Meet the Founders Helping Hairstylists and Nail Techs Grow Their Businesses Up to 200% (!) – AOL

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Before I moved to New York City and started seeing hairstylists on the reg for my job, I was very loyal to my Chicago colorist (hi, Krystal, ILY!). She was responsible for years’ worth of blonde highlights, bob haircuts, hair extensions, and even a short stint with strawberry-blonde hair color. So obviously, I urged all my besties to start getting their hair done by my beloved master of color…but drama ensued. Making appointments required long DM chains (some of which were never answered; Krystal is busy AF), payments weren’t automated, and info wasn’t stored to streamline everything in the future. She was a one-woman show though—how could she possibly have time to be a website developer, customer service rep, accountant, and hairstylist extraordinaire?
This is a common struggle for beauty service providers like nail technicians, makeup artists, and tattoo artists alike, which is exactly what led to the launch of Gloss Genius, a software for salons and spas to streamline their business processes. Cofounded by CEO Danielle Cohen-Shohet alongside her twin sister and chief business officer Leah Cohen-Shohet, Gloss Genius is legit changing the game for small beauty businesses with what they call a “business in a box” type service.
I recently got the opportunity to chat with Danielle and Leah about all things Gloss Genius, including why they started it, how business owners and their clients can both benefit from using the platform, and how they’re helping small beauty businesses really take off. Read on for the full interview:
Danielle Cohen-Shohet: I love design and art and I’ve always been drawn to makeup artistry. When I was in college at Princeton, there was always an event for everything, and I started a side hustle as a makeup artist. I saw some of the pain points of running a business firsthand and realized that the right technology could fix a lot of those issues.

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DCS: Basically, we power the back offices of independently owned salons and spas. These business owners have a lot of critical pain points: scattered systems along with manual administrative work across booking, payments, marketing, expenses, client management, and more. All of these things existing in a scattered space actually keeps business owners from starting or even running and growing a successful business. We’re creating a gateway for entrepreneurship and success for business owners here because of how difficult it is to run a small business from a logistics point of view.
Leah Cohen-Shohet: All of these pain points lead to a lack of control of their own client experience or their brand identity, which is so important in this industry for building those relationships with clients.
Then, overall, this lack of a holistic approach for them really means that a small business then can’t get any bigger. So when you combine those three things together, we were like, “Okay, there needs to be a better platform and approach for this.” All of these themes—from empowering these independent businesses, enabling more self-expression of their own businesses and their craft as well as what their clients desire, and the power of all these vertical workflows and automation inside of a platform—come together to create now a seismic shift in what we can deliver for the industry.
LCS: For every professional, their time is their money. So when they’re not spending time working with clients and developing new techniques and instead are bogged down by manual stuff in the back office, they’re not monetizing their time. Depending on where they are in their business journey, Gloss Genius helps save business owners’ time by setting up their website, working on a custom booking flow for clients, setting up all of the automatic reminders and notifications, building a client relationship management system and a checkout flow to better piece together parts of the checkout experience for clients, and more.
It’s like a “business in a box.” It really spans the gamut: booking, calendar, branding, payments, checkout, expense management reports, analytics, and inventory management. As Danielle mentioned, everything a business would need to really take the next step and grow and succeed is in their Gloss Genius application.
DCS: They’re taken through this concierge onboarding process, which is really helpful for leveling access to technology and democratizing how functional technology can be for business owners who might not necessarily be super tech-savvy. Depending on where they are in the journey of starting, running, or growing a business, they will basically pick up different tools inside the ecosystem we built and can become better business owners using Gloss Genius. It’s all super customizable.

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DCS: There are some complex shifts that were happening in the beauty and wellness space before we launched, and I think Gloss Genius is right at the center of all of them. It’s exciting to see how the industry has been developing over the past several years and has been accelerated by the pandemic. I think 5 or 10 years ago, we wouldn’t have seen the level of creativity we do now because of Instagram and TikTok. Now, there’s a way for clients and business owners to get to new heights, discover innovations, and create even cooler things.
But this also means providers are running a much bigger operation, meaning the notion of a small business becomes much bigger, which I think our technology is perfectly suited to power.
DCS: To date, we serve about 50,000 businesses, which comes to about 16 million clients and probably over about 2 billion or so in activity. Customer response has been extremely exciting, particularly given that beauty business owners traditionally haven’t really been that excited about technology. I think it really indicates that we’re helping them and we’re really serving a need for them.
LCS: When people start using the software, they start to remark about how their client experience is really different. So their clients will then come to them and say things like, “Oh my god, the booking experience was so much better. Everything is so much better run, I feel like I’m concierged all the way through your service and your appointments.”
Before, if you were booking online, you had to, as a customer, log in to a really clunky application with log-ins and sign-ups and passwords and all that other stuff. So it’s often a surprise when they’re like, “Oh, our customer or client experience has gotten so much better.”
DCS: Clients now find it easier than ever to interact with businesses, whether that’s being able to make bookings directly from Instagram and social media platforms like Facebook, which we enabled through Gloss Genius.
LCS: As soon as you book your appointment, you get reminders and updates. And when you’re done with your appointment, you have the ability to rebook and get something in the calendar a couple of months out. That whole loop for the client is so much better now with the business owner.
LCS: We’ve seen our business owners really grow with Gloss Genius. When they start on Gloss Genius, they’re growing by 25 to 200 percent—which is really exciting.
Plus, close to 70 percent of these businesses are run by females. And then within that, there’s a huge spectrum of diversity in there, with BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ founders. Having a platform that caters to self-expression and the needs of an individual business at scale is really powerful and elevates these businesses to succeed. That’s something that really gets us going.
DCS: We’re leveling the playing field for small-business owners. Big companies traditionally have had access to a lot of resources. We can use technology to democratize entrepreneurship, so now anyone can start and run their own business in the industry. I like to really say that we’re helping small, local businesses run big operations.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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