Every time Maria Mckiever wanted to find a black hair stylist, she always had to depend on word of mouth. This gave her the idea to create a platform that facilitates a connection between users and stylist.
The engineering student at the University of Illinois-Chicago has developed a startup app called Grapevine, after her experience of always hearing about new stylists through the ‘grapevine’.
The app connects stylists to users and the community in the black hair care market. Basically, it shows users the hair stylists who are closest to their location, then displays information on the stylists, which helps the user choose the right stylist for what they want.
The listings of stylists will mention their specialties, from box-braids to locs, show their reviews and display a portfolio of work they have done on previous clients.
The app will also come with an in-app messaging system which will let users ask the stylists particular questions about the duration of an appointment, whether they can effectively do a certain hairstyle and more. Users can then schedule an appointment with the stylist through the app’s calendar function, which display’s the stylist’s availability and booked appointments.
Mckiever and her team pitched the startup at Campus 1871, a weekend hackathon which gathers Chicago college students to pitch business ideas and learn and discover the startup ecosystem. Grapevine won first place at Campus 1871, and Mckiever and her team won a number of things: one year’s membership to Ms. Tech; a 1-hour session with Laura Fendrich, 1871’s in-house recruiter; five associate memberships for six months at 1871; a $750 partial scholarship for every member in a Sage Corps abroad program.
Grapevine deserves to be the winner and to get as much attention as possible. It addresses a clear market gap in the black community. With the increasing awareness that the black community has plenty of buying power in the hair care market, Grapevine will help to maintain the momentum. Apps like this are precisely what we need.