Husband and wife team Roshan Mahanama and Subhaga Amarasekara co-founded Flayr, an online, at-home beauty marketplace that connects Australian women with professional make-up and hair artists, three years ago.

They now have more than 800 stylists servicing thousands of beauty customers nation-wide and have turned over $1 million from bookings since launching.

Subhaga shares her journey with PB.

Tell us how Flayr began?
“Flayr was started to help my mother-in-law, as she is a trained makeup artist and hairstylist. She is passionate, talented and works really hard, so we would help her with her quotes, reminder emails, would drive her around and even attend appointments so we could understand the difficulties of running her own business. We started with four stylists in Sydney and used our own funds to grow the business.”

Tell us how you have grown the business since its inception?
“We were lucky and fortunate enough that the first few stylists that we had on board delivered a great customer experience and it just rolled on from that. We started in Sydney before soon expanding to Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, bootstrapping the business with our own funds. We then got funded by Sydney Angels, the Sydney Angels sidecar fund and private investors to help increase expansion. We now have over 800 makeup artists and stylists registered and over 3437 verified customer reviews through the platform.”

How do professional makeup artists and stylists get on your books?
“You can sign up online through our website. We then review and vet your application and will contact the applicant within two to three business days. We provide free leads to professional artists and stylists, targeted notifications and the ability to set your own prices and travel range. There’s no joining fee or monthly fees.”

Which areas of Australia do you cover?
“Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and some regional towns around Australia as well.”

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
“We don’t do a good job in managing work/life balance, because is there such a thing in a start-up? Our days are crazy and long, but we love what we are doing, so we are happy to put in the hours and we both stretch ourselves.”

How is the beauty industry changing?
“Increasingly, more and more women are celebrating and owning their own version of what they believe is beautiful. Almost 40 percent of Flayr customers specifically request a natural look to accentuate their own features. The most successful stylists have a very inclusive portfolio of photos, covering women from all different age groups, face shapes and ethnicities.”

Tell us about a business struggle and how you overcame it?
“When we first launched, we were extremely price competitive and had one standard price point, but after discussions with various makeup artists and hairstylists, stylists can now set their own prices and travel range. We are in a constant process of consultation with stylists to improve features for professional artists and stylists, which in turn allows us to deliver a better customer experience.”

What have been some of the highlights with Flayr?
“Passing 1000 reviews, then 2000, and we’ve now passed 3500 verified customer reviews . To put that in perspective, that’s more verified customer reviews than all the other Australian beauty platforms combined.”

Italian hair and makeup artist Pamela Lucarini joined Flayr in August 2017 after moving to Australia. She shares her experiences so far.

Tell us about your experience so far?
“I love it. It has allowed me to make makeup my full time job. I get to meet so many different clients and it’s always for a special occasion so all of my clients usually are in a really good mood – so it’s been really fun.”

How are you different from other hair and makeup artists on Flayr?
“I love my job and I like to be creative. I also like to talk to all the clients, try to suggest looks but also listen to what they want. So much of my job is capturing the client’s personal taste and making her feel comfortable and beautiful.”

Who is your typical clientele that book you?
“I have quite a varied clientele of women, who want a mixture of natural and full glam looks. The majority of my clients are attending weddings, however I also get a lot of clients going to formals and other special events.”

What beauty services do you offer?
“I offer makeup and hair styling, both down styles and up styles.”

What are the most popular bookings you get?
“The most popular are makeup and hair styling bookings are for wedding guests, but you definitely get other types of events as well. For example, I had the pleasure of doing Pip Edwards makeup for the AACTA awards which was great fun.”

What are some of the challenges using Flayr?
“Flayr lets you set your prices and travel range, so at first, I found it hard to work out what was the correct pricing to set to be competitive and what I should put as my travel range. Once you’ve set up your prices and travel range correctly, then it’s easy to get bookings.”

What professional beauty brands do you use?
“Make Up Forever, Mac, Kryolan, Beneye, Sephora, Morphe and many, many more.”

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