Our Startup was Cooked Up Over Thanksgiving Dinner
The inception of Hello Gloss
I got a late-night call. I knew who it was from the caller ID.
She said “Let’s do it. For real. That beauty thing we’ve been talking about, let’s do it. And I’ve got a name for it too— Hello Gloss.”
I knew exactly what she was talking about, a community for influencers and enthusiasts. We’d spent many hours talking about it over the months since the idea first came up last Thanksgiving, but it was never anything seriously real; at least not yet.
Cool name. I love it. But it can’t possibly be available. It’s too good.
Believe me. I’ve wasted many hours of my life over the years typing endless streams of domain names into GoDaddy hoping to find one that’s available. All the good names were sucked up years ago. Finding a new name is as futile as trying to find a new movie to watch on Netflix — good luck.
“And the domain is available. $12. Boom!”
By now my MacBook is open and I’m bringing up the USPTO trademark site to see if the name is truly available. Because even if you’re lucky enough to find a free domain, that doesn’t mean you can legally use it. If you can’t get a trademark, it’s useless.
The name was just too good.
Lessons of Thanksgiving
It’s Thanksgiving, 2017, and while patiently waiting for dinner to be served, I suddenly found myself involved in an impassioned discussion about YouTube beauty tutorials and buying lipstick at Sephora.
I had never watched a beauty tutorial in my life and the closest I’d ever been to a Sephora was waiting outside on the wooden bench with a Starbucks, scrolling through Twitter and wondering when my wife would finally emerge; thinking this is going to be a while, maybe I should have ordered a venti.
I was about to get my first lesson into a mysterious world I’ve always known existed but never imagined I would ever find interesting.
Needless to say, I was completely clueless, but I kept noting a common theme to all of the problems I was learning about. Skin tones. Is this really a problem? Makeup comes in a million colors. Seriously, what’s the problem?
I quickly started to feel like I was the only one in the room that wasn’t in on a joke. I was about to get my first lesson into a mysterious world I’ve always known existed but never imagined I would ever find interesting.
The next thing I know I’m being shown hundreds of photos on Instagram with forearms scribed with rows of lipstick swatches in every imaginable color. Everyone laughed when I asked if that’s what you girls do in Sephora; as if it was a secret ritual that men would never understand — like when women always seem to go to the restroom in pairs.
My next lesson was on searching YouTube for tutorials — for women of color. Okay. I typed some random phrase for lipstick into the search bar. And that’s when I suddenly realized it was a trick. Complexions span a full range of tonal values. Of course I knew that, but I’d never thought about it from a search and discovery perspective. It’s literally impossible to find videos for a specific skin complexion. Nothing supports that kind of search — something every woman seems to already know.
The turkey wasn’t quite ready so there was still time for one more lesson. This time it was about dupes — inexpensive knockoffs you can buy at the neighborhood drug store that look nearly the same as the big-name originals in department stores.
Again, this was all new to me, but it was easy for me to understand that half the world can’t afford the high-priced originals. It’s not that I was totally oblivious to copy cats, it’s more like I had just never imagined it was so big of a thing that Instagram would have millions of dupe recommendations, and one account I saw dedicated to dupes had over a million followers. Who Knew?
By now the turkey was ready and my mind had switched into programmer mode. I like to solve problems. That’s my thing. I’m a developer.
The conversation at dinner transitioned from problems to solutions. It was a scene straight out of Shark Tank and everyone played their role. Please pass the sweet potatoes, and hey, can you also look up stats on how many beauty tutorials were watched on YouTube last year?
I think we knew we were onto something by the time we finished our pumpkin pie.
A community of beauty influencers and enthusiasts who help and inspire each other to be uniquely fascinating.
Hello Gloss is first and foremost, a community. A community of people who have something to share, or who are looking to discover new trends and be inspired by looks and ideas contributed by others.
Hello Gloss will focus exclusively on beauty and fashion; probably initially more on the beauty side as we get up and running.
We see it as a community garden where absolutely anyone can participate. You don’t have to be a big-name influencer to stand out. You just need to be somebody who wishes to contribute and and help the garden flourish and grow into something beautiful.
Ambiguous, I know.
And sure, we’ll have a website and maybe even an app. But we’ll do it in a way that is totally different from anything that’s out there now. YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest are all exceptionally great, so why go there, and we won’t. We have our own ideas that are equally as great but more centric to beauty.
And parties. We love parties!
We want to have fun. We want to meet people and help brands launch new products. We want fans to be able to meet the influencers who are inspiring them to be daring, glam with confidence and find their power.
We believe different is better than better.
So yeah, don’t expect some boring new platform or bullshit app. We’ll leave that for the other guys. We’re not just going to be better — we’re going to be different. Because we believe different is better than better.
These are just some of the broad strokes that are helping to shape our mission. We still have a lot more to figure out and we know the community will surely help guide our path. There’s simply no need to overthink it just yet.
I know this post seems vague and maybe even purposely short on details. Don’t worry. We’ll have a lot more to share as we get closer to launch. The important take-away right now is to know that we’ve got tons of exciting ideas that address many of the problems I learned about last Thanksgiving and over the months that followed.
Sometimes you just need to get the right diverse group of friends in the room to dream up something great. And that’s exactly what we did last Thanksgiving while waiting on our turkey dinner — albeit, totally by accident.
But seriously, isn’t Hello Gloss a really cool name?