For English senior Bridgette Bilson, traveling to Houston used to be more than just a trip home. She had get her hair done back home in order to avoid the overpriced and unexperienced salons in Austin.
After realizing many of her friends were just as inconvenienced, Bilson came up with a solution. She created an app that allows college students, specifically women of color, to find affordable stylists in their area. Eseoghene Igbru, electrical engineering and math senior, contacted Bilson about the idea, and the two worked together to create Goddessinme, which will be released Friday, Feb. 22.
“Going through that experience and knowing how tedious it is really helped me to see who I wanted to help and how I wanted to change the playing field,” Bilson said.
The app is open to stylists of all ages, including those in college. To ensure low prices, they personally review each stylist’s listing and request a price change if they feel it’s too expensive.
“We don’t want someone who’s going to charge our clients too much,” Igbru said. “Our target market is college students. We don’t want them not being able to pay for their hair.”
For services such as braids or crochet, Igbru said prices can be upwards of $200 at professional salons but even finding a salon that caters to kinkier, coarser hair is a challenge.
“I really wanted to make sure my focus was on helping the right community, who is having a difficult time with this,” Bilson said.
Goddessinme will allow customers to view stylists’ profiles and determine if they want to book their services, Bilson said. In addition, Igbru said the app will help promote stylists looking for clients, an issue she as a stylist has faced in the past.
Biochemistry senior Victoria Uche is a stylist and plans to use the app upon release in order to find clients and connect with other stylists.
“If you go through the app and see a stylist that can do a hairstyle you can’t, it’s a good way to learn from them,” Uche said.
Another aspect of the app meant to benefit stylists is the lack of a rating or ranking system. In order to showcase talent, the platform will allow stylists to find a comfortable and equalizing environment away from social media sites overshadowing stylists with smaller followings.
Any concerns with stylists or the app itself will be directed to Bilson and Igbru, who said they will respond within 24 hours.
“We’re expecting some mishaps, it’s a new app, “ Bilson said. “We’re here to get feedback. We want to make sure the experience is worth while for (users).”
The plan is to expand to including men and makeup artists after gauging the response, Igbru said.
“We’re starting here, and then we can then start adding in the extra stuff,” Igbru said. “(We want) to bring your goddess out in whatever section that might be.”
If the app becomes large enough, moving outside of Texas may also be an option, Bilson said.
“We want to expand to different states as well,” Bilson said. “There are tons of people who are looking to bring out the goddesses in themselves.”