2017 SEP Competition Profile - First Place
When Carrisa Anderson interned at JPMorgan Chase last summer, she wanted to look her best. Yet she quickly learned she wasn’t alone in her struggle to find a new hairstylist.
“I met one of my future co-founders while interning, who also was a person of color, and he told me how he had an issue finding a stylist and barber,” says Anderson, a senior studying marketing at Hofstra University. “I had the same exact issue of finding somebody to do braids and different hairstyles. So we came together and formed a team to bring the vision of Flare to life.”
Currently in development, Flare is an online platform that connects people of color with barbers and stylists in their area. Users send a “flare” comprised of location, price range, and desired style or cut, and receive a list of local stylists that suit their needs. Users are then able to choose their preferred stylist, book and pay for their appointment, and leave reviews after their service.
“We make it easy for people of color who are seeking various styles like braids, weaves, and dreads, many styles that people of color usually seek,” says Anderson. “We make it really easy for them to connect with stylists and barbers and we make it easy for stylists and barbers to increase their clientele.”
Stylists are drawn to the platform both for its affordability and efficiency. For a low monthly cost, Flare is a scheduling system, payment tool, and a way to connect with new clients.
Anderson learned about WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program (SEP) through Hofstra University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and immediately knew it was something she wanted to do.
“As soon as I found out about it I was just ecstatic,” says Anderson. “It’s something that I thought would really help me further develop my entrepreneurial skills and expand my network and I’m always up for learning. When I heard back I was so happy and after experiencing the program I’m just forever grateful for the opportunity given by WBENC to connect me with some lifelong friends.”
Two of the most beneficial connections Anderson made through SEP were with her mentors Kelly Myers, Social Employee Advocacy Program Manager and Senior Global Branding Project Manager of Ericsson, and Teresa Lawrence, President and Owner of Delta Personnel.
“It was so beneficial to have business women take you under your wing and truly just help you find ways you can continue to scale your business and help you in any way possible,” says Anderson. “Every question I had they were able to connect me with other people who could help me. That was truly amazing.”
Her two mentors played a pivotal role in perfecting Anderson’s pitch and helping differentiate Flare from her competitors. Anderson learned the importance of continually reinventing her business to fit her niche. Amidst numerous review platforms, Flare focuses on the two-way relationship between the stylist and user in solving accessibility problems for both.
Despite practicing all night with her roommate, Anderson was a nervous wreck before pitch day. She couldn’t eat or sleep in anticipation of delivering her 90-second pitch to the judges.
“I was nervous, but as soon as I had the microphone in my hand and I got on stage, my nerves went away and I became so comfortable,” says Anderson. “It was just all about me telling my story and I’m happy I was able to convey that story clearly to the judges and they liked it, which was a dream come true.”
Anderson plans on using the prize money to continue to scale Flare and refine their marketing strategy before a launch date in the fall of 2017. As she prepares to launch Flare, Anderson credits WBENC in helping her reach this moment.
“It was such an amazing opportunity, I am so grateful to have flown out to Las Vegas and connect with women from around the world,” says Anderson. “It was a great experience and I am definitely going to recommend it to other women entrepreneurs to take advantage of this wonderful experience. It was truly once in a lifetime experience and a highlight of 2017.”