Thursday, June 10, 2021

By Finian Coghlan

TWO Kildare women might just be the next big thing in the beauty business after they managed to raise €400,000 in seed investment in just six weeks from people they never met, and are hoping to match it in coming weeks to consolidate their launch in the UK.

Wendy Slattery and her sister Tracy Leavy set up The Beauty Buddy in 2017 “when the idea literally came from a problem we were having ourselves”.

What the two women did was develop an app that – when you scan the barcode of any beauty or cosmetic product – “will tell you if the product is any good, based on the opinions of others”.

We weren’t the only ones with this problem, it’s every woman,” said Wendy.

There are too many beauty products being launched every week, and what our app does is get the ingredients, directions [for use], a rating, and then the advice is the big thing,” she explained.

Basically women will buy a product quicker on advice from their friends,” she said.

The information is not proprietory because it’s on the outside of their box and on their websites, the only thing we have are our reviews,” she said.

We can have negative reviews, which you won’t find that on a website, and women just don’t believe this,” said Wendy.

Reviews from Beauty Buddy are more trusted,” she stated.

The beauty of the barcode is it works in any country – Australia or America,” she explained.

Originally they operated out of Maynooth University, but the workforce of eight are now dotted all over Kildare, with one in Wexford and one in Connecticut.

At the moment Beauty Buddy has just under 50,000 users, and daily site traffic is now between 2,500 and 3,000 where the average length of stay is one and a half minutes: “which is a lot of attention”.

They already have retail partnerships with industry stalwarts like Brown Thomas, Arnotts and Harvey Nichols where they describe themselves as “digital sales assistants”.

When the pandemic halted in-store sampling Beauty Buddy moved to fill this gap by creating their sampling squads for product review.

At the start they were able to raise an impressive €575,000 from Enterprise Ireland and just seven private investors, but are now looking for €800,000 “to scale the app into the UK”.

Wendy has a background in corporate sales with Eircom, but Tracey did programming at college “and has always worked between the tech and marketing people – a skill set that every company needs”.

The sisters originally started a party planning website, but as Wendy said: “You can’t go global with that, so we looked at a problem we were used to”.

The sisters have already achieved half of their target investment from UK investors “and we never met any of them”.

It’s all been through Zoom. It has really brought the world to us. We can launch in a country without leaving our house!” she laughed.

Currently, Beauty Buddy is in talks with an Australian pharmacy chain of 500 outlets “and they’re happy to do it all on Zoom – it has its benefits!”

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