When Haifa Addas was unable to find a platform where beauty and hair professionals were rated, she decided to create her own
That’s when she realised there is a need for a service that connects beauty providers with global customers. Being a beauty guru who grew up between various countries including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, France and Canada, Addas decided she had the credentials (and funding) to launch the platform herself, and UAE-based InstaGlam was finally born.
Are there too many similar beauty concepts in the market? Do you find the space to be saturated?
There are a few concepts which are similar to InstaGlam that are starting to emerge, but the market is still in its infancy. Plus, competition is a good thing. It shows proof of concept and market demand. Ultimately, in the app world, what makes you stand out is your perseverance and your ability to grow and perfect your product. This is actually very exciting and motivating for an entrepreneur and is what keeps me going.
What are some of the biggest challenges you faced when setting up the company?
The biggest was finding the right app developer. Particularly for a concept like InstaGlam, where our app is the face of the brand and the platform through which we will connect with the majority of our customers and beauty professionals, finding a developer that would enhance the customer experience was quintessential to our goals. But many incubators and mentors are willing to offer guidance and help. There are also plenty of government and accelerator programmes that you can apply for. You just have to know where to look.
What are some issues in the regional services market that need to be tackled?
Value for money and consistency are recurring themes across the services sector in the region, and particularly in the beauty industry. Customers may be looking to splurge on an indulgent beauty service, or engage in a routine beauty ritual. But ultimately what they strive for is consistent quality. It is vital to keep in mind that what customers are looking for may vary from occasion to occasion and person to person, but what keeps them coming back is consistency of quality.
I’d encourage all entrepreneurs to be mindful of early cost rendunancies”
If you could change one thing about the beauty services sector here, what would it be?
The divide between what is advertised and what is delivered, at times, is too big and needs to be addressed. This goes back to the importance of reliable service, consistency and professionalism.
Were you ever afraid to launch your own business?
I was petrified initially, in particular with the current sentiment in the market. But I so firmly believe in the concept that beauty is a basic need and people will continue to attend events, get married, and celebrate life, that I knew it was a risk worth taking.
What scares you about entrepreneurship?
Losing sight of the reason why we started all of this and the heart of the business. I am mindful of getting caught up in the day-to-day running of the business and regularly remind myself that our main goal is to make first-rate beauty services accessible to everyone. On a personal note, one of the biggest challenges of starting your own concept is to maintain a balance between work and personal life. The line that separates the two is so much more blurry than as an employee for a company.
What is one mistake you did with InstaGlam that you wish you hadn’t done?
[I regret] getting the trade license, bank account and payment gateway too early before having the full platform and app beta ready. While the learning opportunity was unparalleled, I would encourage all budding entrepreneurs to be mindful of early cost redundancies and to figure out how to best tackle them in a timely manner.
What’s the biggest expense?
The app. There is a lot that goes into a building a virtual platform, but the idea of having my app on every phone, and people sharing, using and loving it, is absolutely exhilarating.