Here’s the thing about textured hair — there is no one-size-fits-all formula that will work for every woman’s tresses. I’m sure many of you can attest (or drop a horror story in the comments one time) about that hair stylist who swore she (or he) would have you laid like ‘Yonce in every video circa 2016, but all you got was a face full of tears and solid use of your hat collection for the next month. Photo: Tumblr I’m speaking from experience. Can you tell? With vapid distrust of new hair salons and growing wait times for the one person who does your hair right, the overall response is usually to skip on a new experience or block off an entire day for a press and curl. Want some good news? There's a free new app (F-R-E-E...let that marinate) designed specifically to meet the hair care needs of women of color. SWIVEL Beauty is essentially Yelp for your hair stylist needs. Created by co-founders and longtime friends Jihan Thompson and Jennifer Lambert (they’ve been friends since fourth grade) SWIVEL is the result of two successful women coming together to create something significant, says co-founder Jihan Thompson. “I had been batting around the idea of starting a business that focused on alleviating the hair care problems Black women face," she says, "[Jennifer and I] talked about it and got equally excited about building something for women with the same struggles we have. We also bring different skills to the table. Jennifer is a Harvard-trained corporate lawyer and I worked as an editor at top national women's magazines for more than 8 years, so our different skill sets have been an asset to being able to get things done.” The SWIVEL app allows you to search for salons in your area for a stylist that's right for you, but that’s not the only game changer. SWIVEL is taking on tech to bridge the gap between beauty, tech and women of color. “It's been exciting to see how tech has transformed the beauty industry, but I often felt like the unique issues that women of color face have been largely overlooked,” Thompson says. And the numbers don’t lie. According to Thompson’s industry data, black women spend nine times more on beauty than any other ethnic group on hair care ($500 Billion alone in 2014 according to Huff Post), yet there are more than a dozen beauty-booking apps available in the Apple store right now with very few of them really considering and catering to the hair needs of black women in a truly authentic way For Jihan and Jennifer, the frustration resulted in a call to action. “We were tired of being overlooked or treated as an afterthought. We couldn't find a solution, so we created one.” SWIVEL sets itself apart, not only because it’s been created by two women of color, but because its sole goal is to cater to virtually every woman of color with varied textured hair types. “We felt like it was important to be honest and real about the fact that everyone's hair is not the same. Jennifer wears her hair natural. I wear my hair relaxed and often with extensions. We don't see the same stylists—and that's okay.” Taking that identifiable need to heart, SWIVEL’s creators cultivated the app with real women in mind. Its user-friendly interface allows potential patrons to easily choose from an array of desired services corresponding with their exact hair type via a drop-down menu. After making your selection, the app generates a list of the best stylists and salons in your area perfect for creating an epic hair flip. Add the fact that you can easily book online through the app and it’s like Christmas in your deep conditioner. Though the convenience is great and it’s absolutely epic to have all of that information at your fingertips, this is your hair we’re talking about. For many of us, our hairstylists are trusted damn-near members of our family. We’ve built relationships with these people because we KNOW they’re good. So, if you’re like me and are worried about how credible the SWIVEL stylists are, let this ease your fears: All the salons featured have been tried, tested, expertly rated and approved directly by the app’s founders. The app, launched officially last month, only started with a dozen salons and stylists. Stylists also are prohibited from automatically uploading their own profiles. Checks and balances are very real for SWIVEL. “We're hyper-focused on creating a high-quality experience. That means starting with top-rated salons and stylists, which we found through a combination of vetting ourselves and reviews from trusted peers. Also, all of our reviews include a place for the user to include "wait time" so people know what to expect,” says Thompson. Although Swivel Beauty is currently only listing NYC-based salons and stylists, expansion is already in the works. Additionally, Android users won’t have to wait for long to experience this hair joy as the iOS-only app will soon be available via Google Play for Android. Until then, if you’re based in the New York area, you can download the SWIVEL app here.
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