Stephanie Sta Maria from Woman With Drive interviewed LUXit founder Fabiola on all things entrepreneurial and LUXit (obviously), read the full spread here.
Fabiola Gomez has lived many past professional lives. After running her own law firm for eight years, she transitioned into the fashion world to work with designer Camilla Franks and then returned to entrepreneurship with Aysana, a tanning product. It was this last move that led to her latest career step, which has disrupted the beauty industry.
In March this year, Fabiola officially launched LUXit, a web platform and app that allows women to book appointments with beauty professionals in advance or on demand, and most importantly, receive that service in their home, office or hotel.
The Australian hairdressing and beauty services industry, according to IBISWorld, has seen an annual growth of 2.2 per cent and is forecasted to generate $5 billion in revenue this year.
With 230 beauty professionals on board and 200 completed jobs at a 100 per cent success rate, LUXit has very quickly established itself as a formidable industry player and a game-changer.
“It was not rocket science,” Fabiola laughed. “Many women are time poor and limited to the trading hours of salons. This is another way of bringing the salon to wherever they are and whenever they want it.”
“Right now we are in the majority eastern and northern Sydney suburbs. Our next pit stops are Melbourne and Perth. There are exciting times ahead of us!”
What were the little dots that eventually connected to create LUXit?
During my time as a corporate lawyer, I would leave the office very late when no salon was open. I always thought, gosh if only someone could come to me, that would be life changing. With Camilla, I worked with makeup artists who would come to wherever the shoot was held. And when I was running Asyana, I found myself connecting friends and family to my spray tanners. I remember thinking there had to be a smarter way of doing all this. And then it suddenly hit me.
How is the LUXit app different from the website?
The app offers three services – spray tan, blow-dry and makeup – that are available on demand.
The website allows you to pre-book these three services plus facials and massages.
Our hair and makeup package has the highest demand at the moment. There were some busy Fridays last month where groups of girls wanted to get their hair and makeup done in their office for a night out. Then there were the Year 12 formals. We have also started receiving more requests from brides.
What was the beauty industry’s response to LUXit?
Many of my partners (the beauty professionals) are very grateful because LUXit gives them another income channel. Even salon owners have thanked me because they used to have very quiet midweek nights where their staff was just standing around. And now they can turn on the app to see if there is a job in the area. It is about catching up with the times and making everyone’s life easier.
Did you have any teething problems?
About a million? But I did not see them as problems. I love the challenge. The minimal viable product was is the first version of the app. My main aim was to deliver what would be enough to get it going without overkilling or underselling it. And from a technology point of view, we were not reinventing anything.
The other challenge was getting people used to having the professionals coming to their private space and establishing that trust. Otherwise, I have been blessed to not have had any big setbacks.
You are known to have very strict criteria for your partners. What are the non-negotiables?
Obviously the qualifications. They need to have the right qualifications and not just have done some short course, although I am in no way putting down short courses. I want people who live and breathe the professional lifestyle, and who are passionate about what they do.
Passion for me is critical, and I personally interview all my partners to make sure they have the right energy and synergy. We also do a police check so our customers feel comfortable welcoming a stranger into their personal space. And we also make sure every one of our partners has insurance. Believe it or not, this is still new to the industry.
Are you still on track to launch LUXit in Melbourne in time for spring racing season?
Yes, we will be in Melbourne by October. Sydneysiders travel to Melbourne for the races and tend to spend a little more on their hair and makeup, and getting a spray tan. We already have bookings from our Sydney customers for the dates they will be in Melbourne.
What have you learnt from running a start-up?
That it is a marathon but you have to keep sprinting. You can never call it a day and celebrate. It is on going. If you are ready to launch a start-up, then be ready – emotionally, physically and mentally because it consumes every second.
And because it is a start-up, there is no history to fall back on or use as a point of reference. So you have to be mentally strong. You can have all the ideas in the world but if you are not taking action, then what is the point?