that experiment.

Professional Teeth Whitening:

Being professionally beautified feels very Kardashian to me, but I agree that we have the right and some have the privilege to enhance our beauty and transform our insecurities.

Dr. Chase explains the benefits of a professional teeth whitening service, which is both a faster approach and more effective teeth whitening method.

“Your dentist is able to whiten teeth faster because we can cover your lips and gums and use a stronger whitening agent,” said Dr. Chase.

Professional teeth whitening takes an hour and the procedure only needs to be done once a year at most.

“I always recommend Zoom! If you are choosing a professional whitening treatment,” said Dr. Chase.

Your dentist will also have specific recommendations for you based on the health of your teeth and gums.

Teeth Whitening: Health Before Beauty:

The important thing to remember is that health comes before beauty. Once you are healthy and properly taking care of your teeth (flossing, brushing, and using mouthwash), then you can enhance your teeth through a teeth whitening method.

 

Cheers to smiling more.

 

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In the Know: Awesome Moments For Women in Chicago

This past week was a great week for women in Chicago and in America.

And yes, progress takes time, and there are a lot of feminists and activists who help to advance women in the workplace every day. These women and men create better self-esteem in women by doing things like challenge women’s beauty standards. They create opportunities for women when they didn’t know there were obstacles.

There’s something about this past week that made me want to stand up and give women in Chicago and in the world a round of applause. And so, I want to share with you the highlights of women’s progression last week.

 

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Credit: via GIPHY

We Can Stop Talking About Women’s Bodies:

Okay. I guess we will always talk about women’s bodies because they are so different. And that’s it. We finally recognized through the gatekeeper of beauty standards herself, Barbie, that women’s bodies are different. And not one of the templates for a women’s figure is pure perfection.

Women’s bodies are always going to be a sensitive topic. In the cover story for Time, an exec for Mattel, the brand that makes Barbie dolls, divulged, “It even took months to decide on the terms tall, petite, and curvy, and figure out how to translate those terms into different languages without offending people.”

I think that women, Millennial moms, who Mattel is now targeting, are concerned about promoting positive body images. It’s true that as you get older, you care more about your health than your beauty. But, I think that we are owning are beauty and our health by giving women and our future kids more realistic role models. Dove did it. Now, Barbie’s joining in.

The new Barbie dolls are on sale online only at Barbie.com, but will be on shelves this spring.

1871 Celebrates Women in Technology with WiSTEM:

1871 has always been a spot for developing new ideas that build community. Lately, they have spotlighted women. In fact, 1871 made this statement on its website:

“For a whole host of reasons, 1871 believes Chicago is the best place in the country for women entrepreneurs to start a business.”

Their first step was bringing in Nicole Yeary from Ms. Tech, a global women’s networking group that helps business women do tech and tech women do business.

More recently, they introduced a new, first of its kind program, WiSTEM, which fosters opportunities for women in technology entrepreneurs by giving them access to capital, technology, and community.

The WiSTEM program includes 13 women founders who will facilitate a 12-week program that includes weekly educational courses and access to female and male mentors and investors, said 1871 COO Tom Alexander, The Chicago Tribune reported.

The program is part of Google for Entrepreneurs’ #40Forward initiative, and is also supported by the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, Motorola Mobility Foundation, and AT&T.

WiSTEM had its first event, the WiSTEM showcase on January 25, 2016, which included female founders of the following startups:

  • mRelief simplifies the qualifying process for social programs by quickly showing people if they are eligible or not, and recently unveiled a text messaging feature that makes the food stamp screening process even easier.
  • Pay Your Selfie brings brands and consumers together using selfies. It creates a performance-based mobile marketing platform for advertisers, and it pays users cash for selfies, turning their social currency into real currency.
  • iTravel Benefits is a shared, elective benefit that rewards employees who save for personal travel by providing a company match.
  • PartySlate is a digital platform designed for party hosts and event professionals.

Spring courses for WiSTEM are currently closed for the 17-week program from March 7, 2016 – June 30, 2016. For more information about mentoring or applying for future WiSTEM programs, visit the 1871 WiSTEM website.

Women Gave Themselves Credit:

My last piece of news comes from Chicago’s very own success story, Ms. Shonda Rhimes, the mastermind behind ABC’s TV series, Scandal. In her acceptance speech for the Producers Guild’s Norman Lear Award for Achievement in Television on January 23, 2016, Rhimes said something bold, something dare I say, no one says when they accept an award. And I completely love her for it.

“I’m going to be totally honest with you, I completely deserve this. I have against the odds, courageously pioneered the art of writing for people of color as if they were human beings. I’ve bravely gone around just casting parts for actors who were the best ones. I fearlessly faced down ABC when they completely agreed with me that Olivia Pope should be black. And I raised my sword heroically and then put it down again when Paul Lee never fought me about any of my storytelling choices.”

Rhimes is known for pushing the limits and for putting hard issues in America before our eyes, pressing us to think about them and not cover them up. And, by no means does she not have fears. She just spoke on Ellen DeGeneres about how in 2015, she decided to face her fears. She’s one of my role models (sorry Barbie) because she is human, she does have fears and flaws and she can’t fix everything like Olivia Pope, but she’s not afraid of helping us talk about things like:

  • Do I want Olivia Pope to sleep with the President of the United States?
  • Do I think it’s okay that Ms. Pope had an abortion without telling the father?
  • Do I think police officers are racist?

Rhimes does life differently and makes her viewers think of life differently. I don’t agree with everything she does, but I am proud that she brings women’s issues and moral issues and race issues to us like presents we cannot wait to open instead of problems we don’t know how to solve. To be honest, I think she deserved the award, too, and it makes me happier to know that she knows it as well.

 

 

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