Nina Ojeda usually gets four to five blowouts monthly and often starts the day catching up on e-mails in the salon chair as her tresses are tamed.
“My hair is ridiculously unruly. It’s really, really thick and frizzy. Before blowouts, it used to take eight hours to dry my hair naturally. I got tired of doing my own hair and watching YouTube videos on how to do it, and I thought, ‘I need to let a professional deal with it,’” she said. “Blowouts have become my routine. They’re fast, and your hair looks amazing every time you walk out of the salon.”
Ojeda, founder of Los Angeles public relations, marketing and brand development firm The Avenue West, is so convinced by the power of blowouts that she’s working to make them a part of every woman’s routine. She’s launched Prête, a new entry into the crowded field of beauty appointment booking services that’s focused on blowouts and manicures at L.A. and San Francisco beauty destinations.
“ClassPass is definitely a good way to describe it to consumers, but it is more like Airbnb,” Ojeda said. “A salon’s core business is not blowouts. It is cut, color and other various treatments like extensions. We are purely filling up empty time with blowout and manicure appointments.”
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Although there are many competitors such as Vive, Beautified, BeautyBooked and BeautyWhim among them angling to maximize hairdressers and manicurists’ businesses, Prête is trying to carve out a niche with its early concentration on the West Coast, affordability and reach to appointments beyond last-minute bookings. There are three blowout pricing options: $129 monthly for unlimited blowouts, $49 a year for blowouts at $29 each, and single blowouts for $35. Prête takes a cut of the cost.
Ojeda is still sorting through the optimal pricing for manicures, which remain in beta testing mode on Prête until later this month. A manicure is $15. That could change, but Ojeda insisted prices wouldn’t drop as low as $8 because “there are legal and health issues to be aware of, especially when it comes to manicures.” In general, she believes manicures will be a popular Prête offering. “Really great manicure salons tend to be difficult to get appointments at,” she explained.
So far, Prête has signed up roughly 60 salons, including Gavert Atelier, RA_Bar Beauty, Twist and Glam. “It is actually less about the amount of salons than the type of salons we partner with,” Ojeda said. “There are tons of salons in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but, for us, it is about finding the best of the best.”
Audrey Rae and Whitney Colleen, co-owners of RA_Bar Beauty in West Hollywood, reported Prête is effective at helping junior hairstylists without extensive client bases access customers. In a trial run with the service, they also discovered blowouts can lead to continuing relationships with clients. “Prête hasn’t even officially launched yet and the clients that we’ve had come through this app have come back to us for color, cut or eyebrow services,” Rae said.
Self-funded to date, Prête is evaluating a number of expansion prospects in both services and cities. Ojeda pointed to Nashville and Dallas as possibilities for geographic growth. “In terms of scaling throughout the country, there is tremendous opportunity. Salons are always going to have open [appointment] spaces. Even the best salons in the world will have late cancellations,” she said. “Wouldn’t you rather have revenue coming in versus none at all?”